Preview: Make these Microwave Candied Pecans with two ingredients and 10 minutes of your time. These crunchy caramelized nuts are unbelievably addicting. Updated 2/11/21.
Are you frantically looking for a quick snack to take to a party? Or maybe you need a last-minute Christmas or Valentine’s gift with a handmade touch. How about a few caramelized pecans to sprinkle on top of a pie, decorate some cookies or a cake, or… (gasp) add some extra flavor to your salad.
HEADS UP: Please, please use a microwave-safe Pyrex glass container to make this recipe. The temperature of the sugar gets super hot and will shatter delicate, antique, or cheap glass from the dollar store. I hope I don’t need to warn anybody not to use plastic anything.
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.
In case you’re thinking it’s too tricky to caramelize sugar in the microwave, don’t be afraid.
I bet you’ve heard of people making caramel popcorn in the microwave. This isn’t that much different once you learn to recognize when the sugar is the right color. I’ll hold your hand (and be sure to watch the video).
How long does it take to make these?
How long does it take you to measure 1 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of water, and 1-3/4 to 2 cups of nuts? 2 minutes?
Put the sugar and water in the microwave. After 6-7 minutes (depending on your particular microwave it could be more or less), 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?
FAQ about candied pecans:
1. Why are my candied nuts sticky?
The nuts haven’t cooled long enough. THIS IS THE MOST COMMON REASON.
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. You will get long thin strands of sugary threads. Doesn’t change the taste but they don’t look as attractive.
2. Why did my sugar mixture turn sugary and white (crystallize) when I added the pecans?
Most likely, the sugar mixture was not cooked long enough. It must reach 365-375˚F to be completely caramelized. The mixture will be amber-colored when it is ready.
With a little experience, you will recognize when the sugar has browned sufficiently without burning. If this is your first time or you want to make sure, use a quick-read thermometer to check.
3. How long can you store candied pecans?
Store these in a tightly-sealed container so they won’t absorb moisture. I store these nuts in a glass Mason jar sealed with a vacuum-pack machine, in the same way I store chopped lettuce.
If the nuts do get soft, I’ve read you can put them in a dehydrator or slow oven and dry them out. I’ve never 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.
How to use your microwave to make Candied (Caramelized) Nuts
More amazing things you can do in the microwave
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Hope to see you again soon!
p.s. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can email me privately: paula at saladinajar.com.