Smoky Pecans and Cashews with Bacon

Don’t ever say that there is nothing worth reading in airline magazines. My sister-in-law Valerie clipped a recipe out of the Southwest Airlines magazine, Spirit, last year and this recipe was born of it. The original recipe is for cashews only, but you know I can’t resist throwing pecans into everything. So when Valerie shared this embellished version with pecans I was very happy, indeed. The chef who shared the original recipe is Colin Lynch of Drink in Boston.

This is an ideal snack to have around for a party (yes, the Super Bowl is coming up). But don’t wait for an excuse to make this. The fact that I have yet to find a way to mix bacon into a nut dish is astounding, because they go together like chocolate and peanut butter…completely natural complements. And then there is the added bacon grease, butter, and smoked salt. I can’t do any better than this on a snack.

I have a collection of wonderful sea salts which I have picked up over the months. Whole Foods has sea salt in their bulk aisle and that is where I bought a few precious tablespoons of smoked salt. This is the first time I have found the perfect place to use it. It is liberally sprinkled over the quickly drying nuts to give a lovely smoky crunch to the finished dish. This seems like a lot of nuts, but they will be gone in a flash.

Smoky Pecans and Cashews with Bacon
Recipe type: Snack
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 20 ounces (total) of cashews and pecan halves
  • ½ cup bacon, approximately 6 slices, cooked and chopped (I like big pieces), reserve drippings
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt, or more to taste
  1. Cook the bacon and chop it into ½ inch pieces. Reserve the drippings in a small bowl. You will use half of it at the end of the cooking time.
  2. Place the water and sugar in a sauté pan (do not use non-stick) and allow it to come to a boil. Add the nuts and stir continuously until the sugar has caramelized and the water has evaporated. Stir in the bacon and remove the nuts from the heat. Stir in half of the bacon drippings and the butter. Pour the nuts onto a silicone baking sheet or a greased baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle the salt onto the nuts.
  3. When they have cooled completely, separate the nuts and place them in a serving bowl.


About the cashews…I used raw, Valerie used roasted and salted. The cooking time is fairly short. It manages to roast the raw cashews just in time. Valerie liked the already roasted cashews. Raw cashews can be hard to find, so don’t let that stop you. If you cannot find smoked salt, consider using smoked bacon to add the punch.

Candying anything involves melted sugar which should just be referred to as molten lava. Please take care and keep small people and dogs out from underfoot for the few minutes this takes.

Don’t miss these other great appetizers and munchables on PIE:
Barbecued Meatballs
Creamy Avocado Dip
Texas Caviar
Tomatillo Salsa
Goat Cheese and Artichoke Dip
Fried Pickles
Avocado Black Bean Dip
Shrimp Ceviche


  1. Paige McDaniel says

    I have been thinking about this ever since you posted it, Kelly. Just made and they are cooling, but I can’t stop going over and stealing a few every few minutes. Yum! I didn’t have smoked salt, but they are still good with a little kosher sprinkled over…


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