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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}
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Snack
Cuisine: chinese american
Keyword: holiday cooking
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 249kcal
Author: Maggie Zhu


  • 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


  • 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.


  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.


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