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Healthier Candied Pecans or Walnuts Recipe

Margaret has a passion for cooking, baking, and creating recipes that satisfy her cravings for delicious and indulgent food.

Sweet, Crunchy, Candied Nuts Made with Less Fat and Sugar

Candied walnuts and pecans are extraordinarily delicious and seriously addictive! They're perfect as a snack or as cocktail nibbles. My favorite way to eat them is as a delicious, sweet, crunchy element that adds a gourmet touch—as well as protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fat—to a lunch or dinner salad. These candied nuts are often served in fancy salads at high-end restaurants, but it's easy to do the same thing at home.

My Healthier Candied Pecans or Healthier Candied Walnuts Recipe is super simple, quick and easy and uses just two ingredients—nut halves and raw unrefined organic coconut sugar—plus a touch of coconut oil or nonstick spray to keep the sugared nuts from sticking to the silicone spatula as you stir them. It takes only 5 minutes to make them on a gas stovetop and 10 minutes on an electric stove or glass stovetop.

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A Healthier Recipe for This Gourmet Favorite

I've made both candied pecans and candied walnuts for many years, but unfortunately most recipes call for frying the nuts in oil and adding a lot of refined white cane sugar and salt. So recently I developed my own healthier candied pecans or candied walnuts recipe made with just pecans or walnuts and raw/unrefined organic coconut sugar, plus a little coconut oil (or nonstick spray, if you prefer) to keep the nuts from sticking to the spatula.

I significantly reduced the amount of sugar and substituted more nutritious unrefined organic coconut sugar, which also has a lower glycemic index. I also eliminated the added salt and oil and used pan toasting rather than pan-frying. The best news is that these candied walnuts or pecans are sweet, crunchy, satisfying, and just as addictive as the ones I used to fry in oil with refined white sugar and salt, and much more healthy! In fact, if you've been cutting down on added sugar and fat, you probably will like them even more than regular candied walnuts or pecans.

I've been making these at least once a week to garnish our lunch or dinner salads and to snack on (in small quantities, given how addictive they are). I've decided to share my recipe so you and your family can enjoy them, too!

Non-GMO, Unrefined, USDA Certified Organic Coconut Sugar

Unrefined organic coconut sugar is a key ingredient in this recipe. Raw or unrefined coconut sugar, also called coconut palm sugar, is less processed than brown or white cane sugar, has a lower glycemic index, is rich source of important nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and B vitamins, and is sustainably grown. It also has a lovely caramel-like flavor.

I prefer to use unrefined organic coconut sugar that is USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO.

My Quick and Easy Recipe for Reduced Fat, Low Sugar Candied Pecans or Candied Walnuts

Recipe card for reduced fat, less sugar candied walnuts or pecans

Recipe card for reduced fat, less sugar candied walnuts or pecans

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

5 min

10 min

15 min

1 cup

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. raw unrefined cold pressed coconut oil, or canola, olive or coconut oil nonstick spray
  • 1 cup pecan halves or walnut halves
  • 1 1/2 tsp. raw unrefined organic coconut sugar

Instructions

  1. Use the coconut oil (or nonstick spray) to lightly grease a heat-resistant silicone spatula and either a sheet of parchment paper or a nonstick baking sheet.
  2. Place the pecan or walnut halves in a single layer in a nonstick skillet/frying pan. Turn the heat to medium on a gas stove or medium high on an electric stove or glass stovetop and sprinkle the raw, unrefined coconut sugar evenly over the nuts.
  3. As soon as the pan gets hot, wait for one minute and then stir the nuts with the greased nonstick spatula and spread them out again in a single layer. Continue to toast the nuts, stirring and spreading them out again at least once per minute, until they start to smell fragrant and the sugar begins to clump a bit. Note: If the melting sugar starts to stick to the edge of the spatula, scrape it back into the pan and re-grease the spatula.
  4. Watch the pan very closely at this point! Even a few seconds can mean the difference between delicious candied nuts and inedible burned nuts. Stir and spread out the nuts in a single layer again every 15 seconds until the sugar melts. As soon as the sugar melts, immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir the contents thoroughly to make sure every pecan or walnut half is lightly coated with the melted sugar.
  5. Scrape the nuts onto the greased parchment paper or baking sheet and use the greased silicone spatula to spread them into a single layer, separating them as much as possible. Allow them to cool for a minute or two, break apart any that are stuck together, and they're ready to munch or to add crunch to your salads!
  6. Variations: You can mix a bit of cayenne pepper, cinnamon or both into the coconut sugar before sprinkling it over the nuts in Step 2 and/or sprinkle the hot nuts very lightly with salt just before scraping them onto the greased parchment paper if you wish.

