If you’re looking for an easy food gift or treat that you can make on the cheap for family and friends, Peanut Brittle is it! It is so easy to make yourself, and is easily one of the best holiday season classics. No storebought version can compare to homemade, and it only takes 25 minutes!
I know a lot of people are intimidated by cooked sugar candies like Caramel Sauce, Pecan Praline Candy, and Toffee, but peanut brittle is the most forgiving and easy of them all. If this is your first time venturing into candy making, you’ve picked a good place to start.
The process here is so easy that I consider it silly to buy it from those specialty stores for $20/tin, when you can make a big batch yourself for a few dollars. Ditto for Chocolate Bark and many of my other favorite Shipping-friendly Food Gifts.
Many peanut brittle recipes don’t provide a target temperature for cooking, which I sort of understand because we’re aiming for the final amber stage, known as “hard crack,” but I provide a temperature below so you can nail it every time without question.
If you prepare and have everything ready to go, peanut brittle is really quite simple. You only need a handful of ingredients, too.
If you don’t have a thermometer (affiliate), it’s time to spend $10 and get one. It will help you make homemade candy recipes like this perfectly every time, and it’s useful for cooking meats and other dishes too. I have one thermometer I use for everything, though you can also purchase a dedicated candy thermometer.
If you don’t have a thermometer, color can be a good guide. Once the mixture is an amber color, you can add the peanut mixture and finish the recipe.
An extra bonus to peanut brittle is that it ships very well too. You can pack it up in those cute metal tins and mail it off to someone you love…and better yet, you won’t have to pay for the outrageous overnight shipping because that brittle will keep well for a month (if stored properly). Just make sure it’s a cooler time of year.
Tips for Best Results
Use roasted, salted peanuts – Peanuts are generally sold roasted and salted, and that’s what you’ll want to use here for convenience and the best results. Having pre-salted peanuts ensures that the seasoning is evenly distributed, and roasted peanuts have a better flavor and texture than raw.
Use a thermometer (even though you don’t have to) – Most peanut brittle recipes don’t specify a temperature and just say to go off color, but this can make a stressful guessing game of trying to figure out when it’s done. I give you the temperature range you’re aiming for, and I suggest you check so you have precise results. You don’t want to waste your time!
Have all your equipment ready before you start cooking – Things can move quickly with confections like this, so you’ll want to have your parchment paper lined sheet pan ready at the end for immediately pouring the peanut brittle mixture out of the pan.
Peanuts are the classic nut here, but you may substitute other nuts as desired. You can try toasted almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pecans, or macadamia nuts. You may also do custom mixtures of nuts and seeds. Keep the amount the same.
This is one of the best ways to enjoy peanuts, but with extra toffee-like crunch. It is easily a family favorite in our house.
Peanuts make for the best desserts, which you might already guess from the many peanut butter recipes I’ve posted on this blog (hello Peanut Butter Cookies, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes, Peanut Butter Pie, and Peanut Butter Bon Bons).
Let’s go through the process for making this old fashioned candy.
Step by Step Overview:
Start by combining peanuts, butter, and baking soda in a small bowl:
I highly recommend using salted, roasted peanuts here instead of raw peanuts, as the flavor and texture will be more delicious.
Set this bowl right next to your stove, so you can add it to the pot immediately once the brittle mixture reaches the right temperature.
Also line a rimmed baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper for later. Once the brittle hits the proper temperature, you’ll want to have that prepared baking sheet ready and standing by.
Next, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, but do not stir it.
Do not stir!
I repeat, once you add the sugar, corn syrup, and water to the pan, resist the urge to stir it. It’s going to look uneven since the sugar isn’t all moistened, but it will dissolve just fine, and refraining from stirring minimizes any possibility of crystallization.
Place the pot over medium heat, and it should all dissolve into a clear, homogenous mixture, all without stirring:
The Target Temperature
Cook the sugar mixture to 300 degrees F, when it should be slightly amber in color. This is known as the hard crack stage, which technically has a range between 295F and 309F. I pull it at 300F as the temperature rises a little bit from carryover cooking.
Immediately add the bowl of prepared peanuts from before:
Because of the baking soda being heated, the mixture will foam up instantly from that chemical reaction:
Stir quickly with a spatula or metal spoon to distribute all the ingredients evenly and melt the butter. I do not recommend using a wooden spoon here, as its porous nature tends to give off and absorb flavors from previous cooking adventures.
Then immediately spread the peanut candy mixture out into a thin layer on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan to cool, moving quickly before it firms:
It should have a light golden brown color, and firm up quickly once it’s off the heat.
Let the peanut brittle cool to the touch, about 15 minutes, until it has that hard-snap brittle texture. Then break the brittle into shards as desired. Pack it into a tin for the perfect gift!
How to Store It
Store your delicious treat in an airtight container, but only after it has completely cooled. Do not leave the peanut brittle uncovered, or it will absorb moisture from the air and get gummy.
Recipe FAQ and Tips
Store in an airtight container in a cool and dry location at room-temperature for up to 4 weeks.
Yes, in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Refrigeration is not recommended.
I recommend aiming for 300F. It needs to hit the hard crack stage, which is between 295F and 309F.
Did you enjoy the recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page.
Peanut Brittle Recipe
- 2 cups salted, roasted peanuts
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Combine the peanuts, butter, and baking soda in a bowl, and place next to the stove.
- Place the sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan, and shake it back and forth so the pile of sugar flattens out.
- Add the corn syrup and water, but don’t stir it together.
- Place the pan on the stovetop over medium heat and watch as the sugar goes through several stages over the next 15-20 minutes. First the sugar will dissolve, then it will turn into a clear sugar syrup and bubble like crazy, then the sugar syrup will eventually take on a clearish golden amber color, and cook to 300 degrees F, the hard crack stage.
- After the mixture has reached 300 degrees F, add the peanut mixture (the mixture will foam), and stir it all together to distribute the ingredients and melt the butter.
- Immediately pour the mixture onto the parchment and spread it with a spatula to your desired thinness.
- Let the brittle cool completely, about 15 minutes, then break it into pieces.
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
Post updated in November 2018. Originally published December 2012.