sweet + salty rosemary party nuts.

Quickie post! I wanted to share this little snack with you, because I make it all the time, and it gets us through what seems to be a pretty nibble-filled time of year. If Everyone seems to be in various stages of party-planning, from Halloween to Christmas; according to Pinterest, you winter holiday pinners are way ahead of the game this year. Slow down! You must to pace yourselves; there’s like, at least 2 major holidays before the Big Event in December, and I can’t think about strawberry santa-hat brownies and DIY sheet music christmas trees until I get through October. Cool out.

I know you’ve seen the santa hat brownies before if you are on Pinterest; has anyone thought those through? I have, and buying fresh strawberries around here that don’t taste like my sofa during December would cost me about $30 a pound. But they’re so cute it almost makes it worth it.

Thankfully, this snack mix will get you through months of guests, football-watching, and formal parties. They are just as perfect set out in a crystal bowl in the evening as they are served up on a leaf plate during the day. Total flexibility, in nut form. There’s a great little combination here of sweet and heat, made possible by some brown sugar and a dusting of cayenne, but you also have an herb factor with some fresh rosemary.

I don’t know if this is true of everyone, but certain herbs make me think of specific seasons. Rosemary reminds me of cooler weather, much like sage recalls Thanksgiving turkeys’ past, and mint makes me dream of poolside lemonade in the heat of midsummer. Herbs, to me, have distinct times of the year they seem most comfortable in, and although I could enjoy rosemary anytime, I find myself more drawn to it during this time of year. If you’re not a fan, certainly you could leave it out, but I encourage you to give it a try; the nuts match so perfectly with it, and you’ll be surprised at how mellow the flavor is.

Warning: these are addictive. Luckily, I’ve found a way to make them simpler than gathering all sorts of nuts like you’re some sort of obsessive-compulsive squirrel. I use Planters Mixed Nuts (lightly salted), which come in both 10- and 15-ounce containers. When I’m feeling like I want a little more nutrition, I buy the 10-ounce and substitute in 5 ounces of unsalted whole almonds (a staple around my house). Want more control? Use the 10-ounce unsalted mixed nuts instead of lightly salted. This time of year, I usually have already-roasted pumpkin seeds in my pantry as well: I throw a few ounces of those as well post-roast and pre-toss. Do what you like, but always keep in mind the salt content of the nuts you start with, and don’t season with more until the end.

As with anything like this, this is less an exact recipe and way more a guide to how it’s done. Use your favorite brand/mix of nuts, or put together own mix.

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe for the Union Square Cafe’s famous bar nuts. You can find her adaptation, which I worked from, here.

 Sweet + Spicy Rosemary Party Nuts

  •  16-18 ounces of your favorite mixed nuts; I use Planters mixed nuts lightly salted or unsalted (a mix of peanuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, and cashews)
  • 2 ounces pumpkin seeds, roasted and salted (totally optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or 1/4 teaspoon if you prefer a little less heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-2 teaspoons sea salt, to taste*

*remember: salting after you toss your mixture together insures you’re not putting too much on. Go slowly, keeping in mind the type of nuts you purchased. If you have a combination of salt levels going on (like my salted pumpkin seeds and my lightly salted/unsalted other nuts, for example), the toss through the melted butter should work some of the salt around to the nuts which have less. Be thorough, and only use your salt if you really feel they need it.

Preheat your oven to 350˚F.

Toss your mixed nuts (not your pumpkin seeds, but all others) directly on to a sheet pan – no need to line with parchment. Throw in your preheated oven and roast nuts for 10 minutes, until hot, and a little golden.

In the meantime, place melted butter, cayenne, brown sugar, ground black pepper, and rosemary leaves together in a large bowl, stirring until sugar has dissolved and everything is incorporated.

When your nuts are done in the oven, remove them and pour them directly into your butter mixture, being careful as you do so. Everything is flaming hot: those little nuts are like fire bombs, so watch your fingers. Toss using a spatula or large spoon in the bowl for several minutes to ensure mixture has coated all the nuts evenly. Add your pumpkin seeds (if using) and toss some more. If you’re using a metal bowl, you’ll notice (as I do) that the bottom will get quite hot quite quickly. Pay attention.

Season with sea salt once your nuts have cooled slightly, enough for you to season, stir, and taste to see where they are at in terms of saltiness. Once you reach your desired seasoning level, set aside and allow to cool to a warmish temperature.

Serve these anywhere from the warm side of things to perfectly room temperature: I like them either way. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for 5 days or thereabouts.

