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 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. It’s 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.
If you don’t have a thermometer (affiliate), it’s time to spend $10 and get one. It will help you make homemade candies like this perfectly every time, and it’s useful for cooking meats and other dishes too. However, 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).
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. 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).
Step by Step Overview:
Start by combining salted roasted peanuts, butter, and baking soda in a bowl:
Set this bowl right next to your stove, so you can add it to the pot immediately once the brittle mixture reaches the proper temperature.
Next, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a heavy bottomed 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, the mixture will foam up instantly:
Stir quickly to distribute all the ingredients evenly and melt the butter, then immediately spread the mixture out onto a parchment paper-lined sheet pan to cool:
The mixture will firm up quickly once it’s off the heat, so you need to spread it all out quickly.
Let the peanut brittle cool to the touch, about 15 minutes, then break the brittle into shards.
How to Store It
Store the completely cooled peanut brittle in an airtight container. 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.
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.