Please Rate This Recipe!

Rich in Heart-Healthy Omega 3 Fatty Acids

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Essential Cooking Equipment for This Recipe

A Heat-Resistant, Silicone Spatula and a Good Nonstick Skillet

The coconut sugar caramelizes as it melts, just as cane sugar does, and will stick like glue to a regular spatula or cooking spoon when you stir the nuts. Many rubber spatulas also aren't heat resistant enough to prevent melting at high heat, and the rubber hardens and cracks over time. That's why a silicone spatula is definitely a necessity for making these candied walnuts or pecans.

A one-piece seamless silicone spatula is much easier to clean than a silicone spatula with a removable handle, and the seamless construction means that food particles can't hide in the crack of the seam like they can in seamed or two-piece spatulas. I own a set of three seamless, heat-resistant silicone spatulas in different sizes and shapes, and I use at least one of them for cooking or baking just about every day.

You'll also need a good nonstick skillet to make this recipe. The problem, of course, is that most nonstick coatings aren't all that durable, and as soon as you see a scratch or chip in the coating the entire pan needs to be replaced. If your nonstick pan is old or has a scratched or chipped Teflon coating, for your own health and safety, it's wise to replace it.

The T-fal #93808 Professional Total Nonstick 12" Fry Pan with Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator nonstick fry pan offers excellent performance, good design features, a durable nonstick coating and a price tag low enough so that you can replace it every few years without breaking the bank. It was top-rated in Cook's Illustrated magazine's review, beating out much higher priced nonstick pans in rigorous tests by the experts at America's Test Kitchen.

I love the heat indicator, a patterned red circle in the center of the pan that turns solid red when the skillet is preheated to the right temperature for cooking. I've had mine for several years, and it's still going strong. It's supposed to be dishwasher safe, although I hand wash mine (clean up is a cinch) to prolong the life of the nonstick coating. The bottom of this pan is nice and flat, too, so I can cook with it on my glass stovetop.

© 2014 Margaret Schindel

What do you think of my healthier candied pecans or candied walnuts recipe? Do you think you might try it?

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on November 17, 2018:

You'll love them, Virginia - and you definitely deserve to enjoy them yourself!

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on November 17, 2018:

I have some pecans and some walnuts. May try this on each kind. Not going to share my finished ones with anyone, just selfishly eat them all myself.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on January 17, 2016:

Thanks, Peachpurple! I hope you enjoy making this recipe. :)

peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 16, 2016:

wow you have such a long list of comments! Congrats! I love home roast peanuts, now I know how to make candied type

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on January 25, 2015:

@OhMe, thanks and please let me know how you like these when you do get a chance to try making them! :)

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on January 23, 2015:

I have Pecans in the freezer so might just try your recipe. Sounds delicious.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on January 21, 2015:

@Lorelei, yes, they are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Lorelei Cohen on January 21, 2015:

My husband has high cholesterol and we try to eat walnuts on a regular basis. They are supposed to balance out the good and bad fats.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on November 14, 2014:

@Sylvestermouse, thank you so much for including it in your wonderful Review This! article on Thanksgiving side dish recipes! These are definitely addictive, but also high in protein and healthy plant fats and relatively low in sugar, so they're a guilt-free holiday treat. Enjoy!

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on November 14, 2014:

Sounds delicious and looks so easy! This could very well become my favorite holiday treat. Thank you for submitting this recipe article for the Thanksgiving side dish recipes on Review This!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 23, 2014:

@Nancy, thanks so much for the wonderful compliment! This recipe is one of our favorites.:)

Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV on September 23, 2014:

This always makes me hungry for pecans (my favorite) and I think this looks fabulous as a Hub, Margaret!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 23, 2014:

Shinichi, what a great idea! I'll bet they'd be good broken into small chunks and sprinkled into the pancake batter. Hmmm....I'm thinking banana walnut pancakes, maybe with bits of dark chocolate or chopped up cacao nibs! ;)

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 23, 2014:

Thanks so much for your lovely feedback, Paula! My husband and I make these nearly every week to toss into salads, break into bits and sprinkle over ice cream, or as a high-protein snack with a touch of sweetness. I hope you and your family enjoy them as much as we do. :)

Shinichi Mine from Tokyo, Japan on September 23, 2014:

These sound amazing on a batch of pancakes.

