How to Make Spiced Pecans (or Cashews. or Almonds.)

This recipe, which I found in a Cook’s Illustrated library book, probably doesn’t really qualify as a frugal recipe, simply because pecans (and nuts in general!) are not cheap foods.

However, nuts are really nutritious, and they are what I would consider to be real food. Plus, they’re kind of snacky, and it’s hard to find snacky foods that are at all nutritious.

Anyways, I consider nuts to be worth the money, because frugality isn’t always about saving as much money as possible. To me, frugality has more to do with getting great value for my dollar, and sometimes that means doing stuff like buying nuts instead of cheese puffs.

I usually buy mine in the huge bags they sell at Costco because that makes the price per pound a little bit easier to swallow. I do not EVER buy those tiny little packets they sell in the baking aisle at grocery stores because the price per pound on those is, well, insane.

I believe nuts are at their most nutritious when they’re raw, and we do eat a lot of them that way, but I sometimes like to use this simple little glaze recipe to turn pecans into a delicious salad topping. Most of the flavor in the recipe comes from the spices, and though the recipe only contains a tablespoon of sugar, the nuts taste quite sweet.

If you don’t eat all of these on your salad, you should know that any leftover nuts make a delightful snack. ;)

And come to think of it, if you compare the price of these to the price of glazed/spiced nuts sold as snacks at the store, this might well be a frugal recipe. Hmm. If I was a detail oriented person, I’d do a neat price comparison, but that kind of thing doesn’t really blow my hair back. I’ll probably just keep making this recipe because the result is delicious. ;)

These are super easy to make….I’ll show you. First, combine salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice in a bowl. You could, of course, change the spices to reflect your personal preferences.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet, and add the spices. Add two cups of pecans, or whatever nuts you prefer, and toast over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently. I used a combo of pecans and almonds this particular time.

Should you be tempted to leave your nuts to go check your email or something, remind yourself that the last time I did that, I burned my pecans. Stay close by so that you can keep stirring the nuts!

Place the spiced nuts into a bowl and toss with a tablespoon of sugar. Spread the nuts out on a plate to cool.

Spiced Pecans

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups pecan halves
1 tablespoon sugar

Combine salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice in a small bowl. Melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat; add the spice mixture, followed by the pecans. Toast the nuts, stirring often, until the color of the nuts deepens slightly, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a bowl and toss with the sugar. Spread the coated nuts on a plate to cool.


  1. says

    Mmm. I want to make these. They sound so simple and so tasty. I’m with you on your idea that being frugal isn’t about being cheap but rather getting great value for your dollar. Nuts are way better than cheese puffs!

  2. Patti Pool says

    I do pecans like this also, with a small change. I use the same amount of pecans and butter but I coat the pecans with season all. The seasonsing you use when cooking meat ect. It is really good.

  3. Carla says

    I second your comment about nuts burning quickly. I’ve made sugared nuts in a cast iron skillet many times and have learned to remove them from the heat slightly BEFORE their desired doneness, since they seem to continue browning some after they are turned out on a cooling plate.

  4. says

    These look *extremely* delicious. However, I should not make treats like this any more because if I have even one, I cannot stop eating them! I also like to keep nuts around for snacking, and I can stay away (most of the time, anyway) from plain, raw ones. I usually buy nuts at Costco as well, or from the bulk section at WinCo.

    I have to say again that your photos are incredible. Oh, and I got 20 Swagbucks this morning when I searched for The Frugal Girl. Thanks!

  5. Christina says

    Love your blog…Sorry about the silly question but I am new in the kitchen and have a question about your recipe. You mention mixing the spices together in a bowl then toasting the nuts with butter then adding sugar. When do you mix the spices with the nuts, before you toast them or after with the sugar?

    Thanks for everything you do!

  6. Christina says

    Oh wait! I just saw where you add the spices…was that just added or did I totally miss that? Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  7. jan says

    have you tried making this in a crockpot? There’s a good recipe in the ‘year of crockpotting’ blog. Crockpot means it doesn’t burn.

  8. Amber says

    My husband and I just bought a house that has 4 nut tress in the backyard. This will be a nice way to prepare some of those nuts.

  9. says

    These would make a fabulous food gift too (hostess gift or tucked into an assorted gift basket). I’ve been making Candied Peanuts as a gift for years and everyone is totally thrilled to receive them. I’m allergic to tree nuts so I can’t do pecans etc but I might try your recipe with peanuts. My husband adores the cinnamon/allspice/cloves combo so maybe I’ll whip him up a batch for Father’s Day :)

  10. says

    These look so yummy!! Like the wonderful spiced almonds that we get when we go to Sight & Sound theaters! Thanks for posting. I’ve only ever tried a sweet/spicy recipe…this looks just like one I wanted to try to copy S&S!

  11. says

    Just made these using coconut oil instead of butter, and walnuts because that’s what I have on hand – delish! I love that you only use 1 tablespoon of sugar. Other recipes call for 1/4 cup or more. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Allison says

    Can you tell me how long these nuts keep after you’ve made them please? I’d like to make them as gifts for Christmas but I’m not sure when I should make them so that stay their best and freshest? Many thanks

    • Kristen says

      The original recipe says one week, so I wouldn’t make these too far ahead of time. Mine have never hung around here that long, though…we eat them too fast!

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