Peanut Brittle

published Jul 26, 2021
christmas
Peanut Brittle

Homemade peanut brittle is the ultimate made-with-love holiday gift.

Serves12

Makesabout 2 pounds

Prep5 minutes

Cook40 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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peanut brittle in a bowl on a black surface
Credit: Eric Kleinberg
Peanut Brittle

Food memories are the best. An aroma, a flavor, even the crisp sound of something snapping in your mouth can all instantly bring back a flood of memories. These recollections are so special because we can conjure up those warm feelings anytime we want, simply by firing up the stove and recreating a recipe.

Peanut brittle wasn’t typically a go-to confection in my house when I was growing up. We typically made toffee, fudge, or cookies during the holidays. However, in the later years of my grandmother’s life, my cousin would always bring a big box of See’s simply irresistible peanut brittle to family gatherings. My grandma loved munching on something sweet here and there throughout the day, and our hands would inevitably sneak their way to the box for a taste.

This year would have been my grandma’s 100th birthday, and slowly stirring this peanut brittle on the stovetop brought back memories of seeing her sitting in her chair at the age of 97, reading a book on her iPad while nibbling on some peanut brittle. 

This recipe for a traditional peanut brittle is easy to make as holiday gifts or for get-togethers. The flavor reminds me of that irresistible box of candy from See’s. I didn’t worry too much about getting the brittle spread out super thin as it cools, mainly because I always remember the See’s version as being just ever-so-slightly thicker than many homemade brittles. I hope that this version can be the springboard of fond food memories for other families for years to come.

What Is Peanut Brittle?

Peanut brittle is a classic American confection that some believe was created by accident in the late 1800s when a Southern woman was attempting to make taffy, but accidentally added baking soda to the recipe instead of cream of tartar. The result was a deliciously crunchy brittle instead of a chewy taffy. The baking soda reacted with the caramel by aerating it and producing tiny air pockets in the cooled candy, resulting in a crisp, brittle texture.

Tips for Making Peanut Brittle

  • Besides baking soda, the other important ingredient in homemade peanut brittle is corn syrup. It is best not to shy away from this ingredient — and don’t try substituting honey, molasses, or agave. Ultimately, corn syrup keeps the candy smooth and prevents the sugar from crystalizing and developing a gritty or grainy texture.
  • When it comes to the peanuts in peanut brittle, I like to use roasted salted nuts for optimal flavor. I have found Spanish peanuts are a great option and their signature red paper skins add visual interest to the brittle as well.
  • Finally, it’s important to make sure you have a reliable candy thermometer on hand if you plan on making homemade peanut brittle. They’re inexpensive and easy to find in just about any large grocery or big-box store. Achieving the proper temperatures for the sugar mixture and then once again after the nuts are added are key to making a brittle that is perfectly caramelized and flavorful, but not burnt.

What Temperature Is the Hard Crack Stage?

The hard crack stage on a candy thermometer is between 300°F and 310°F. When making peanut brittle, I like to take it off the heat just slightly before it hits this stage, around 295° F.

Why Is My Peanut Brittle Too Hard?

If your peanut brittle is too hard, it might have cooked too long and reached a temperature higher than the hard crack stage.

Can I Freeze Peanut Brittle?

Yes, peanut brittle can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Peanut Brittle

Homemade peanut brittle is the ultimate made-with-love holiday gift.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 40 minutes

Makes about 2 pounds

Serves 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 cups

    granulated sugar

  • 1 cup

    light corn syrup

  • 1/4 cup

    water

  • 2 cups

    salted, roasted peanuts, preferably Spanish

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pans

  • 2 teaspoons

    baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Generously coat a large marble slab or 2 rimmed baking sheets with unsalted butter.

  2. Place 2 cups granulated sugar, 1 cup light corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a large 3-quart heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat (don't be tempted to cook at a higher heat as you risk scorching), stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until the sugar dissolves.

  3. Clip a candy thermometer onto the saucepan and continue cooking, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until the mixture reaches 285°F (soft crack stage), about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, measure out 2 cups salted, roasted peanuts, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 teaspoons baking soda, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

  4. Add the peanuts and unsalted butter to the saucepan and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 295°F. (This is just slightly above the soft crack stage, but not yet at the hard crack stage.) Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and take off the candy thermometer.

  5. Working quickly, add the baking soda and vanilla extract to the saucepan and stir to combine. The mixture will foam. Immediately pour the mixture onto the prepared marble slab or baking sheets and spread it out into as thin a layer as possible with an offset or heatproof spatula.

  6. When the mixture begins to cool and harden, after about 10 minutes, run a long, thin metal spatula or butter knife underneath the brittle to gently loosen it from the surface. This will help it cool and help prevent sticking. Once completely hardened and cooled, break it into pieces.

Recipe Notes

Storing: Peanut brittle can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 months or frozen up to 3 months.