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No holiday gathering is complete without a few bowls of holiday nuts scattered about, and these spiced and herbed nuts (from my book, The New Camp Cookbook) are the perfect bocaditos (as my family calls them)—or small bites—to pair with our other seasonal favorites, cranberry moscow mules and sparkling sugared cranberries. (Best if all served together for a pre-dinner treat!)
These holiday nuts have a wonderful buttery aroma (thanks to a quick pan roast that brings out the nuts’ richness) and a slightly spicy kick from fresh herbs and cayenne (that are not too overpowering).
Because they’re so easy to make, you can whip up a batch any night of the week and vary the flavors simply by using new combinations of nuts or spices.
What kind of spices to try
Rosemary and thyme are my favorites because I love the aroma of fresh herbs, but you can dig into your spice cabinet for other options too.
Other add-ins I like include aleppo pepper, lemon pepper, Madras curry powder, Cajun seasoning, smoked sea salt, and vanilla sugar (basically a homemade sugar with vanilla bean strips infused in it—the contrast of sweet and salty or sweet and spicy is really nice). Feel free to experiment and let me know what else I should try!
What kind of nuts to use
Use any of your favorite nuts in this recipe! My version photographed here includes cashews, walnuts, pecans, and almonds, but I’ve also made this with macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, peanuts, and even pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
The important thing is that they’re unsalted (so they don’t become overly salty when you spice ’em up).
Spiced Holiday Nuts
Makes 3 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups unsalted mixed nuts (such as cashews, almonds, walnuts, and pecans)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the nuts and stir to coat with oil. Cook until they deepen in color and turn fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the salt, sugar, rosemary, thyme, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
Sprinkle the mixture on top of the nuts and stir to coat evenly. Remove the nuts from heat and let cool before serving.