union square cafe’s bar nuts

Four years ago, when I was home for a couple days between book tour stops and I had about 3 gazillion errands to run but I was also hungry (because proper meals are the first thing to go when I’m busy) and really craving a great salad (because vegetables are the first thing to get stiffed when you travel a lot) and I didn’t want to eat it out of a takeout container or on my lap or in a hurry, I wanted to sit down and eat it off a plate like a civilized person with water in a glass, not a plastic bottle, and the want for this was overwhelming and I looked up and I was right in front of the Union Square Cafe and thought, “Why not?”

all the unloved nuts
what you'll need

Do you ever go out to eat alone? I really don’t. When I had the freedom to do this more often, I always felt awkward and fidgety and now that I’m old enough to not care, we only occasionally have the luxury of going out without two small people and snack cups of Cheerios, and certainly not alone, you know, sitting at a bar, reading a book like one of those grownups you always thought you’d be? But this time I did. The salad was perfect. The bread was warm. The bartender talked me into (I’m sure I was terribly hard to convince) a glass of wine and 35 minutes later I resumed my errands happy and fed and cared for and swore I’d do this more often, although I really don’t.

yes, please
cooling nuts + visitor

I’ve been thinking about this because The Union Square Cafe reopens this week and although it’s been twenty-six years since its cookbook came out, the bar nuts recipe inside is as easy to make and addictive as ever. It seems hard to imagine that such simple ingredients — a pat of butter, brown sugar, salt, cayenne and minced rosemary — could transform even the unloved Brazil nut into something you cannot stop snacking on, but that’s really what a timeless recipe does. I hope it becomes your new holiday habit, too.

union square cafe's bar nuts


One year ago: Potato Kugel and Pull Apart Rugelach
Two years ago: Twice-Baked Potatoes with Kale and Decadent Hot Chocolate Mix
Three years ago: Cigarettes Russes
Four years ago: Cauliflower Feta Fritters with Pomegranate
Five years ago: Nutmeg-Maple Butter Cookies
Six years ago: Roasted Chestnut Cookies
Seven years ago: Balsmic-Braised Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Cream Biscuits
Eight years ago: Cauliflower Gratin, All-Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough and Pumpkin Cupcakes
Nine years ago: Rugelach Pinwheels, Fennel Ice Cream and Ratatouille Tart
Ten! years ago: My Favorite Banana Bread and Homemade Orangettes

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Chicken Gyro Salad and The Consummate Chocolate Chip Cookie, Revisited
1.5 Years Ago: Picnic Pink Lemonade and Crispy Frizzled Artichokes

2.5 Years Ago: Nancy’s Chopped Salad and Coconut Brown Butter Cookies
3.5 Years Ago: Rhubarb Cream Cheese Hand Pies
4.5 Years Ago: Rhubarb Snacking Cake and Asparagus with Almonds and Yogurt Dressing

Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts

A few things worth mentioning:

The original recipe, which can be found verbatim from one end of the internet to the other, calls for 18 ounces or 2 1/4 cups of assorted unsalted nuts, which would be just fine if 2 1/4 cups of nuts didn’t weigh about 11 ounces, no matter what nut you use. This led me to make this twice, first with 2 1/4 cups nuts — it was a tad too salty and spicy, even with halved volume cayenne — and then with 18 ounces (which is more like 3 2/3 cups of nuts), in which the seasoning was more spot-on. No surprise really that restaurants cook using weights, not cups. I then made it a third time, this time with some nuts pretzel nuggets (I used this brand) and it was excellent. Hi, would you like to come over for some spiced nuts? We have buckets!

I make another change from the original, which is I bake the nuts further after tossing them in the spiced butter, which helps it set. You’re supposed to serve them warm (and they rewarm well) but they’re also just as addictive at room temperature.

Finally, but it’s a big finally, the flavor here hinges on both salt and cayenne, which is great because: yum but terrible for recipe writing because 1 teaspoon of salt varies wildly by saltiness depending on type and brand (even among Kosher salts, some weigh more than twice as much as others) and I find that some cayennes are much hotter than others. What should you do? Well, I use Diamond brand kosher salt, the lightest weight of them. For any other brand of kosher salt, you should start with half and use more to taste. For a coarse sea salt, you’re safe using the full teaspoon and possibly even more. For a flaky featherweight Maldon sea salt, you could probably safely use 2 teaspoons, as Nigella does. If your cayenne packs a lot of heat, as mine does, I found that half (1/4 teaspoon level) gave the nuts a nice kicky but not overpowering heat. If you carry hot sauce in your purse, you should use the whole amount.

I know that a lot of people think that they don’t like rosemary but I am willing to wager a bet that at least 2/3 of rosemary-averse people will still like it here. Everyone does, really.

  • 18 ounces (3 2/3 cups) assorted unsalted nuts or 2 1/3 cups mixed nuts and 1 1/3 cups pretzel nuggets
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (see note up top)
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (see note up top)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts (if using pretzels, don’t add them yet) on a tray and toast for 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. While they’re toasting, whisk butter, rosemary, cayenne, sugar and salt in the bottom of a large bowl. When nuts are toasted, add them to bowl and stir to evenly coat. Add pretzels, if using, and coat again. Spread back on tray and toast for another 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool slightly, then serve warm in bowls. Nuts are also good at room temperature, and keep for weeks in airtight jars.

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179 comments on union square cafe’s bar nuts

  1. Dimple!

    These nuts rang a bell and I remembered a similar recipe in Orangette from a few years ago. Just checked, they are “Grammercy Tavern nuts” which makes sense, given the Danny Meyer connection. The other recipe has more ingredients, and corn syrup, not something I’m opposed to, but happy to replace with sugar.

