Gingerbread-Spiced Pecans

Something I’m really enjoying about settling into Prague life is learning what the Things are here. In Austin, for example, breakfast tacos are a Thing. Barbecue, a Very Big Thing. Flip flops, sadly, also a Thing.

Here in Prague, soup at lunch, chic winter fashion (oh, the coats!), taking a walk even when the weather is inhospitable, ginger or mint tea made to order (even at the airport)… all Things.

Gingerbread is also a very big Thing.

It’s perník, it’s deliciously spicy, and it’s all over the place in multiple forms. This shop in Český Krumlov uses a recipe from the 16th century, and there’s a gingerbread museum in the town of Pardubice. One of our favorite booths at the neighborhood farmers market is presided over by a no-English grandma surrounded by baskets filled to the brim with hunks of cakes: bábovka (bundt cake), jablečný dort (apple cake), makový dort (poppyseed cake), and perníkový dort (gingerbread cake): dark brown cubes with a densely-packed, tiny crumb, at least 3 inches tall. I gaze at her adoringly every week while I carry my basket of cabbage, carrots, lettuce, and potatoes.

This time of year—and Easter, too—the markets and shop windows display gingerbread cookies meticulously decorated with icing in pink, white, yellow, and blue. The hearts, cute little houses, songbirds, bells, and angels almost look like they’re made from lace. Beautiful, delicious, spicy, crunchy-chewy lace. (I don’t want to post cookie porn here, but if you’re curious, you can see pretty gingerbread here.)

I’m resisting all cookies until December 24, but the scent of gingerbread in the air got me thinking… and these Gingerbread-Spiced Nuts became a Thing.

You can use the spice blend on any combination of nuts, but pecans are my favorite because the spices get stuck in the nooks and crannies. These are a lovely treat with a cup of ginger tea, and are also very nice coarsely chopped and sprinkled onto a tossed green salad (with dried cranberries, turkey/chicken/steak, champagne vinegar and olive oil)—or dollop a little ghee (or coconut oil) on a baked sweet potato and stud the top with these pecans. You could also earn extra credit by placing them on top of Velvety Butternut Squash. (They would also be fantastic on top of these Mini Sweet Potato Pies that Stupid Easy Paleo created.)

Gingerbread-Spiced Pecans

Makes 3 cups | Prep 5 minutes | Bake 20 minutes

  • 3 cups pecan halves

  • 2 tablespoons avocado or coconut oil

  • 2 teaspoons Gingerbread Spice Blend

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (omit for Whole30)

  • 1 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 300F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.


In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat, then add gingerbread spice blend and cayenne. Stir until the spices are fragrant, about 15 seconds.


Place the pecans in a large mixing bowl, and pour the oil over the nuts. Toss well with a rubber spatula, then add the sugar and salt. Toss again until the nuts are evenly coated.


Spread the nuts on the baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 15-20 minutes, until they’re lightly browned. Check them at 10 and 15 minutes, to be sure they’re not getting too brown.


Let them cool completely on the baking sheet, then store in an airtight container at room temp. They taste fresh for 2-3 weeks.

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  • Cat says:

    Hey! This would be great for our Thanksgiving day hike/walk/exploration! For the first time since we were married (16 years), we dont have up to 70 people to cook for and entertain. So we are taking the day off from cooking and going to explore some nearby trails. And because my garden sweet potatoes did so well… and I cooked 8 lbs to make sweet potato pies – which I’ve never made before in my life… I think I should take a look at that pie recipe, too. Thank You, Mel! Enjoy your Czecholiday!

  • Linda R says:

    These hit the spot for salty-sweet! Thank you!

  • Amy Duran says:

    I made these tonight (sans sugar) to have for nibbles tomorrow while husband and binge watch wonderfully bad Christmas movies; I CAN”T STOP EATING THEM!! They taste like toasty, nutty little hugs!