Homemade peanut brittle is very easy to make. Crunchy peanuts, smothered in caramel, these are very addictive too. Perfect for gift giving during the holidays and for any special occasion.
Packed with peanuts, this crunchy, caramel smothered peanut brittle is easy to make, and perfect for gift giving!
I love making treat boxes and bags to give out for the holiday season. Peanut brittle is a popular holiday treat in the US, and it’s definitely going to feature in my treat bag this year.
This old fashioned peanut brittle is one of the easier confections to make. This recipe for peanut brittle is simple, but I do recommend certain equipment and some precautions to take.
Tips for making peanut brittle
- Roast the peanuts, or buy good quality roasted peanuts. Store-bought roasted peanuts can sometimes taste stale, so it’ll be great to make sure the peanuts taste fresh.
- Use a fairly large pot with a heavy bottom. This will evenly distribute the heat.
- Use a candy thermometer. It helps with knowing when to add baking soda to the candy, and takes guesswork out of the equation.
- If you’re skittish about handling caramel, wear heat resistant gloves. This is important if you’re a beginner because you absolutely do not want to get the caramel on your hands. It’s like hot lava! Well, not quite, but you get the picture.
- The sugar is heated to 300 F / 150 C, which is the hard crack stage for sugar. This is essential to make sure the brittle is hard once set.
- Line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper before you begin the process, so you know it’s ready to go.
- Keep the baking soda and peanuts ready to go in little bowls as well.
Ingredients and substitutions for this recipe
Brown sugar – I use brown sugar here, but you can also use granulated white sugar instead.
Corn syrup or golden syrup – This inverted syrup helps prevent sugar crystallization. You could also use honey instead. I prefer using golden syrup instead of corn syrup because it adds more flavor.
Unsalted butter – I only use a little bit to add a lovely buttery touch to the brittle. So don’t skip it. Make sure the butter is at room temperature as well.
Salt – Salt and caramel go hand in hand. You can add more salt if you like a salted peanut brittle, or just add enough to balance the sweetness.
Baking soda – Much like sponge candy or honeycomb, peanut brittle also uses baking soda, but a lot less. The carbonation from baking soda “lightens” the caramel, making it more brittle. However, it doesn’t form large holes like in sponge candy.
Roasted peanuts – Just to make life easier, I buy already roasted peanuts. But do make sure the roasted peanuts taste fresh. This is important. If you’re not sure, buy raw peanuts and roast them yourself. You can also use roasted salted peanuts.
You can also use other kinds of nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, and pecans. Or even pumpkin seeds too!
How to make homemade peanut brittle
- Add the sugar corn syrup or golden syrup, salt, butter, and water, into a large heavy bottomed pot. Keep in mind that when you make peanut brittle, the sugar bubbles up as it continues to cook. It also expands when you add baking soda. Having ample room for the mixture to cook is crucial.
- Clip the candy thermometer to the side of your pan, making sure the sensor is below the surface of the candy mixture.
- Heat the mixture over medium heat, while stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
- Continue to cook the sugar mixture over medium heat. When the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring. The mixture will be bubbling at this point. Instead of stirring the candy mix, swirl the pot to mix the caramel mixture so that it heats evenly.
- If you’re using white sugar to make peanut brittle, you may notice the sugar is starting to turn golden brown as it continues to heat. With brown sugar, the caramel is a deep golden color.
- Keep heating the caramel (while swirling the pot occasionally) until it reaches 300 F / 150 C. This is the hard crack stage for sugar.
- Add the peanuts and baking soda. Once the correct temperature is reached, remove from heat and immediately add the baking soda and peanuts. Whisk them in until the baking soda is mixed in well, and the peanuts are spread through the caramel.
- Spread and let harden. Immediately (and carefully) scrape the peanut caramel mix onto the lined baking tray, spread it, and then let it cool completely and harden.
- Break into pieces. Break the large piece of peanut brittle into smaller pieces.
How to make peanut brittle without a candy thermometer
You CAN make this confection without a candy thermometer. When the sugar has been boiling for a few minutes and the color of the sugar has darkened (this is easier to tell with white sugar), you can perform the water test.
Simply drop a little bit of the sugar mixture in a bowl of very cold (preferably iced) water. The sugar droplet will harden into a brittle thread. At this point, you won’t be able to bend the the sugar piece (brittle thread) without breaking it because it will have hardened.
This is how you check if the peanut brittle mix has reached the hard crack stage without a candy thermometer.
How to store homemade peanut brittle
After you break the brittle into smaller pieces, you can store the brittle in an airtight container at room temperature. To prevent the peanut brittle pieces from sticking together, you can place parchment paper between layers of peanut brittle.
These will keep for at least a month, but will get a tad sticky over time.
Easy Homemade Peanut Brittle
- 1 ¾ cup brown sugar or white sugar
- ½ cup corn syrup or golden syrup
- ¼ cup water
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 ¼ cup roasted peanuts salted or unsalted
- 1 tsp baking soda
- Line a half sheet baking pan with parchment paper or a silpat. Set aside. Also keep a spatula, offset spatula, and a whisk ready.
- Place the sugar, corn syrup, water, salt, and unsalted butter in a large, heavy bottom pot.
- Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pot.
- Heat the mixture over medium heat, while stirring, to dissolve the sugar.
- Once the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has come to a boil, stop stirring. Instead, swirl the pot occasionally to mix the sugar mixture and to ensure even heating.
- Heat the mixture until it reaches 300°F / 150°C or the hard crack stage. Please see recipe notes on how to make this without a candy thermometer.
- When the caramel mixture reaches the hard crack stage, remove the pot from the heat, and immediately add the baking soda and roasted peanuts.
- Use a whisk to whisk in the baking soda well and to coat the peanuts with the caramel. Work quickly at this point because the caramel will start to harden quickly as it cools down.
- Once all the baking soda is mixed in, and the peanuts are coated, scrape the caramel mixture onto the lined baking sheet using a spatula.
- Spread the mixture using the offset spatula (so that the peanuts are all in one layer).
- Allow the peanut brittle to completely cool down and harden at room temperature. This can take a couple of hours at least.
- Once the brittle is hardened, break it into smaller pieces.
- Place the peanut brittle pieces in an airtight container at room temperature, with parchment paper between layers to prevent the pieces from sticking together.
- Store in a cool, dry place (but not the fridge), and it'll be good for about a month.