Maple Glazed Walnuts! This little how-to shows you an easy way to make fuss-free candied nuts at home, stove-top with no oven needed. Using just raw walnuts, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne (for all my fellow spice lovers out there).
Naturally sweetened with no refined sugar or added oil. These walnuts are lightly pan-toasted, making them crisp but not too hard to the bite. No tough peanut brittle meets tooth-cracking toffee coating to be found here. A few minutes in a hot pan and then left to cool until that maple syrup has formed a delicious candy shell, kissed with just a hint of holiday cinnamon and a sprinkling of salt.
5 ingredients, 5 minutes of hands-on cook time. It’s as simple as that my friends!
Walnuts are one of the best ways to sneak omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, and this at-home candied version is one of the sweetest ways that I know how to do it.
When the walnuts hit the hot pan they begin to toast, encouraging all those natural oils to come up to the surface and deepening that nutty flavor. As it heats, the maple syrup will begin to caramelize. Bubbling up, surrounding, and coating each individual nut to create layer upon layer of that addicting buttery, sweet crust.
Then all there is left to do is spread them out on a parchment paper lined plate or sheet pan and let them dry. As they cool, they will crisp up even more and you can store them in an airtight container on your countertop to snack on all week long!
RELATED: Cranberry Maple Trail Mix
These taste almost like pralines, and they are pretty darn close to being a textbook French praline (which is essentially just a nut coated in caramelized sugar). Pralines n’ cream ice cream was my hands down favorite as a kid. I would walk away from that Thrifty’s ice cream counter happy to order my scoop in a CUP, not a sugar cone, because I could then use my spoon to hunt down and dig out each crunchy, sweet, sugary coated pecan nugget. The pralines were by far the BEST part.
So it’s no surprise that my favorite part of any salad or yogurt parfait (…or acai bowl or ice cream sundae or hot fruit crumble) is the TOPPING. Whatever ingredient is responsible for adding that extra bit of oomph, that “IT” factor, that craveable // cannot-live-without-it element that really makes the dish.
And for me, these maple glazed walnuts are exactly THAT.
I love having them scattered throughout leafy greens with creamy goat cheese and dried fruit, like in this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad. And you better believe they would set these Trail Mix Bars over the TOP if you swapped out the chopped almonds for some chopped maple glazed walnuts instead. And don’t even get me started on how good a little sprinkling of these sweet crushed nuts are on top of Blackberry Pie Overnight Oats or a Greek yogurt parfait swirled with Roasted Strawberry Sauce. Or as an extra luxe addition to your usual plane-jane trail mix line-up.
I just want to eat them ALL up. Every last one of them.
These are gluten-free, vegan, and paleo-friendly. Making them easy eats for all to enjoy. They are a perfect grain-free substitute for giving some freshly sautéed fruit a bit of granola or crumble style crunch. Or a super stylish addition to amp up your morning smoothie bowl layered alongside some fresh sliced fruit. You know, just to make things extra Instagram worthy.
A few quick recipe notes, before I send you off with well wishes for another fabulous weekend!
You’ll see on the recipe card that it says to stir frequently. So please, DO! Do this. It’s only a few minutes but you want to make sure each walnut gets lovingly coated in an equal amount of sweet goodness, and to keep moving them around so they do not burn.
Now let’s talk nonstick pans and nonstick spatulas. If you have ever tried to fry and flip an egg in a pan that is not a suitably egg-friendly cooking vessel then you will totally understand why I am emphasizing this. A nonstick pan will ensure that you will be able to get the most out of this recipe and a nonstick spatula (preferably one that can withstand high heat without melting) will ensure your sanity while doing it. This way you can stir the ingredients without being worried about having a welded-on-for-forever candied mess plastered onto the pan afterwards. And you’ll be able to easily slide the ingredients out of the pan and onto parchment paper to cool. Less mess, more CANDY!! I mean, candied nuts…
And don’t worry, because we are using all natural ingredients whatever appears stuck in the pan and on the spatula immediately after cooking WILL come off later. You can just fill the pan with water, stick the spatula in it, and then set it all aside in the sink. After a little bit, you’ll find the water will have very easily dissolved the heated syrup.
RELATED: Peanut Butter Trail Mix Bars
You’ll notice the recipe does not have any oil in it because it just doesn’t need it. I tried to make these with coconut oil once and coconut sugar, and it resulted in a sad, burnt mess that after this sentence we shan’t ever speak of again. But really, it was not good.
And finally, let’s have a quick chat about cooling time. I too suffer from impatience when a baked good or something that smells like a baked good (ahem, hot maple syrup // cinnamon dusted // freshly toasted walnuts) is supposed to be cooled for a certain number of minutes. Sometimes I just cannot help myself and will greedily snack on them well ahead of the designated cooling time. This is totally okay if you like gooey sticky things lodging themselves in your teeth. Feel free to happily snack away when they are in this phase! But if you want to use these as a crunchy topping for salads, smoothie bowls, and the like.
Be sure to give them ample time to cool fully. This is the only way that they will reach their full crispy potential. After a few minutes you can break the clusters up with your fingers and this will help them cool even quicker and more completely. If you don’t let them cool fully and then store them in a lidded container, they will still taste fantastic but you’ll notice they are just a little lacking in the crunchy department.
Other than that, have no fear. This recipe is genuinely hard to fudge up.
I’m off to get an early start to my weekend, making lots of lists of groceries that need buying, bills that need paying, and emails that need to be sent off to event vendors in the hopes of coming back with messages like “Yes, we ARE available for your wedding date” with little P.S.’s written at the end that say “AND we will do it all for free!!”. Here’s to hoping that at least half of that pipe dream becomes a reality.
Maple Glazed Walnuts
- 2 c organic raw walnuts shelled
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- optional: dash of cayenne
- CANDY AND SPICE WALNUTS: Preheat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add walnuts, maple syrup, cinnamon, and cayenne (if using) and stir with a non-stick spatula until combined. Turn down to medium-low heat and cook for 4-5 minutes until nuts are well coated and lightly toasted, stirring frequently. You will notice that the maple syrup will bubble up and slowly start to coat the nuts. They are done when the syrup has reduced and nearly fully coated the nuts, the syrup will resist running off of the spatula when you tilt it sideways.
- LET COOL UNTIL CRISP: Remove from heat and transfer to a parchment paper lined plate or tray to cool. Sprinkle salt on top while still hot. After letting cool for 5 minutes you can break apart any clusters with your hands to help them cool quicker. Let cool fully about 20 more minutes, or until set in a crisp texture. Then transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to a week or more.