This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
Ah, peanut brittle! This classic old-fashioned treat is a holiday staple for many and is really great to have on hand year-round. Peanut brittle is one of those recipes that might seem intimidating at first, especially if you’re unfamiliar with candy-making. But trust me, it’s much simpler than it looks. The key is to have all your ingredients measured out and ready to go and a bit of patience.
Table of Contents
Old-fashioned peanut brittle is so good and so easy to make! Plus, there’s something so magical about watching that sugar transform into a golden syrup that hardens to perfection. And the roasted peanuts? They add a different texture, almost chewy in comparison to the hardened brittle. So if you’ve been hesitant about trying to make peanut brittle at home, don’t worry. It’s simple, straightforward, and oh-so-rewarding!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS PEANUT BRITTLE
- No Special Equipment or Molds Required: While many candy recipes might ask for specialized tools, this one needs just a candy thermometer and basic kitchen tools. You likely have everything you need already!
- Versatile Peanut Base: I’ve used unsalted dry roasted peanuts here, but feel free to get creative. Whether you prefer them salted or even want to try a mix of nuts, this brittle can be made any way you want.
- Quick Set Time: Unlike some sweets that require hours or overnight setting, this peanut brittle is ready to be devoured in about 30 minutes.
- Perfect for Gifting: Packed in a cute tin or box, this peanut brittle makes for a thoughtful homemade gift. Whether it’s for holidays, birthdays, or just because, who wouldn’t appreciate a crunchy sweet treat?
- Chemistry in Cooking: Watching the baking soda react with the sugar mixture is like a mini science experiment in your kitchen. It’s a fun way to get kids interested in both cooking and science.
INGREDIENTS FOR YOUR HOMEMADE PEANUT BRITTLE
- Granulated Sugar: The primary sweetener, which will caramelize to give the brittle its iconic golden color.
- Water: Helps dissolve the sugar, ensuring the right consistency for caramelization.
- Unsalted Butter: Adds a touch of richness to the brittle. It’s best to use unsalted so you can manage the overall saltiness.
- Dry Roasted Unsalted Peanuts: These provide the classic crunchy texture everyone expects in peanut brittle.
- Salt: A subtle flavor enhancer that perfectly contrasts with the sweet caramel.
- Baking Soda: Crucial for the brittle-making process, it reacts with the caramelized sugar, creating those little bubbles that make the brittle airy and crisp.
- Nonstick Cooking Spray: A must-have for ensuring your brittle comes off the parchment paper easily. It’s all about those clean breaks!
How to make Peanut Brittle
With just a few pantry staples and a little bit of chemistry, you’ll have a light and airy peanut brittle that has everyone raving. First, let’s start with the sugar!
Make the peanut brittle
- In a wide, deep, heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, combine sugar and water.
- Stir to moisten the sugar, then bring to a boil.
- When the sugar reaches a boil, add butter and carefully set a candy thermometer in the pot.
- Reduce heat, swirling the pan every once in a while, until the mixture reaches the hard crack stage.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the peanut mixture.
- Carefully stir until the peanuts are incorporated.
Spread and allow to harden
- Working quickly, dump the mixture on the prepared pan.
- Spread with a rubber spatula into an even layer.
- Let sit to harden.
- Break into 2-inch pieces.
Tips for making the best peanut brittle
- Prep Ahead: As with many candy recipes, things move quickly once you start. Have all your ingredients measured and within arm’s reach before turning on the stove.
- Use a Candy Thermometer: While you can make brittle without one, a candy thermometer takes the guesswork out of reaching the “hard crack” stage. Ensuring the sugar mixture hits at least 310˚F, up to a light browned color, will give your brittle that ideal snap.
- Swirl, Don’t Stir: Once the sugar and water are boiling, resist the urge to stir. Instead, gently swirl the saucepan to prevent any hotspots and ensure even caramelization.
- Beware of the Bubble: When you add the baking soda, the sugar mixture will expand rapidly due to the chemical reaction. Make sure your saucepan is deep enough to prevent any spills or overflows.
