Vanilla Brown Sugar Pecans

Each winter, I look forward to my dad making these vanilla brown sugar pecans. It is one of my favorite parts of going home and my favorite holiday treat. It originally started as a sweet and spicy pecans recipe clipped from a magazine years and years ago. But over the years, through trial and error, my dad began to expand to other flavors. We’ve had lemon ginger, lemon, extra spicy, cocoa sugar, smoked sweet and spicy, and vanilla brown sugar. While all turned out pretty well, the vanilla brown sugar is the best by far.

After making these for years, I think we have finally nailed down the best method. There are several tips I highly recommend following as they help to reduce the baking frustration.


(nothing has to be exact. Ours varies a little year to year)

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup packed brown sugar -

1 teaspoons salt - I recommend sea salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 egg white

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups pecans halves (they come in halves, chopped or in pieces, best results are to get the halves. I recommend getting them from Costco or Sam’s club if you can, they are significantly cheaper.)


1. Preheat oven to 350F

2. Spray a non-stick baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper (parchment paper makes cleaning up a breeze, worth going out and purchasing some)

3. Mix the sugar and spices together in a small bowl (Since brown sugar usually has some clumps use the back of a fork to break them apart against the side of a bowl)

4. Beat the egg white lightly with a fork in a separate larger bowl and stir in the vanilla (you can use the shell or finger method to separate, but making an investment in an egg separator makes it so quick and easy)

5. Add the pecans in with the egg white and vanilla and stir to coat

6. Sprinkle with the spice mixture and coat pecans evenly

7. Use a fork to lift a few pecans at a time and put them on the baking sheet (making sure they are separated the best you can) 

8. Bake for 30-35 minutes

9. Cool for 5 minutes at least

10. If able, twist the pan to break apart the pecans or use your hands after they have cooled and then transfer them to a container

11. Keep covered in a dry place (pecans stay "fresh" for five days but they seem to last significantly longer in my experience as long as they are in an air-tight container)

12. Enjoy!