Make Ahead


November 29, 2010
2 Ratings
  • Makes 4 cups
Author Notes

During the holidays, spiced pecans are a staple at gatherings everywhere but especially in Texas where pecan trees have grown along the riverbanks from Texas to Mexico since before recorded history. Roasted and spiced, they are perfect for cocktail parties, but they also make fantastic gifts. While store-bought gourmet varieties are readily available, it is so easy and so much better when you do it yourself. This is one of my favorite ways to make them. They are flavored with a seductive combination of spicy and sweet. Enjoy. - Waverly —Waverly

Test Kitchen Notes

Crunchy, salty, and smoky-sweet, with a hint of heat (Waverly calls for 3-4 dried chilies that presumably give off more heat than the sole dried Hatch chili I had on hand), these pretty little mahogany gems are the perfect cocktail nibble. I had planned on giving them as gifts, but they didn’t make it out of the house. Next time I’ll double the recipe. —Midge

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3-4 dried red chili peppers, any type
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  1. MAKE THE SAUCE: Preheat oven to 250. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, and chiles. Bring to a boil over HIGH heat. Add pecans and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
  2. BAKE: Pour pecans into a colander to drain off the sauce. Transfer the drained pecans to a baking sheet. Place in the upper 1/3 of the oven and bake 45 minutes.
  3. TOSS WITH MOLASSES AND BAKE AGAIN: Pour pecans into a mixing bowl and toss with molasses until they are evenly coated. Spread them back onto the baking sheet in an even layer. Bake, stirring occasionally, until very crisp, about 45 more minutes. Cool. Toss with salt. Serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Midge
  • Waverly
Waverly used to be a lawyer and is now a mother 24/7. She has made a commitment to cooking for her family and absolutely loves it even when her family does not. She is teaching them, one meal at a time, to enjoy wholesome homemade food. She abhors processed food but recognizes its insidious nature and accepts the fact that her children will occasionally get some Skittles, Doritos, or the like. Her philosophy and hope is that if she teaches them well at home, they will prefer wholesome healthy foods when they go out into the world without her.

2 Reviews

Midge December 9, 2010
Look forward to making these. Should I keep the chili peppers whole or chop them up for the sauce?
Waverly December 10, 2010
I usually keep them whole. They are easy to work with and give off plenty of heat this way. You could chop them, of course. If you do, be sure to remove the seeds as these will be difficult to remove when you drain the sauce. They will also make the pecans spicier. Let me know how they turn out!