Paula Atwell from Cleveland, OH on September 23, 2014:

Margaret, this recipe sounds delicious and one my family would love. Going to put this on my list for Thanksgiving.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 23, 2014:

Thanks, Corrinna! Candied almonds sound divine, especially with your idea of mixing them with dried cranberries and dark chocolate. You're my kind of lady! :)

Corrinna Johnson from BC, Canada on September 23, 2014:

Sure sounds yummy! I love candied nuts and will have to try your healthier version, though I would use almonds instead because I am allergic to walnuts and pecans. They would be delicious tossed with some dried cranberries and a piece of dark chocolate!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 23, 2014:

Thanks, Barbara! We make it all the time. These are so good on salads, chopped or broken and sprinkled over ice cream, or as a high protein snack! I'm so glad you like the recipe.

Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on September 23, 2014:

Recipe looks good here on Hubpages too, love this recipe

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on September 22, 2014:

@Valerie, ooooh, that sounds delicious, too! :)

Valerie Proctor Davis from Birmingham, Alabama on September 22, 2014:

It sounds delicious! I usually toast my pecans in a toaster oven, sometimes with honey.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on June 05, 2014:

@delia-delia: Thanks so much! :)

Delia on June 05, 2014:

Congratulations on LOTD! I just gained 5 lbs reading this...very Yummy!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on June 02, 2014:

@SheGetsCreative: Thanks, Angela! If you're making them for guests you may want to add a bit more of the coconut sugar as well as some cinnamon and cayenne pepper. The spices make them more festive and the added coconut sugar may be more appealing to guests who aren't used to eating healthier sweet treats. ;) Enjoy!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on June 02, 2014:

@sybil watson: Thanks very much, Sybil dear! I really hope you get a chance to try this healthier version of candied pecans. :)

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on June 02, 2014:

@tfsherman lm: Thanks so much for letting me know how you liked them! Yes, if you're used to much sweeter candied nuts you may want to start with a bit more coconut sugar and then perhaps taper down the amount once you get used to eating them a bit less sweet than what you had been accustomed to previously, if you like. And they're wonderful with a bit of cinnamon and cayenne pepper! :)

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on June 02, 2014:

@Johanna Eisler: Joie, you're very welcome! These will be less sweet than what you're used to, so you may want to start with a bit more coconut sugar and then gradually lessen the amount as you get used to enjoying them with less added sugar. Please do let me know how you like them!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on June 02, 2014:

@SteveKaye: Thanks very much, Steve! We think they're yummy. Hope you do, too! :)

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on June 02, 2014:

@Diaper Bag Blog: Thanks very much! I hope you love these as much as we do. :)

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on June 02, 2014:

@tfsherman lm: Great! Let me know how you like them. :)

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on June 02, 2014:

@jky27: You're very welcome! I hope you enjoy them.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on June 02, 2014:

@anonymous: Thanks very much! It was a wonderful honor.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on June 02, 2014:

@topclimb lm: My pleasure! I hope you enjoy it.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on June 02, 2014:

@Shades-of-truth: Wonderful! I hope you enjoy making and eating these yummy nuts. :)

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on June 02, 2014:

@LouisaDembul: I hope you do! If you have trouble locating coconut sugar locally (try your health food store) you can order it on Amazon, if you like. I've shared a link to my favorite brand on the recipe page.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on June 02, 2014:

@Quazzo: Thanks! We love them and I hope you do, too.

Angela F from Seattle, WA on June 01, 2014:

Definitely might give it a try. Usually make candied nuts for the Holidays and this sounds like it would be a great alternative.

sybil watson on June 01, 2014:

Congratulations Margaret! I love candied nuts, and pecans are my favorite.

tfsherman lm on June 01, 2014:

Well, I've eaten my first batch. I did need to add a bit more sugar, like 2 1/2 teaspoons, and I can see how you could throw in any spice too. Incredibly easy and delicious.

