Mexican Hot Chocolate Spiced Nuts

Mexican Hot Chocolate Spiced Nuts

Do you have a holiday “thing” that you’re known for?  My friend Nola makes gorgeous starched icicle ornaments for the tree and gifts them every year to friends and family.  My cousin, Katrina makes hundreds of different kinds of cookies to give.  My aunt was known for her potholders and handmade ornaments.  And my claim to fame is spiced nuts.  Every year. 


Mix of nutssugar and spices

Before this blog – I made the same recipe each year, but running a food/cooking website changes things — people expect something new.  For this version of spiced nuts, I was inspired by a food gift that  I received from my friend, Nola.  A package of Mexican hot cocoa mix!

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whisking egg whites coating nuts with egg whites

Mexican hot cocoa is different than the regular stuff — because it’s spiced with cinnamon and cayenne, giving it a lively kick and making it infinitely more interesting than those sad, powdered packages of Swiss Miss.  Hmmm – spices and cocoa…


adding spice mix to nuts coated nut mixture

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  A blend of sugars, a few tablespoons of cocoa powder, cinnamon and cayenne — plus salt (you always need a little salt — otherwise they’ll taste flat).  The key to good spiced nuts is using egg whites to coat the nuts – it wets them enough to get the spice mix to stick and it provides a shiny gloss.  Too much egg white or too few nuts yield a goopy mess – you’re looking for Goldilocks here — just right.  After they’re baked, the nuts are dry and you can grab ’em by the handful without getting sticky fingers!


baking Mexican Hot Chocolate Spiced Nuts

Incidentally — you’ll want to eat ’em by the handful too!  These are subtly sweet, with a tingly spice and a mild cocoa flavor — and they are so good!   My neighbor was nibbling hand to mouth.  Emily swooned and Scott grunted his approval between bites.

flipping Mexican Hot Chocolate Spiced NutsFully cooked Mexican Hot Chocolate Spiced Nuts

These spiced nuts make a great snack but they are absolutely stellar with a cocktail and they are perfect for gifting!  I buy glass jars at TJ Maxx for a few dollars and fill them with these nuts.  With a bow on top — this is a lovely hostess gift.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Spiced Nuts with greeneryMexican Hot Chocolate Spiced Nuts with christmas ornamentMexican Hot Chocolate Spiced Nuts as a gift


Mexican Hot Chocolate Spiced Nuts
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4.74 from 23 votes

Spiced Cocoa Nuts

With a subtle cocoa flavor and the tingly spice of cinnamon and cayenne pepper, these spiced nuts are a holiday favorite!
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword appetizer, chocolate, healthy snack, holiday, nuts
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 24 servings


  • 2 cups pecans
  • 2 cups cashews
  • 2 cups almonds
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white from an extra large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water


  • Arrange oven racks to the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, white sugar, cocoa powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and salt. Whisk together to combine, breaking up any lumps in the brown sugar.
  • Add the egg white and water to a large bowl and whisk vigorously until foamy and light. Add the nuts to the egg white mixture and use a large spatula to mix the nuts until they are completely covered in egg white -- but not gloopy. Nuts should be glossy and tacky -- and there shouldn't be any liquid remaining at the bottom of the bowl -- it should all be on the nuts. If there is excess liquid, add more nuts and continue to toss until they are completely coated. Add the spice mixture to the nuts and fold the spice into the nuts until completely coated.
  • Divide the nuts between the two baking sheets and spread evenly into a single layer. Place one pan on the upper rack and the other on the lower rack and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the nuts and stir or flip them. Spread into a single layer and move the baking sheet that was on the top rack to the lower rack and vice versa. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Cool the nuts on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a heat proof bowl to finish cooling. They harden and crisp as they cool. Store in an airtight container.


You can use any type or blend of nuts in this recipe --peanuts, macadamia, brazil nuts, pistachios -- you name it, this is just what I had on hand
These nuts make great holiday gifts! You can find clear jars at TJ Maxx, Homegoods or Marshall's and fill them with the nuts. Add a bow or ribbon and gift them to friends.


Calories: 220kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 101mg | Potassium: 204mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 40IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 1.5mg

 More Food Gifts:

Mexican Hot Cocoa Spiced Nuts


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  1. Monte Hill says:

    5 stars
    I made this for an event where the mandate was to bring a “Mexican appetizer.” My partner and I walk everywhere, so whatever I did needed to be portable for 1.5 miles. I’ve made other recipes of spiced pecans, but this one seemed to fit the bill. And boy, did it! Everyone RAVED about them.

    I halved the recipe, and personally, I would kick up the cayenne just a little bit, but it was awesome as written! I might try it with chipotle next time (and err on the conservative side since chipotle is hotter) just to see what the smokiness does. This is a definite keeper in its purest form, however. Thanks for the fantastic recipe!

  2. 4 stars
    Favor was good, but i think either the temperature was too high or baking time was long, it came out almost burn.

  3. 5 stars
    I made these for a gathering of friends.
    All I can say is..these were a hit!!!!
    my friends called them “adddicting
    I used 1 tbs dark cocoa and regular unsweetened cocoa
    about 1/4 tsp cayenne

    Seemed to be just enough heat for all… a “little” to catch you.
    not much for me to bring home .
    Will def save this recipe

  4. Barbara R Galler says:

    5 stars
    Easy to make. Festive. I’m older, so even the 1 teaspoon of cayenne was too spicy. I think that depends on the cayenne. Next time I will use a pinch.
    Since I only had pint jars on hand I needed to extend the nuts, so I added chocolate chips. Even yummier.

  5. 5 stars
    Made these, they are very good, couldn’t taste the pepper at all, will double that next time and see

  6. 5 stars
    Love your recipes. Why do we need to use egg white? Is there a substitute? Also, if I wanted to make these commercially, is there a way to extend the shelf life?
    Thank you!

    1. The egg white adheres the spice mix to the nuts and as they bake in the oven, the egg white dries on the nuts, giving them a varnish and making them less sticky. I prefer using egg whites to oil because it gets greasy on your fingers. I’m afraid I’m not in the know on how to extend shelf life for commercial use.

  7. How long will these keep once made?

  8. Pat+Stoddard says:

    5 stars
    I made a third batch tonight. They are a tasty treat to share with my awesome neighbors.

    1. Yes, I use the raw nuts in the baking aisle, but I have on occasion used roasted nuts and it’s worked fine too.

  9. Sarah Halper says:

    Looks amazing! Do you use typical unsweetened cocoa powder?

    1. I believe Nestle makes a mexican hot chocolate mix called Abuelita. You can find it at Target.

  10. Luci's Morsels says:

    5 stars
    What a fun a tasty snack! I can only imagine how quickly these get devoured!