Sweet and Spicy Candied Peanuts

Ah, nuts! These Sweet and Spicy Candied Peanuts strike the perfect balance of sweet and heat. They’re great for snacking or for adding a special touch to soups or salads. 

I initially made these candied peanuts because I wanted something extra fancy to top our Thai Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup. While I love croutons, they didn’t seem quite right for this for some reason. So it needed to be crunchy and salty of course, but also with a little sweetness. And it needed to be savory too, something that wouldn’t get lost in the rich flavor of the soup.

I know, I know. So demanding. Nothing could deliver all those things at once, right? Wrong!

Spicy curry candied nuts do and they’re a cinch to make.

Thai Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

The sweet and spicy nuts are a perfect topping for the rich, smooth soup.

So … from these humble beginnings comes the greatest snack food in the history of pretty much everything. I’m not even kidding. Candied peanuts are unbelievably good.

The crunchy coating has that perfect balance of salty and sweet, and an almost toffee-like flavor from the mix of white and brown sugars that caramelize in the oven. The savory heat comes from a mix of spices, including Madras curry powder, cayenne pepper, cumin and cinnamon. These are not sear-your-tongue spicy, more like a warm heat but you should definitely put your own spin on it.

Spices for Candied Nuts

Clockwise from top: granulated garlic, cumin, coarse salt, cinnamon, cayenne and Madras curry powder.

While these were so good on top of the soup, the candied peanuts were even better just poured into a bowl and served with a pint of good British ale and a wedge of sharp cheese. Heaven.

Sweet and Spicy Candied Peanuts

I know it seems way too early to think about it but “the holidays” are barreling towards us like a freight train and this year, for once, I plan to be ready. By that I just mean, I’ll go to Costco and buy a big bag of peanuts, pecans, almonds and walnuts and make a huge batch of mixed candied nuts for all the holiday parties coming up.

I’ll put out some when our friends come over and use the rest as hostess gifts. Yup, I think I might be extremely popular this year.

Sweet and Spicy Candied Peanuts

Nerd Tips:

  • The mix gets extremely sticky so using a silicone baking mat on the tray is very helpful. If you use parchment paper, make sure you spray it generously with cooking spray or you’ll never get them off.
  • Taste a little pinch of the sugar/spice mix before you add it to the nuts and adjust it to your taste.
  • Using your hands is the best way to get the nuts evenly coated with the sugar mix.
  • If you’re starting with unsalted nuts, add more coarse salt to the sugar mixture (to taste).
  • I like to sprinkle the candied peanuts with just a touch more Maldon salt when they come out of the oven for that extra crunch.

Sweet and Spicy Candied Peanuts
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 3 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 egg white, room temperature
  • 3 cups roasted and salted peanuts (about 1 pound)
  • ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoons granulated garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. (if parchment, spray generously with veg spray) Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy (but not stiff). Add the nuts and stir until coated. In a small bowl, combine the sugars, salt, curry powder, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the nuts and toss until completely coated. Arrange the nuts in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven, and breaking up any that stick together when they’re fully cool.