Classic Peanut Brittle with a Cayenne Kick


I feel a little behind in my holiday baking this year but made some time to plan out baking to share with neighbors. A few of my favorites made the list right away (mystery cookies, Mexican wedding cakes and gingerbread). While ‘thinking’ I heard the bag of peanuts singing a song of  brittle from my pantry.  Brittle hits all the high points – salt, sweet, crunchy, science-y, quick. I decided to add a little cayenne a la Alton Brown, so add spicy to that list.   Recipe below is adapted from my vintage 1951 SeaFair cookbook. Thank you to the Ruth Fratt, KOMO’s first on air home economist “Katherine Wise”.

This recipe makes a big batch, suggest having two sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Also, you can speed up or slow down the process by the intensity of heat, but will caution to not heat up too quickly for risk of burning or overshooting the goal temperature of 280 F.


  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups corn syrup
  • 3/4 cups water (I use hot water)
  • 3 generous cups of roasted peanuts (suggest lightly salted; raw are ok as well)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne or other spices (cardamon, curry, cinnamon etc), optional


  • Sprinkle the spice in a bowl with peanuts and toss to combine
  • Add sugar, corn syrup and water to large sauce pan. Turn on heat and stir to dissolve.
  • Using a candy thermometer, heat sugar liquid to a boil and let it boil until it reaches 280 F. While liquid is boiling/heating up, pre-measure your baking soda.
  • Once liquid reaches 280 F, add peanuts and stir to mix and let them cook for about three more minutes. The candy temperature will drop when peanuts are added, but keep the heat on. Stir frequently. You also want to watch the color of the syrup as it might start to turn golden. Your candy may also be already starting to foam. That is ok!
  • Remove pan from heat, and add in baking soda, then vanilla and butter. This will make the candy foam (furiously bubble) and is the ingredient that gives brittle it signature fluff/airiness. Stir stir stir and watch it expand.
  • After it seems that foaming has slowed down (just a few minutes), pour hot liquid brittle into prepared sheet pans. Try to smooth peanuts into a single layer.
  • Allow to cool and then break into pieces to enjoy.

Here is a fun link with some history on peanut brittle, from Serious Eats.

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