    Man, I so wish I had a chance to eat alone…And not lunch at my desk. These days, I eat standing up in my kitchen, or very quickly, because there’s always a little one to chase down to make sure she doesn’t fall off a chair, or harass the cat.

    1. Lee K

      Regarding a commenter who omits Brazil nuts the addition of which “trick pple.” Well, Brazil nuts have selenium. 2 per day boost one’s immunity. Given current pandemic challenges, wouldn’t one want an immune system up to the task of tricking marauders. Just sayin

    1. Lamia AbiSamra

      Ooh, that sounds delicious and like something I could do tonight! Do you melt the seasoning stuff together and then just toss it straight on popcorn?

      1. Cara

        Exactly. I’ll make a huge batch of the compound butter to keep in the fridge. Then as the night goes on I just zap a bit in the microwave and pour over popcorn. This time around I used Newman Popcorn Natural – since it has some salt already in it, I dialed it back a bit in the butter mixture. At any holiday party I’ve ever hosted it has always gone first!

  2. Sowmya

    Anna’s photo makes me so happy.. may she always have a dimply smile on her face :) And aren’t you a little glad your second kid isn’t a boy? ;) Gives you an excuse to buy cute girl clothes and not use Jacob’s hand me downs ha!

    And if you get a chance, you should definitely try masala cashews.. they are my favorite and I can never stop before am half way through a 500 gm pack.. They are easy to make at home too! Toss cashews in pan with ghee, turmeric, red chilli powder, pepper & salt(and a pinch of raw mango powder if you can get it) and done! Am going to make some for myself today :)

  3. Amy

    I have made this recipe at least two dozen times over the years, usually using only cashews, as Ina does in one of her cookbooks. I want to make it this weekend, using some salted whole cashews and some unsalted pecans halves I have on hand. If I halve the salt amount, do you think I’ll end up with over-salted cashews and under-salted pecans, or do you think it will all even out? I always put them back in the oven, too. Love the way they turn out that way!

    1. Anna

      I learned this recipe from an aunt, who used Ina’s recipe. I make it using every year in big batches and give them for Christmas. It’s nice to have a savory snack on cookie making day.

  4. Frank

    I spent five minutes staring at that discrepancy between the two amounts of nuts in the original recipe before I realized that 2 1/4 cups is, in fact, 18 *fluid* ounces. So at least they weren’t crazy, just unclear about what sort of ounces they were using.

    1. deb

      Oh my god, you’re completely right. I usually pride myself on having these kinds of translations down, can’t believe I didn’t see that. Of course restaurants scoop in big volume containers. Thank you.

  5. This is completely evil. Nuts are healthy, but only 10-20 nuts. As if! Who eats 10 nuts and then STOPS?
    Before I had a family I would go out to eat alone. Whenever I felt a cold coming on, I would do a protein load at the little restaurant across the street from my office, and order steak tartare with a side salad. I almost never ate meat, but for some reason, raw steak would ward off illness.

  6. DanaNC

    I love that indulgent feeling of an upscale restaurant bar lunch, complete with glass of wine. I’m a working mom too, so those opportunities don’t come along that often for me either. (But I think that makes them even more lovely when they do…it’s the little things!)

    Can’t wait to make this. I’m obsessed with the sesame sticks that are in bar mixes – think I might try to sub those here for the pretzel nuggets.

    1. Lindsey

      Made these last night and found the seasoning was off for me. I’d double the butter, sugar, maybe 3 tbsp rosemary, and 1-1.25 tsp Morton’s kosher salt next time. Used pecans, almonds, cashews, and walnuts (couldn’t easily find Brazil nuts, bummer) + plain sesame sticks (should’ve gotten honey sesame sticks). The seasoning did stick to the pecans and walnuts more because of the smaller crevices like another reviewer commented but I liked it. Did wish the seasoning stuck better to the other nuts though. Overall I liked the recipe and I’ll make again, just needed some adjustment.

  7. Brooke

    If I were to mix this up to give as Christmas gifts to colleagues, about how many packages would it make? I’m thinking of putting it in 1-cup mason jars so it can be kept fresh…

    1. Brooke

      I now see that I can answer my own question in that the recipe calls for 3 2/3 c of nuts (plus pretzels), which I’m guessing would total up to about 4 jars of goodness.

  8. focuscatalyst

    This is why I love your writing so much. It took me a beat or two after reading, “Hi, would you like to come over for some spiced nuts? We have buckets!” to realize what you were saying and then I laughed out loud and couldn’t stop. Followed by another great laugh when I read “If you carry hot sauce in your purse, you should use the whole amount.” Your blog is pure pleasure. Yes for the great recipes. But your writing is so amazing. Thank you so much for what you do.

      1. Carol

        I think she’s just referring to all the testing she did, resulting in buckets of nuts that need eating, even if they aren’t perfect. Not sure it’s laugh out loud funny, just Deb’s lovely way of writing.

  9. my uncle has been making these for years during the holidays, and i basically eat them all and spoil my dinner. oops. and then my mom got the recipe, so i’m snack on these throughout allllll of december. they’re that good. though i still pick out the other nuts and leave the brazil nuts for others (;

  10. vancouversarah

    As others have exclaimed over the years, you really are a mindreader! I was just pondering holiday nut mix today for an upcoming open house we’re hosting. BUT.. we have vegans coming. Do you think these would be fine with a tbsp. of olive oil swapped for the butter?

