How To Make Peanut Brittle


I’ve had peanut brittle that was so hard it would pull your fillings out. Fortunately I was eight years old at the time, so I didn’t have any fillings. I was selling it for a school fundraiser, and my grandfather took me to his league night to sell to the guys at the bowling alley. The guy with dentures was not amused.

I always thought that’s just how peanut brittle is. It turns out all the stuff I’ve had before was stale peanut brittle. Now that I’ve made my own and had it fresh, I know better.


101122-215725_Lg1½ pounds sugar
¾ pounds corn syrup or glucose syrup
2/3 pint water
2 ounces butter
½ teaspoon vanilla
¾ pound peanuts (see below)
1 teaspoon baking soda


Combine the water, sugar and corn syrup in a small (2 quart) sauce pan.

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That doesn’t look like a small sauce pan does it. Looks kind of like a big ol’ stock pot. Sure you can use a big one, but you’re going to need to put a candy thermometer in it. And after starting with the big pot I looked at it and realized the clip on the thermometer wouldn’t fit over the rim. And even if it did, it wouldn’t reach far enough down anyway. So we transferred it to the smaller pot.

Now that it’s in the right size, clip the candy thermometer on the side with the tip into the liquid but not touching the bottom of the pan — if the tip touches the bottom, you’ll be measuring the temperature of the stove — then cover as much as you can with the lid.


Bring to a boil, then cook on medium heat (high on a gas stove) until it’s at hard crack stage. That means a drop of the mixture, when dropped into a glass of cold water, will harden into threads that crack when you try to bend them. Or 300° F on the candy thermometer. (If you’re interested in more about the stages sugar goes through when heating, check out this great collection of videos on the science of candy.)

By the way, this is going to take a long time. Over two hours in our case. Maybe we could have gone hotter, but we didn’t want it to boil over so we were conservative on the heat setting.

While it’s cooking, combine the baking soda with just enough water to dissolve it completely and set it aside for later. Also, get a heavy baking sheet and grease it well with butter.

Once it’s at 300° stir in the butter and cook until golden brown.

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NOTE: If you’re using raw peanuts, add them with the butter and they’ll roast while the candy is cooking. When the peanuts start to pop, they’re done. (But if the candy is golden, don’t wait for the peanuts to pop.)

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and — if you’re using pre-roasted nuts — stir in the nuts, too.

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Now things are going to go pretty fast. Stir in the baking soda mixture. It will foam up immediately, and you want to bubbles to be evenly distributed, so you have to dump it in and stir quickly

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Pour it out onto the greased baking sheet and spread it evenly.


Don’t try to spread it with a spatula, like it’s cake frosting. Shake the baking sheet around to distribute the candy. Remember that you’re pouring a couple of pounds of 300° syrup into a metal pan, and metal is a good conductor.

Yeah, hot is right. So work fast. Let it cool overnight.


Press the center of the baking sheet on the corner of a counter to pop the candy loose from the bottom.


Cover with wax paper and flip over onto a work surface.

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Let your kitchen helper sample it.


“Do you like it?”


Sorry for the blur, she was nodding her head too fast. :-)

Cover with another piece of wax paper and crack into pieces with the corner of a meat mallet or the side of a heavy spoon.

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Don’t whack too hard, this is much lighter and more brittle than the commercial stuff. Wait … is that why they call it peanut “brittle”?

Serve in a pretty bowl.


And that’s it.

Oh, except for this: I hate high fructose corn syrup. I go out of my way to not buy anything that’s made with it, which is surprisingly hard to do. But this is candy. That’s how candy is made. One way or another it’s going to have a bunch of sugar in it. If you’re going to have a treat that you know is bad for you, doesn’t it make sense to have the best-tasting treat you can, and satisfy the craving?

Peanut Brittle

Peanut Brittle


  • 1½ pounds sugar
  • ¾ pounds corn syrup or glucose syrup
  • 2/3 pint water
  • 2 ounces butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ pound peanuts (see below)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


Combine the water, sugar and syrup in a 2-quart sauce pan and bring to a boil. Using a candy thermometer, cook over medium heat until 300° F -- "hard crack" stage.

