Peanut Brittle is a Southern candy classic we all know and love! Crunchy, buttery, sweet, and savory, this homemade brittle recipe is all you need to please friends and family this holiday season! It’s a great addition to any sweet dessert platter but also is perfect for wrapping up as a food gift.
There is something truly magical about homemade candy, especially during the holiday season! Each year, I whip up a few batches of various candies and cookies to share around the neighborhood or to pass out to family and friends.
And y’all, I never get any complaints. One of my favorites? Peanut Brittle of course!
Peanut brittle is a smooth, buttery candy (similar to toffee), with peanuts in it, that is quickly cooked over a stovetop and poured onto baking sheets to cool.
Once cool, the brittle is broken up into bite-sized pieces and stored in airtight aluminum or plastic tins. Honestly, if you’ve never had this stuff before, you don’t know what you’re missing.
If you love this Southern candy recipe, you will also enjoy my Southern Pralines, Bourbon Balls, Chocolate Bark, and Turtle Candies. Cook a batch of my best peanut brittle recipe and these other favorites and package them up for a thoughtful homemade holiday gift or to enjoy at all your holiday parties!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe foar Peanut Brittle
- Peanut brittle can be a bit tricky! But I’m sharing all my tips to make sure yours comes out great!
- Tastes so good. Sweet, buttery toffee-like candy studded with plenty of peanuts!
- Made with only SIX ingredients! Not including the water and salt.
- A true Southern holiday classic. If you grew up eating peanut brittle but haven’t ever tried making it, now you can!
Ingredients to Make Peanut Brittle
All you’re going to need are six simple ingredients to make homemade peanut brittle. Here’s a close look at what to gather together:
- Granulated sugar: White granulated sugar is the BEST bet for making peanut brittle. Do not try to make this using sugar substitutes, it’ won’t work.
- Light corn syrup: It’s essential for creating the texture of your peanut brittle. It keeps the sugar from forming crystals so you get a smooth hard candy consistency. No substitutes here!
- Spanish peanuts: I prefer using raw Spanish peanuts but there’s no reason you can’t use roasted. Just make sure they are unsalted.
- Baking soda: This helps release some of the bubbles that form in the candy and aids in the hardening process.
- Butter: Use unsalted real butter for the best flavor. It adds a touch of richness and using unsalted means you have more control over the saltiness of your brittle.
- Vanilla extract: Use pure for the best flavor. This adds gentle warming essence in both flavor and smell to your peanut brittle.
How to Make Peanut Brittle
Gather all your ingredients and let’s get started! Here’s an overview of the steps involved but be sure to check all my tips below and also the detailed instructions in the recipe card before getting started.
- Cook the sugar base. Add the sugar, corn syrup, and water to a large saucepan. Whisk everything together and then cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
- Bump up the heat. Increase the heat to medium-high once the sugar is dissolved and toss in the peanuts and salt. Fit a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and keep watch as you continuously stir the nuts. When the thermometer hits 300°F, the candy will have reached its hard crack stage. Turn off the heat.
- Add the final ingredients. Move the saucepan off the burner and carefully add the baking soda, butter, and vanilla to the candy mixture and mix it well.
- Pour your peanut candy mixture. Slowly divide and pour the hot mixture onto two well-greased baking sheets, spreading it out to your desired thickness.
- Set and enjoy. Cool the brittle completely for about 1-2 hours.
- Crack apart the brittle and serve!
Tips for Making the Best Peanut Brittle
- Use a candy thermometer! If you overcook the brittle, it could be bitter or burnt. If you undercook it, the brittle won’t properly set and the end result will be sticky. A thermometer is an accessible and inexpensive way to monitor temperature and ensure properly cooked brittle.
- Make sure your baking soda is fresh and active. Baking soda creates tons of little air bubbles that improve the texture of the brittle. If it’s stale or inactive, baking soda is unable to create the necessary reaction.
- Whisk continuously! Do not walk away from the burner for even a second. Sugar burns quickly and, if left unattended, the mixture will harden and become pretty unappetizing. Keep whisking!
- Use a bigger pot than you’d think you need. Once the baking soda is added, the mixture will begin to foam and rise. If you don’t have enough space in the saucepan, the mixture will boil over and make a huge mess.
