If you're a fan of sweet and crunchy treats, you're going to love these candied walnuts. With a perfect balance of sweetness and a delightful crunch, these walnuts are coated with sugar and a hint of salt for a delightful contrast of flavors. You need only 3 ingredients to make them from scratch in just 25 minutes!
If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t like the bitter taste that walnuts have, if that's the cause this recipe is perfect for you!
These candied Chinese walnuts are crispy with a hint of sweetness, uses a boiling technique that I learned from my dad when he worked at a Chinese restaurant to remove the bitterness from the walnuts.
These candied walnuts are tasty and incredibly easy to whip up at home. They’re perfect to have on hand for snacking or to elevate your salads, desserts, or charcuterie board. Try this recipe, and you won’t want to have plain walnuts ever again!
Read on to learn exactly how to make this delicious candied walnuts recipe today!
What are Candied Walnuts?
Candied walnuts are a delightful treat that combines the natural crunch of walnuts with a sweet, caramelized sugar coating.
Making candied walnuts at home is not only easy, but it also allows you to control the ingredients and flavors. You can adjust the amount of sugar, add a sprinkle of salt or a dash of cinnamon, or even experiment with other spices.
The end product is a sweet, crunchy, and utterly delicious treat that can elevate a simple salad, be the star ingredient in various walnut recipes, or be devoured as a snack on its own.
Why You’ll Love This Candied Walnuts Recipe
Quick: You can have these delightful candied walnuts ready from start to finish in just twenty-five minutes! Whether you are in a rush or simply want a quick snack, this recipe is perfect.
Doesn't Have the Bitter Walnut Flavor: The unique boiling method of removing bitterness from the walnuts makes this recipe a hit with all family members. The delightful mix of sweetness with its crunchiness, will have everyone reaching for more.
Variety of Cooking Methods: This recipe gives you the flexibility to choose between oven-roasting and stovetop cooking. You can even deep-fry the walnuts if you want to recreate Chinese restaurant-style candied walnuts at home.
Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Candied Walnuts
All you need are some incredibly simple, pantry-staple ingredients to make this delicious candied walnuts recipe at home.
Here's an overview of the specific ingredients for this recipe. For the exact ingredients and measurements, please scroll to the recipe card below.
- Walnuts: This is the star of our recipe! Walnuts not only bring a unique flavor and crunch. I like to use walnuts for this recipe because of all the nooks and crannies that hold all the sugar onto it, which makes it more candied and crispy.
- Sugar: The sweet element in our candied walnut recipe. It caramelizes during the cooking process, giving the walnuts a delightful sweet coating. I have tested this with coarse raw sugar, demerara sugar, granulated white sugar, and powdered sugar and they all work well for this recipe but I always use cane sugar since this is what I always have on hand.
- Oil or Butter: Adding a touch of oil will help the nuts roast evenly in the oven. I personally like to use oil for this recipe over butter, but I do occasionally use butter for this for a bit more flavor. For the oils, I like to stick to the more common oils like avocado, canola and corn oils.
- Salt: While this ingredient is optional, a bit of salt can balance out the sweetness and bring out the flavors more. If you're a fan of sweet and savory combinations, you'll love what this addition does to the recipe.
How to Make Candied Walnuts (Step by Step)
Making this incredible candied walnuts recipe at home is super easy and will give you great results every single time. Here's how to make it step by step:
Boiling the Walnuts
Start by boiling the walnuts. Place a saucepan of water on the stove over medium-high heat. Once the water starts to boil, add the walnuts and let them simmer for about four to five minutes.
Next, drain the walnuts. You can do this by pouring the water from the saucepan through a strainer. Transfer the drained walnuts into a small bowl.
While the walnuts are hot, sprinkle them with sugar and stir until well coated. The residual heat from the walnuts will melt the sugar. If you want to add a bit of salt, this is the right time to do it. Once the sugar has dissolved thoroughly, add in the oil and stir well.
Oven Roasting the Walnuts (My Preferred Method)
Preheat your oven to a temperature of about 350°F (180°C).
Prepare your baking sheet. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet, then spread your sugar-coated walnuts on it. Make sure the walnuts are spread out in a single layer.
