Pistachio Brittle

When I think about preparing for the holidays, there are a few things that I consider “musts”. The house (inside and out) has to be decorated. I have to send Christmas cards… usually with glitter… always with “Merry Christmas” and not “Happy Holidays” or “Warm Winter Wishes” (seriously, what?). I need to spend a ridiculous amount of money on coordinated wrapping paper, bows and ribbon (thanks, Target). Finally (and most importantly), I have to make my Christmas baking list. It’s a list that grows longer each year and, as a result, I make it through a lower percentage of the list every holiday season. There are just some baked goods that scream Christmas to me, mostly because my mom made them when I was a kid (hello, mini cheesecake cookies and peanut butter blossoms). It just wouldn’t be the holidays without huge trays and tins of goodies to share with family and friends. Peanut brittle was never something we had around much when I was growing up, but I’ve developed a healthy appreciation for it over the last few years. I thought changing it up by swapping out the peanuts for the pistachios might be a fun change of pace. Turns out, it was a delicious change of pace!

Candy can be a daunting task, between the thermometers, hard ball and soft ball stages, and all of that nonsense. I’ll admit to having my fair share of ups and downs with all things candy and have thrown away a pan or two in my day. I’ve found this basic brittle recipe to be fairly simple and forgiving, and (bonus!) you do not need to use a candy thermometer when making it. Just keep a watchful eye and pay attention to the change in color and you’ll be golden (pun intended ;-))!

I love the flavor that pistachios bring to brittle candy – a little saltier, with a little more “oomph” than peanuts, and something quite unexpected. I like to buy the bag of pistachios that have already been shelled to save my fingers from the blisters that shelling an entire pound will cause 😉

What do you love to find on holiday cookie trays?!

One year ago: Oreo Cheesecake Truffles
Two years ago: Fig and Walnut Biscotti

Pistachio Brittle

Yield: About 1½ pounds of brittle

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Mix things up with this Pistachio Brittle - a delicious alternative to peanut brittle!


2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
½ cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 cups (about 16 ounces) roasted, salted pistachios


1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray; set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high and cook until deep golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the butter, baking soda and pistachios (the mixture will foam). Continue to stir until the mixture is no longer bubbling and the caramel is smooth, about 1 minute.

3. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and spread with a rubber spatula that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Let cool until firm, about 15 minutes. Break into pieces. The brittle can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

(Recipe adapted from my Peanut Brittle recipe)


45 Responses to “Pistachio Brittle”

  1. Im At Home Baking on December 6, 2012 at 3:56 am

    I love anything on a holiday cookie tray but my favorite aside from Chocolate chip would be Sugar Cookies, yum! Your Brittle looks wonderful 🙂


  2. Jess on December 6, 2012 at 5:42 am

    Lady Lockes are a must! For me, Christmas cookie trays are like a cookie table. We just don’t have chocolate chip.


    • Michelle on December 6th, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      Ahh YES! Lady locks! I haven’t had those in a few years!


    • Vivian on December 6th, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      I would love to find a recipe for lady lockes


  3. kath on December 6, 2012 at 6:47 am

    Can’t wait to make this!!! The DH loves pistachios! Thanks, Debbie.


  4. Paula on December 6, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I’ve made brittle with peanuts and with cashews but I’ve not yet done it with pistachios. Why, I don’t know as I love pistachios. Your brittle is chock full of them and it looks amazing.


  5. Chay on December 6, 2012 at 10:05 am

    thanks so much for posting this! my dad is in a nursing home and i know this will lift his pistachio-loving spirits on christmas!


    • Michelle on December 6th, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      Aw, how wonderful! All my best to you and your dad this Christmas!


  6. Debbie on December 6, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Just last night I started writing my list of holiday baking and ended the night with 29 items. :-O And now that I’ve seen this recipe, I’m up to 30.


  7. marie//littlekitchie on December 6, 2012 at 10:40 am

    never thought about using pistachios for brittle, but they are my favorite nuts! sounds like a great treat!


