How to Toast Pecans 4 Ways

Wondering how to toast pecans for your favorite recipe? Try one of these four easy methods!

Of all the nuts out there, pecans always rise to the top as one of my favorites. They have a similar flavor and texture to walnuts, but pecans boast a sweeter flavor and don’t have the same dry, tannic finish, making them perfect for many classic Southern desserts.

That doesn’t mean pecans need to be relegated to the sweets table, either; raw pecans are perfect for snacking, and they get even better when you toast them. Exposing pecans to a little heat adds depth and texture to this already-delicious nut, coaxing out the pecan’s nutty flavor and aroma while also giving them a crunchy bite.

Unfortunately, many home cooks have had bad experiences when toasting nuts. If you’re not paying attention, nuts can go from perfectly browned and crispy to burnt and acrid in a hot minute. We’ll show you how to toast pecans—without burning them—using these four methods: in the oven, in a skillet, in the microwave or even using an air fryer.

How to Toast Pecans in the Oven

The oven is Peggy Woodward‘s favorite method, Taste of Home senior food editor. It takes a little more effort, but the oven produces the most evenly toasted, best-colored pecans. You’ll definitely want to use this method if you’re toasting a large number of nuts, as you can fit more pecans on a baking sheet than you can in a skillet.

Spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the pecans in a 350°F oven until they’re golden brown, about 6 to 10 minutes depending on how finely the nuts are chopped. Be sure to open the oven and stir often, otherwise, the nuts on the edges of the baking sheet might burn while the ones on the inside are still undercooked. When the pecans have reached the desired level of toastiness, remove them to a cold plate to stop the cooking process.

How to Toast Pecans on the Stovetop

We like toasting pecans in a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop when a recipe calls for a half-cup or less. The stovetop allows you to keep an eye on the pecans as they toast, reducing the chances that they’ll burn while you’re not paying attention. Of course, the range’s direct heat also means you’ll want to stir the pecans or toss the pan frequently to keep them moving around.

Place the nuts in a dry skillet and heat them over medium heat. You can add oil or butter to add flavor, but we like using a dry pan so we can coax the oils out of the pecans. Cook, stirring constantly until the nuts are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the toasted pecans to a cold plate to stop the cooking process.

How to Toast Pecans in the Microwave

If you’re running short on time, or you only need to toast a small number of pecans, turn to your trusty microwave. This method isn’t perfect—the pecans won’t have a toasted color, and they won’t be quite as crunchy—but it’s a quick-and-easy way to prepare pecans for baked recipes like pecan pie.

Spread the pecans in a single layer on a glass pie plate or another microwave-safe plate. Cook on full power for two minutes. Stir the pecans and continue to cook them in 30-second increments until the nuts reach the desired level of toastiness. The final timing will depend on your microwave and the size of the chopped pecans.

How to Toast Pecans in an Air Fryer

Want that oven-roasted result without heating the whole house? Turn to the air fryer! This handy gadget is essentially a countertop convection oven, so it crisps up pecans as well as the oven in less time. We recommend using whole pecans for this method, though, as chopped bits can fall through the air fryer basket.

Preheat the air fryer to 300°F and add the pecans to the air fryer basket in a single layer. Check the pecans after for 4 to 6 minutes. Stir the pecans and cook for an additional 2 to 4 minutes if they’re not to your liking.

Tips for Toasted Pecans

How to Use Toasted Pecans

Toasted pecans are classic for desserts like butter pecan ice cream, caramel pecan pie and toasted better pecan cake, but we also love them for sweet breakfast dishes like baked oatmeal or pecan French toast. Don’t be afraid to use toasted pecans in savory recipes, either. They’re fantastic as a crunchy topper for salads, and they make an incredible vinaigrette, too. Nuts and cheese make a great combination, so rolling your favorite cheese log in toasted pecans to create a crowd-pleasing appetizer is never a bad idea! Finally, look to pecans as a gluten-free alternative to breadcrumbs. Pecan-crusted chicken and salmon are both crunchy and wonderful.

How to Store Toasted Nuts

Raw nuts can be stored in the pantry, but you’ll want to keep toasted pecans in the refrigerator or freezer. Toasting nuts forces them to release their oils. That makes them taste better, but it also increases the chance they’ll spoil and turn rancid. Once the nuts are cooled, place them in an airtight container or resealable bag.

How Long Will Toasted Pecans Last?

Shelled, raw pecans are good in the pantry for about two months, but toasted pecans are more perishable. Stored properly, they’ll last about two weeks in the refrigerator or six months in the freezer.

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Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay is a professional chef, recipe developer, writer and developmental editor. After years of working in restaurant kitchens, she turned to writing to share her skills and experience with home cooks and food enthusiasts. She's passionate about using local, organic ingredients and teaching others how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, writes for several publications and is the co-author of two books about Ayurveda.