Spiced Nuts


Now that nuts are part of my everyday diet, I wondered if I would be less excited about my holiday spiced nuts this year.

Lower the DefCon level – I’m still excited!

I have an entire cookbook devoted to various candied, spiced, roasted, and flavored nuts – but this recipe from Williams-Sonoma Gifts from the Kitchen is the best. We’ve stopped playing amateur hour with the others. This recipe is spicy-sweet and salty, plus buttery thanks to the nuts. Basically, it’s all-together irresistible.

If you make these, do yourself a favor and make a double batch. Seriously.

And if you’re concerned about the small amount of sugar in this recipe, think about it this way. Two and a half cups of nuts is 20 ounces, and you probably eat nuts about one ounce at a time, right? A tablespoon of sugar represents 12.6 grams of sugar, so there are 25.2 grams of sugar in the whole recipe… divided by 20 servings… equals 1.26 grams of sugar in an ounce of these babies. Seems like a fine way to celebrate the holidays, don’tcha think?!

Also worth mentioning: This recipe takes about 5 minutes to get into the oven and then the baking time is just 20 minutes. Easy-peasy. Delicious, pretty, compliment-inspiring snacks, faster than Rudolph.

A Ramekin Filled with Spiced Nuts | meljoulwan.com

Sweet & Salty Spiced Nuts

  • 2 1/2 cup nuts – almonds, pecans, cashews, and macadamias taste best

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (omit for Whole30)

  • 1 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 300F.


Heat oil over medium-low heat, then add cumin and cayenne. Cook ’til fragrant, about 15 seconds.


Pour oil over the nuts and toss well to coat. Add sugar and salt; toss to coat.


Spread the nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 20 minutes, til they’re lightly browned. I like to check them at 10 minutes, rotate the pans, give ’em a shake, say hello.

I think they taste best at room temperature ’cause they’re crispy, but some people like them warm.

Here’s a list of nuts to consider:

Brazil nuts
Hazelnuts (filberts)
Macadamia nuts

The pecans are particularly good because the spices get stuck in the little cracks.

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  • Kassandra says:

    Hey lady! I've been pseudo-blog stalking you for a while and am now coming out in the open… ahh…

    Anyway, I make these fabulous little treats ALL THE TIME and they are just irresistable. I haven't used straight up sugar but have been known to put some maple syrup or some honey in with my coconut oil and they are SO good. I'll also put cinnamon in. Tasty.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hi, Kassandra! Isn't it fun to have a delicious "treat" that you can eat all the time? I have another nut recipe I'm going to share soon… batten down the hatches!

  • Anonymous says:

    I am making these tonight for my Husband…..I am sure they are delicious (as all of your recipes that I have tried are) and that he will love them!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Let me know how they turn out — hope you like them!

  • Morten G says:

    Why are cashews not Paleo approved? I know they aren't shelled nuts like almonds and all those but they aren't legumes like peanuts.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Morten –> For a while, there was a debate going on re: cashews and they were not recommended… but the tide seems to have turned now and it looks like cashews get a thumbs-up from most folks. If you like them, I think it's probably OK to eat them.

    • Joan says:

      Just as an aside-cashews are members of the rose family. My hubby used to get upset stomachs after eating them sometimes, and we know he is allergic to rose hips in some herbal teas. We put it together when he was in the doc office for an unrelated reason and happened to mention this to the practitioner, who told us about the rose connection. I believe the omega 6/3 ratio is also unfavorable compared to other nuts. Moderation is the key, right?

      • Mel says:

        Moderation is key with ALL nuts, honestly. The 6/3 ratio in nuts is not the greatest, so most of the time, they should be used as condiments, rather than a primary fat source — with the possible exception of macadamias, which are the most favorable of the bunch.

      • s t says:

        Sorry, have to correct this mis-information. Cashews are a member of the Anacardiaceae family, not the Rosaceae family. Anacardiaceae includes things such as poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac, and thus not surprisingly some people do react to cashews, and the sap can be a problem to people involved in harvesting cashews. But the family also includes things like mango and pistachio, and plenty of other plants that people encounter without problems.

  • morten_g says:

    Okay thanks =]

  • tina_d says:

    You're one of my new favorite people. Thanks for this! I've been experimenting with candied nut recipes forever, and this is the first one that really works for me. Love it!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    tina_d –> I'm so happy to be on your fave people list. SWEET! And I'm glad you like this recipe. Most spiced or glazed nut recipes have too much sugar, so this one was an awesome discovery. Munch happy!

  • Rebekah Preston says:

    I just discovered you a few days ago–saw one of your recipes on TastyPaleo and thought “SHE LOOKS COOL!” I love your blog and your dedication! 🙂

  • Luke R says:

    This stuff is like crack with cumin mixed in. Great recipe Mel! It’s stuff like this that will help me convince friends/family that this “Paleo” thing isn’t completely insane!

    • Mel says:

      Cumin makes just about anything like crack! 🙂

      Glad you like them… and I’m with you: the sneaky recipes are super fun for getting skeptics on board with paleo.

  • deb says:

    Making these up for Pats game!

  • michelle dunne says:

    do you soak your nuts for seven hours in whey or sea salt brine ala Sally Fallon to remove phytates? Just curious! I am trying to get my head around the NO grains versus SOAKED grains thing adn I soak my nuts to remove phytates – same theory with grains cause I have not yet been able to go grain free. Still addicted!

    • Mel says:

      Nope. I don’t soak my nuts. (Heh. That sounds dirty!)

      I don’t eat nuts very often and when I do, they don’t bother me, so I don’t do the extra soaking work.

  • Callie says:

    Made these for the family tonight. They are SO amazing. The batch is almost gone! No one even knew they were paleo!

  • Mona H. says:

    I made a batch for gifting. Great recipe!

  • Kelly R says:

    I’m nuts over these nuts! There is one more addition that I like to add when I make these – mint. The idea was stolen from my favorite restaurant that serves a very non-paleo version of bar nuts. I put a handful of finely chopped mint to the hot pan while the nuts are cooling. So delightfully refreshing!

  • Vive says:

    Making these for Thanksgiving for the second year in a row (with a few batches made in between). They’re great. This year I added a few drizzles of vanilla and a dash of cinnamon. House smells great. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Alex says:

    I have several Paleo family members this year and I was planning on food gifts and bath gifts for everyone… and I’m so glad I found this! Easy recipe for a classic food that EVERYONE on my list can enjoy. Thank you!

  • Kathy says:

    I’ve made so many batches of these in fact have some in the oven right now! My house smells amazing. Everyone loves them! I doubled the cumin though and also put some aleppo pepper and cumin seeds and smoked paprika. They are delicious! Thank you!

  • Sue says:

    Do you start with raw nuts for this recipe? I would love to the to our family Thanksgiving gathering. I am so thankful for finding Whole30 and for all the supporting information available!