    1. farrellp

      Earth Balance Buttery Sticks are a great substitute for butter. They only come salted so you will need to decrease salt added to recipe.

      1. Dee

        You sound knowledgeable about Earth Balance – perhaps you can help. My adult son is lactose intolerant, but everyone wants all the traditional holiday cookies, so I make them with EB instead of butter. Well, they are o.k., but not as good as with butter. Are there alterations you’d make to make the EB substitution better i cookies?

      1. Bekah

        Deb…is the recipe calling for 2 tbsp chopped rosemary or 2 tbsp rosemary, chopped? I imagine that it’s a somewhat different yield.


  11. Susie

    Oh, I am so glad you attended to this!! I just yesterday was overjoyed to re-find this recipe as I once again worked on the long project of transferring my hard-copy recipes to the computer, which is where I look, these days, for recipes that aren’t in books. I’d noted (in the early 2000s) that when I used raw nuts, the pecans and hazelnuts got overdone, while the peanuts and cashews were still underdone, in much more than 10 minutes. Any info on the differences between the nuts?

    1. Colleen


      It is just the nature of the type of nuts (I think the oil smoke points, but that is just a guess), which I know does not help if you buy them pre-mixed. I would be concerned about the skins on hazelnuts getting bitter from roasting as well. You could buy the types of nuts separately and then start the slower cooking nuts first (e.g., peanuts and cashews) and then put in the others just enough to warm them up before putting on the butter.

  12. Debby N.

    Who cares about the recipe, when we have that adorable little girl to admire! Thanks for letting watch from afar as your kids grow.

  13. JP

    There was a time in CA when department stores like Capwell’s sold hot nuts at the candy counter that were rotating under a light that kept them warm. The aroma of those hot nuts would nearly drive me crazy as a kid. It went all through the first floor of the department store and those were just plain, salted roasted nuts. Your version looks extra special…something like Chex Mix sans the Chex! This is the time of the year that I feel especially sad for anyone with a nut allergy. I will likely be eating their share!

  14. Jennifer

    Okay. I’m going to make this recipe. But want to say is–yes, when I travel (too often for business, less often for sheer pleasure) the hardest thing for me to do is to consume the quantity of vegetables I consume without thinking at home. What’s up with that? I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m entirely comfy with vegetarian/vegan meals (which I often make at home, just because)–but even ordering vegetarian/vegan meals, I often feel vegetable deprived. There. That has essentially nothing to do with the recipe, but I really am persuaded I need to have these on hand for the holidays.

  15. I love that you figured out the cup vs. weight difference and experimented. This is one reason why you rock. : ) I’ve made this (and I’m thinking I did the cup measure) and I was thinking about making them again because my sister mentioned them recently. USC also has a special place in my heart; it was my husband and my favorite restaurant when we were dating and we always found some special occasion to go. The food and vibe was always wonderful.
    And PS – so true about the lack of Brazilian nut love (I’m not a big fan myself) and also true about rosemary (I don’t consider myself a lover and it is nice here). Happy Holidays, Deb!

  16. Lauren

    Neither of your dimple-bearing children “needed” those to be really adorably handsome kids, but those dimples put them “way over the top” of the cuteness scale. Precious, both of them. Thanks for the reminder about this recipe too…it is a great one and so munchable. Bad when you live alone …but that won’t stop me.

  17. Chris Riggle

    I saw these a few months ago on Lucky Peach and have been making them ever since. MUST control myself! That recipe calls for 1 pound of nuts (Costco!)

  18. Lynn in Tucson

    These sounds great (I do something similar but without the rosemary) but nothing will get me on the right side of a Brazil nut.

  19. carrotmusic

    The Brazil nut is much loved by many of us – well, by me at least. I have a wonderful cookie recipe from my grandmother that contains a whole lot of ground Brazil nuts (which we used to do with a hand driven grinder – exercise for us kids!). And they are both tasty and pretty in chocolate cherry biscotti. Brazil nuts are also a good source of zinc, which is one of those dietary things we all need a little of.

    1. Nic

      Yes! I was shocked at the idea of people not liking them, they’re my favourite nut! Also, people don’t like rosemary?! What is this madness?!

      1. Amanda

        I was shocked too! Who are these people that don’t have any love for the Brazil nut!? I had no idea these people were out there!

        They’re one of my favorites. And all I have to say is…more for the rest of us then! ;-)

    2. Erin D

      I’m allergic to Brazil nuts (and a couple of other tree nuts), so they just taste like burning to me. The oil also makes my skin peel.

    3. deb

      I was joking around, they seemed like an easy nut to pick on because I know a lot people don’t like them. My theory: they’re delicious but due to their high oil content and the fact that I’m fairly certain they’re not grown anywhere near where we buy them, they get rancid quite quickly, not helped by how long they sit on shelves and how poorly they’re usually packaged (usually not airtight or vacuumed). Thus, most people who think they don’t like them are just getting fairly sub-par ones. When I’ve had good ones, they’re great.

  20. Tatiana

    So happy that Union Square Cafe re-opened. I only wish I was in NYC to stop in for a meal.
    Thanks for posting this recipe. I had no idea what to make or give to my personal trainer Christmas. He doesn’t drink or eat sweets (I usually bake for my holiday gifts). But nuts are healthy, right? ;-)

    1. Jennifer

      I made these using salted mixed nuts and pretzels. I skipped the salt in the recipe to account for the salt already on the nuts and it was perfect. I did also dial the cayenne back to 1/4 tsp for my mild-palletted family. Perfect! Perfect! I believe we just found a new tradition. I’ll also throw out there that I handed the recipe to my 13 year old son, who followed it without any trouble. I appreciate that your recipes are written clearly even for people who aren’t expert chefs.

