Sweet and Spicy Pecans

One of our pandemic adventures was to purchase a new rental property, this one on a lake a little over an hour from where we live.

When we were looking, I was focusing on deep water and open floor plans; my husband’s main goal was finding something that required minimal repairs, since it was quite aways from his favorite Home Depot.

Neither of us were looking for pecan trees, but we ended up with 11 of them, and while 2020 was not good for a lot of reasons, for pecans in Louisiana, it was apparently the best in a while.

My kids picked and sold them (most notably to a student’s grandmother, who gave them back in the form of the BEST pralines). And we threw the rest into the freezer, where they come out for special occasions, like Superbowl Sunday.

This recipe is based on one by Sara Foster in her amazing cookbook, Southern Kitchen. They are salty, sweet, spicy, and absolutely addicting.


  • 4 cups (1 pound) shelled pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar* (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped coarsely
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (reduce if you want a little less kick)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


  • Preheat the oven to 400. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet (I used a half sheet pan) with aluminum foil.
  • Spread the pecans onto the sheet in a single layer. Place them in the oven to lightly toast, 5 – 6 minutes. They should not be deep brown, but they should be fragrant when you remove them.
  • Meanwhile, combine the sugar, rosemary, salt, black pepper, and red pepper in a small bowl. Stir to mix.
  • In a heat-proof bowl or 8 cup measuring cup, melt the butter. Add the Worcestershire.
  • When the pecans are lightly toasted, remove them from the oven and pour them into the bowl with the melted butter. Toss to coat. Then add the sugar and spices, tossing well to coat completely.
  • Pour this mixture back onto the lined sheet pan. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, stirring twice, until toasted.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool completely before trying to remove them from the foil.
  • Once the pecans have cooled, peel them off of the foil (I tilted the pan over a large serving bowl, shaking loose most of the pecans, and then peeled the aluminum foil from the back of the stuck ones, breaking up the crystalized sugar as I went. These were the best ones!)
  • Store in an airtight container for up to a week (although I doubt they make it through the third quarter in our house).


  • Don’t have raw sugar? You can substitutde demerara, turbinado, or light brown sugar
  • Sara’s original recipe called for vanilla instead of Worcestershire, and while we appreciate sweet, we were more into the savory.


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