Roast the walnuts in the preheated oven. After the oven has reached the required temperature, put the baking sheet in the oven and roast the walnuts for about ten minutes.
Flip the walnuts after the initial roasting time has elapsed. Take the baking sheet out of the oven, gently flip the walnuts, and put it back in the oven for another ten minutes. Make sure the walnuts are still in a single layer to prevent them from sticking together.
Check the walnuts after the second roasting. If they don't look brown and roasted enough, put them back in the oven for an additional five minutes, and if necessary, another two to three minutes.
Let the walnuts cool for at least half an hour to forty minutes before storing or eating.
Stove Top Instructions
Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over low heat. Add the walnuts and toast them for about ten to fifteen minutes. Make sure to stir continuously to prevent them from burning.
If they don't look toasted enough, continue to toast them for another two to three minutes.
Remove the walnuts from the heat. Transfer them onto a plate or baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Spread the walnuts in a single layer and let them cool for about thirty to forty minutes before storing or eating. Enjoy your homemade candied walnuts!
Deep Frying Method
Alternatively, if you want to make it exactly like how they do at the restaurants, you can deep fry it in oil for 3-5 minutes on low heat, just make sure the sugar gets fully dissolved with the hot walnuts right after you strained them from the boiling water, you want to create a light syrupy coating on all the walnuts.
You can also skip adding the oil with the sugar since you will be deep frying it in oil.
Joyce’s Tips For Making the Best Candied Walnuts
Boil the Walnuts: To remove the bitterness from the walnuts, boil them for about four to five minutes. This process also softens the walnuts, preparing them for the candying process.
Evenly Spread the Walnuts: When baking or toasting, spread the walnuts in a single layer on the baking sheets or non-stick skillet. This makes sure that all the walnuts cook evenly and acquire a uniform golden-brown color.
Keep an Eye on the Heat: Walnuts can burn easily, so make sure to keep the heat at a medium level when using the stove top method, and stir regularly. If oven roasting, keep a close eye on the walnuts during the final minutes of roasting.
Allow to Cool Completely: After cooking, let the candied walnuts cool completely before storing or eating them. This will help them to achieve the perfect crispy texture.
- Candied walnuts make a great addition to the Lao Crispy Rice Salad (Nam Khao). Just toss them in before serving, and enjoy the sweet and savory combination.
- Want to jazz up your usual granola mix? Break the candied walnuts into smaller pieces and mix them in. They'll add a surprising twist to your breakfast routine.
- For a dessert with a twist, serve the candied walnuts with your Chewy Hawaiian Butter Mochi. The crunch of the walnuts complements the chewy texture of the mochi perfectly!
- Amp up your appetizers by pairing candied walnuts with your Crab and Cheese Spring Rolls or Baked Mussels with Cheese and Garlic. The sweetness of the walnuts pairs well with the flavor of the rich cheese.
- Candied walnuts make a great addition to a charcuterie board. Their sweet and slightly salty flavor pairs well with a variety of cheeses, making for a delightful contrast in flavors.
- For a spicy and sweet combination of snacks, I like to serve candied walnuts side with Baked Crispy Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers (Crab Rangoon Style). The sweetness of the walnuts balances the heat of the jalapenos.
Recipe Variation Ideas for Candied Walnuts
This delicious candied walnuts recipe is so flavorful and easy to make, you'll want to try out some of these delicious variations! Here are some great ideas:
Try it Sweet and Spicy: If you love a combination of sweet and spicy flavors, this variation is for you. Simply add a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper to your sugar mix before coating your walnuts. The spicy kick from the cayenne pepper perfectly balances the sweetness of the sugar, giving you a delightful flavor contrast.
Go Nutty with Pecans: For a different nutty flavor, replace the walnuts with pecans in this recipe. Pecans have a rich, buttery flavor that pairs beautifully with the caramel-like coating. Just make sure to watch your pecans closely in the oven, as they can burn easily.
Add a Touch of Vanilla: For an added depth of flavor, stir in half a teaspoon of vanilla extract to your sugar mix. The vanilla adds a subtle, sweet aroma that enhances the overall taste of your candied nuts. This variation is especially great if you're using your candied walnuts in baking recipes.
Try Brown Sugar: Swap out the regular sugar for brown sugar in this recipe for a deeper, caramel flavor. Brown sugar has a rich molasses note that adds a delicious complexity to your candied walnuts.