Stir in the butter and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and peanuts.

Dissolve baking soda in a little water. Stir quickly into candy, and pour out onto a buttered baking sheet.

Allow to cool overnight, then flip the baking sheet over onto wax paper to remove the candy. Cover with another piece of wax paper and crack candy with light raps of a meat mallet or heavy spoon.


  1. Looks wonderful.

    One tiny complaint, not about the recipe, but the video: it’s not helpful, since it shows the brittle already all spread out in the pan when you pick it up and shake it. That was a little disappointing, because I wanted to see how you actually spread it out so nicely just by shaking the pan around. I’m curious because I’ve made peanut brittle several times, and that’s the most challenging part, because it has to be done so fast and the mixture is so viscous (even though, yes, it’s screaming hot). I’m finding it hard to imagine getting it spread out fast enough without using a spatula. I’d like to see how you do that.

    • Tried this recipe for the first time and I think it turned out great! However, spreading it out was a bit of a mystery so I just did the best I could. Getting the sugar to 300 Degrees did not take me 2 hours–it only took me about 30 or 40 minutes. With this kind of thing, every batch will go differently :)

      I like the involved process of making REAL peanut brittle, NOT making it in the microwave. Cooking is an adventure and I love taking on projects like this. Thanks so much for a great recipe with pictures!

      However, one other “problem” I had was the mixture of volume and weight measurements in the directions. It is a lot easier to measure liquids such as the corn syrup in ounces than it is in weight. Luckily, I have a food scale so I worked around the problem (and had help from Google to convert cups-weight measurements). Just a minor thing that made the recipe just a tad less convenient than it could have been.

      Thanks again! These are part of my Christmas treats since I refuse to step into a shopping mall for the holidays. My family taste tested it and they loved it!

  2. This makes it look a lot easier than I imagine it. I’ve tried brittle once before and it sucked.

    BTW, corn syrup and HFCS are two entirely differently things (tho both corn sugar products). Corn syrup that you buy at the supermarket is more like a molasses and the HFCS is a science project .

    • Well, I didn’t know that. According to their FAQ:

      When Karo was introduced in 1902, it did not contain high fructose corn syrup. Sometime in the 1970’s, it was added to the Karo light and pancake syrups. As a result of consumer requests, the high fructose corn syrup has now been removed and all Karo products are high fructose corn syrup free.

      I could have sworn Karo was a combination of corn syrup and HFCS … maybe I used to have a really old bottle.

  3. Dianne, I wish I could show you that, but I didn’t realize how quickly it would start to cool once it hit the pan. I tried to stop before I was done and hit “Record” on the camera, but just got the last little bit.

  4. ahhh.. you already addressed my only objection. i’m guessing there is a way to make it without corn syrup. but just like you – i’d make an exception for this. especially if it had some melted chocolate on it!

    great work!

    • There are other kinds of syrup, but you won’t find most of them in American grocery stores. The recipe called for glucose syrup, which I listed as an option in the ingredients. If you want to try it, you can get it mail-order.

  5. I am in complete agreement on the whole HFCS thing. What a pleasant surprise to find that it’s no longer in Karo products!

  6. If you’re interested in making peanut brittle much faster without the 2 hour watching and waiting….I make this microwave peanut brittle with great success every holiday season.

  7. That looks too easy. Does it actually work every time?

  8. thanks so much for sharing this recipe I will be trying to make this once again

  9. Did you mean 3/4 cups of corn syrup instead of 3/4 pounds. Just checking before I try it…

  10. That’s actually 3/4 pound. Very uncommon to see that in an American recipe, but that’s correct.

  11. I am surprised that no one has mentioned homemade corn syrup! I use this recipe to make an inverted sugar syrup and use it whenever corn syrup is called for. I haven’t had it fail yet!

    I look forward to trying your peanut brittle recipe. It sounds excellent.