  21. I’ve never heard of Union Bar Café (maybe it’s because I live all the way in Hong Kong?) but the recipe sounds delicious! I personally love eating out alone myself. It gives me so much time to catch up on reading my blogs or my book.

  22. Deb, I’ve always used RAW unsalted nuts, but you didn’t specify raw. Do you use roasted unsalted? Also, these freeze well, so you can pull them out and warm for a few minutes when you “need” them.

  23. Carol

    I’ve just been looking at the recipe straight from their cookbook on Amazon and it’s even more confusing…they say to use 1/4 lb. of each type of nut, of which they give 7, or “1-1/4lbs of mixed nuts.” Last time I mulitplied 1/4lb x 7 I got 1-3/4lbs. Clearly a difference of 1/2lb would affect the taste if the same amount of seasoning was used. Strange, eh? Thanks for all your efforts in getting the seasoning just right, Deb. I’ll be right over for some of the rejects!

  24. Becky Bostick

    To show you how long it’s been since I’ve been to a bar alone, I read the title “Bar Nuts” and kept waiting for you to tell me how to cut the nuts into bars, as in cutting bar cookies made in a sheet pan. I’ll be trying this recipe but wish I could find tiny pretzel twists, as I don’t love the thickness of pretzel nuggets. That said, nuggets are more nut-shaped than the twists.

  25. Pippa

    Look and sound great, will definitely be making them, maybe today! A couple of questions:
    1) What are pretzel nuggets and can you get them in the UK (asking the readers here, I don’t really expect Deb to answer questions about UK supermarkets but as Deb is clearly Superwoman in disguise, you never know. I mean, managing grown-up things like eating in a bar on your own, who remembers even how to do that???)
    2) What is wrong with Brazil nuts? I love Brazil nuts! (interesting fact: they’re not called Brazil nuts in Brazil, they’re called castanha do Para, ie (chest)nuts from Para, one of the Amazonian states)
    3) Why do you use cups for measuring? I have never got this. It seems so arbitrary and likely to be inaccurate – what’s wrong with grammes (yes, I’m British, we spell it like that), or even ounces if you really like to make things complicated?

    1. Nomes

      Hey Pippa, not sure if you have Snyder’s pretzel bites in the U.K., but that would be my equivalent from over here in Germany. Or maybe those snack pretzels that should be in the chip aisle?

    2. L from G

      Interesting fact about the Brazil nut. Here in Germany, they are called “Paranüsse”, i.e. Para nuts. I never knew why, but now it finally makes sense.
      (I rather like Brazil nuts, by the way, als long als someone else gets them out of their shells for me. Hazelnuts, on the other hand, are something I have little use for, apart from their being an ingredient of Nutella and similar products.)

      Being from Germany, I don’t really get measuring cups either, but have got used to using them if I am following an American recipe. I prefer scales though. And of course the weight is in gram(me)s and not ounces, and volumes are in (milli)litres and not in fluid ounces, pints and gallons. Likewise, the only temperature scale sane people use is Celsius, right?
      Just kidding. I have a conversion chart hanging on my fridge for easy reference, so that I can find out easily which diameter my pan should have in centimetres (my brain can’t process inches), how hot my oven has to be etc. Works for me.

    3. 1.Pippa yes the pretzel nuggets should be available in the crisps aisle.
      2.Brazil nuts are gaining a new popularity because the contain selenium (always have) as a child I did not like them but now they are a FAV!
      3. It sees that cookbooks US anyway are measured in cups but in culinary school I learned to measure with grammes (grams) and I love it. It is so much more accurate for any baking. I revert back to cups and measuring spoons because of cookbooks and I do not like it! At school we converted each recipe (culinary school geek fun). Merry Christmas!

  26. Nomes

    On the way to the shops today I turned to my husband and stated I would make nuts with rosemary to take to a Christmas party next week and then this landed in my mailbox. I’d call this fate and can’t wait to circumnavigate too many cookies with this at the party next week :)

  27. Alice

    I’m the chef on a yacht and a few years ago we were docked in NYC with the night off(oh happy day no cooking for the 10 crew and 12 guest) and after walking around I also found myself sitting at the bar there. Still remember those yummy nuts and the fried pork ears and that first glass of wine after a 10 day charter. Know what I will be making for football tomorrow!!!!

    1. deb

      I just read your comment and was thinking “More! Tell me more! Tell me all about your life as a chef on a yacht and docking in NYC… ” You’re going to write a book, right?

  28. Heather S.

    Thanks ever so much for the recipe. They talked about it on the show “The Best Thing I Ever Aute. So I bought a signed copy of the cookebook . The one I bought was called Second Helpings. Needless to say that it was not in that book. So you made my day! I will print your recipe and ask my husband for the correct cookbook for Chritmas. I did purchase the tulip jar and plastic lids and I just love them. Thanks!!

    1. Lisa M

      Dry rosemary is pretty twiggy. If you have means for crushing/pulverizing it would probably be okay, just use less. In this particular recipe it could scorch, so maybe add it near the end? Just a guess.

      Always, if possible, fresh is best.

  29. I almost never, never, never eat out. I can’t stand it anymore. And the prices! IT seems so ludicrous compared to cooking at home.

