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10-min Candied Pecans with Cocoa & Chili

My favorite thing about these Cocoa-Chile Candied Pecans? No egg whites involved. This is a super easy stovetop recipe that will give you sweet, chocolatey pecans with a little hint of cayenne. (Or a big hint of cayenne, if you like.)

Finished candied pecans with cocoa chile powder in a small black bowl. A spoonful of cocoa powder and a dried chile pepper is in the background.

Once upon a time Trader Joe’s sold some candied pecans that were dusted with a sweet cocoa powder that had a little hint of spice. If you’re a Trader Joe’s fan, you might remember their Cocoa-Chile Pecans. I haven’t seen them there in over a year, which makes me sad because it was one of my favorite snacks during the holiday season!

But I have noticed Trader Joe’s sweet and spicy pecans. A replacement, maybe?

This isn’t a Trader Joe’s Sweet & Spicy Pecans recipe, but I’m willing to bet you can use the same method to hack those as well. That’s a post for later, maybe. Or at least a footnote in this recipe.

Like I said earlier, this recipe is super easy recipe and non-fussy. (The best kind, right?) I’m not going to make you separate or whip egg whites. (You’re welcome.) 

And I made this candied pecan recipe naturally sweetened using pure maple syrup and coconut sugar instead of brown sugar. It’s a great addition to my collection of candied nut recipes!

Just simple ingredients on a short ingredient list here! And no need for melted butter or olive oil.

Raw pecans in a skillet with maple syrup being poured over them.

How to make candied pecans

Put away the prepared baking sheet and the parchment paper. All you need is a skillet!

Get a small skillet and put the raw pecan halves in a single layer. Add the maple and cook on medium-low for 2-3 minutes until the syrup seems to have cooked away and the nuts are a rich brown color. There shouldn’t be any liquid in the skillet — just a bunch of sticky, sweet pecans.

Maple glazed pecans in a skillet stirred by a white rubber spatula.

While those are toasting, combine the cocoa powder, granulated sweetener, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. 

If you don’t want them to be spicy, you can leave out the cayenne. Or replace it with a more mild chili powder so you still get some of that chili flavor. They’re delicious either way, but I really love chocolate + chili flavor profile.

As soon as you pull those candied pecans off the burner, toss them in the sugar mixture so the powder will stick to the maple. Add a pinch of sea salt or kosher salt while you’re at it, too.

A clear glass bowl with cocoa powder, coconut sugar, and cayenne pepper.

Be careful — the coated pecans are hot right when they come out! They’re super yummy eaten warm or after they’ve sat for an hour or two and the maple coating has firmed up a bit. Just store them in an airtight container at room temperature.

Can I make a bigger batch?

Yes! In fact, I recommend it. Once you realize how quickly these will get eaten, you’ll want to make a second batch right away.

When you double or triple this recipe, keep a few things in mind:

  1. You don’t need to increase the maple at the same rate as the pecans or you’ll end up with a syrupy mess. The 1/4 cup of maple in this recipe will coat up to 1 1/2 cups of pecans. If you make 2 cups of pecans, use about 1/3 cup of maple. For 3 cups of pecans, use 1/2 cup of maple. You want them lightly coated, not swimming in syrup in the skillet.
  2. Bump up your mixing bowl size to a medium bowl. But that probably goes without saying.
  3. Use a large skillet so the pecans stay in one layer as they toast.
Freshly glazed pecans being tossed in the cocoa mixture with the white rubber spatula.

Can I make these keto friendly?

Yes! I’ve made these using Lakanto maple syrup and granulated sweetener, and it’s just as delightful.

How to serve this easy candied pecans recipe?

I love to eat a handful like a snack, but there are a lot of things you can do with these! Here are a few ideas:

  1. Sprinkle them on top of a salad! These cocoa-chile pecans would be DELICIOUS on my Spring Greens & Strawberry Salad! OHHH, especially for Valentine’s Day alongside some steaks. YUM.
  2. Add them to an ice cream sundae!
  3. Chop them up and bake them into treats — like cookies or banana bread.
  4. Keep a bag in your nightstand for a secret mom treat. (My preferred way, if we’re being honest.)

Package them up in little cello bags and give some to a friend! Or as Christmas gifts! I love homemade gifts like this.

Finished candied pecans with cocoa-chili powder in a black serving bowl.

If you make one of my recipes, be sure to post it on social media and tag me at @perrysplate or #perrysplate so I can send you some love!

10-min Cocoa Chile Candied Pecans

10-min Cocoa Chile Candied Pecans

Yield: Makes 1 cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

My favorite thing about these Cocoa-Chile Candied Pecans? No egg whites involved. This is a super easy stovetop recipe that will give you sweet, chocolatey pecans with a little hint of cayenne. (Or a big hint of cayenne, if you like.)


  • 1 cup raw pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sweetener, like coconut sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Put the pecans in a single layer in a small skillet. Turn the heat to medium-low heat and add the maple syrup. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often, until the nuts are toasted and there isn't any liquid left in the skillet. The syrup should get bubbly and nearly disappear after a minute or two.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the cocoa powder, granulated sweetener, and cayenne in a small bowl.
  3. When the pecans are finished, sprinkle them with a pinch of salt and immediately add them to the bowl with the cocoa mixture. Toss until they're all covered in the cocoa dust.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl and let them cool for a few minutes before eating.
  5. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


KETO ADAPTATION: Use Lakanto Maple Syrup and a low-carb granulated sweetener.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1/4 cup
Amount Per Serving Calories 243Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 16gCholesterol 0mgSodium 36mgCarbohydrates 19gFiber 3gSugar 15gProtein 3g

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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