Experiment with Spices: For a warm, festive twist, add a half teaspoon of ground cinnamon to your sugar mix. The cinnamon adds a comforting, aromatic flavor that is perfect for the holiday season.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can prepare the candied walnuts on the stovetop. Use a non-stick skillet, add some oil, and toast the walnuts for about ten to fifteen minutes. Make sure to stir them regularly to prevent burning.
Yes, you can deep fry the walnuts if you want to make them exactly like the ones served in restaurants. Just make sure that the sugar is fully dissolved with the hot walnuts to create a light syrupy coating.
Oven-roasting allows for larger batches, doesn't require constant attention, and provides more even roasting. The downside is it takes a bit longer. Stovetop cooking is quicker but requires more attention and may result in uneven cooking.
You do not need to refrigerate these candied walnuts. Keep them at room temperature in an airtight container. They will stay fresh for up to 2-3 weeks.
How to Store Leftover Candied Walnuts
If you've just prepared a batch of candied walnuts following our simple and easy recipe, you might be wondering how to store the leftovers. These delicious treats, made with just three ingredients, can last up to two weeks if stored properly.
For best results, store your candied walnuts in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
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Crispy Candied Walnuts
Joyce's Recipe Notes
- Pros and Cons of Oven-Roasting: You can make bigger batches, you do not need to watch the stovetop, easier to clean up (throw out parchment paper), and the heat and dry air roast the walnuts more evenly. No major con, except it takes a bit longer.
- Pros and Cons of Stovetop: Slightly quicker cooking time by about 10 minutes, but you have to make it smaller batches and it cooks more un-evenly.
- I have tested this with coarse raw sugar, demerara sugar, granulated white sugar, and powdered sugar and they all work well for this recipe.
- I personally like to use oil for this recipe over butter but I do occasionally use butter for this and it works just as well. For the oils, I like to stick to the more common oils like canola and corn oils, but avocado oil is my favorite oil to use because of it's high smoking point, and it's the healthiest oil of the other 2.
- Salt is completely optional for the recipe and I only recommend adding it if you like sweet and savory flavored nuts.
- Store them in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 2 weeks.
- Alternatively, if you want to make it exactly like how they do at the restaurants, you can deep fry it in oil for 3-5 minutes on low heat, just make sure the sugar gets fully dissolved with the hot walnuts right after you strained them from the boiling water, you want to create a light syrupy coating on all the walnuts. You can also skip adding the oil with the sugar since you will be deep frying it in oil.
- Put a pot of water over the stove on medium high heat
- When the water starts to boil, add in 2 cups walnuts and boil them for 4-5 minutes
- Drain the water from the pot into a strainer and transfer the walnuts to a small bowl
- While the walnuts are still hot, sprinkle 3 ½ tablespoons sugar over the walnuts and mix well. The residual heat from the walnuts will melt the sugar. If you are using a bit of salt, add ¼ teaspoon salt during this step.
- Once the sugar has dissolved and everything is well mixed, add in 1 ½ tablespoons oil and mix well.
Oven Roasting Instructions
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C)
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet or pan and pour the walnuts onto it and spread it out into a single layer.
- Once the oven has reached 350F, put the tray in the oven and roast it for 10 minutes
- Once 10 minutes is up, remove the cookie sheet from the oven and gently flip the walnuts and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Make sure it is still in a single layer so the walnuts don't stick together
- Remove the tray from the oven. If the nuts don't look brown and roasted enough, add it back in the oven for another 5 minutes. If it still isn't brown enough, bake it for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Let the walnuts cool for at least 30-40 minutes before storing or eating it.
Stove Top Instructions
- Using a frying pan, set the stove to low heat and add 1-2 tablespoons of oil into it.
- Add in the walnuts and toast it for 10-15 minutes. Make sure you keep moving the walnuts by mixing it so they don't burn. Keep them on a single layer.
- If the walnuts don't look toasted enough, continue to toast it for another 2-3 minutes.
- Once the walnuts are done, pour them out onto a plate or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Spread them out into a single layer and let it cool for at least 30-40 before storing them or eating it.
*Nutritional information is calculated using online tools and is an estimate*
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