Johanna Eisler on May 31, 2014:

They look wonderful! It puts me in mind of what we used to make when I was a teenager called 'Sugared Walnuts.' But yours look much healthier than our were! I'm really looking forward to trying this recipe! Thank you so much for sharing!

SteveKaye on May 31, 2014:

This looks really good - easy plus delicious. Yum!

Stanley Green from Czech Republic on May 31, 2014:

We tried something similar at home some time ago, but your recipe looks better! I gotta find out if it tastes better too :) Congratulations on the LOTD!

tfsherman lm on May 31, 2014:

I live for nuts, and I just found the coconut sugar at my regular grocery store's organic section, so I'm all ready to go! Thanks!

jky27 on May 31, 2014:

These look amazing for a great snack! Thanks for sharing!

anonymous on May 31, 2014:

Great recipe. Congratulations on getting LotD!

topclimb lm on May 31, 2014:

Love the recipe. I absolutely would try it... Thanks for the lens.

Emily Tack from USA on May 31, 2014:

I love pecans, and happen to have organic coconut sugar and organic coconut oil at home, AND pecans! Think I'll have to try this!

LouisaDembul on May 31, 2014:

This sounds really wonderful! Will see if I can get hold of coconut sugar, must try it out!

Quazzo on May 30, 2014:

They sound delicious!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@Ibidii: Thanks! I hope you love them. :)

Ibidii on May 30, 2014:

Nom Nom! Will get some coconut sugar and try this awesome recipe!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@WedgeAntilles: Thanks so much, ColonelAntilles! Yes, I often add other spices (see the suggested variations in Step 7). :) I may have thrown out my "full fat/sugar" recipe now that I've switched to making this healthier version, but I'll look for it and share it if I can find it. Thanks again!

Wedge Antilles from Mount Vernon, WA on May 30, 2014:

I love nuts of all kinds - some of my best friends are nuts LOL ;) - if possible, I would like to see your 'full fat/sugar recipe. Also, have you ever tried substituting some spices like chili powder, cayenne, paprika, etc. just for a change up? If you have I think that that might also make a good lens. Congratulations on LOTD - wonderful.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@astevn816 lm: Thank you! I hope you get a chance to try it. :)

astevn816 lm on May 30, 2014:

thank you for the recipe, it looks yummy

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@Brite-Ideas: Thanks so much, Barbara! I really appreciate your kind words and congratulations, dear friend. :)

Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on May 30, 2014:

Margaret, congratulations on LOTD, very much deserved, a fantastic page!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@favored: Thank you, Fay! I definitely agree about these being great party snacks. I used to make traditional candied nuts for parties often (both mine and other people's). Now I'll be making this healthier version instead. :)

Fay Favored from USA on May 30, 2014:

These would also be good at a party. Congratulations on LotD.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@AlleyCatLane: Thanks, Carolyn! That's exactly why I decided to come up with a healthier way to enjoy candied nuts. I hope you enjoy them as much as my husband and I do! :)

AlleyCatLane on May 30, 2014:

I'll have to try this. I love candied nuts as a snack and on salads, but I do need to eat healthier. This sounds like it will satisfy me and my diet.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@kimbesa2: My pleasure! So glad you enjoyed it. :)

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@Diana Wenzel: Thanks so much, Diana! The nice thing is that you can make a quick batch in about 5 minutes if you have a gas stovetop (or about 10 minutes with an electric glass stovetop) whenever the craving hits you. Like right this nanosecond. ;) Thanks again, my friend!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@writerkath: Thanks very much, Kathy! :)

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@Craftymarie: Thanks, Marie! They really are quite addictive, so I usually make them in small batches so I don't have a large container of them to tempt me. They take practically no time to make, so I can toast up just what I want/need whenever I want or need them. But I also sometimes make a bigger batch and freeze them, taking out just what I want/need and putting back the rest. They thaw out very fast, and it helps with portion control, too. :)

kimbesa from USA on May 30, 2014:

Excellent! Thanks so much for this simple and innovative recipe!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@Scott A McCray: Thanks VERY much, Scott! Considering that jewelry making is my Contributor niche I'm surprised at how many healthy recipe lenses I've been making lately. ;) So glad you will be trying these soon!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@Faye Rutledge: My pleasure, Nancy! I hope you enjoy my healthier version. :)

