Mexican chocolate spiced pecans

One of my favorite holiday gifts is spiced nuts. They’re simple to prepare, and the nuts are a willing receiver for a host of flavors. While the savory combination of cumin and cinnamon has been my go-to for years, lately I’ve been taking a more sweet and chocolatey approach.

When making spiced nuts, you need an agent to help the seasonings adhere, and typically I use butter or oil. However, when trying on cowboy boots one day, I overheard a woman describing her candied nut recipe with a friend.

She listed her ingredients, which included the usual suspects such as sugar and warm spices, though she got my attention when she said to first toss the nuts in egg whites. This sounded odd to me, as my family had never made them that way.

Mexican chocolate spiced pecans | Homesick Texan

When I got home, I looked up her method, and it turns out that egg whites are indeed a common binder for spiced nuts. With plenty of egg whites on hand after testing some custard recipes that only called for yolks, I decided to give this new-to-me technique a try.

First, you whip the egg whites until frothy. Some recipes have you toss the nuts in the eggs before adding the flavorings, while others have you blend all the flavorings before adding the nuts. For mine, I decided to go with the latter technique since I felt it helped all the ingredients adhere to the nuts better.

Of course, you can use any combination of nuts, but I stuck with my favorite–the pecan. Inspired by this addictive granola, I gave the nuts a Mexican hot chocolate flavor profile, which is defined by the addition of cinnamon and vanilla to a cocoa base.

Continuing with that theme, I threw in a pinch of chipotle chile powder for a smoky kick. After baking, I showered the nuts with fresh orange zest, which brightened up the chocolate. Finally, I sprinkled flaked sea salt on top for that perfect sweet and savory crunch.

Mexican chocolate spiced pecans | Homesick Texan

If you want a more dry snack, go with the prescribed three cups of pecans per egg white blend. Though one day, I was short on nuts and made the recipe with only two cups. They were stickier and sweeter, though I didn’t mind. Instead of being a snack, these were more like a miniature praline candy. Both styles are delicious and a cheerful way to warm up your holiday snacking table.

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5 from 3 votes

Mexican chocolate spiced pecans

Course Appetizer
Servings 3 cups
Author Lisa Fain


  • 1 large egg white (3 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 3 cups raw pecan halves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
  • Flaked sea salt


  • Preheat the oven to 300°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Add to the mixing bowl the sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and chipotle chile powder, then whisk until well blended and free of lumps.
  • Add the pecans to the mixing bowl and stir until well-coated.
  • Pour the pecans onto the prepared sheet and spread until they’re in an even layer.
  • Bake uncovered for 18-20 minutes or until darkened, stirring once.
  • Remove the sheet pan and while warm, garnish with the orange zest. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt.
  • Allow the pecans to cool and harden for 20 minutes then serve. Some might stick together, and you can either leave them clumped or break them apart.
  • Will keep for 1 week in an airtight container at room temperature.

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  1. GEORGE JOHN says:

    Is there a way to use actual Mexican chocolate (Ibarra) in the recipe?

    1. Lisa Fain says:

      George John–I haven’t used it but I would take a couple of wedges from the disc and grind them into a powder, and add sugar and cinnamon to taste, if desired.