- Spread Quickly: Once the peanuts are mixed in, work fast! Spread the mixture evenly on your prepared sheet to get that thin, classic brittle texture. Remember, it starts to set as soon as it hits the cooler pan.
Popular substitutions & additions
- Nuts Galore: Not a fan of peanuts or just want to mix it up? Try using cashews, pecans, almonds, or a mix of your favorite nuts.
- Seeds: For those with nut allergies, sunflower or pumpkin seeds are a great alternative, giving you a similar crunch without the nuts.
- Spice It Up: Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or sprinkle some chili flakes into the sugar mixture for a sweet-spicy take.
- A Touch of Flavor: Swirl in a teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract after removing the saucepan from the heat for an extra layer of flavor.
- Chocolate Drizzle: Once your brittle has set, melt some chocolate (dark, milk, or white) and drizzle it over the top. Let it set before breaking into pieces.
- Sea Salt Sprinkle: Before your brittle sets, sprinkle a touch of flaky sea salt over the top for a salty-sweet contrast.
- Coconut Delight: Mix in some shredded coconut with the peanuts for a tropical twist on the classic brittle.
How to store peanut brittle
Once your peanut brittle has fully cooled and set, break it into pieces and store in an airtight container. It’s best kept at room temperature in a cool, dry place, away from any moisture. Brittle loves to soak up moisture, making it chewy. If you notice it getting sticky, it’s likely exposed to too much humidity.
Can i freeze peanut brittle?
Absolutely! If you want to extend the life of your peanut brittle, you can freeze it. But, make sure it is completely cooled, as moisture is an enemy of peanut brittle. Ensure the brittle pieces are separated by parchment paper to prevent them from sticking together. Store in an airtight container or freezer bag, and it can be kept frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, take out the desired amount and let it come to room temperature before eating.
Frequently asked questions
The likely cause is that the sugar mixture didn’t reach the proper hard crack stage temperature. Ensuring it reaches 300˚F is key to getting that classic brittle texture.
Yes, brown sugar will give it a deeper, molasses-like flavor, but it can also affect the texture and color.
Fill the saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. The residual sugar will dissolve, making cleanup a breeze.
Humidity and moisture are culprits here. Always store your peanut brittle in a cool, dry place and in an airtight container to keep it crisp.
This peanut brittle recipe is more than just a confection; it’s a trip down memory lane for many, a cherished holiday tradition for others, and a delightful introduction for some. Whether you’re making it as a gift, sharing it during a movie night, or simply indulging on your own, this peanut brittle promises a taste that’s both nostalgic and timeless.
More dessert recipes:
- Almond Date Bark
- Vanilla Cake Pops
- Chocolate Covered Coconut Balls
- Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
- Date Snickers
- Almond Joy Bars
- Healthy Rice Krispie Treats
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites
- Chocolate Truffles
If you try this feel good Peanut Brittle recipe or any other recipe on Feel Good Foodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! It helps others who are thinking of making the recipe. We would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots, share it on Instagram so we can repost on Stories!
- Measure out all ingredients and make sure they are close to your working area on the stove. You can combine the peanuts, salt and baking soda in one medium bowl for ease.
- Line a rimmed quarter sheet pan with parchment paper, then spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a wide, deep, heavy bottomed medium saucepan, combine sugar and water. Stir to moisten the sugar, then set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Do not stir the mixture, but instead swirl the pan as it cooks.
- When the sugar reaches a boil, add butter and carefully set a candy thermometer in the pot. Reduce heat to medium low, swirling the pan every once in a while, until the mixture reaches at least 310˚F, or a light caramel color, known as the hard crack stage. Remove the pan from the heat and add the peanut mixture. Carefully stir 4 to 5 times, or until the peanuts are incorporated. Take care during this step as the baking soda will cause the sugar mixture to bubble and expand.
- Working quickly, dump the mixture on the prepared pan, spreading with a rubber spatula into an even layer.
- Let sit for about 30 minutes to harden, and break into 2 inch pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week at room temperature or up to 1 month in the freezer.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.