roasted spiced pecans

My husband and I have a continual debate over how to pronounce pecan. He says it pee-can, and I pronounce it pe-kawn. I, of course, am correct.

However you say it [and you totally should say it my way], pecans are fabulous nuts. I grew up gathering and shelling pecans that fell from the pecan tree at my parents’ house, right in the backyard. Talk about convenience foods. In the fall, all I had to do was walk outside and look on the ground, and I had an instant snack. These days, that poor tree is not producing nuts like it used to. Of course, it’s 20-something (okay, maybe 30-something) years older, and it has never really been tended to properly.

My mom – prompted, I’m sure by a conversation about gathering pecans from that tree – gave me a huge bag of shelled pecans for Christmas. It took a lot of willpower and self-restraint, but I finally made myself stop snacking on the raw pecans. I wanted to come up with some great recipes for the nuts, but the truth is that I just like them plain.

To get just one step away from plain, I made roasted spiced pecans. Roasting changes the flavor quite a bit – it makes it deeper, and perhaps a little less sweet and more savory. Tossed with melted butter, sugar, and spices, the pecans are a mouthful of salty sweet heat. Oh, and completely addicting.

This recipe is going at the top of my list for potential gifts next time the holidays roll around.

I’d love to know if you have a favorite pecan recipe to share. If so, please tell me about it in the comments. And if you’d like to side with me on the pee-can versus pe-kawn debate, feel free.

Yield: About 2 1/2 cups.

Roasted Spiced Pecans

Adapted from Bon Appétit, December 1990. I decreased the amount of cumin and added cinnamon to the spice mix. These are great stored in an air-tight Mason or Ball jar for up to 5 days. Toss them into salads or eat them by the handful - my favorite way, of course.


10 ounces pecan halves
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat oven to 300°F. Place pecan halves in a medium bowl. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon to butter and stir until aromatic, about 15 seconds. Pour over pecans. Add sugar and salt and stir well to coat. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake until nuts are toasted, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.