- Be super careful! The candy gets super hot and can easily spill onto your hands or wrists. Wearing protective oven mitts or gloves is a great choice. While pouring, direct the pot away from you and use a spatula to scrape the candy onto the pans.
Popular Substitutions & Additions
- Pecan brittle and other nut variations. Swap the peanuts for pecans, macadamia nuts, cashews, or almonds.
- Spicy peanut brittle. Add a pinch of cayenne at the end along with the baking soda and butter. It will give a gentle bit of heat to your candy for a sweet and spicy combination that’s out of this world.
- Add some chocolate drizzle. After breaking up your peanut brittle spread it out on the tray and drizzle with melted chocolate. Let the chocolate harden before storing.
- Mixed nut brittle. Use a combination of all your favorite nuts.
What to Serve with Peanut Brittle
You’re definitely going to want to have a platter of these out at parties for everyone to grab! Here are some other easy-to-eat sweets and savory dishes perfect to eat with your hands at parties.
- For something that’s a bit salty and sweet try this cranberry orange chex mix or some bacon popcorn.
- Add them to a dessert board along with some chocolate truffles.
- No one can resist a deviled egg! They’re perfect for eating in just a couple of bites.
How to Store Peanut Brittle
Store fully cooled and hardened brittle in an airtight container at room temperature. Do not refrigerate as the cool moisture will cause the brittle to soften.
How long will peanut brittle last?
If stored properly, it will stay fresh for 6-8 weeks.
Can I freeze this recipe for peanut brittle?
No, you can’t freeze it. This will introduce moisture to your brittle which will cause it to soften.
Frequently Asked Questions
The most likely culprit is you made a mistake measuring ingredients or you didn’t heat your sugar mixture up to the right temperature. It must cook to 300°F in order for it to reach the state where it will form a hard candy. Using a thermometer while heating your candy mixture easily solves this problem.
It will take 1-2 hours for it to fully cool down and harden.
Yes of course! You can use just about any nut you enjoy to make brittle. Just make sure they are unsalted for the best flavor.
Cook up a batch of the best peanut brittle this holiday season (or any time really)! It makes an easy hostess gift to take along to parties, share with neighbors, or enjoy at all your holiday events. I’m sure everyone will love the buttery goodness of this crunchy peanut brittle.
More Holiday Dessert Recipes
- Eggnog Cookie Dough Truffles
- Divinity Candy
- White Chocolate Ginger Cookies
- Sugar Cookie Martini
- Chocolate Pound Cake with Peppermint Ganache
- Peppermint Brownies
Peanut Brittle Recipe
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup water
- 2 ½ cups raw Spanish peanuts
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly.
- Once sugar dissolves, increase the heat to medium-high. Add peanuts and salt then cook until the temperature reaches 300 degrees or the hard crack stage, making sure to continuously stir.
- Finally add in baking soda, butter and vanilla and mix well. Next, pour the brittle mixture onto 2 thoroughly greased baking sheets and spread to the thickness you desire.
- Once completely cooled, crack into pieces and serve.
If stored in an airtight container at room temperature, homemade peanut brittle will stay fresh for 6-8 weeks. Do not refrigerate or the cool moisture will cause the brittle to soften. Use a candy thermometer! If you overcook the brittle, it could be bitter or burnt. If you undercook it, the brittle won’t properly set and the end result will be sticky. A thermometer is an accessible and inexpensive way to monitor temperature and ensure properly cooked brittle. Make sure your baking soda is fresh and active. Baking soda creates tons of little air bubbles that improve the texture of the brittle. If it’s stale or inactive, baking soda is unable to create the necessary reaction. Whisk continuously! Do not walk away from the burner for even a second. Sugar burns quickly and, if left unattended, the mixture will harden and become pretty unappetizing. Keep whisking! Use a bigger pot than you’d think you need. Once the baking soda is added, the mixture will begin to foam and rise. If you don’t have enough space in the saucepan, the mixture will boil over and make a huge mess. Be super careful! The candy gets super hot and can easily spill onto your hands or wrists. Wearing protective oven mitts or gloves is a great choice. While pouring, direct the pot away from you and use a spatula to scrape the candy onto the pans.