    I can’t believe I used to eat out 4-5 times a week (before I learned to cook). I’ve turned into “that annoying lady” who complains about everything! And it drives DH mad. He refuses to go out unless I demand it and that is never. So we just never go out.

    I do resort to Costco rotisserie chicken now and then. I can’t give that up!
    And I begrudgingly go to the local bakery and buy $6 artisan bread, but I promise myself that I will learn to make it (and better)!

  30. Debby

    I wanted to ask the same thing about the dried vs. the fresh rosemary. Also, you gave the nuts in both ounces and cups, but not the nut/nugget mix. Would you mind, please? I’m math -challenged, though since you did supply the nut only recipe in ounces, I could probably convert the nut portion of the mix if pressed.

    Also – general question – I know you answer questions on older recipes (thank you for the kugel answer, by the way, even if my thanks is coming more than a year later!) but is it better to email you or post questions directly on the old recipes? Thanks again.

    1. deb

      Well, this is a not a good testament to my Better To Leave Comments point (we’ve all been sick since last week so I’m behind on comments) but it’s in general better. I will always catch up on comments; I will never catch up on my inbox, it’s too far gone. Plus, your question will likely be someone else’s question too, so it’s good for everyone.

      I didn’t grab the pretzels weight, I thought it would be better in volume because it’s about coverage, but I’d estimate 3 ounces per cup.

  31. Betsy Golub

    I made these using your recipe calling for 3 2/3 cups nuts. They were okay but not like what you described. The flavor seemed weak and I used more than 1/2 tsp cayenne. So I checked other recipes for Union Square Cafe nuts and they only call for 2 1/4 cup of nuts. Remade them using lower measurement and OMG. So much better. So now I need to buy more nuts to make more as gift.

    1. deb

      I mention in the headnotes that the online and book versions of the recipe call for 18 ounces or 2.25 cups, which is problematic because 2.25 cups of nuts weighs 11 ounces. I then assumed that a restaurant is going to make things by weight, not cups, and used the higher amount. A very astute commenter noted, however, that 18 fluid ounces = 2.25 cups, and this might explain it better. However, I did indeed make it with the larger measurements and we found it to be seasoned correctly. Still, sorry for the trouble.

    1. Patricia

      Re: Raw vs. roasted nuts: I don’t think it really matters, unless your roasted nuts are already really dark. I used a mixture of raw almonds and very lightly roasted cashews, and it came out fine.

  32. Barbara

    I was at the grocery store looking at the shelf of markdowns when I noticed 10 packages of 13oz raw cashews marked from $8 to $2. All of a sudden I knew what I was giving as Xmas gifts (and I knew what I was doing for the remainder of my day lol). They are delicious. Thank you!

  33. I have made these for many many years and will try the pretzel suggestion! Everyone loves them, although I can spend LOTS of money on making them for as many people as I do! Thank goodness for Costco’s nut supplies and savings!

  34. Debbie

    I’ve been making these spicy nuts for years using Nigella’s directions and they’re delicious. I have to agree with you about weights and measures, having grown up in the UK and now living in Australia I am so accustomed to recipes using ingredients by weight that I find it difficult to follow US recipes. I’m put off a recipe (even Ina’s) when cup measures are involved, especially as a baking novice, as the outcome is uncertain.

  35. Katie

    These look like the perfect appetizer to serve with drinks at the party I’m hosting this weekend. I would like to serve them warm, but will need to make them the day before. Do you recommend saving the second bake for right before I serve them, or can I completely make them the day before and just re-warm them a bit right before serving?

    1. deb

      Rewarm slightly is fine. They’re also fine at room temperature, but you know, it’s cold out (or it is here in NY right now) and warmed might be especially lovely.

  36. elisa

    Your testing the recipe both ways, by weight and volume is an example of why I come here first when I’m looking for a good recipe. Thank you!!!!

  37. editrix

    Ah…the Union Square Cafe…my *favorite* solo dining spot. I haven’t lived in NYC for a long time, but whenever I’m in town for business, I always find my way to the bar for a beautifully made Manhattan, those nuts, and a relaxing meal. And a much lighter wallet. Haven’t been to the new location yet, but am worried it just won’t feel right.

  38. MK

    I must be the only person who loves Brazil nuts. I could eat them plain, haha! This recipe looks so simple, and I have everything on hand, too!

  39. Hi, Deb! What size is that Staub roasting pan? And where did you get it? I’ve been looking for a cast iron 8″ x 12″ pan, but it’s been a bit tricky to pin down. Any recommendations would be appreciated (I especially love the handles on yours!).

  40. Deb,

    Not sure if others have this problem, but when I print recipes off your site, it usually will cut off the top line or two of ingredients on the 2nd page.

    LOVE your recipes… :)

  41. iElissa

    I just made this yesterday and it is pure snacking bliss! I plan on gifting this and keeping a bowl around for holiday company snacks. So thankful for Smitten Kitchen!

  42. I’m sorry–I read the last sentence quickly and thought it said “airtight jeans” instead of “airtight jars”. A Freudian slip on my part as my jeans are feeling a bit tight this holiday season. Nonetheless, I will be making this recipe for Christmas nibbles. Thanks!

  43. elisa

    Don’t wait another minute. Once you make this, you will want to share it with all your friends!

    I made it exactly as per the recipe with the pretzel nuggets. Will be doing it again soon. Thank you!!!!!

  44. These are so good! I made a similar recipe from momofuku last year for holiday gifts and they were a big hit! Returning the coated mixture to the oven to toast a bit longer really helped the coating stick. I had a little trouble figuring out how long to toast the nut mixture I had since it included hazelnuts and pecans, which seem to burn faster than the rest (almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts).

