Skip to Content

Crunchy Candied Nuts You Can Make in Your Microwave

These caramelized pecans are crunchy candied nuts you can make quickly in your microwave with only sugar and water. It’s hard to resist these sweet and shiny little jewels.

Caramelized Pecans and Cinnamon Caramelized pecans in separate dishes

Need a quick snack to take to a party? Or a last-minute Christmas or Valentine’s gift with a handmade touch?   Try these microwaved candied pecans.  The caramelized coating makes them sleek and shiny, ready to step out on the town.

Recipe Inspiration

Thanks to Dorie Greenspan for giving me the idea in her recipe, Rosy Pear and Pistachio Tart from Baking. She made caramelized pistachios on top of the stove to use as a garnish.  I prefer to make them in a microwave, then eat them as a snack

How long does it really take to make these?

How long does it take you to measure 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of water, and 1-1/4 cups of nuts? 2 minutes?!

Put the sugar and water in the microwave. After 4-7 minutes (depending on your particular microwave), add the nuts and cook one more minute, stirring after 30 seconds. Quickly pour the nuts onto a cookie sheet. At this point, the only thing between the caramelized nuts and your mouth is about 5 minutes of cooling so you don’t burn your tongue.

Can you make caramelized nuts without butter or eggs?

Yes. This recipe requires only two ingredients if you don’t count water! Sugar and pecans (or your nut of choice). That’s it! Could it be any easier?


Why are my candied nuts sticky?

Two possibilities:

  • The sugar wasn’t cooked long enough. After making this recipe a time or two, you will know by looking when the color is perfectly golden brown.
  • The nuts haven’t cooled long enough. THIS IS THE MOST COMMON REASON in regards to this recipe. You should be able to pull the nuts apart with your bare hands. I had to put gloves on to make this picture so you can see what happens when you try to separate candied nuts that are still hot.
separating pecans before they are cool creates strings

How long can you store candied nuts?

Store these in a tightly-sealed container so they won’t absorb moisture. One idea is to store nuts in a glass Mason jar sealed with a vacuum-pack machine, in the same way I store chopped lettuce. They will keep for 4-7 days if you keep the moisture out.

If the nuts do get soft, I’ve read you can but them in a dehydrator or slow oven and dry them out. I can’t say I’ve ever had the opportunity to try it because people eat these before I get the chance.


  • Add cinnamon or ground cardamom if you like. Think cinnamon rolls sans flour and butter. The pecans toward the back of the picture below have added cinnamon which gives them a slightly darker color.
  • Use pistachios, cashews, or almonds instead of pecans. I think walnuts would be good, too but I haven’t tried that since I’m not a walnut-fan.
  • Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the sugar for a sweet and spicy delight.
candied pecans in bowls with a spoon

How to use your microwave to make Candied (or Caramelized) Nuts

sugar in a Pyrex pitcher
Add 1/2 cup sugar to a microwave-safe bowl.
mixing water and sugar in a microwave-safe bowl
Add 1/4 cup of water to sugar. DO NOT STIR!
Place into the microwave and cook on HIGH. I set mine for 6 minutes but if your oven is new or high-powered, start watching after 4 minutes.
sugar starting to turn brown
When the sugar starts to turn golden brown, remove it from the microwave oven.
stirring pecans into caramelized sugar
Stir nuts into the caramelized sugar. Microwave 30 seconds on HIGH. Stir. Microwave 30 additional seconds.
spreading pecans onto a cookie sheet
IMMEDIATELY turn out pecans onto a prepared cookie sheet (a well-buttered or covered with Silpat or parchment paper).
separating pecans with fingers
When nuts are cool enough to touch, use your fingers to separate the nuts.

More amazing things you can do in the microwave

Pin to save for later:

Pinterest Image of caramelized nuts

Did you try this recipe and enjoy it? Consider helping other readers (and me) by returning to this post. Leave a rating on the recipe card itself underneath the picture. Although always appreciated, comments aren’t required.

If you have a question or tip to share, please leave it in the regular comments after the recipe so I can answer back. Or, email me privately: paula at

Thank you for visiting!

bowl of candied pecans

Microwave Candied Pecans

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Use a microwave to caramelize whole pecans. They will be shiny, sweet, crunchy, and irresistible.


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 -1/4 cup whole, shelled pecans, pistachios, cashews or walnuts


  1. Add water to sugar in a 2-quart microwave-safe glass batter bowl. Do not stir. (I highly recommend you buy an inexpensive glass 2-quart batter bowl if you cook in a microwave very often.)
  2. Microwave on High for 4-7 minutes or until sugar mixture starts turning golden like a piece of butterscotch candy. DO NOT STIR. (Times vary with different MW ovens so watch carefully the first time or two until you figure out the exact time needed in your oven. It's easy to burn.)
  3. Add nuts and MW on High for 30 seconds. Give a quick stir and finish with another 30 seconds on High.
  4. Quickly (and I do mean quickly) pour onto parchment paper, a silicone baking mat or well-greased cookie sheet. Allow nuts to cool until you can touch them without burning your fingers.
  5. Break up with your fingers. If caramel pulls in to thin thread-like strands when you try to break up the nuts, let it cool longer. If that doesn't work, you probably didn't cook it long enough.



Spiced Caramelized Nuts: Stir 1 teaspoon of cinnamon or ground cardamom into the nuts before adding them to the caramelized sugar. Continue with step three.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. But don't worry. This doesn't change the price you pay.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 42Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 0gSugar: 10gProtein: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

a bowl of chili with chocolate
Chocolate Chili: What Your Grandmother Didn't Know
iced cinnamon jumbles on a cooling sheet
Cinnamon Jumbles Recipe with Browned Butter Icing


Tuesday 28th of July 2020

Argh. My vintage glass mixing bowl blew up at 6 minutes - sugar not yet golden. Liquified sugar all over the microwave. Not for me I guess.


Tuesday 28th of July 2020

Oh no! I'm so sorry about your bowl. That's terrible. Evidently it was not microwave-safe. I'm so sad for you, but I'm glad you wrote. I would buy you another one but I'm guessing it's irreplaceable. The best thing to use is a 2-quart Pyrex pitcher. They are easy to find and don't cost much. If you decide to try again with any other cookware, look for the words "microwave-safe" on the packaging to be safe.


Tuesday 31st of December 2019

This recipe worked great! Only took 5-1/2 minutes in my microwave to get to golden, so definitely watch your time. The nuts taste great, they remind me of Cracker Jack. Will definitely use this recipe again and try some of the variations.


Wednesday 1st of January 2020

High five!!!


Tuesday 11th of December 2012

I just set mine out to cool, they smell and look awesome.. BTW, all I had was California Almonds so, I will update the "different nuts" recipe.....

Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

Tuesday 8th of December 2009

This is a great recipe for party appetizers! I like how easy the recipe is.


Monday 7th of December 2009

Thanks for the microwave version of this recipe. We all love nuts for a snack and these would be great with a little cayenne pepper added to them. Mimi

Harold Bowdeb

Saturday 2nd of February 2019

How much cayenne? 1/4 tsp or more?