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+ servings

Spicy Pecans

These brown sugar-glazed pecans tossed in a sweet and spicy coating make fantastic host/hostess gifts, as well as a simple snack or holiday appetizer.
Although the nuts can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 weeks or frozen (tightly wrapped) for up 3 months, odds are good these pecans won’t last more than a day or two.
This recipe first appeared on altonbrown.com.
Alton Brown's spicy pecans in a glass jar and a white ramekin.
ACTIVE TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 18 minutes
Yield: 1 pound


  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ground orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 pound pecan halves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pats
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Specialized Hardware

  • 10-inch cast-iron skillet


  • Line a clean counter with a piece of parchment paper or foil at least 20 inches long.
  • Mix the cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, smoked paprika, and orange peel together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Place the nuts in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, with a large wooden spoon or spatula until the pecans begin to brown release a roasted aroma, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the spices until just fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds, then add the butter pats and stir to melt. Add the sugar and mix thoroughly before adding the water. Stir until the sugar has dissolved completely and the nuts look glazed, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with kosher salt and remove from heat.
  • Spread the nuts evenly onto the parchment or foil so that they don't dry in clumps. Cool completely before transferring to an airtight container for storage.