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Honey-Roasted Peanuts Recipe

Why It Works

  • Potato starch helps form a thick glaze that clings to the peanuts and produces a crispy coating. 
  • Double-roasting the peanuts eliminates their beany taste.

When it comes to roasted nuts, people’s preferences fall into one of three categories: unsalted, salted, and what I call “extra”―nuts coated in sugar, spices, or chocolate. My husband, James, and I fall into different camps. I prefer lightly-salted nuts, whereas James clamors for almost any nut in the “extra” category, from chocolate-covered peanuts to butter toffee cashews. While I was developing this recipe for honey-roasted peanuts, he happily gobbled up batch after batch, regardless of whether or not the nuts were actually good. But, as I discovered, you really can’t go wrong when it comes to coating peanuts in honey and tossing them in a hot oven. The nuts will likely be delicious. So for this recipe, I decided to focus on dialing in the right proportions of ingredients and honing the execution.

Before I started testing, I picked up several different brands of honey-roasted peanuts and conducted a quick taste test. Surprisingly, I found that they all tasted wildly different from one another. One brand consisted of overly-roasted peanuts that had a bitter edge, another was dusted with too much salt, while the last had the most balanced salty-sweet coating. As a result, I decided to focus my testing on perfecting three factors: the peanuts, the coating, and the finish. 

For the peanuts themselves, I baked off batches of honey-roasted peanuts that contained either raw peanuts or store-bought roasted peanuts. It’s important to note that the extent of the roast on store-bought roasted peanuts varies, from peanuts that are barely toasted to ones that are too dark. My testing showed that the raw peanuts, despite being subsequently cooked in the oven, retained a beany taste. On the other hand, the pre-roasted peanuts took on a slightly bitter aftertaste. Therefore, to guarantee well-roasted peanuts, I suggest starting with raw blanched peanuts and lightly roasting them in an oven. 

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

As for the coating, there are several ways to approach this: You can make a glaze containing egg whites; mix up a glaze with honey, a fat like butter or oil, sugar, and flavorings; or simply coat the peanuts with warmed honey. I decided to test the first two methods side-by-side, since I knew I wanted more than just honey as a coating. I liked the crunchy, somewhat airy shell on the nuts with the egg white coating, yet it masked the honey flavor. I ended up going with a glaze made with honey, potato starch, butter, oil, vanilla extract, sugar, and salt, which gave the nuts a shiny, crisp coating that lets the honey flavor come through. The glaze is infinitely adaptable, so I encourage you to play around with it by adding spices and other ingredients to taste, such as cocoa powder, dried rosemary, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, or ground cinnamon. 

Once cool, I simply toss the nuts in a sugar-salt mix before digging in. Whether you decide to serve these as a snack, a pre-dinner bite, or with a late afternoon drink, these honey-roasted peanuts are easy to eat by the handful. 

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