  8. Marty on December 6, 2012 at 10:52 am

    My daughter loves pistachios….definitely going to make this for the holidays. Merry Christmas and thank you for all your wonderful recipes!


    • Michelle on December 6th, 2012 at 2:49 pm

      Merry Christmas to you! 🙂


  9. Alicia on December 6, 2012 at 10:52 am

    This would be perfect for my Christmas gift hampers which thus year Will be made of of loads f your recipes. what can I sub corn syrup with that with give the same results??? I. can’t seem to find it here in the UK . Thanks.


    • Michelle on December 6th, 2012 at 2:46 pm

      Hi Alicia, You could try Lyle’s Golden Syrup.


      • Amber on December 13th, 2012 at 6:03 pm

        I use golden syrup for corn syrup whenever I make brittle, and I find it to be a perfect substitute.


  10. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on December 6, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I’ve always been scared to make candy but I should give it a try I think!


  11. Katie @ Blonde Ambition on December 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    I totally associate peanut butter blossoms with the holidays too 🙂
    There are a lot of cookies and goodies I think of at this time of year (walnut/pecan bars, lemon shortbread squares, decorated sugar cookies), but my favorite thing to do every year is experiment with new ones!


  12. Jessica@AKitchenAddiction on December 6, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    I think this pistachio brittle needs to become a family tradition for our family!


  13. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet on December 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Oh my! My Hubs will go crazy for this! He loves pistachios!


  14. Sally - only gluten free baking on December 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    This makes such a nice change from peanut brittle. I love pistachios, something about the taste and the colour make them a more special nut. Thank you.


  15. Kim Knapp on December 6, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    I follow you on FB and am very pleased to do so!! This recipe gets added to my sparse Christmas baking list!!


  16. Alicia on December 6, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Your recipe makes about 1 1/2 lbs of pistachio brittle, can you give me a ballpark idea how many cups it would equal? I am looking to give this out as gifts to my 13 co-workers and I figure I can find a Christmas-y container that is about the size of a cup for each co-worker. How many batches would be realistic? Thanks! Alicia


    • Michelle on December 6th, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      Hi Alicia, I’m sorry, I actually have no idea, I wouldn’t be able to tell unless I went through and filled them, and I don’t have the entire batch anymore. Plus, it also would depend on how large the pieces are. For 13 servings though, you may want to make 2 batches just to be sure.


      • Maria on May 23rd, 2014 at 2:26 pm

        I know this is an old comment but 1 lb of nuts is around 2 cups so 1.5 is 3 cups.
        3 cups should be enough for about 6 one cup tin servings in my opinion. (given how oddly shaped the brittle shards are)


  17. Living The Sweet Life on December 6, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    fun fun fun!! I love the colour sooo cute as a christmas gift!


  18. Ally @ Om Nom Ally on December 7, 2012 at 2:20 am

    Peanut brittle is one of my weaknesses, I can’t imagine how good pistachio brittle must be – looks like I’m going to have to make some! Looks delicious 🙂


  19. Barb on December 7, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Have been using pecans in brittle for years and it is delish. Family perfers pecans instead of peanuts now.


  20. Laura Dembowski on December 8, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Agree on your holiday musts, but it is getting harder and harder to find cards that say Merry Christmas. I love brittles but have never seen a recipe that doesn’t require a candy thermometer. So nice to have this recipe!


  21. Kim on December 8, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Do you stir the mexture the entire 20 minutes or does it simmer on it’s own. I am new at this candy making stuff! I love Pistachios. Thank you for sharing this.


    • Michelle on December 9th, 2012 at 10:44 am

      Hi Kim, You just let it simmer on its own, no stirring. Enjoy!


      • Kim on December 9th, 2012 at 11:30 am

        Thank you!


  22. Event Lighting Schaumburg Il on December 8, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Pistacios are the long lost nut with christmas baking… can’t wait to try this one!