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  • Reply Ashley October 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Oh, delicious and tempting and healthy! I’m all over this, especially as a treat that doesn’t have to be kept in the fridge. Instead of associating herbs with seasons, I tend to associate herbs and spices with specific types of dishes. Mint does make me think of mojitos, sage makes me think of fall and squash, rosemary…well, I kinda knocked down it’s containing barriers, but I still think “strong”. And I can never seem to block the though “warming” when I reach for cinnamon, cloves, ginger, or nutmeg. Odd, but true. I love the image “obsessive-compulsive squirrel” brought to mind. I may share some tendencies with them…

    • Reply shannon October 12, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      ashley, they’re so tempting! just the fragrant rosemary part of these is enough to make you want to grab a few every time you see them. I like that you can mix and match the nuts as you wish and it’s always good; never once have i tried something that i felt tasted strange. And yes, when i’m feeling particularly health-concious, i grab a bunch of my unsalted almonds and just make a batch of it using them by themselves; still delicious, and nothing to feel bad about.

      i do the food association thing too with herbs; i think they tend to remind you of things you see paired with them regularly, or for me they do. my mom started telling me about a dish last night over the phone and she started with “so for the bruschetta, they take the sage leaves and lay them out, and…” and i knew she was going to say butternut squash. “warm” is such an appropriate term for things like cinnamon and cloves and ginger…all those pie spices like mace and allspice do it to me as well. i think it seems “warm” due to things like cider and mulling spices?

      ha! i’m a little bit “OCD squirrel” myself.

  • Reply Jen @JuanitasCocina October 12, 2012 at 5:11 am

    In general, I’m anti-nut. And then you went all rosemary on me, and now I’m rethinking my stance. Like…maybe I need to eat rosemary nuts so that I don’t eat Santa ones? Or something.

    Also, I have a rosemary bush that doesn’t get nearly the attention she deserves. My bush is underappreciated. These nuts may make her feel better.

  • Reply natalie October 12, 2012 at 7:09 am

    BF’s brother’s house is surrounded by rosemary….. i think i will have to steal some.

    • Reply shannon October 12, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      um, totally? who get lucky enough to have a rosemary-encased home? unfair.
      so, steal some; he’ll never miss it.

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats October 12, 2012 at 8:16 am

    oooh, Trader Joes has some rosemary nuts they sell that are SOOO addictive. I’m totally going to try this! Looks amazing.

    Also, a little birdy/Movita told me it was your bday. Happy Happy Birthday!!!

    • Reply shannon October 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      amy, you know i’ve never tried TJ’s rosemary nuts even though i’ve seen them? i’m making a note for next time i’m there; i want to taste-test!
      movita is so sweet for making me my sheep. talk about awesome birthdays…who gets a felted sheep? i do. 🙂 thank you for the birthday wishes; it’s been a really nice day.

  • Reply Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen October 12, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Movita sent me here!! Happy Birthday!!! Love your recipe too!

    • Reply shannon October 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      barbara, movita is the BEST, right? i love her. thank you so much!

  • Reply Sharyn Dimmick October 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    You are so right, Shannon, that strawberries in December taste like your sofa — someone brought several flats to a December music party and I had to roast them with ginger and puree them to make them edible. I’m sure you can find better things to bake than Santa hat brownies (Yes, I have seen them). Ask your new sheep what is in season in December.

    Meanwhile, I’m-a make me some mixed nuts with rosemary, brown sugar and cayenne — I’ve got raw cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios and raw almonds, so that’s what I’ll be starting with. I found you through Movita Beaucoup’s site. Happy Birthday!

    • Reply shannon October 12, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      Sharyn, that strawberry brownie hat recipe has been perplexing me for two years now! Maybe there are some parts of the world that manage to have edible strawberries during the holidays, but not my part. 🙂 i’d take a roasted ginger strawberry in december, though; that sounds delicious! i’m going to be working on my christmas baking list as soon as we get through halloween, and my new sheep will be consulted.

      pistachios! i was trying to think of some other nuts this would be good with, and walnuts came to mind, but i forgot about pistachios; they would be wonderful in this. let me know how you like them! i love that movita; she’s one of my best blog friends and such a sweetheart. she and my mother plotted this whole sheep attack without ONE WORD to me. 🙂 thank you!

  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog October 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Sweet and salty nuts with rosemary? I’m in. They look delicious, and I like parties, so I’m all in.

    BTW, happy birthday, Shannon! I hope you have an amazing day. If I were there, I’d totally get down with you on your special day, and by get down, I mean get jiggy with it!

    • Reply shannon October 12, 2012 at 3:25 pm

      girl, i knew you’d love these because of all the football-watching you do! they’re kinda perfect for that; it gives the taste buds a bit of a break from the chicken wings and dips, you know?

      yay, thank you! it’s been a very nice day so far; me and the Wee One did a little shopping, and a little cake-eating, and even – dare i say – a little getting jiggy with it. we like dance parties around here, and she knows its my birthday, so she treated me to a little xylophone serenade. 🙂 you would have totally gotten down with it.

      • Reply Emma October 15, 2012 at 5:16 am

        Eee! Xylophone serenade? Sweet!

        • Reply shannon October 15, 2012 at 3:11 pm

          SO sweet: there’s nothing like a little xylophone to get things going, y’know? i know you know.

