Make Ahead

Sweet and Spicy Pretzel and Nut Mix

December 18, 2010
10 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes about 8 cups
Author Notes

Last year, my husband needed an hors d'oeuvre or snack to bring to his holiday party at work. We both love nuts -- especially when they're roasted with sweet and hot spices -- so I adapted this recipe from David Lebovitz, changing the spice mix. The chocolate gives it some depth, and the ginger and cayenne add sweet heat. The great thing about this recipe is that you can make a ton of it. And the not great thing -- you won't be able to stop eating it. —drbabs

Test Kitchen Notes

I'm not someone who considers herself above the myriad flavors of Chex Mix out there, but sometimes I just want something a little fancier -- a grown-up Chex Mix, you could say. This recipe boasts a long list of spices, and while balancing so many flavors in spice-heavy recipes can be difficult, drbarbs succeeds here. Spicy first from actual flavors, then from the heat of cayenne, this mix is above anything you'd find in the grocery store. —Amanda Arnold

What You'll Need
  • 4 cups large raw nuts (I used a combination of pecans, almonds, and cashews)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4-1 teaspoons ground cayenne or aleppo pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 cups unsalted pretzel twists
  1. Heat the oven to 350° F. Line a large cookie sheet with foil or parchment. Spread the nuts in an even layer and bake for about 10 minutes, turning the cookie sheet and stirring halfway through, just until the nuts are lightly roasted and become fragrant.
  2. While the nuts are toasting, place the brown sugar, spices (excluding the salt), maple syrup, and melted butter into a large bowl and stir together. Pour in the warm nuts and stir until coated.
  3. Add in the pretzels and salt and stir until thoroughly blended and coated, taking care not to break up pretzels. Spread the mixture onto the lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking. Watch them carefully so that they don't burn.
  4. Remove the mixture from the oven and let everything cool completely before storing it.
  5. The snack mix will stay fresh for about a week when stored in an airtight container.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Franca
  • bailboy
  • Mollyh
  • Melody
  • drbabs

