Slightly Sweet, cocoa-y with some nice heat at the end, these Spicy Cocoa Glazed Chile Pecans are an homage to Trader Joe’s Cocoa Glazed Spicy Pecans! So so yummy, accidentally VEGAN, and the perfect snack or addition to a cheeseboard!
I have to say, I’m a little mad at Trader Joe’s. It was around Christmastime they started selling these positively delightful Spicy Cocoa Pecans. Toasted pecans, covered in a sweet and spicy cocoa-y mix. The kind of spicy that kind of sneaks up on you? I mean, who doesn’t want that? I kind of got used to eating a handful during “the witching hour”. You know the witching hour, right? It’s that time, mid-afternoon, usually right around the time kids get home from school or practice, and it’s still an hour or more until dinner? The time of day no one is happy? Yeah, the time you (all) just need a snack but don’t want to ruin appetites.
That was the time I would grab a handful of those Spicy Cocoa Pecans. The cocoa mixed with a little bit of sugar and little bit of spice, would take me right up to dinnertime with something that felt like a treat! So, needless to say, when I saw there were no more Cocoa Glaze Pecans at Trader Joe’s, what do you think I needed to do? Why, make my own, of course!
And, the best part about this recipe is that these lovely Spicy Cocoa Glazed Pecans are unbelievably quick and easy to make! You just need 3 cups (about 10-12 oz.) of raw pecan halves. Soak them in a sugar-salt-water solution. While they soak, mix up a dry glaze mix. Drain then coat the damp nuts, and bake until toasty! Witching Hour will never be the same! T
Also, here are some more ideas to use these crunchy, toasty, cocoa glazed pecans:
- on a salad
- over ice cream (so so yummy!)
- to add flavor and crunch to a fruit salad
- a lovely appetizer
- on a cheese board
So, learn to celebrate those times where you just can’t make it to dinner. Make some Sweet and Spicy Glazed Cocoa Pecans!
And, I’m curious – do YOU have a favorite snack that is difficult to find or discontinued? Let me know!
Be sure to check out some of my other dishes with nuts:
Strawberry Gorgonzola Salad with Sweet/Spicy Pecans
PIN Spicy Cocoa Glazed Pecans ->
How to Make Spicy Cocoa Chile Pecans ->
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Some things you might need:
Sheet Pan – I love my easy-to-clean USA Pan Baking Sheets!
Measuring Cups and Spoons – this brilliant set is the one I want!
Parchment Paper – save money and time by buying a year’s worth!
Making Sweet and Spicy Cocoa Pecans:
This recipe is so simple. First, you’ll want to preheat your oven and line a sheetpan with parchment or cooking spray. Then, you’ll want to soak your pecans in a warm, sugar-water solution for just 10 minutes. This will not only add flavor to the nuts, it actually has benefits for people sensitive to nuts. (see below for more information)
While the pecans are soaking, just whisk together the remaining sugar, cocoa, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and salt. Pour that mixture over the pecans, stir them around until they are well-coated, then scatter them across the baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes, then remove to cool. Once they are completely cooled, they are ready to eat!
Some Questions you might have:
Why do you soak the pecans before baking?
There are a couple of reasons. One, the dampness of the nuts helps the seasonings “stick” and also helps to liquify the sugar a bit, for a head-start on caramelization. Also, it is believed water dissolves some of the enzyme inhibitors contained in the nuts that can lead, for some, to digestive distress. (Although a much longer soak – 8 to 24 hours – is recommended for this benefit to those who have difficulty digesting nuts.)
I really don’t want to soak the nuts. Is there another way?
Yes, there is! You can whisk up an egg white in a medium bowl until it’s foamy and then stir the pecans into the egg whites. That will make the spice mix adhere to the nuts. Then, roast them as directed. After cooling, they will be a bit crispier than the soaking, and totally delicious!
Can I use Natural Dark Cocoa Powder instead of “Dutch Processed”?
Yes, you certainly can. It’s likely your nuts will also have that lovely “bitter” note that natural dark cocoa has. But they will turn out similar to those made with Dutch Process Cocoa.
Can I use brown sugar instead of white?
Yes! I’ve substituted packed light brown sugar in this recipe, and it works as well. It may take a bit more time to dissolve in the warm water, but it gives a nice flavor to the nuts as well!Print
Spicy Cocoa Glazed Pecans
Roasty, crunchy, slightly salty pecans coated in sweet cocoa, a bit of cinnamon, and cayenne pepper! These hit every note!
Such a simple recipe, too!
- Prep Time: 15 min
- Cook Time: 15 min
- Total Time: 30 min
- Yield: About 4 cups 1x
- Category: Nuts
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: International
- 10 oz (290g, about 2 1/2 – 3 cups) Pecan Halves, raw, shelled
- 3/4 cup (150 g) Granulated Sugar, divided
- 2 Tbsp (45g) Cocoa Powder, Either Dutch Process (preferred) or Natural
- 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 – 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt, plus a big pinch for the soaking water
- Preheat oven to 325F (Convection/Fan) or 350F (Conventional). Prepare a pan by spraying with cooking spray or lining with parchment paper.
- Into a medium bowl or large measuring cup, pour 2 cups warm water. Dissolve 1/3 cup sugar and a nice pinch of kosher salt in the water, and add the pecans. Wait 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the liquid from the nuts and pat dry with a paper towel. Discard the liquid.
- Preheat oven to 350F (Conventional) or 325F (Convection/Fan).
- Mix together the remaining Sugar, Cocoa powder, Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper (use the full tsp only if you’re a big hot/spicy fan!) and salt.
- Pour the dry mixture over the nuts, and stir until the nuts are nicely coated. There may still be some powder in the bowl. Just discard any excess.
