Sage-Candied Walnuts

I have never cared much for nuts. I know there are women who count small handfuls of almonds as a satisfying afternoon snack. Alas, I am not one of them. The addition of walnuts and macadamias have long been reason enough to snub my nose at salads and muffins alike. But I am starting to change. I blame it on a shop near my apartment, The Nut Box. I only stopped by in the first place because the store looked so.. well, organized. Blonde wood compartments house rows upon rows of neatly packaged and clearly labeled nuts, and I am the kind of person who stops into The Container Store for fun.

I was throwing a party over the weekend, so I thought, “what’s the harm in picking up a few things?” (Answer: there is never harm in picking up a few things, especially when “things” are obscure food items. Bonus points if you have no clear idea when or how to use them.)

I took home a bag of candied pecans, although I’m not sure how I even spotted them, considering the enormity of options. My only experience with pecans to date had been picking them out of ice cream, or eating around them in pie. (Yes, that’s right, I like my pecan pie without pecans. Just like I prefer a peach melba without peaches. It’s true.) The pecans, as it transpired, were magical; other worldly in their deliciousness. (To be fair, they taste an awful lot like butter and sugar, but still.) The euphoria induced by these pecans has given me a bit more of an open mind about nuts in general.

The walnuts recipe here is my attempt to improve upon The Pecans, if such a thing is possible. I should add that toasted walnuts will make your kitchen smell like you are baking a cake, and are really buttery, even before the addition of actual butter. They can be easily made in large batches, and either given away as gifts, or hoarded for yourself. Enjoy!


Makes 1 baking sheet full

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1.5 tablespoons sage, finely chopped
  • 5 cups raw walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 egg white, beaten until a little stiff
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • generous sprinkling of sea salt


1. In a medium pan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the finely chopped sage, and cook for a few minutes, until fragrant.

2. In a large bowl, beat the egg white. Add the walnuts, and toss. Add the maple syrup and the butter, and incorporate. Add the sugars, and toss until the walnuts are evenly coated.

3. Preheat the oven to 300F. Spread the walnuts evenly on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt. Cook the walnuts for 30 minutes, breaking them up about every 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.



    Hum……. je voudrais bien goûter!

    • Arthur Kessner

      I’d like to make this using olive oil.
      What recipe changes would you suggest??

      • CristinaSciarra

        Hi Arthur. Since nuts release their own oils when heated, I’m not sure I would recommend adding too much olive oil. (The combination of butter and sugar form a kind of shell around the nut that might be hard to achieve with oil.) If you are determined, I’d suggest (very lightly) coating your walnuts with olive oil and ribboned sage, and toasting them in a wide pan. Outside of the oven, you will be able to keep a closer eye on them. If they turn out too oily, alas, butter and sugar might be the way to go. I am very curious, so please do let me know how they work out!

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