Shortly after college, I lived in a house in a quiet neighborhood. Because of the expansive grassy park down the street, along with an elementary school just past that, families with young children occupied many of the other homes.
My closest neighbor had two little kids, around 4 and 7 years old, and since I still baked back then almost as much as I do now, I often stopped by to drop off treats. Eventually, I began to hear little footsteps running to the door after I rang the bell and a little voice call out, “Is it Amy??”
I guess I had practically trained the kids like Pavlov’s dogs… Oops!
During the holiday season, their mom knocked on my door with a little gift to say “Merry Christmas!” and thank me for all of the sweets throughout the year. She handed me a beautiful bright red poinsettia, along with a festively wrapped bag of her special candied walnuts. “My extended family looks forward to these every year,” she explained, motioning to the bag. “I hope you like them!”
After thanking her, I quickly popped one into my mouth. Sweet and crunchy, with a kiss of cinnamon… No wonder they were so popular with her family! I had to stick the bag on the tallest shelf in my pantry, the one that required me to hop up on a kitchen chair to reach, to prevent myself from eating them all in one sitting!
With the holidays quickly approaching (eep!), I wanted to do something similar for my family, but since many of them are allergic to walnuts… I whipped up these Ultimate Healthy Candied Pecans instead! They have the same warm, cozy, oh-so-incredible flavors as my neighbor’s famous candied walnuts, but these actually contain no butter or refined sugar!
Bonus: They just take 5 minutes to make! Although… Come to think of it… That could actually be dangerous. Very, very dangerous… If you know what I mean! 😉
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY CANDIED PECANS
To make these simple treats, you’ll need… Pecans! Both halves and pieces work. I actually prefer pecan pieces because you end up with a larger coating-to-nut ratio. Extra sweetness and spice always sounds good to me!
Add those to a large nonstick pan, and cook them for a few minutes until they smell fragrant. This quick toasting step brings out their warm nutty flavor!
Then you’ll add the coating to your pan! It’s a mixture of water, granulated erythritol (this kind!), cinnamon (I’m obsessed with this kind!), allspice, and just a hint of salt. Yes, allspice! It isn’t usually included in basic candied nut recipes, but it adds a sweet warmth, similar to cinnamon, that really rounds out the taste and takes the flavor to a whole new level. Trust me!
Remember, erythritol is a plant-based, no-calorie sweetener that contains nothing refined or artificial (aka it’s clean-eating friendly!). I’ve tested this recipe with a few different products, and this one is what I use the most! It caramelizes just like granulated sugar, which means it forms that hard, crunchy coating. (No lingering stickiness here!) It also tastes perfectly sweet without any strange aftertastes. Hooray! You can find it at many health-oriented grocery stores, as well as online here.
Back to cooking! You’ve added your coating mixture to your pan… So stir stir stir with a spatula to coat the pecans. Keep that spatula moving so you don’t burn the sweet coating! Once it has fully covered your nuts and the water has evaporated, quickly spread them out onto a sheet of foil in a thin layer. It really helps if they aren’t touching their neighbors!
Then wait for 15-30 minutes until the coating has hardened, and break apart any large clumps. Or eat those first—I won’t judge!
I think I may make a double batch next time… One for me and one to share! 😉 And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your ultimate healthy candied pecans!
The Ultimate Healthy Candied Pecans
- 3 tbsp (45g) granulated erythritol
- ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp (15mL) water
- 1 cup (112g) pecan halves, left whole or chopped (see Notes!)
- Cut a large sheet of foil, and place it on the counter.
- In a small bowl, stir together the erythritol, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Stir in the water until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
- Add the pecans to a small pan, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the cinnamon mixture. Stir constantly with a spatula until the pecans are completely coated. Transfer the mixture to the prepared foil. Let the pecans cool completely to room temperature, and ensure the coating has hardened and turned crunchy before breaking apart any clumps.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ Healthy Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies
♡ Healthy Cranberry Pecan Banana Bread
♡ Healthy Maple Pecan Granola
♡ Healthy Strawberry Pecan Banana Bread
♡ Healthy Slow Cooker Sticky Pecan Buns
♡ Easy Pecan Hand Pies
Thank you so much for this recipe! I love it and make it all the time.
Amy, I am currently looking for a vegan recipe for sweet roasted chickpeas (using Swerve or another sugar alternative).
Could I use the mixture you created for these pecans to roast chickpeas instead?
Would that work?
Thank you for your feedback and for the recipe!
I’m so glad you love this candied pecan recipes Vivi! That means so much to me! 🙂 I’ve never tried doing that with chickpeas, so I’m honestly not sure how it would turn out and don’t want to lead you astray!
Would Splenda work in place of the erythritol?
It actually depends on the Splenda product that you’d like to use! Not all of their products caramelize the same way that erythritol or cane-based sugars do. What’s the exact Splenda sweetener that you’d like to substitute? 🙂
BOBBI CONVERY says...
Amy, I made the candied pecans yesterday, and they are very good! The instructions are easy to follow, and the flavor is wonderful too. My husband gave this the thumbs up, which means a lot to me. Thank you.
Oh my goodness, Bobbi! Thank you SO much for taking the time to let me know. Your husband’s thumbs up means a lot to me too! I’m so excited that you both loved these candied pecans! 🙂
Michelle Gabriel says...
Can you use Birch Xylytol Sweetener?
I really appreciate your interest in my recipe, Michelle! I haven’t personally tried using Birch xylitol, so I’m not sure and don’t want to lead you astray.
If you do end up making these candied pecans, I’d love to hear what you think of them!
Hello Amy, would this recipe work with maple syrup?
I really appreciate your interest in my recipe, Lilian! I haven’t tried using maple syrup, so I’m not personally sure and don’t want to lead you astray. My main concern is that maple syrup is a liquid sweetener, rather than a granulated one, so there’s a decent likelihood that the coating won’t turn hard or crunchy and instead may remain sticky, even after cooking.
If you do end up making these candied pecans, whether as written or experimenting with another sweetener, I’d love to hear what you think of them! 🙂
Samantha B says...
Can granulated stevia be used in replace of the erythritol? I know erythritol is the first ingredient in granulated stevia which is why I’m curious 🙂
I really appreciate your interest in my recipe, Samantha! What’s the exact sweetener (brand + product name!) that you’d like to use? Many stevia brands and products have different formulations and sweetness levels, so they’re not always interchangeable. (For example, I’ve used this granular-style stevia in my recipe development, and it doesn’t include erythritol!)
Once I know the exact sweetener you’d like to use, I’ll hopefully have a better idea of whether it might work. You’re also welcome to try experimenting on your own, if you’d like! 🙂