- Scatter the coated nuts over the baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake 12-15 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. When done, the nuts should smell nice and toasty, and appear mostly dry. Let cool on the sheet. Store in an airtight container. Nuts will keep at least 2 weeks at room temperature when stored in an airtight container.
- Serving Size: 1/4 cup
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I love this. Laura, do you think this would work in the crockpot? It is my go to for nuts during the holiday season since I’m so busy baking cookies and pies in the oven.
That’s a really good question, Kim! I’ve never made nuts in a crockpot, so I can’t really say. But the fact that most of the ingredients here start out dry and then caramelize when cooking might give a clue as to whether it would work or would even be a good idea? Wish I could be more helpful here. I would say if you’ve used similar ingredeints in a crockpot, then, yes – go for it! But, if not, then I might be reluctant to try. Sorry I can’t be of more help.
Unfortunately they did not come out well at all the two times I made it. They came out really gooey and chewy instead of crisp and dry. No one in the family liked it.
Maddie, thank you so much for dropping by to comment. I’m sorry this recipe didn’t work out for you, or turn out the way you would like. I’m at a bit of a loss to explain the “gooey and chewy” part. It’s possible they needed a bit more time in the oven. I left them in until they looked “mostly dry”, and they ended up with a coating that not a powdery coating, but rather just a crisp, candied-type glaze. The glaze should kind of harden and crisp up as they come to room temperature after baking. There are other recipes that create a powdery coating, rather than a glaze. I appreciate your comment.
Hi, Maddie! I looked back at my notes from testing this recipe. I found that one way to make the nuts crispier would be to forgo the soaking in water, but rather, stir them together with an egg white. This will help the seasoning stick and will also keep the crispier. Also, instead of granulated sugar for the baking stage, use 6 Tablespoons Confectioners sugar, instead of granulated sugar. I hope this helps if you decide to give it another try.
Wow! I love the sound of these pecans. I guess they can be made using walnuts since we do not get pecans so easily here.
Yes! You really can use just about any type of nut that can be roasted for 12-15 minutes – so walnuts, cashews, almonds would all be wonderful! Thanks for stopping by!
The spicy pecans coated with cocoa is looking lovely! Thanks for sharing this recipe!
Thanks so much, Sonia!
Katherine | Love In My Oven says
Candied nuts are basically the best thing ever. I would NOT be able to stop eating these Laura!!
Thanks, Katherine! I have to say, I have not stopped eating them – it’s really not a problem. Really. 💕
I never had spiced pecans and this sounds intriguing. I love the combination of cayenne pepper and cinnamon, so it must be good. I can see how these pecans will dress up the salads. Sounds yummy!
Thanks, Holly! I agree, cayenne plus cinnamon is a lovely combo, so I hope you get the chance to try these, whether as part of a salad or topping some yogurt or ice cream, or just by the handful!
I’ve been lately obsessed with candied nuts (I have always loved them, but that’s kind of a new kick). Over the last few weeks, I have made candied pecans for a salad 4 or 5 times, and they ended up in a salad only once.:) That’s a perfect snacking material! However, I’ve never tried added cocoa powder, and that sounds intriguing. I am definitely trying this version, but I will probably use chipotle powder instead of cayenne, just to add some smoky flavour.
Ooooh, yes, Ben! Smoky flavor in the mix would be tasty! I was tempted to put chili powder in as well, but the chipotle powder I have is crazy-spicy, so I just stuck with the cayenne.
Dawn - Girl Heart Food says
I love spiced nuts, but don’t recall having them with cocoa before! What a fun idea, Laura! Isn’t it awesome making some of your favourite store-bought food from scratch? Always the best! I could snack on these all day. Bet they’d be so good over yogurt, too! Can’t wait to try !
Thanks, Dawn! Sounds like the perfect yogurt topping, if I do say so myself!
David @ Spiced says
Ah, I know the witching hour well! It happens around here every day, and it’s all I can do to keep from eating a bunch of salty chips. These pecans sound delicious! I must admit that while I love Trader Joe’s, I don’t go in very often because (1) it’s 25 minutes away and (2) the parking lot is always a nightmare. (There are rumors they are building one in our town, so we’ll see…) No matter, now I can make these pecans at home! Oh, and as far as a snack that I love but can’t find? Zapp’s dill pickle potato chips. SO good. 🙂
Dill pickle potato chips! yum! wonder if they are similar to salt and vinegar chips, but with the dill? Huh. those sound amazing! And, we used to have the smallest Trader Joe’s in the entire chain. Talk about parking lot nightmares, I totally feel ya with that. But now we have a brand new, super-sized, bright and shiny TJ’s. fingers crossed you will too, or at least make some Spicy Cocoa pecans and pretend you got them there. 😉
Wow! So delicious Laura. Lynne and I could be scooping handfuls of these on movie night!! I’m glad you’ve made these into a home made version as we don’t have a Trader Joe’s here in Scotland but I can definitely make these. Yummy!
Thanks, Neil! Hope you get the chance to try them – a great movie night snack!
Michelle | Sift & Simmer says
Oooh, these spicy cocoa pecans look amazing! I wish I had a chance to try the TJ’s version. Don’t you hate when they pull such a tasty product off the shelf?! Can’t wait to try out your recipe! 🙂
Thanks, Michelle! I do hate it when an item is only temporary. In typical TJ fashion, they could come back at any time, right? But in the meantime, (or forever) it’s nice to make your own!
These sound like such a yummy snack! I have some walnuts I need to use up….I will have to try this recipe out with walnuts instead!
Thanks, Kelly! Great idea, because, of course, any nut will do here! So so good!
I love this! First of all, I love spiced nuts But I don’t think I’ve ever come across any that used cocoa. I’ll bet it’s fantastic.