How to Make Your Own Spiced Nuts

Enjoy all the flavor of this satisfying snack, without all the sodium and extra oil packaged varieties tend to come with.

Updated on February 02, 2023


Photo by: KitchenM/Getty Images

KitchenM/Getty Images

Fancy nut mixes can be wonderful treats, but some packaged varieties are loaded with sweeteners and cost a pretty penny. Why not make your own? Whip up a batch for snacks, parties and edible gifts.

What Is a Serving Size for Nuts?

Nuts are full of healthy unsaturated fats, vitamin E, iron, antioxidants and protein. Almonds and walnuts, in particular, offer heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Despite those benefits, portion sizes matter; one nut contains about seven calories on average. A sensible portion of nuts for most folks would likely equate to 1/4 to 1/3 cup – basically a small handful. Further balance out a nutty snack by having something else along with it – a piece of fruit or low-fat yogurt are two great options.

Any healthy spiced nut mixture should contain nuts, spices and modest amounts of oil (fat) or sugar. If you opt for packaged varieties, avoid ones with lots of extra oil (which means the nuts may have been fried) and be mindful of sodium content – check ingredient labels.

Holiday Nut Mix, as seen on Food Network Kitchen Live.

Holiday Nut Mix, as seen on Food Network Kitchen Live.

Photo by: Jason DeCrow

Jason DeCrow

How to Make Your Own Spiced Nuts

Choose any combination of spices you or your guests like. Chili or curry powder, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, salt, pepper, brown sugar, ground mustard or orange peel are just a few flavor boosters. To get the spices to stick to the nuts, use egg whites, butter, coconut oil, olive oil or blanch the nuts in boiling water. Some recipes call for nuts to be fried in oil prior to seasoning, but this adds unnecessary fat – you can make them just a delicious without all the extra calories. After a quick dip in the spices, pop in the oven to bake in the flavor.

As for which nuts, exactly, to throw into the mix, choose whatever you like – pick from almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, cashews, macadamia nuts and more. Just be sure to start with raw or dry roasted, unsalted nuts so you can control the flavors. Use full sized nuts (or halves) instead of chopped pieces so they cook evenly. If you still don’t know where to start, give Elena Besser’s or Ellie Krieger’s Spiced Nuts recipes a try.

My favorite way to prepare spiced nuts couldn’t be easier. Mix together some powdered sugar, cinnamon, sea salt, black pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper in a medium bowl. Give nuts (I like walnuts or pecans) a quick dunk in boiling water (about two minutes), drain and toss them in the spice mixture. Shake off the excess spices and transfer the nuts to a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 12 minutes, turning once, until golden. Then just cool and serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

These candied nuts are fabulous for a quick snack along with an apple or over mixed greens with sliced pears, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. You can also wrap them up in simple cellophane gift bags for a hostess gift or as part of a gift basket with some cheese and a great bottle of wine.

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