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These Spiced Pecans look naked, don’t they? It makes it so much more fun when someone grabs a big handful, because these babies are spicy.

Sure, when you first pop them into your mouth, you only taste the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. But then the heat kicks you right in the back of the throat, like Chuck Norris but with more mercy.

Making spiced nuts is fun, because you can customize the spice mix. This sweet-n-spicy Lee Brothers’ recipe has one ingredient you don’t usually see in spiced nuts: cumin. But if you don’t like cumin, or if you want to dial down the spice in general, substitute the cumin and cayenne with an equal amount of a spice you like. Or take out the savory spices and replace them with more sugar. Or send the sweeter spices back to the rack and replace them with Cajun spice mix. Aiyeeee!

The spices are most intense the first day, so if you don’t want to cough involuntarily during snacking, make these pecans a day in advance. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, use the pre-roasted spicy pecans to take your caramel corn to the next level. Jacked-up cracker jack? Oh, yesss.

Spiced Pecans

Adapted from Matt Lee and Ted Lee’s “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook”

Makes 3 cups

  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace or nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey, sorghum or cane syrup
  • 3 cups shelled raw pecan halves (about 3/4 pound)
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the spices, salt and sugar. Set aside 1 teaspoon of the mixture.
  3. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter slowly. After the foam subsides, turn off the heat and skim the white milk solids from the butter. Whisk the spice mixture into the butter in a slow stream. Then whisk in the honey.
  4. Put the pecans in a medium mixing bowl, and pour the warm spiced syrup mixture over them. Toss the mixture with a spatula or wooden spoon.
  5. Spread the pecans evenly on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake on the top rack for 45 minutes. The syrup should look dry, and the pecans will have darkened to the color of mahogany. Remove the sheet from the oven and sprinkle the reserved 1 teaspoon spice mixture over the pecans.
  6. Serve the nuts as soon as they have cooled, or store them. Roasted pecans will keep 2 weeks in an airtight container.

Nutritional Information (per 2-tablespoon serving) – calories: 116, fat: 12g, carbs: 3g, fiber 1g, protein: 1g, PP+ = 3