Easy Candied Walnuts with Spice

4 from 1 vote
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This super easy candied walnuts recipe yields gorgeously coated sugary, crunchy nuts with a Chinese-inspired spice mix to add a spicy savory touch. They are perfect for holiday gifting, topping on your salad, or simply serving as a snack.  {Vegan, Gluten-Free}

Candied walnuts with spice

You’ll love these candied walnuts no matter whether you are a savory person or have a sweet tooth. These walnuts are extra crunchy, coated with a sugar glaze, and dusted with a Chinese spice mix. A spice mix includes nutmeg, ginger, Sichuan peppercorn, paprika and cumin, which all balance the sweetness and make the nuts addictively tasty.

Candied nuts close-up

Why this recipe

There are many candied walnut recipes out there that require deep frying or baking. I do not like either of those approaches!

The fried candied walnuts usually have an even and shiny glaze with a perfect crunchy crispy texture, but it takes a ton of time and effort to make them. Not to mention that frying sugar can cause hot, painful splatter.

The common oven method is easier and fuss-free. However,  the sugar will crystalize and create a less appealing look and texture. 

That’s why I created this recipe, inspired by a Chinese cooking technique used commonly for making candied apples (拔丝苹果) and candied sweet potatoes (拔丝地瓜). It uses a stovetop method with minimal oil to create a crispy crunchy candied result and it only takes a few minutes to make.

Homemade candied walnuts in a bowl


The ingredients in this recipe are so simple. Note, you will need regular white sugar in this recipe. Any sugar that has larger granules is not suitable for this recipe, since the larger granules won’t melt as fast or as evenly.

Ingredients for making candied walnuts

Cooking process

The cooking process is simple and fast.

  1. Melt the sugar with some oil in a frying pan
  2. Shake the pan occasionally, until most of the sugar has dissolved and some of the sugar turns golden
  3. Add the walnuts
  4. Stir and fold slowly to evenly coat the walnuts with the sugar
  5. When the sugar has turned golden brown and melted completely, immediately transfer everything to a tray to cool
  6. Toss with the spice mix and wait until the walnuts cool down before serving
Spiced candied walnuts cooking step-by-step

Cooking notes

  1. Once you melt the sugar, any stirring could cause it to crystallize. That’s why you shouldn’t touch the sugar besides when you tilt the pan to melt the sugar at the beginning. Once you add the walnuts, the stirring might cause a little bit of crystallization. But no worries! The result will be delicious and crispy even if the sugar crystallizes a little bit.
  2. If the sugar does not coat the nuts evenly, that’s totally fine. Transfer all the sugar onto the nuts once it’s done, and it will harden and grab onto the nuts once it has cooled. The uneven coating creates a fun texture, too. 
  3. Adjust the spice mix to your taste. This recipe uses just enough spice to create a balanced flavor. But you can increase or decrease the spice level to your liking.
  4. Store the candied walnuts in a sealed container once they have cooled off completely. They will remain very crispy for 2 weeks at room temperature. But I doubt you’ll be able to resist the temptation to finish them all in a few days!
  5. If you want to make more candied walnuts, you should make them in two batches. A bigger batch is harder to make since the sugar might not melt evenly.
Chinese spiced walnuts coated with sugar


This candied walnut recipe is super easy and the results are delicious, even with room for error. It’s a major update from my previous recipe, which used a two-step method that included deep-frying.  If you’re making edible gifts for Christmas, I’d highly recommend this one since it creates such a beautiful presentation and is addictively enjoyable!

Homemade crystalized walnuts

Other Asian-inspired holiday recipes you might like

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This super easy candied walnuts recipe yields gorgeously coated sugary, crunchy nuts with a Chinese-inspired spice mix to add a spicy savory touch. They are perfect for holiday gifting, topping on your salad, or simply serving as a snack. {Vegan, Gluten-Free}

Easy Candied Walnuts with Spice

4 from 1 vote
This super easy candied walnuts recipe yields gorgeously coated sugary, crunchy nuts with a Chinese-inspired spice mix to add a spicy savory touch. They are perfect for holiday gifting, topping on your salad, or simply serving as a snack. {Vegan, Gluten-Free}
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Snack
Cuisine: chinese american
Keyword: holiday cooking
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


Spice Mix

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorn
  • Pinch cumin powder

Candied nuts

  • 1 cup skinless walnuts halves and pieces
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  • For the spice mix: Combine the spice mix ingredients in a small bowl and stir to mix well.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until just turning warm. Swirl the pan to let the oil coat as much surface as possible. Sprinkle the sugar into the pan in a thin layer.
  • Turn to medium-low heat. Cook, swirl the pan occasionally, until most of the sugar has melted and starts turning an amber color and small bubbles come up, 3 minutes or so.
  • Add the nuts. Stir everything together to let the sugar coat the nuts as evenly as possible. Keep cooking and stirring until all the sugar has melted and the sugar turns a golden brown color, about 2 minutes. Then immediately transfer everything onto the lined baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle the spice mix evenly over the nuts. Toss a few times to mix well. Spread out the nuts again and separate them as much as possible using a spatula. Let cool until the coating has hardened, 10 minutes or so. Then you can easily break apart the nuts using your hands.
  • Serve as an appetizer or a snack. Once they’ve cooled completely, store the leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.


