If you’re looking for food gift ideas this holiday, these Sweet Spicy Christmas Nuts are a universal favorite. Coated with a tongue tingling blend of spices, these spiced mixed nuts are the most requested holiday treat in our house and one that my friends and neighbors look forward to every year. The egg white coating ensures that the sugar and spices stay on the nuts, not on your fingers.
It’s the gifting season and as is customary each December, I make a bevy of homemade treats for co-workers, neighbors, family, friends, the mailman. I’m always on the lookout for good food gift ideas, but these Christmas nuts make the short list every year. I think there would be an uprising if they didn’t. Spiced mixed nuts are nothing new and everyone has their own special blend. This is my go-to recipe. I’ve also got some delicious Coconut Curry Spiced Nuts and Mexican Hot Chocolate Spiced Nuts that are awesome, but if this recipe doesn’t get made, well — much like the Grinch — I’m pretty sure it would prevent Christmas from coming.
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Which nuts to use for apiced mixed nuts
The short answer is make what you like! The spice blend in these Christmas nuts will pair fine with any type of tree nut you throw at it. Some of my favorites include:
- Brazil Nuts
One nut (that’s really not a nut at all) I wouldn’t throw into the mix: peanuts. The flavor of peanuts is so distinct that I think it would compete with any other nuts you use. If you want to do peanuts — do ALL peanuts. (I avoid peanuts for one other reason — my daughter is allergic to them).
There are as many different ways to make spiced mixed nuts as there are elves in Santa’s workshop. Some are all sugar and cinnamon, others call for Indian spices or Caribbean. I love to try them all, but there’s one thing I always stay true to — egg whites.
Of all the methods I’ve tried to achieve a well-varnished nut, egg whites are my hands-down favorite. Others use oil to coat the nuts before dousing them with their secret ingredients. I don’t like this approach because your fingers get greasy while you’re munching the spiced mixed nuts. You’ll find yourself repeatedly wiping your hands on a napkin after every morsel, which is tough to do when you have a glass of wine in the other hand. (Don’t judge.)
The egg white method is my preferred technique for coating the nuts.
How To Make Non-Greasy, Non-Sticky Christmas Nuts
- Whisk the egg whites with a little water until you have a very frothy, bubbly mix. (This usually takes a minute of serious whisking).
- Add the nuts and toss thoroughly with the egg white mixture. Use a large rubber spatula and mix again and again until the nuts are very well coated and there’s no remaining egg liquid in the bottom of the bowl. (This is important because you want the nuts to be tacky, not wet. Tacky ensures a good coating of spices. Wet will yield a big mess when you bake them.)
- If there’s egg liquid left in the bowl, add some more nuts about half a cup at a time, and toss until the nuts are lacquered without any residual liquid in the bottom of the bowl.
Coating Spiced Christmas Nuts
- Add the spice blend and use a large rubber spatula to toss and coat the nuts very well. There should be no spice mix left in the bowl — it should all adhere to the nuts.
- Spread the nuts onto a prepared baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes.
- Stir the spiced mixed nuts and spread them into an even layer and continue baking for an additional 10 minutes.
- The Christmas nuts will get crispier as they cool to room temperature.
These Christmas nuts are great with cocktails or just for snacking and they make excellent food gift ideas for your friends and neighbors. In fact, my friend Nola and I each make this recipe every year — and gift our Christmas nuts to each other — LOL! 🙂
More Food Gift Ideas:
- Duck Rillettes
- Rosemary Shortbread Cookies
- Easy Homemade Guava Jam
- Sea Salt Bourbon Pecan Cookies
- Cranberry Nut Pumpkin Loaves
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Sweet Spicy Christmas Nuts
- ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 egg whites
- 1 tablespoon water
- 6 cups raw, unsalted nuts such as walnuts, pecans, almonds cashews, macadamias, pistachios
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, ginger and salt until well blended.
- In a large bowl whisk the egg whites and water together until very frothy and foamy.
- Add the nuts and toss with a large rubber spatula to coat completely with egg wash. The egg should coat the nuts, without having extra egg white at the bottom of the bowl. If there’s additional egg white mixture pooling in the bowl after coating the nuts, add another 1/2 to 1 cup of nuts and toss again until well coated.
- Add spice blend and toss to coat nuts completely with the spatula. All the spice mixture should adhere to the nuts without having leftover spice in the bottom of the bowl. Continue to toss until all of the spice mix coats the nuts.
- Spread nuts in a single layer on the sheet pan. Bake for 10 minutes then stir or flip the nuts and re-spread them into a single layer again. Bake an additional 10 minutes until nuts are toasted, fragrant and crisp. Cool on the sheet pan. Nuts will get crisper as they cool.
- Store in a airtight container. Serve with cocktails or wrap in cellophane bags to gift.
- To gift the nuts, fill festive cellophane bags or decorative jars or tins with the nuts. Seal them well to stay fresh.
Making Nuts in a Large Batch
- I spend a few hours on a Saturday to make about 30 cups of nuts for my holiday gifts. In order to do this, I mix the nuts in a large tupperware container and portion out the nuts in 6 cup increments.
- Make each batch of nuts individually. Do not mix a large batch of sugar spice mixture or egg white water mixture… You’re asking for trouble.
These are delicious! Word of caution – nuts go from being done to burned very quickly! Plus, the nuts continue to cook in the hot sugar after you take them out of the oven. I made another recipe that called to bake them at 300 for 20 minutes then stir and bake another 20. They looked good but the sugar got too dark and I had to throw them out. I just made this recipe and reduced the heat to 325 for 10 minutes, stirred and kept a close eye on them and took them out after about 17 minutes. They were just under where I wanted them to be when I took them out but perfect after they cooled
Will these nuts stay “dry” after jarring them? I’ve tried several other recipes and they always end up tacky after a day or so in the jar.
Lisa Lotts says
I’ve never had a problem with them being tacky, but the key is to make sure there is no extra liquid from the egg pooling in the bottom of the bowl — that may be where you’ve had issues in the past. If there is extra egg white in the bottom of the bowl, add more nuts and toss until the nuts are tacky but not wet… then add the spices and bake.
I plan on making Your recipe for mixed nuts for gift giving for 2022 one of the persons is a diabetic I plan on using splendor as a sugar substitute Any idea how they will come out have you tried it? Very interested do you know……. but I definitely will be making for the others thank you for sharing your recipe
Lisa Lotts says
I’ve never swapped sugar for splenda in this recipe and am not sure the outcome. It’s not a cup for cup substitution and splenda has different baking properties than sugar crystals.
Nadine DuCharme says
Haven’t tried this yet, but would like to know can you use parchment paper or a silat?
Lisa Lotts says
I always use parchment paper. You could use a silpat too, but I’m lazy and hate to clean.