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@Ruthi: Thanks, Ruthi! They do make a wonderful and nutritious treat. :D

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@AcornOakForest: Thank you so much for your kind congratulations and for voting for my recipe lens in the May Food Club Quest! :)

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on May 30, 2014:

I'm thinking I seriously _need_ some of these candied pecans imminently. Like right this nanosecond. Congrats on your win and LotD! Deliciously done, my friend.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@esmonaco: Thanks so much, Sam! I'm thrilled. :)

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@Dressage Husband: Thanks, Stephen! I discovered organic coconut sugar last year and really like it. Sugar is still sugar, but this is a minimally processed sweetener that also tastes great, so I've been cutting way back on sugar and using coconut sugar when I do treat myself to it.

writerkath on May 30, 2014:

Yummy! Congratulations on LotD! :)

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@sirteacup: You're very welcome! I've always loved them, too, and didn't want to have to give them up when I decided to make a major change to my approach to food. Enjoy!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 30, 2014:

@takkhisa: Thanks very much! I'm very excited about it. :)

Marie on May 30, 2014:

Yes, I like things that are quick to make so this is definitely a recipe I would try and they do look like a snack that I would want to keep on eating too!

Scott A McCray on May 30, 2014:

Congrats on LoTD! Seems as if you have found your Squidoo niche/calling! Looks yummy and *will* be made at my house very soon!

Faye Rutledge from Concord VA on May 30, 2014:

I love these in salads or for a snack, but never made them using the coconut sugar. Thanks for this great recipe. :)

Ruthi on May 30, 2014:

Your candied nuts recipe sounds much healthier than most. I munch on nuts all day but just eat them raw but this might be a nice treat on occasion.

Monica Lobenstein from Western Wisconsin on May 30, 2014:

Congratulations on your LotD! Well-earned. I know I voted for your lens.

Eugene Samuel Monaco from Lakewood New York on May 30, 2014:

Just back to say Congratulations On LOTD!!!

Stephen J Parkin from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada on May 30, 2014:

I have never tried coconut sugar, but love the nuts as they are so this sounds like a good option for those with a sweet tooth. Well done on the LOTD.

sirteacup on May 30, 2014:

Yum! I've always loved these so I'm very grateful for a guilt-free version. Thanks for the awesome lens!

Takkhis on May 30, 2014:

Wow it sounds delicious! Congrats on LotD.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 29, 2014:

@MariaMontgomery: My pleasure! Thanks for the pin. :)

MariaMontgomery from Central Florida, USA on May 29, 2014:

I love these. Thanks for the info on making them healthier. I have pinned this so I can find it again.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 29, 2014:

@David3142: You're right - which is why it's a good thing they're so quick and easy to make so I can make them in small batches if I want to. But often I'll make a larger batch and freeze them. That way I can pour out just the quantity I want (for portion control) and put the rest back in the freezer container right away. The frozen nuts defrost quickly. :)

David from West Midlands, England on May 29, 2014:

This sounds like one of those snacks where you can't stop until they're all gone. Delicious but dangerous! Thanks for sharing.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 29, 2014:

@smine27: Me, too, Shinichi! ;)

Shinichi Mine from Tokyo, Japan on May 29, 2014:

I could much on these all day!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 28, 2014:

@tcaldy: Thanks! I hope you enjoy my healthier version of this tasty treat. :)

tcaldy on May 28, 2014:

These sound really great! Always looking for healthier alternatives to the foods we like. I'll have to try this one.

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 28, 2014:

@BarbaraCasey: My pleasure, Barbara! I've been making oil- and sugar-laden candied nuts for years, but since they no longer fit into our healthier lifestyle and we didn't want to give up this wonderful treat I knew I had to come up with an alternative. I hope you enjoy this version!

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 28, 2014:

@VioletteRose LM: You're very welcome! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Margaret Schindel (author) from Massachusetts on May 28, 2014:

@Jo-Jackson: Great! I hope you enjoy these crunchy treats.

BarbaraCasey on May 28, 2014:

I must try this. My Swedish Nuts recipe calls for oodles of butter and sugar. Tastes great, but not nearly as healthy-sounding as yours. Thank you!

VioletteRose LM on May 28, 2014:

Sounds delicious, thanks for sharing :)

Jo-Jackson on May 27, 2014:

I'm a nut fan so will try making candied walnuts using your recipe.