You may be thinking candied pecans, but this recipe for how to make maple pecans will get you a beautiful, saucy sweet pecan topping that works on sweet and savory dishes alike.
I am a huge fan of pecans. I love their flavor and nutty richness they lend to just about any dish! They can be used in both sweet and savory applications, but I like a mix of both. These simple maple pecans can be drizzled on ice cream, served over pumpkin pie, or paired with savory sides like charred red cabbage!
The best part of this pecan topping recipe? The subtle, lingering heat which we achieve through a drizzle of Calabrian chili oil. You can pick up a jar of this Calabrian specialty from my shop! You can also use crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper to add a subtle, spicy undertone!
How to make this maple pecan recipe:
This recipe is a breeze to prepare! First, roughly crush the pecans. I place them in a plastic storage bag and then bang with a mallet or a heavy-bottomed pot to crush them.
Next, toast the pecans in a small pot until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add butter and let it melt. Next, add chili oil, and plenty of maple syrup, and a sprinkle of salt. Add a bit of lemon juice. Let it bubble briefly and then reduce heat and simmer until the syrup begins to thicken. Stir it occasionally to keep it emulsified with butter and the chili oil. It’s okay if it separates slightly, but continue stirring occasionally until thick.
The next part is up to your preference and how you intend to use the pecans. If you want a saucier pecan topping, add a few splashes of water. If you want a sticky pecan topping (like what you might use on top of ice cream or pie), don’t add any water. I prefer the saucier version, so I added a few tablespoons of water.
That’s it! Use it on just about anything, but here are my suggestions:
- Served over ice cream
- Piled on pumpkin pie
- Paired with charred cabbage
- Drizzled over savory stuffing
- Scattered over roasted vegetables
- Arranged on top of mashed sweet potatoes
The possibilities are truly endless! Also, I’m not telling you what to do or anything, but a little splash of bourbon in the maple pecans wouldn’t be the wrong decision.
Looking for more side dish recipes? Check my archives!
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How-To: Easy Maple Pecan Topping
- Small pot
- ½ cup pecans lightly crushed
- 2 tablespoons plant-based butter
- 1 tablespoon chili oil more or less to taste; or use crushed red pepper to taste
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Flaky sea salt
- Water as needed, optional
Toast the pecans:
- Place the crushed pecans in a small pot over medium heat. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant and beginning to brown.
Simmer the pecans:
- Melt the butter into the pecans. Once bubbly, add chili oil maple syrup, lemon juice, and a pinch of flaky sea salt. Once the maple syrup begins to bubble, reduce heat and cook, stirring regularly, for 15–20 minutes. The maple syrup will start to thicken and stick to the pecans and that is normal.
Thin out the pecans (optional):
- If you want a saucier pecan topping, add a few splashes of water, about 2 tablespoons total, until desired consistency is reached—taste and season to your preferences.
- Serve over your favorite dessert or savory side dish. Store in an airtight container and reheat gently over the stove, adding more water if needed. Enjoy!