Simple Provisions

Food does not need to be fancy to be celebrated

Festive Nuts

The thing about Christmas in the southern hemisphere is that the rich, spiced, warming flavours associated with the holiday don’t really suit our weather.

Gently warmed mulled wine scented with cloves doesn’t go down too well on a 32c/90F day. And a generous slice of pudding laden with drunken fruits and topped with warm, similarly boozy, custard is also out of place in Summer. But it doesn’t matter. My Christmas days have always featured this festive fare and I’ve merrily consumed bowls of plum pudding while sitting at the table in wet bathers, post Christmas swim.

This year, my in-laws have set a theme of “Australia” for Christmas Day. Everyone has been assigned a course and the food must fit within the theme. I haven’t decided on what to bring yet, but I love the idea of thinking beyond turkey, ham and all the traditional accompaniments. Perhaps yabbies will make an appearance? Or a whole fish wrapped in something fragrant and grilled on the BBQ? (If you’ve got any ideas, let me know!)

But. I can’t let tradition go completely. Last year, in the appropriately chilly climes of NYC, I made these nuts to serve as an accompaniment to cocktails on Christmas Day. The smell of roasting nuts filled my apartment and set the mood for a traditional meal. They were so delicious, I had to make them again this year.

Festive Nuts

The combination of butter and sugar should give you a hint that these nuts are a good thing. But throw salt flakes and the wonderfully unexpected and fragrant rosemary into the soft topping on these roasted nuts and you’re tastebuds will rejoice in the salty sweet flavour bomb. They are so incredibly moreish, you may be prudent to make extra, as you’ll┬ádefinitely┬ábe “tasting” them as they cool.

These festive nuts are quick to make and are a perfect gift for party hosts, teachers, colleagues or that strange aunt you only see once a year. They’re also great served with drinks at the start of the night, or as a sweet treat with coffee at the end of your Christmas meal. No one will think they can fit any more food in, but they always can.

Festive Nuts

Festive Nuts

Serves 8, takes less than 30 minutes.


1 cup walnuts
1 cup pecans
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Sea salt flakes


Preheat oven to 180 C/ 350 F and prep two baking sheets – one with and one without baking paper.

On the unlined baking sheet, roast nuts until golden and smelling delicious, around 12 minutes.

In a large pan, heat butter, sugar, and rosemary over medium-high till the butter has melted. Add nuts and stir until butter mixture is golden brown, around 3-5 minutes.

Spread the contents of your pan over your lined baking sheet and season with salt. Cool to room temperature, tossing occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Recipe from Everyday Food Magazine, 2007

18 thoughts on “Festive Nuts

  1. Alison says:

    Sounds delicious! Definitely going to try them.

  2. rhian @melbs says:

    Yum – they sound lovely – definitely giving these a go.
    This is our first Christmas in Australia and I am also used to Turkey and all the trimmings back in the UK. I am also partial to a hot chocolate with a good glug of baileys as well. Don’t think that is going to work this year. I haven’t the faintest clue what to cook for our Australian Christmas either.!

    1. Amelia says:

      Your first hot Christmas is exciting Rhian! Maybe you could try ice-cream plum pudding? My friend Bin blogged a recipe for it here: A butterflied shoulder of lamb smothered in lemon and oregano and popped on the barbie would be delicious also.

  3. rhian @melbs says:

    Oh lovely, thanks I will go and have a look! The lamb sounds gorgeous too. Thanks for the ideas! :-)

  4. annmahnet says:

    This sounds delicious — we make a similar sugar-coated nut, but this oven method is much easier. And I love the addition of sea salt!

    In Southern California (where I’m from) Christmas also means hot sunshine, blue skies and roast turkey with all the trimmings. I’ve always wanted to make Indian food but that suggestion generally garners little enthusiasm. I look forward to hearing what you cook up!

    1. Amelia says:

      California is a perfect place for a feast of any kind! I was so impressed with the farmer’s markets when I visited, particularly the one in Hollywood. Indian would be fun for Christmas. Apparently my family did Greek last year while I was away, but I think it was met with similar enthusiasm to your Indian idea.

  5. To this day I miss the open windows in our house in Brasil on Christmas Eve, while my mom would set a beautiful spread of her Christmas goodies in our dining room. Yet, as you mentioned, not suitable to the temperature at all! But we would still have lots of fresh fruits and salads, just in case. lol Now, living in Canada, I still can’t enjoy the traditional Xmas dinner without lots of my fresh salads, my favorite being a veggie mousse, festive, fresh but very involved. It can’t be helped, I make it every year. Love your inspired posting and your recipes ! thanks for sharing!

    1. Amelia says:

      Veggie mousse sounds interesting! I had my first northern hemisphere Christmas in Quebec and thought it was magical. Lucky you to combine Brasil and Canadian Christmas’ in one.

  6. WARNING: If these are for a gift, be ready to wrap them up as soon as they’re cool. Otherwise, you WILL eat all of them! Absolutely delicious. Thanks Amelia.

    1. Amelia says:

      Excellent warning. I intended to give two presents, I only gave one (unless you count giving one to myself…)

      1. Anne-Marie Spagnolo says:

        Me too….I made these today and the pile gets smaller every time I walk past…looks like I need another trip to the supermarket. BTW I dusted mine with a hint of chilli powder too!

  7. These look so tasty! can’t wait to try the recipe

  8. Amelia, here’s an idea for Christmas Aussie style, based on the famed American Turducken: how about a WallaWomEchid? On the barbie of course! Have a great Christmas.

    1. Amelia says:

      Sounds tasty! And politically incorrect! Love it!

      Merry Chrissy to you and yours John.

  9. Just found this post even though it’s the middle of May! Sounds delightful and this recipe is a must try! Thanks!

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