Candied Nuts – Highly addictive peanuts with a crunchy sugar-coated layer make the perfect on-the-go snack. They’re fancy yet affordable, so they’re ideal for game-day or movie night, and they even make a great gift.
Candied nuts (ground nuts or peanuts) are a snack we can eat by the handful without realizing that we’ve overindulged. Picture yourself – watching television, reading your favorite spy novel, and the bowl of nuts are within reach – before you know it, the bowl is empty.
What a catastrophe! But that’s okay because peanuts are a superfood for your brain. And now you can make your own for the win. Don’t mind the sugar because everything in moderation is good, right? 😉
Imma’s Candied Nut Recipe
Peanuts are called groundnuts in Cameroon (West Africa), and candied peanuts are traditionally made with three simple ingredients. But my version has a few more because cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract make it sassier. And if you’re adventurous, cayenne pepper adds an extra punch.
These highly addictive candied peanuts are chemical-free (no added dye for their beautiful color).
- Peanuts – For easier prep, I suggest buying the shelled peanuts. You can find raw shelled peanuts in the baking aisle at your local grocery store and roasted peanuts in the snacks section.
- Sugar – You can use pure white sugar for this recipe, but brown sugar deepens the flavor.
- Flavor – If you love spice, cinnamon and nutmeg are the way to go. A pinch of cayenne pepper also adds more oomph. But feel free to skip this out if it doesn’t suit your taste. 😉
How to Make Candied Nuts
Roast the Peanuts
- Bake – Bake shelled peanuts in the oven at 325℉/163℃ on a cookie pan in a single layer for 15-20 minutes. Occasionally stir the peanuts and rotate the tray for even roasting. Remove and set aside.
- The Sugar Mixture – Heat water in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla bean or extract, and bring to a boil. Add the roasted peanuts.
- Crystallize – Turn the heat to medium-high to high, occasionally stirring, until sugar is grainy and crystallized, 15 to 18 minutes. Do not caramelize the sugar.
- Cool – Remove from heat, and spread it on a cookie sheet or tray. Let it cool and serve.
- Preheat Oven to 325℉/163℃.
- The Sugar Mixture – Heat sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla flavor, and water over medium heat in a 12-inch skillet.
- Boil – Bring to a boil, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add peanuts, and cook, stirring over medium heat, until the peanuts are evenly coated and crystalize. (Do not let them caramelize.) Remove them and spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes for even roasting.
- Cool – Remove from the oven and let the peanuts cool.
- Groundnut Chikki – This one uses jaggery instead of sugar. Unlike candied nuts, which you eat individually, this one comes in chunks, like peanut brittle.
- Sisi Pelebe, or Nigerian groundnut candy, is also made with sugar but without water, which explains its chewier texture rather than crunchy. And it uses coarsely ground, roasted peanuts instead of whole peanuts.
- Nut Swap – You can always replace the peanuts with your favorite nuts, such as almonds, pecan, walnut, cashew, macadamia, and hazelnut.
Tips and Tricks
- You can also roast the peanuts on a stovetop. Roast them in a skillet on medium heat, occasionally stirring, for about 5-10 minutes or until the peanuts become aromatic. They will be crunchy once cooled.
- Add about half a teaspoon of salt for better flavor. You’ll love the perfect combination of sweet and salty flavors.
You can roast the peanuts a day ahead, but you’ll risk munching them before coating them with these fantastic sugar and spice mixture. It happens to me almost every time. LOL. So, I say reserve some in an airtight container just to be sure.
Serving and Storage Instructions
You can add these sugar peanuts to your salad, like Sweet Potato Salad, Avocado Corn Salad, or Southern Chicken Salad, for added flavor and texture. Or use them as decorative pieces for celebration cakes, such as Italian Cream Cake and Moist Banana Cake.
You can store candied nuts in an airtight container for one week at room temperature. Or keep it in the fridge to prolong its shelf life for up to three weeks.
They’re almost the same because they’re both in the pea family, and both grow under the ground. Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) come in several varieties, including Spanish, Virginia, runner, and Valencia, and are more common in the Americas. Groundnuts (Vigna subterranea) are more commonly used in West Africa. The flavor is similar, and you can use them interchangeably.
Warm melted sugar tends to be soft and chewy but will harden once cooled. Allow the candied nuts to cool completely, uncovered, before serving to enjoy them crunchy. Covering them will cause condensation and moisture softening your sweet peanut treats.
Absolutely! They are an excellent source of potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B, all essential to our health. Peanuts also contain healthy fats, protein, and fiber that aid in lowering the risk of heart disease, regulating blood glucose levels, improving bowel movement, and controlling appetite.
What to Serve with Candied Nuts
Not only is it a great snack, but it also gives salads a delightfully sweet and salty crunch.
More Fabulous Peanut Recipes to Try
- Boiled Peanuts
- Ndole (Spinach/Bitterleaves and Peanut Soup)
- Maafe (West Africa Peanut Soup)
- African Peanut Stew
- Groundnut/Peanut Soup
So there you have two ways to make candied nuts (groundnut sweets), either the stovetop or oven. Both versions deliver well, although I prefer the stovetop version because it brings happy childhood memories. Which is your favorite way to make this deliciousness? Let me know in the comments ❤️
Watch How to Make It
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This blog post was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated with additional tips and new photos.
Candied Nuts (Groundnut Sweet or Sugar Peanuts)
- 2 cups peanuts, shelled
- ⅔ cup water
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup brown sugar (or granulated sugar)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoons nutmeg, freshly grated
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean)
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Bake shelled peanuts in the oven at 325℉/163℃ on a cookie pan in a single layer for 15-20 minutes. Stir the peanuts, occasionally rotating the tray for even roasting. Remove and set aside.
- Heat water in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract (or vanilla bean), and bring to a boil. Add the roasted peanuts.
- Turn up the heat to medium-high to high, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is grainy and crystallized, 15 to 18 minutes. Do not caramelize the sugar.
- Remove from heat, and spread the peanuts on a cookie sheet or tray. Let them cool and serve.
- Preheat the oven to 325℉/163℃.
- In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and water.
- Bring to a boil, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add peanuts and cook while stirring over medium heat until peanuts are evenly coated and crystallized. (Do not let it caramelize.)
- Remove the peanuts and spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes for even roasting. Remove from the oven and let them cool.
Tips & Notes:
- You can also roast the peanuts on a stovetop in a skillet on medium heat, occasionally stirring, for about 5-10 minutes or until the peanuts become aromatic. They will be crunchy once cooled.
- Add about a teaspoon of salt for better flavor. You’ll love the perfect combination of sweet and salty flavors.
- You can always replace the peanuts with your favorite nuts, such as almonds, pecan, walnut, cashew, macadamia, and hazelnut.
- Please remember that the nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used in the recipe.