    Thank you for sharing and happy holidays!

  45. Melissa mcculloch

    I made these according to the “recipe” and they are fantastic. Based on a traditional family recipe for candied/spiced nuts, I made another batch and added a beaten egg to the sugar/butter/spice blend. I think the egg helps all the joy bind with the nuts better.

  46. Martha

    I made according to her directions. It is really delicious. I used the lesser amount of cayenne and kosher salt and it easily could have used the full amount of both.

  47. Brooks

    Thanks for this, Deb.

    If I may offer a minor suggestion, I would tweak this recipe to read “2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary” instead of “2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped.” The measurement, as written, made me think that I was supposed to measure the rosemary before chopping.

    As a result, the rosemary in the finished nuts is barely detectable. (I also think that anyone who isn’t acutely sensitive to pepper should go with the full 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne…..but that’s just me!)

    Happy Hols to the Perelman clan, and thank you for a wonderful blog!

    1. Hillary

      I should clarify…I have Diamond Crystal kosher salt, but it is pretty fine regular table salt consistency. Is that the type you used and recommend?

  48. Babs

    I made this recipe for Christmas Eve and it was a huge hit. I think flavored nuts tend to clump together, or be overly salty/spicy/sweet, depending on what the recipe’s aim is. Not these – several people made comments along the lines of, “Perfectly seasoned!” And the timing on how long to roast the nuts is spot on – 10 minutes, add the butter mixture and the pretzels, 10 minutes more. Will definitely make this again.

  49. Kim

    Oh my goodness….I made these just before Christmas following your recipe exactly with Unsalted Nuts. They are fabulous. Everyone loved them. Thanks for the great recipe!

  50. sillygirl

    I was looking for a recipe using red cabbage and I hit on a post from 2007 – I’m a cumin-lover-freak too! And I’m making the cabbage-feta-date salad but with dried apricots because I ate all my dates. I also have kale to use so tomorrow I’ll do it all with kale. I’m dying of hunger right now having printed out several of your recipes I couldn’t do without.

  51. Bonbara

    My family had their noses in the air when I went about fixing these with cashews and almonds. At first my 20 year old and my hubby tried to hide their dips into the bowl, but I was onto them by Day 2. Nuts gone in a week, and OH SO GOOD. And I don’t like rosemary–you were right–I ignored my dislike and had my hand in the bowl every few hours :)

  52. Anne-Marie

    Soooo addictive. Even with the 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne, my 2 year old (who doesn’t like spicy) couldn’t stop asking for more. Perfect combination of sweet and spices (the rosemary adds the perfect touch, it is essential to the taste). Merci!

  53. Carissa Sante Ritchey

    Has anyone made these with dried rosemary, and, if so, how much per weight or measure of nuts? Thanks, in advance, for the help. Am so excited to make these!

  54. Mary Beth Millard

    I make something very similar to this, but with penzey’s spices sweet curry powder also. I just usually use cashews. They are awesome on their own, and even better in a salad with spinach, grapes, feta, and a vinaigrette.

  55. Laryssa

    Just made a huge batch of this – it’s so good!!! I bought the different nuts separately, and toasted each type on it’s own so nothing was over or underdone. I used 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary (broken up with a mortar and pestle, mixed in with the rest of the seasonings), and I think it’s the right level of flavour, for those wondering about amounts.

  56. Courtney

    Oh my! I’m currently eating a fresh batch with a little cheese I picked up yesterday from Stinky. My dog and one of my cats is extremely interested on getting in on the action; but joke’s on them because there might not be enough left for the hubby!

    Thanks for your notes; they turned out lovely, although I may add a bit more salt next time. I’ve been obsessed with using this pink Himalayan we bought in Costa Rica.

  57. Martha Grunwald

    This might seem like a “no duh” question but the nuts you start with are not raw but already roasted but just not salted. Right? Every one of the recipes for thirst Bar Nuts does not exactly spell this out.

  58. Amy P

    I did this with a mix of almonds and pecans. I found the pecans ended up too well coated with the seasoning (in the ridges) and the almonds almost not at all. The flavour was good, just not well distributed. Next time I’ll toss the almonds in the seasoning, then add the pecans and toss again.

  59. rtalpers

    holy crap these are good! I made them with just walnuts. I was unsure about these, even while they were cooking, but they are good, addictive. the flavors are good, and I love the saltiness of them.

  60. Katrina Harvie-Watt

    I made these nuts this evening and followed the directions exactly…….meh! I found them lacking in both salt and spice. They were a mere shadow of a similar recipe in Ina Garten’s Paris book in which she uses only cashews. That recipe is identical except that it calls for one TABLESPOON rather than one teaspoon of kosher salt………now I know!

    1. Diane Barghouthy

      I double the butter/spice/sugar mixture and use a tad more salt. I use cashews and pecans because they are easy to buy at my local supermarket in Amsterdam. I’ve made them a bunch and they are always a hit.

      1. Lindsey

        I just made these last night and found it needed more salt and sugar. Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar has a similar recipe but ups everything in the seasoning mix. I found a middle ground adding more here and there, bake again, and tasting along the way. I would go probably double the butter, rosemary, sugar, and use 1-1.25 tsp Morton’s kosher salt next time (and I don’t like super salty either).

