An easy and healthy Vanilla Candied Nuts recipe that's naturally sweetened with maple syrup instead of refined sugar. It's simple to make and delicious for snacking, salads, topping sweet potatoes, holiday gifts, etc. (Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free.)
Our family goes wild for these candied walnuts!
They are a bit healthier (and I think tastier) than traditional candied nuts because we omit the refined sugar.
Instead, it's replaced with naturally sweetened maple syrup.
Plus there's a wonderful hint of cinnamon and vanilla that sends it over the top.
Ingredients for Maple Candied Nuts
For this recipe, you will need 5 simple ingredients:
- Walnuts or pecans: Pick one or use a combination of both. Most often I use raw, unsalted walnuts because that's what I usually have on hand. (I have not tried cashews or almonds, but those might work as well.)
- Pure maple syrup: This is a fantastic natural sweetener with delicious flavor.
- Pure vanilla extract: Use as much vanilla and cinnamon to taste as you prefer.
- Ground cinnamon: I use Ceylon cinnamon. Just be sure your pantry spices are fresh (not expired) for best flavor.
- Salt: I use fine-grain salt for this recipe.
Tips for Success
These candied walnuts (or candied pecans) are made easy right on the stovetop. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind:
- Pan: Use a non-stick sauté pan.
- Low heat: "Low and slow" is the key. You will get best results by using lower heat and cooking them longer.
- Stirring: Stir the mixture often to help prevent burning.
- Crystallize: If the nuts are still sticky, then keep going! They need to cook long enough until the natural sugars in the maple syrup have crystallized. (See photos below for texture reference.)
Once the nuts are fully cooled, store them in an airtight container at room temperature.
We find they keep well for about 1-2 weeks. (But they never seem to last that long!)
Use these candied nuts in a variety of ways:
- For snacking
- Sprinkling on salads or bowls (like this Berry Crunch Salad)
- Topping baked sweet potatoes
- On this Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- For gift giving
- On vegan ice cream or dairy-free yogurt
- As a side dish or snack for holiday parties
For more inspiration, also browse all vegan holiday recipes.
Maple-Vanilla Candied Nuts
- 2 cups walnuts* (or pecans or both)
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (more if desired)
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (more if desired)
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- Combine all ingredients in a medium non-stick sauté pan over medium heat.
- Stir well with a spatula to thoroughly coat and combine.
- Bring mixture to a light simmer (soft bubbles not vigorously bubbling) stirring occasionally.
- Reduce heat to medium-low (to prevent burning). The mixture will be thin/liquidy at first, and then becomes very thick/sticky after a few minutes. Continue lightly simmering until the maple syrup has crystallized, about 20 minutes total, stirring often. (If the nuts are sticky, then keep going. Low and slow is the key.)
- When nuts are crystallized (see photos for texture reference), pour the candied nuts out onto a flat surface. (I place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet.) Gently spread them out with a spatula and let cool.
Nutrition Per Serving (Estimate)
If you are enjoying this healthy maple syrup vanilla candied nuts recipe, also check out:
- Chocolate Cherry Almond Smoothie
- Avocado Chocolate Mousse
- Savory Vegan Chex Mix
- Healthy Texas Caviar (Oil Free)