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Naughty and Nice Spiced Nuts

Naughty and Nice Spiced Nuts

Chipotle chili powder makes them naughty, white and dark brown sugars make them nice, coarse salt and cinnamon make them awesome. Coat your favorite craggy nut with this combo for an addictive holiday treat that also makes a great gift. 

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Elizabeth Karmel

Course Dessert, Snack
Keyword gluten free, nuts, pecans, spiced nuts, walnuts
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Author Shannon Zerzan


  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 generous teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 pound pecan or walnut halves


  1. Preheat oven to 300ยบ with the oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. In a medium bowl, combine the sugars, cinnamon, salt and chili powder and mix until no lumps remain. You may need to use your fingers to break up all of the brown sugar. Set the mixture aside. 

  2. In a separate bowl large enough to toss the nuts, beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon water until frothy. Add the nuts and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle all of the sugar mixture over the nuts and fold a few times until evenly coated. (I find a rubber spatula is more useful than a spoon for this.) Spread the nuts in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring at least once halfway through. Let cool completely, breaking up any nuts that stick together.

Recipe Notes

To substitute hot smoked paprika for the chipotle chili powder, use 1/4 teaspoon. To substitute cayenne, use about 1/8 teaspoon.

I stir the nuts at the 15 minute mark, 20 minute mark and again at the 25 minute mark. I find they bake and dry out more evenly but it could be my oven.

The nuts can be stored in an air tight container for about a week. Do not store until completely cooled.

***If you have a severe gluten allergy or sensitivity or otherwise are serious about eliminating gluten from your diet, always check your labels carefully and buy certified gluten free products.