  61. Rosalyn Hines

    You must be on top of the world. If you aren’t, you should be! I, sadly, only heard the last few sentences, but I know you were on NPR the other day; and today you were referred to in the NYTCooking column, sending people to the article about you in the New Yorker. This is what people dream about. Congrats. Can’t wait to see you in person next week in Atlanta…

  62. Erika

    Have you ever had the spiced nuts from June and Ho’s in Rye? If so, do you know how these compare?

    My daughter is addicted to those, but we live in Providence which means we have to rely on the goodness of our Rye relatives to keep us supplied…

  63. Anna


    This is my first time commenting, although I have been using this site to gain a not-quite-deserved reputation as a master baker for years now.

    Here’s my dilemma: I’m planning to give jars of nuts away as Xmas/Hannukkah gifts this year (one jar of these and another of candied nuts). However, I am lucky enough to be leaving on Nov. 28th for an extended African Safari trip and I won’t get back until the day before Christmas. So: make them all in advance and seal them in jars so everything is ready to go when I get back OR spend the last 24h before Christmas frantically tossing and roasting and packaging my heart out. Will they hold in jars for four weeks? Will the flavor/consistency be affected? Which nuts are most likely to make it (I was going to use a mix, primarily almonds, pecans and walnuts)? Are these “salty” nuts or the sweet “candied” ones more likely to hold up?

    On the off chance you still respond to new comments on old post, I’d appreciate all advice on nut durability.


    PS. Great job on naming your second-born! Applause.

  64. Linda Robinson

    Grrrrrr..I always tell my husband if you can read you can cook…Now if I could just read! I was almost going to put in 2 Tbsp of chopped rosemary in the nuts! Yikes, but I didn’t know how much the 2 tablespoons of rosemary chopped equaled. I ended up using a scant tablespoon of chopped, hope that wasn’t too much. We’ll see. I was doing a dry run before Christmas so this might end up being a fail….

  65. Karina Lake

    This is an old favorite SK recipe of mine; it’s a holiday standard. I wanted to comment because I have made some tweaks (forgive me, Deb!). First, make a bunch! Use a full-size heavy baking sheet lined with parchment and use two 16 oz bags of raw mixed nuts (I purchase at Trader Joes). I also upped the “liquids” to 1/4 cup butter for 32 oz nuts, 1T brown sugar, 1T maple syrup, 3T rosemary, cayenne and salt to taste (do like Deb says and adjust accordingly). And, I threw in some smoked sea salt just for fun. I found the original 1T butter for 18 oz nuts was just not enough to coat the nuts, much less pretzels if you wanted pretzels too. But 1/4 cup butter per 32 oz seems perfect; evenly coated everything and nothing left in the bowl. You do need a very large mixing bowl to toss the warm nuts with the butter mixture. It’s all cooling on my counter right now and I keep eating….and eating…dang it! Won’t be any left for gifts at this rate.

  66. andi

    I would like to make this without the pretzels. Do you recommend just eliminating them and proceeding with the recipe as written or is it best to increase the amount of nuts in order to maintain the balance os the sweet/savory element? If the latter, how many ounces of nuts should I add? Thanks!

  67. Linda

    I started making this when I found the recipe last year. Dear lord, this stuff is amazing! I make triple batches and give it as hostess gifts, etc. Giving it away keeps me from eating the whole batch!! Several of your recipes have made it into our annual holiday repitoire…gingerbread layer cake with mascarpone filling is to die for! This year we tried the tepenade filled puff pastry with feta dip! OMG! Keep cooking Deb, you’re hitting all home runs in my book!

  68. America Naito

    When I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now every time a remark is added I get four emails with the identical comment. Is there any method you’ll be able to remove me from that service? Thanks!

    1. deb

      I’m so sorry but that service is actually through WordPress central and not hosted on this site. I think if you go over to your profile page, you might find the option.

  69. Rachel Nancollas

    Made these for Thanksgiving and they were a hit. The one problem I ran into was 10 min of initial toasting resulted in a few burned nuts. I think I’d only go for ~7 min the first bake and 5 after that. I also started with some roasted nuts and did not include those in the initial bake and I think it worked well.

  70. Gigi

    I love that you used Benzel’s pretzel nuggets! I grew up in the town where the Benzel’s factory is and those are by far my favorite. The factory has an outlet store attached to it where they sell bags of “special” pretzels (usually they are just a little overbaked or oddly shaped) in 5# bags. When I was in college, the bags were 3 for $5 so I would stock up every time I went home and, by graduation, I had all my friends hooked on them :) I’ll definitely be adding them to the mix when I make this recipe.

  71. Kate

    Brilliant. I have made these nuts using Nigella Lawson’s recipe (and found elsewhere on the internet) for years. I always thought the salt and rosemary were a little too forward but everyone still gobbled them up with drinks so I kept making them. Using 18 oz of nuts per your instructions solved the too salty problem! I used one teaspoon of salt to start and a scant 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne (my cayenne is very strong too – labeled 60 whatever that means). Also loved the extra toasting step although I only toasted them for an additional 3 minutes or so. Corrected the salt again after that. Probably ended up using 1 1/4 t. of fine sea salt. Thanks for your help!

    Agree with your point about those who don’t normally like rosemary will likely find the rosemary here just fine.

  72. el edwards

    i have been doing nuts like this but with a few changes .
    Pound of mixed nuts ….(store bought or blend of what i like)
    Beat one egg white with brown sugar till thick, fold in rosemary and spices and then add nuts and spices. Mix until all nuts are well covered( at this point i will sprinkle with a litttle Pecan flour if i have it in stock)
    Then bake at 300 for 10 minutes, shake/turn over and bake for another 10 minutes, until the nuts seem dry
    The egg whites help the spices cling to the nuts.