58 Reviews

jules September 2, 2022
For me, this was a complete waste of $30 worth of ingredients. I wasn’t wowed by the flavor, and right out of the oven the entire mess just looked blah (dry perhaps). All in all, this was a flop for me. I threw the entire batch away.
drbabs September 2, 2022
Oh, gosh. I’m so sorry it didn’t work for you.
Renée R. November 24, 2019
Fantastic!!!! I doubled the recipe. Used 2 half sheet pans. Followed the recipe exactly as written, using the lesser amount of cayenne because there will be children eating these. They're the only munchies I will be serving before Thanksgiving dinner. I don't like to serve anything heavy or filling before the big meal and these fit the bill perfectly. Thank you for sharing!
drbabs November 24, 2019
Thanks! Happy thanksgiving!
Franca October 29, 2019
Wow! This is awesome. I am eating it straight out of the oven while still hot!
drbabs October 29, 2019
Thanks! I’m so glad you like it! Great idea on the Cheerios!
Franca October 29, 2019
This is awesome! I replaced one cup of the pretzel with one cup of Cheerios I had hanging around. I wish I hadn't cut back on the heat. I added 1/2 tsp., wish I had added more. Oh well, next time. And there will be a next time!
Amy January 11, 2019
I’ve been making this recipe for years and it never disappoints. I do recommend cutting back on the pepper unless you like a lot of heat. I use 1/4 tsp and think it’s perfect.
drbabs January 11, 2019
I’m so glad you’re enjoying it.
bailboy January 28, 2018
This is delicious. I was out of ground cloves - which I am not particularly fond of - so I made this without them. Otherwise, followed recipe exactly and will make it again the same way.
drbabs January 28, 2018
I'm so glad you liked it. Thanks for letting me know.
Mollyh December 2, 2017
Any input on how long this keeps once it’s made? Thanks!
drbabs December 2, 2017
It doesn't last long in my house, but I've kept it in an airtight container for about a week
SJ H. November 23, 2017
This is exactly what I was looking for an edible Christmas gift this year. I just made a test batch, and added dried cherries. It's a little too spicy for me, so I'll probably cut the cayenne in half. Really tasty, fast to make and not horribly expensive.
Susan November 26, 2017
Dried cherries sounds like a great addition. What quantity do you recommend?
SJ H. November 26, 2017
I added 8 oz. It was perfect--great combo of sweet and spicy!
Mary B. January 13, 2017
Sounds wonderful ! Going to a family "January Birthdays" gathering tomorrow and plan to make this immediately to take. Thanks ! Any thoughts on adding dried cherries after everything is cooled ?
drbabs January 13, 2017
Happy birthday! (My birthday is in January, too.) Dried cherries are a great addition.
Mary B. January 13, 2017
We have 4 January birthdays in the family and enjoy getting together to try new recipes. I finished making the mixture . . .TOTALLY FABULOUS ! I can't stop "taste-testing" them. And can't wait for my sisters and nieces (all foodies) to try them. I had to pack them up and put them out of sight so I have some to take tomorrow. I nibbled a few of the dried Montmorency cherries with the mix and loved it. Will add some in before taking to party tomorrow. Thanks again for the great recipe ! and Happy Birthday !
SJ H. November 23, 2017
I added dried cherries and it's awesome. It is a little too cayenne-forward for me, though, so I'm going to cut that in half.
Melody November 24, 2016
This Thanksgiving was such a Food52 Thanksgiving for me. I L-O-V-E-ed these nuts. As they came out of the oven, and I helped myself to a pretzel, I was SO pleasantly surprised. What a nice blend of complex flavors that appeals to palettes of all sorts. This will be an autumn/winter staple in my house. Thank you so much. :)
drbabs November 25, 2016
Thank you, Melody. I'm so glad you liked them.
Chris O. June 15, 2016
Just have to note that I've made this every couple of months since discovering it in the fall. It's just the perfect snack. Thanks so much for posting.
drbabs June 15, 2016
Thanks for letting me know. I'm so glad you enjoy it.
kyurman December 16, 2015
What about substituting coconut oil for the butter?? (Vegan friends, you know ...) Anyone have any advice?
drbabs December 16, 2015
Yes, any fat will work.
barb48 December 22, 2014
Could honey be subbed for the syrup?
drbabs December 22, 2014
I think so, but I haven't tried it.
drbabs December 20, 2014
Good news, people. You don't have to separate out the pretzels for cooling. I'm editing the recipe now.
Wollie December 20, 2014
Made this recipe a week before Thanksgiving. Everyone loved the nuts but for the most part no one liked the pretzels so I ended up tossing them in the trash. My suggestion is to omit the pretzel steps (which are the most time consuming anyway) and just prepare the nuts. They keep a long time as I've been munching on them off and on for 4 weeks stored in a ziplock at room temperature with no degradation in the wonderful taste and plan to serve them next week at Christmas.
drbabs December 20, 2014
Hi Wollie. Thanks for your comment. I have them in the oven now, and I'm experimenting with not separating the pretzels to cool (which is admittedly a pain in the ass). I personally find the mix to be a tad rich without the pretzels, but to each her own. I'm glad you're enjoying them.
chris December 20, 2014
Different strokes; my group went for the pretzels, first!
LULULAND December 17, 2014
chris December 17, 2014
I used salted pretzels, and cut the recipe's salt to a heaping 1 tsp.
drbabs December 17, 2014
That's what I do.
Ann December 17, 2014
It sort of depends how salty you like things. My market ended up having 1 brand of unsalted pretzels, which totally shocked me as I never noticed them before, so I bought them. If your pretzels look really salty, I'd skip the additional salt, but it really is personal choice.
pamelalee December 14, 2014
My mix is in the oven. I’m wondering why we need to separate out the pretzels to cool separately?
drbabs December 14, 2014
I do out so that the pretzels don't stick to the nuts and then break. Someone wrote below that she didn't separate them and she didn't have a problem.
SophieL December 8, 2014
Getting ready to make my second batch of this to give as Christmas gifts. This time I'll increase the aleppo pepper a little for a bit more kick (maybe my pepper was a getting old) or sub ground red chipotle pepper. I happened to find raw Brazilian nuts so will use that as part of the nut mix. The pretzels add variety as well as keep the overall cost down (especially since I am adding Brazilian nuts). And I was able to separate the pretzels with my fingers so that went faster than using tongs. Great recipe!
drbabs December 8, 2014
Thanks, Sophie, I'm so glad you like it.
Ann November 25, 2014
I just made these and they are delicious, perfect amount if heat for us. Fishing out the pretzels was a bit of a pest, but doable. Next time I may omit the pretzels. Though a pretzel lover, I think I prefer seriously spiced nuts like these without them.
drbabs November 25, 2014
Thanks for letting me know. I'm so glad you like it.
chris November 25, 2014
This is dangerously delicious; I made a batch for Thanksgiving, but neither my husband nor I can stop eating it. Might have to make more! I'm going to hide a jar away, to see if it "stays fresh for longer than a week." I agree with Kimberly, it would make GREAT Christmas gifts ... if it stays crisp. I had my oven at 325, so I didn't have to watch it so carefully, and doubled the cooking time.
drbabs November 25, 2014
Good to know that worked!. I'm so glad you like it.
Connie B. December 10, 2014
So, how long did they stay fresh? I'm shipping a batch and am worried about how long they will last before becoming sticky rather than crunchy.
chris December 10, 2014
A "test" container of my first batch is still crisp and crunchy after 15 days. No stickiness, at all. I plan to put some in tins, and mail them ... soon.
Connie B. December 10, 2014
Terrific!!! Thanks Chris!