  1. I rarely measure the oil in most of my savory dishes, but it’s important to measure out the oil in this recipe. If using too little oil, the sugar won’t melt properly. If using too much, the sugar syrup will have a hard time coating the nuts.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 271kcal, Carbohydrates: 15.7g, Protein: 7.5g, Fat: 21.9g, Saturated Fat: 1.7g, Sodium: 148mg, Potassium: 166mg, Fiber: 2.2g, Sugar: 12.9g, Calcium: 20mg, Iron: 1mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don’t forget the last step! Leave a comment below, and tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. MPaula says:

    Have you ever tried mixing the spice with the sugar before boiling? Maybe adding double the spice mix? Just wondering. I won’t deep fry but I want lots of the spice flavour.

  2. Frank says:

    I have fried once.
    If the nuts are not sweet enough or crispy enough, can I throw back the nuts to re-coat with sugar and fry again?

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      You can as long as the nuts do not turn too dark in color (will taste like burned if over fried).

  3. Valerie says:

    4 stars
    Definitely making these to send in a care package. If I leave out the sichuan pepper, will it be missed in the flavor profile? Could I substitute with a bit of white pepper for a bit of heat? Does sichuan pepper actually have a flavor or is it just for the numbing effect? I still love your General Tsao’s Chicken! Eliminating the deep frying was a game changer, and I use that trick for other dishes as well.

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      I love the flavor of Sichuan peppercorns in this recipe but you can totally skip it. I would use ground black pepper to as a replacement since I’m not sure if white pepper pairs well with the sweet taste. For more heat, some chili flakes or a very small pinch of cayenne pepper would help.

      • Valerie says:

        Thanks Maggie Z. I should actually try the szechuan peppercorns before ruling them out! LoL I just can’t beyond the “numbing effect”, but from what you say, they do have their own flavor. I’ll pick some up and see how it goes, and thank you for your subs for “just in case.” This is a BIG request, but you wouldn’t happen to know how to make the winter melon cakes or buns? They aren’t a mooncake. My absolutely favorite Chinese Pastry (besides those BIG almond cookies). When I lived in SF, I’d walk to Chinatown every week and stock up on both. All the walking would eliminate the calories. LoL They are those flattish, flakey buns with the winter melon paste inside. OMG I miss them so much! They are probably a lot of work–but so worth it. I have a recipe for the almond cookies, but still not the same. Both not too sweet just yummy!

      • Maggie Zhu says:

        Hi Valerie, I love the winter melon pastry too. They are so delicious however very labor intensive to make.
        The pastry is similar to this one: https://omnivorescookbook.com/dan-huang-su/ I was planning to develop a recipe for it, but ended up delaying it again and again because I thought no one would make it… Will definitely look into it again 🙂

  4. Ryan says:

    Hi Maggie, I just bought myself a DeBuyer 12.5″ pan after reading your writeups – would you recommend any particular knives too?

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      I used to use Global santoku knife and their pairing knife and really liked them.
      But since last year I’ve been exclusively using the house brand by Korin, a reputable Japanese knife maker based in NY.
      Now I use their Hammered Damascus Santoku https://www.korin.com/HKR-TDSA-180_2
      And Hammered Damascus Nakiri https://www.korin.com/HKR-TDNA-165_2 (my favorite – it’s a vegetable knife)
      They have other great knives as well and you can try them out if you visit their store. But I think the house brand has really high quality and very good price compared to some other bigger brands. The santoku and nakiri are on the lighter and shorter side, which is very easy to maneuver for me. You can also check out the same line for a longer knife if you’re more comfortable with chef’s knife.
      PS. They also provide mail-in knife sharpening service and has great how-to videos on this topic. My husband helps me sharpen all our knives learned from their tutorial.

    • Erica says:

      Do you think this would also work with cashews or some other nut? It sound really good but I’m not a fan of walnuts.

      • Maggie Zhu says:

        Pecans will produce the most similar result but I’m sure that cashews will also work.

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