  • Reply Melanie October 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    I’ve made a version of Union Square Bar Nuts for years as well. I always try to serve them hot and avoid peanuts, as I know people who are allergic. I’ve done it with cashews only, as they are my favorite nut,

  • Reply Wendy@chezchloe October 13, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    I can definitely work these into my holiday schedule.
    I think that little sheep had some Blogger vibes poked in it with Movita’s magical felting needle.
    Lovely site you have here…sorry it’s taken so long to hop…(graze) over. Ok enough sheep talk.

    • Reply shannon October 15, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      wendy, i’m happy you came to graze! 🙂 it’s nice to meet you. movita’s the best; i think she actually is magic.

      there can never be enough sheep talk, in my opinion. never.

  • Reply elizabeth October 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    I feel the exact same way about strawberries in December, but the recipe I keep seeing is using them as a base to then make Christmas tree toppings or something, and all I could think of was how all of that sugar and those berries would taste terrible, even if they looked pretty. Not everything worth making is necessarily Pinterest-ready!

    And these nuts sound AMAZING. I need to do something different with the almonds I bring to work–definitely will give this a try.

    • Reply shannon October 15, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      so true about being Pinterest-ready: i love seeing everyone’s ideas, but i do enjoy it so much more when they seem doable at the same time/seasonally appropriate. and maybe this is me not knowing there’s some entire region of the world blessed with strawberries in december, i don’t know. I would LOVE fresh berries in december, but alas…no go.

      if you’re an almond-snacker like i am, try it with almonds-only. i LOVE it; normally i’m good with a handful of my little unsalted whole ones, but this makes them feel a wee bit more satisfying. and they smell SO good; rosemary just has that warm smell to it, which makes them all the better.

  • Reply Emma October 15, 2012 at 5:18 am

    I’m sorry, but those Santa hat brownies look like a horrible mess waiting to happen. I can just imagine trying to shove the whole thing into my mouth, and ending up decorating my face, and probably my shirt too, in the process:)

    • Reply movita beaucoup October 15, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      Leave it to Emma to make me re-think cute.

      You’re right, Emma… I’d have ’em all down my shirt. And then a piece would fall on the couch, and I’d simultaneously attach brownie to my both my ass and the couch. Sigh.

    • Reply shannon October 15, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      emma, you would think that about the santa brownies; i sometimes see those mile-high frosted cupcakes and think “what the…?” because who could really eat that? If your topping is larger than your main event, unless it’s a meringue pie, you could have an issue. because yes, i’d decorate my face. santa hat moustache.

      off-topic: did you know that “moustache” is not a recognized word in my spellcheck? i bet it would have been in the eighties. had spellcheck been around. hmmm. deep thoughts.

      • Reply Emma October 16, 2012 at 9:45 am

        Um, hasn’t spell check ever heard of a little thing called TOM SELLECK? Puhhleeeease!

        In all fairness, though, I think it’s spelled mustache in American. Your computer is very patriotic.

        • Reply shannon October 16, 2012 at 3:24 pm


          oh i feel dumb now; in all the ways i attempted to spell “moustache,” it never ONCE occurred to me to take out the “o”. it’s like i have a secret desire to spell all things the way the Brits and Canadians do (i love a good “ou,” i guess. like behaviour and colour and favourite.
          also, i’ve gotten myself into reading this little young adult series (because i’m 8 years old) by a british author. it’s about three children who were raised by wolves and some super rich person during the victorian era takes them in and hires a governess to raise them. it’s a smart little book; the author basically teaches you about all sorts of things as you’re reading the story, which is cool. at any rate, probably moustaches are mentioned quite a bit, so…
          so happy i just told you all that. 🙂

  • Reply movita beaucoup October 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    If you were to present a bowl of this snack mix to 2.0, he would – in all likelihood – move in with you.

    • Reply shannon October 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      2.0 probably has zillions of reasons to stay put, right where he is. I’ve seen your food. and *ahem* those clogs, if you know what i mean.


      now go do what everyone else seems to be able to do and steal some rosemary from an unsuspecting neighbor.

  • Reply Katherine @ eggton October 16, 2012 at 9:21 am

    My neighbor grows so much rosemary that he’s not even going to notice when I march over there this afternoon and pick some for these. This will make a perfect thing for me to put in a mason jar and bring to a fancy dinner in a few weeks!

    • Reply shannon October 16, 2012 at 3:32 pm

      why is it that everyone keeps telling me they have neighbors with tons of random rosemary? I need to get on my neighbors, because here’s what: NONE OF MY NEIGHBORS HAVE ANY ROSEMARY TO STEAL. i had to grow my OWN and first that just seemed very farmerly. now it seems like i got the shaft.
      great idea!! how pretty would this be in a mason jar; maybe you could shove a little stalk of rosemary down the side or something for a little finishing touch, or tie it to the top. since you have like, free access to rosemary you may as well go all out. 🙂

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