  12. How have I not seen this before? That’s awesome, thanks!

  13. I was looking to make a variation of this recipe with almonds instead of peanuts. Unfortunately I am living in an area of the world that for some asinine reason doesn’t have corn syrup. I found this cool Late Victorian cook book with a recipe for corn syrup in it so perhaps I will whip up some large quantities. My father was diabetic so I figure I am pre-disposed in that direction and have tried to eliminate as much refined sugar from my diet as possible. (Ain’t easy.) I may try the recipe with honey- although for diabetics that isn’t good. Any suggestions on keeping the sugar content low without losing too much of the good taste?

    Also I have always wanted to make a pecan pie like my aunt made. It always turned out so beautiful Unfortunately I am allergic to pecans so I was thinking about a mix of blanched almonds and pistachios -or even cashews. (You could make some lovely patterns with the green of the pistachios, I think.) What say you?

    • On the pecan pie: I have made a tart using much the same base, but with walnuts. I prefer walnuts to pecans anyway, so this was a plus for me. It ends up tasting (to me anyway) darker, richer and yet less sweet at the same time. And it begs for dark chocolate….

  14. Unfortunately I suspect both peanut brittle and pecan pie use the sugar as much for structure/texture as for flavor. It would be really hard to make either of them without some significant amount of sugar of some kind.

  15. jediSwiftPirate says:

    omg i most definitly love BACON!

  16. I want to thank you for this detailed and easy to follow recipe, I would like to add however, that corn syrup is not worse for you than regular sugar, and unless you are eating RAW sugar, the stuff in the bag is usually made from beets, and goes through much processing, just like corn. I will go out on a limb to say that you eat sweet corn at your summer BBQ’s and enjoy the sweet taste of it, that fructose is just as bad for you as it is in syrup form…honestly it is. If you are going to go gung ho anti corn syrup, then you really should just cut sugar out of your diet all together. That’s my opinion, one form of sugar is no better or worse for you than any other, and the fake stuff is worse for you than anything else.
    Thanks again for the recipe, I am off to make some now, with both sugar from beets, and from corn!

    • Without going into all the research suggesting HFCS is worse than cane sugar, and leaving aside the fact that lots of sugar is beet sugar (and how did that little nugget slip so far under the radar for so long?) … There’s still the fact that corn subsidies have so distorted the agricultural system that HFCS is in damn near everything.

      Why is there HFCS in kielbasi? Why does Pepsi cost less per liter than water? Who decided spaghetti sauce is supposed to be sweet?

      • I think many processed foods are sweetened as a way of making it uniform. In the instance of spaghetti sauce, if a company is making it, it has to make each batch taste the same. This is not easy as each batch of tomatoes can have a different sweetness. So to make it uniform, sugar is added so the sweetness is always the same–less sugar if one batch of tomatoes is quite sweet, more sugar if another batch is less sweet.

      • Now Moses, don’t go presenting reasonable explanations when I’ve got my “It’s a conspiracy!” hat on. Then I have to say things like, “Well, there’s a good reason for this, but I still don’t like it.” That’s not nearly as powerful as saying, “The Man wants us to be fat and poor!”

  17. larry rizzo says:

    i have made peanut brittle from my real grand mothers cook book,, also all the times i made it,,i had to move really fast to beable to spread it, ahh but now,, im going to try ”heating up the sheet” in the over before i spread the brittle on it, i hope that it will give me a little more time,, thnaks for this site im new here nad am hopeing that i can learn a lot from it,, im a good cook etc,, but i have a million questions, between whats done today, and whats been done yrs ago

  18. Cynthia Darrington says:

    I have a recipe for nut brittle which is made with granulated sugar and contains no corn syrup. The formula is 2 cups sugar, 2 1/2 cups chopped nuts, 6 Tbs butter, t Tbs vanilla, 1/4 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp kosher salt. My problem is I’m supposed to melt the sugar over med/high heat before adding anything else and it always seizes up into hard little marbles. After about 20 minutes of coaxing it eventually melts, but I’m wondering if this is how it’s suppose to work or if I need to do something else? By the way, thanks for the post about HFCS being different from grocery store corn syrup – did not know that either.

    • Cynthia, most of what I know about candy making is second hand, but I hear people all the time talk about how it gets close to the right temperature then just stays there for what seems forever. So yeah, your experience sounds about right. (And it’s why, for as little as I eat candy, I’ll just let someone else make it from now on.)

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