  23. morri on December 10, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Funnily enough, in my native language “Happy holidays” is pretty much the only kind of Christmas greetings that you hear. The full name would be something like “Happy holidays of the feast of Nativity”, but it’s way too long, so people must have shortened it at some point 😉


  24. Jessica on December 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    How long does the brittle stay “fresh” for? If I make it two weeks before Christmas to give as gifts, will it still taste good, or should I wait until a day or two before? Thanks!


    • Michelle on December 13th, 2012 at 11:03 pm

      Hi Jessica, You could definitely make this two weeks ahead of time (although we’re already less than 2 weeks away from Christmas, so anytime now!)… I was going to say 2-3 weeks.


      • Jessica on December 14th, 2012 at 6:25 am

        Yeah, I guess you are right…we ARE less than two weeks away from Christmas and I can’t wait!! I do have some people that I won’t get to see until the weekend after to give them their brittle. I plan on making the brittle this weekend, so from your reply it will still be plenty yummy then. Can’t wait to taste it; I love pistachios!!! Thank you and have a very Merry Christmas!


  25. B. Campbell on December 15, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    I just made this, and it didn’t turn out so well. Too many nuts, not enough candy. I should’ve listened to my husband (who is a professional chef) when he told me to use the silicone baking mat instead of the wax paper with cooking spray. Even after letting him “work on it”, I have a big thick layer of nuts with scant amount of toffee. Not to mention its stuck to the wax paper. My husband literally laughed out loud. I’m so disappointed. I was going to give this for gifts at work. Not anymore.


    • Michelle on December 16th, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      Hi B. – I’m sorry that you had trouble with the recipe, however you really do need to use parchment paper; wax paper can’t be used interchangeably with parchment.


  26. Kimberly on December 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    I read the above comment as I was half way through with this recipe. As a precaution, I set aside 1 cup of pistachios, and only added two cups to the caramel, just in case (I figured I could always add more if need be). This was the right move. Two cups of pistachios made a very nutty, but good brittle. Probably 1.5 cups would be the right ratio for a brittle with more even candy to nut ratio.


  27. Keith on January 22, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Delicious! I made it with the parchment paper – worked well, but next time I’ll use my silicone mat. I, too, had to hide this from myself – it’s that good. I used raw pistachio nuts – they cook in the sugar while the temperature goes from 290-300F. I would recommend using a thermometer, but it’s not required.


  28. Keith on January 22, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Oh – I forgot the best finishing touch! After spreading the hot brittle in the sheetpan, liberally sprinkle the top of it with a crunchy coarse gray sea salt, I used fleur de sel or sel gris. The crunchy salt adds a whole new dimension to the brittle!


  29. Ramona Tobin on December 14, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    I overcooked the first batch of syrup at 19 minutes and now the 2nd batch wouldn’t spread …started to harden before I finished piling it onto the parchment. I’ve managed to flatten it somewhat but even if I had been able to spread it, it looks like far too many nuts though ..It still tastes great, I have to say !! Not having much luck today so far.


  30. Susan on April 3, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    I cooked it and cooked it for the recommended time and it never turned brown. It never got stiff. Waste of expensive nuts.


  31. Jessica on August 29, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Thus was my first time making brittle and I didn’t use a candy thermometer – just figured I could eye ball it based on this recipe and tips I read… All that to say I know I have a long way to go. Anyway, for me, the consistency turned out really well. I only used 2 C of nuts because that’s all I had on hand. The only problem I had was that I definitely burned the sugar. I think I waited too long, expecting an even brownness, but in hindsight I realize i should’ve taken it off the heat sooner. if any tips to share, feel free! 🙂 I’d love to taste what the successful version is like!


    • Jessica on September 4th, 2016 at 1:31 pm

      So I know this is an old post and nobody is actually reading these later comments BUT FOR THE RECORD I want to say that I tried it a second time with a candy thermometer and again 2 C nuts and it came out just right! 🙂 Thanks!


Leave a Comment

(Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for your patience! If it is your first time commenting you may want to review the Comment Guidelines.)