These candied cashews are tossed with toasted coconut flakes for the ultimate sweet and salty snack!
I love having candied nuts at hand. They are easy to make at home and I grab them whenever I feel like munching on something when there is still plenty of time until I have my next meal.
Cashews on their own are delicious but caramelize them and toss them through some coconut flakes? Beyond amazing.
Table of Contents
This coconut cashew recipe was inspired by the popular trail mix found across many of the islands in Hawaii. I first sampled them during a family vacation there during my teens and the combo has stuck with me ever since!
- Works for the oven and the stove. This recipe includes cooking instructions for the stove and the oven.
- No egg whites. Most candied nut recipes call for egg whites and are not vegan. This recipe makes the sugar stick to the cashews without any egg whites.
- Perfect for a trail mix. If you are the kind of person who carries their snacks with them, add a handful of these nuts to your trail mix as a sweet component.
Caramelized cashews are a crowd-pleaser and you need only a few pantry basics to make them.
- Cashews. Use raw unsalted cashews.
- Sugar. I use regular white sugar for this recipe. Brown sugar will work too.
- Coconut flakes. You will need unsweetened toasted coconut flakes for this recipe.
- Cinnamon. I love candied nuts with a hint of cinnamon flavor. If you don’t, skip the cinnamon.
- Vanilla extract. Gives the coconut cashews a deeper flavor.
- Salt. A pinch of salt added to the sugar helps balance the sweet flavor of the nuts.
- Water. Needed to melt the sugar.
How to make candied cashews
These caramelized cashews can be made two ways. You can make them on the stove in less than 15 minutes or in the oven if standing by the stove is not your favorite way of cooking.
- Prepare the sweet syrup by adding sugar, cinnamon, salt, vanilla extract, and water to a large skillet. Cook this mixture on medium heat and keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
- Add the cashews and mix well so that all nuts are covered in the sugar syrup. Mix until all water in the mixture evaporates and it starts to crystallize.
- Remove cashews from the pan and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. While they cool, stir the cashews to get rid of any clusters. Toss through the toasted coconut flakes when the cashews have cooled completely.
- To make crispy sweet cashews in the oven, first add the cashews, cinnamon, and salt to a large mixing bowl.
- Add sugar to lukewarm water and mix well until it’s fully dissolved.
- Pour the sugar mixture over the cashews and mix well.
- Spread the cashews on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 45 minutes in the oven heated to 250F degrees. Remove the cashews from the oven as soon as they start to crystallize. Allow the nuts to cool for a few minutes, then give them a good stir to break up any clusters.
- Once cooled, toss through the coconut flakes.
- Make sugar-free candied cashews. To make this recipe sugar-free, use allulose instead of regular sugar.
- Make your own toasted coconut. If you can’t find toasted coconut flakes at the moment or the ones you have are packed with sugar, toast coconut flakes yourself. Get some unsweetened coconut flakes and toast them in a non-stick pan or in the oven preheated to 250F degrees. Toast for a couple of minutes until the flakes are golden brown.
- Use different spices and extracts. You can swap the vanilla extract with butterscotch extract or maple extract. As for the spices, ground ginger, cloves, and nutmeg will work well mixed with the cinnamon. You can also add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Allow the cashews to sit out uncovered overnight. Doing this ensures that the sugar coating dries out completely and becomes super crispy and brittle.
To store. Once the cashews cool, transfer them to an airtight container or plastic bag. Store the candied nuts at room temperature for up to 1 month. The cashews may last longer though they may start to lose their crunch.
To freeze. To extend the shelf life of caramelized cashews, put them in a heavy-duty freezer bag, push out the excess air, and freeze them for up to 3 months. While the nuts will be safe to eat past that time too, they will start to stick to each other.
You don’t need to soak cashews before caramelizing them in the pan or in the oven. Soaking the nuts takes away the crunch which is not what you need for this recipe. If you will be eating the cashews as is, you can soak them to make them easier to digest.
Not toasting the cashews long enough is the main reason why they turn out soggy and chewy.
If the candied nuts are sticky even once they have cooled, transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the candied nuts in the oven preheated to 325F degrees for around 10 minutes. Let the nuts cool completely before you store them away.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add your sugar, cinnamon, salt, water, and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Allow to heat, stirring consistently.
- When the sugar has dissolved, quickly add your cashews and mix very well, ensuring all cashews are coated in the mixture. Continue stirring the cashew mixture, until the liquid has started to crystallize onto the cashews.
- Remove from the pan and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes. Stir several times, to avoid clusters forming. Allow the cashews to cool completely, before tossing through the coconut flakes.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking dish or tray with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add your cashews, cinnamon, and salt and set aside.
- In a microwave-safe bowl or stovetop, melt your sugar with your water. Pour over your cashews and mix until all cashews are evenly coated.
- Spread your cashews on an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once cashews have just begun to crystallize, remove and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, before stirring once again to avoid immediate overlarge clusters forming. Allow to cool completely, before coating in an extra tablespoon of sugar. Once cooled, toss through coconut flakes.
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