  73. Linda Mercer

    Hello and “Happy New Year”. Love your style and your recipes. About this one for the “Union Cafe Bar Nuts”! I’m gonna try it! But I believe that you may be mistaken in one thing you said…..”—- could transform even the unloved Brazil nut into something you can’t stop snacking on —-” Well, I just wish you to know the I and a few others out there that I know absolutely love Brazil nuts, actually I’d say we are “Nuts” about them! All kidding aside, the Brazel has always been my favorite! Give me a package of them and I am happy, unsalted or not! They were also a favorite of my dads. So please don’t count them as lowly as I think their flavor is terrific! Keep up the good work, I really do “love” your recipes too! <3

  74. Mary Helen

    I’ve read thru all of the comments and my question is can you use light brown sugar instead of dark? I’m stuck inside due to the polar vortex!
    Thank you.

  75. Carissa R.

    I can’t stop making these, and now have to go out of my way to constantly have mixed unsalted nuts in my freezer! I skip melting the butter and just dice it into small cubes then chuck it on top of the rosemary/cayenne/salt/sugar mixture in a large mixing bowl then pour the hot nuts on top, allow it to sit for a min. or 2 then toss it all together. One fewer dirty dish. I’ve also run out of fresh rosemary and sub’d in some dried (crushed) with fine results. Everyone always asks for the recipe (which I now have memorized)!

  76. K

    Not having fresh rosemary on hand at the moment, and after scrolling through fellow readers’ variations (truly, the best cooking blog readers are right here!!), I tried my own: a bit of horseradish beer mustard, a spoonful of hot peppers in oil (a Chinese variety, I think, that I bought for another SK recipe), turbinado sugar, kosher salt, and unsalted butter. The pretzel sticks are indeed addictive, but the nuts are lackluster – more newly-roasted and barely-seasoned than anything else. The amount of salt on pretzel sticks makes them a poor match for unsalted mixed nuts in this preparation, in my opinion – too bad I didn’t realize this until now. I can see why pretzel nuggets are a better choice. Still! It evens out to a tasty snack mix and green salad topping. Thanks, Deb!

    1. K

      Last night’s variation is my favorite yet: I now always double the butter, but this time, it was butter + rosemary + cayenne + paprika + salt + Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel seasoning. Hooo boy, gimme.

  77. Carol

    Hi Deb,
    This recipe sounds delicious! Please clarify for me the type of mixed nuts to use. Should I use raw mixed nuts or unsalted mixed nuts? Also, the link above takes you to Penny Sticks Oat Bran Pretzels. Are these the pretzels that you use? I want to buy the proper ingredients .

    1. K

      Carol, I’ve had success with using both raw mixed nuts and unsalted, roasted mixed nuts. As for pretzels and proper ingredients, the only proper ingredients are the ones you use. For what it’s worth, I made this recipe with standard small pretzels and it works just fine (although I prefer to double the amount of butter). If all you can find are, for instance, pretzel rods, why not break them into small chunks for this use? Adapting is awesome.

  78. Leigh Ann Cotter

    I made this with more nuts as Deb calls for & found it wasn’t spicy or salty enough for my taste. I ended up melting a half teaspoon of butter & mixing in a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne & 1 teaspoon of brown sugar – then tossing that into the nuts. Then I just kept adding a bit of salt until it was the right saltiness for me. I would def say start with Deb’s recipe and then just add to it until you find the flavor you like,

  79. KatieK

    I see that the recipe calls for unsalted nuts; am I to assume they are already roasted? Recipes from ATK called for unroasted nuts but those aren’t as easy to find and are often stale because they haven’t been roasted. Any thoughts?

  80. Claire

    I have made these bar nuts before, using another recipe. I read the rationale for the changes in this recipe and thought they made sense. They were terrible! The spices and herbs were barely noticeable,

    Try the original …perhaps the salt caution is worth heading but do NOT go for the larger quantity of nuts.

  81. Karin Engel

    Just made these delicious nuts….they are a tradition here as the holidays approach. This time I accidentally browned the butter. I am not sorry. And….not finding any small pretzel nuggets that were not filled with a nut butter at TJ’s, I used some adorable Snyder’s pretzel rounds (shaped like little gumballs). Not sorry there either. Thank you for stopping for that salad and wine!

  82. Just made these have will tell you this: 1. Amazing. 2. Definitely don’t leave them near where you are prepping thanksgiving dinner because you will nibble non-stop. I used pecans, cashews and almonds and I recommend all-pecans as the nooks and crannies capture the flavorings better.

  83. Meres

    I just made – used raw cashews for half – was that a mistake? They are good but definitely toasted differently than the pecans. Thank you.

  84. I’ve been making these bar nuts for years, ever since Nigella posted the recipe like 10 years ago. I too discovered the weight/cups difference and landed on the 18 oz of nuts being just right. But I never thought to bake them again after seasoning. That would solve my only remaining problem… getting the seasoning to stick to the nuts better. Great Idea! Thanks!

  85. Julie

    I love this! But of course I tweak it. I’ve found that raw cashews work best so I use those, and Snyder’s sourdough pretzel nuggets. I double the butter and brown sugar. I sometimes add pecans but only after the first bit of roasting. Macadamia nuts too when they’re on sale.

    1. Julie

      And for some reason, I have burned all the later batches even though I’m doing everything the same (and same oven). Maybe the nuts are dryer? Either way, I’m leaving this comment to alert my future self and others that perhaps a lower temp or shorter times is worth a consideration.