Candied Walnuts with Spice

This 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. Both baking and stovetop methods are included in the recipe. {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 involving nutmeg, ginger, Sichuan peppercorn, paprika and cumin, which balances the sweetness and makes these nuts addictively tasty.

Homemade candied walnuts

Frying vs. baking

I know that you have a big frown on your face when you hear that a recipe involves deep frying. Me too. I always avoid deep frying whenever I can. But after testing many methods and comparing the results, I have to say that the deep frying yields the best candied walnuts. Just in case you still want the easy approach, I’ve included the baked version too. But here is the difference:

  • The fried candied walnuts have a beautiful, even, and shiny glaze with a perfect crunchy crispy texture. The spice mix comes through and balances with the sweetness, creating a better taste.
  • The oven method is easier and fuss-free. However,  the sugar will crystalize and create a less appealing look. The results will still be crispy, but the spice mix will be washed away during the baking, creating a flavor profile that’s more about the sweetness.

My husband tried both and he was happy with both. For me, I’d always choose the fried version.

Comparison of deep fried and baked candied walnuts

Cooking process

This recipe consists of two parts.

  • Part 1: cook the nuts in a sugary syrup until glazed.
  • Part 2: fry or bake the walnuts to make them crispy

1. Glaze the walnuts

The recipe uses a simple and fuss-free method to glaze the nuts. You will need to boil the nuts with sugar and water, until just glazed. The sugar should not be caramelized.

At the end of this stage of cooking, the nuts will be lightly browned and have a shiny glaze coating.

Once done, keep the pan on very low heat. The walnuts are ready for frying.

Note, once the nuts and syrup are overcooked, the sugar will start to crystalize and you will see sugar flakes on the edges of the nuts. In this case, simply pour in a bit more water, cook and stir. This way, the walnuts will return to the glazey stage.

Cook walnuts with syrup on stove

Adding water to crystalized walnuts

2. Crisp up the walnuts

Option 1 – Deep frying the walnuts

Like I mentioned above, this method requires more work but yields a better result.

To fry the nuts, you should use a deep pot and cover the bottom with 2” (5 cm) of oil.

Heat the oil while the walnuts are being cooked in the sugary water.

Always fry in small batches, so the walnuts will be cooked evenly and the oil temperature won’t drop too much.

Once fried, coat the walnuts with the spice mix and let them cool on a rack.

Deep frying walnuts step-by-step

Option 2 – Baking the walnuts

This method is so much easier, but the result is less perfect than you’d get from the frying method.

To bake the nuts, toss the glazed nuts with the spice mix and spread them on a baking tray.

Bake until they turn a dark amber color.

You will see the sugar crystalize at the end and the candied walnuts may not look as appealing. But the texture will remain crispy.

Baking walnuts step-by-step

Cooking notes

  1. Be sure to cool the candied walnuts completely before serving. The texture will be soft when the nuts are hot. They will become super crispy once they’ve cooled to room temperature.
  2. Handle the sugar and oil with care. Once the walnuts are glazed, the sugar will be very hot. Take extra caution while handling the walnuts, so it won’t cause splattering. Burns from molten sugar can be very painful.
  3. Adjust the spice mix to your taste. This recipe uses just enough spice to create a balanced flavor. You can double the spice mix if you prefer a more savory vibe. If you have any leftover spice mix, you can use it as a meat/chicken rub.
  4. Store candied walnuts in a sealed container. They will remain very crispy for 2 weeks. Although I highly recommend you eat them within the first week, when they’re the freshest.

Candied walnuts with spice close-up

Afterthoughts

Making perfect candied walnuts takes some effort. I hesitated a lot before sharing this recipe, because of the deep-frying involved. But after testing and comparing the different methods, I still like this one the best. If you’re making edible gifts for Christmas, I’d highly recommend using the deep frying method, since it creates such a beautiful presentation.

Other Asian-inspired holiday recipes you might like

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

Candied Walnuts with Spice | This 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. Both baking and stovetop methods are included in the recipe. {Vegan, Gluten-Free}

Candied Walnuts with Spice

This 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. Both baking and stovetop methods are included in the recipe. {Vegan, Gluten-Free}
Print Pin Rate
Course: Snack
Cuisine: chinese american
Keyword: holiday cooking
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 249kcal
Author: Maggie Zhu

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (6 oz / 180 g) skinless raw walnuts halves
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable oil , for frying (skip if using the baking method)

Spice Mix (*Footnote 1)

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorn
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin

Instructions

  • Combine the ingredients for the spice mix in a small bowl. Stir to mix well.
  • Add the walnuts, sugar, and water into a saucepan or large nonstick skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until bringing to a boil. Turn to medium heat. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the water has mostly evaporated. Turn to medium low heat and continue cooking until the walnuts are glazed. There will be some syrup left on the bottom of the pan, and the nuts should look shiny without any crystalized sugar on them. The whole process should take anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the heat setting.
  • If the sugar on the walnuts crystalizes, add another 1/4 cup water. Cook and stir until the crystals disappear. Set the heat to low when the nuts are ready to fry.

Deep frying method (recommended)

  • Once the nuts have cooked for 10 minutes, heat another medium-sized saucepan with 2” (5 cm) oil over medium heat until it reaches 350 °F (176 °C).
  • As soon as the walnuts are properly glazed, begin frying them in batches. Use a slotted spoon or spider skimmer to drain the nuts of any excess syrup and carefully lower them into the oil. Do not fry too many nuts at a time, only enough to barely form one layer in the frying pot. Remove the nuts from the oil when the nuts begin to float and turn dark amber, 30 seconds to a minute. Drain the excess oil from the nuts and transfer them to a heatproof bowl such as a ceramic one.
  • Add a few pinches of the spice mix to the bowl and toss them together while the nuts are still hot, to evenly coat the nuts with spice mix. Taste one of the coated nuts (be careful when it’s still hot), and adjust the seasoning according to your taste.
  • Spread the spice-coated nuts onto a tray lined with a cooling rack. Let cool completely before serving. Repeat the process to fry the rest of the nuts.
  • The nuts will be very tasty now, but will crisp up a lot more once cooled.

Baking method

  • While the nuts are cooking, preheat the oven to 350 °F (176 °C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Once the nuts are glazed, transfer them to a big bowl, add the spice mix, and toss to cover evenly. Transfer onto the lined baking sheet and spread into one layer.
  • Bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Check on the nuts after 10 minutes. If they haven’t turned dark amber, let them bake a bit longer.
  • Once done, transfer the walnuts onto a tray to cool before serving. The nuts will crisp up once cooled completely.

Serve & Store

  • These candied walnuts are perfect for holiday gifting, topping on your salad, or simply serving as a snack.
  • Once completely cooled, store the candied walnuts in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. They taste the best when fresh (the first 3 to 5 days) and will remain crispy throughout the storage. If you plan to store the walnuts for longer, put a few layers of paper towel on the bottom of the container to collect any extra oil and moisture.

Notes

  1. The recipe yields just enough spice mix to coat the walnuts. If you like your walnuts more savory and heavily seasoned, you can double the spice mix and coat more spice onto the walnuts.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 249kcal | Carbohydrates: 16.8g | Protein: 5.1g | Fat: 20.1g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 291mg | Potassium: 6mg | Fiber: 2.1g | Sugar: 12.6g | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 1mg
Candied Walnuts with Spice | This 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. Both baking and stovetop methods are included in the recipe. {Vegan, Gluten-Free}

Disclosure

Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my New York kitchen.

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