January 26 is national peanut brittle day so it seemed timely to share this family recipe. According to my internet research peanut brittle first started showing up in American cook books in the early 1800’s, so this is about as old fashioned as it gets. Unlike many of those early recipes this one holds up. Peanut brittle is delicious.
I’ve talked quite a bit about grandma’s recipes, but grandpa always made the peanut brittle. It was primarily a holiday tradition but you don’t have to limit your enjoyment. He’s been gone 20 years now, but I still think of him instantly when I taste peanut brittle.
Why not whip up a batch to celebrate national peanut brittle day? Or just celebrate a random Tuesday, you don’t need a reason. With only 4 ingredients this is a pretty simple recipe.
- 1 Lb of raw peanuts. Look for these in the produce section or the baking aisle. You might have to ask at the store where they hide them.
- 2 Cups of sugar
- 1 Cup light corn syrup
- 1 tsp baking soda
- Note – a candy thermometer is highly recommended with this recipe. I’ll share the old school method for knowing when the temperature is right, but it is far from foolproof.
- Prepare a baking sheet or pan by spraying it with cooking oil or greasing it with butter or shortening. It needs to be well greased or your peanut brittle will not come off easily. Put this aside but somewhere close so you can easily grab it when the time comes.
- In a medium/large saucepan combine the sugar and corn syrup. Turn the burner to medium high heat and stir continuously until the mixture start to boil.
- Once it starts to boil stop stirring and just let it do its thing. It needs to get to 300° F. (If you don’t have a candy thermometer see note below on the old fashioned method). Be patient, it takes a little time to get there. Don’t be tempted to move on to soon or you won’t get “brittle”, you’ll get “bendy”. This is not the time to walk away or do something else. You need to watch closely and move to the next step as soon as it hits 300° F.
- When the sugar mixture hits 300° F add the raw peanuts. Begin stirring. This mixture will be very thick, use a sturdy spoon or spatula.
- Continue cooking and stirring until until the mixture starts to brown slightly, about 5-7 minutes.
- remove the pot from the heat and add the baking soda. It will start to foam up noticeably. You need to move quickly now because you want to capture those bubble to give the brittle its classic texture.
- Stir just enough to mix the soda throughout the pan.
- Pour the contents of the pan onto your prepared baking sheet and spread it out with the spatula. It will start to harden as soon as it cools so work fast.
- Once it is cool (about 30 minutes), you can use a spatula to lift the whole sheet of the pan and break it into pieces about 1-2 inches in size. Store in an airtight container.
- If you don’t have a candy thermometer you can do what your great grandparents did to test the candy. Fortunately heavy sugar solutions behave in a very predictable way at certain temperatures and our cooking ancestors figured this out and used it to their advantage and you may have even seen some of these references in older recipes. You will need a bowl of water for this method. At 235° F a drizzle of the syrup dropped into water will form a soft ball. It will squish a little between your fingers. At 260° F it will form a hard ball when drizzled in water (no squish). At 300° it will form long “hairs” or strands in the water that are brittle and break easily. You will note in grandpa’s original recipe it says cook it until it “hairs”.
- Clean up – The pan and spoon/spatula you use to stir the mixture will have considerable residue that turns rock hard as it cools. Fill the pan with hot water and put in the sink for about 30 minutes (put the spoon in there too). The water will dissolve the sugar and clean up will be a breeze.
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50 thoughts on “Grandpa’s Peanut Brittle”
Will try this one. You should send out samples to your following
I’m no candy expert and mine turned out pretty good, so it must be a fairly forgiving recipe. As for samples, I can’t make any promises 😉
Mine is about the same. Raw peanuts, 1 cup each sugar and syrup, tab butter, 3/4 tsp salt and tsp baking soda. I like my brittle very thin so I heat my oiled jelly roll pan in a 175 oven and act fast . Spreads thinner . You have more time to spread not throwing it on a cold pan. . Pull it out of oven little bit before brittle is done. Much easier on the teeth 😬. Don’t use thermometer. I go by the color and smell of the peanuts
Can you use splenda in the places of sugar?
Anna – unfortunately I don’t think spleda would work. It would not caramelize the way sugar does and you would either get a gooey mess or worse, a brick. Sorry
some recipes call for 1/4 cup of water
but this recipe does not
just curious why
Hi Betsy. This recipe uses corn syrup which has all the moisture required. It turns out great every time I make it. I can’t speak for other recipes but no water is needed with this one. Enjoy.
I made this with cashews and it turned out great!
That is awesome Carol! Thanks for sharing. I love cashews, I’ll have to give that a try.
Yummy yummy yummy I’ve got love in my tummy and it’s peanut brittle that’s on my tummy
Thanks Robert! My grandpa made it every year and everyone loved it.
Can you use roasted peanuts or do they need to be raw?
I’ve never tried with roasted, but I’m afraid the heat would turn them a little bitter. I found raw peanuts in the baking display at Walmart this year, they are out there.
I found raw peanuts at Meijer, I was told they carry them year round.
I tried this recipe with roasted peanuts and the peanuts came out tasting burnt. Is there anyway to make the brittle and add peanuts at the very end?
Hi Rebecca – I have only made this using raw peanuts. Others have posted that they tried it with roasted peanuts or cashews and it came out well for them. Many grocery stores are starting to carry raw or “un-roadted” nuts year round in the baking aisle or health food aisle. You could also look for “lightly roasted” nuts. These would be less likely to develop that burnt note while cooking.
I used roasted, lightly salted and it turned out great!
I used unsalted roasted ones and it came out great
Thanks for sharing. My son and I make brittle every year at Christmas time. Looks like this recipe is going to be our keeper.
Awesome. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Love it! Never made brittle but soooo good! I did modify the recipe to add 2 tsp of vanilla (when I added baking soda) and added one tsp butter when I added the peanuts. My peanuts were roasted and lightly salted ones in a can, and the process did not make them taste bad at all. Yummmyyyyy! Thank you!
Awesome. So glad it turned out well for you. Thanks for letting me know.
so you did not follow the recipe you created your own from what his was !
Not sure what happened- I thought I followed the recipe but by the time my thermometer said 300- the sugar and corn syrup were dark brown- and tasted burnt.
Oh no! I can think of a few possibilities to try and help correct? Are you at high altitude? Getting the temp up to 300 takes longer at high altitude and can cause issues. We’re.you using a candy thermometer (that is working properly)? A regular meat thermometer is not well suited for making candy as it requires very precise measurements.
I didn’t have candy thermometer and i think i didn’t cook it long enough!:( can i salvage this batch by putting in oven or start all over?
Oh no! A candy thermometer is critical for this recipe. I don’t think the oven approach will work because you have very little time once it hits the target temp to add the baking soda before it sets. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news 😕
Excellent recipe! I figured out why your grandpa made it; my arm tired from stirring once the nuts went in! I used cocktail peanuts and it came out better than I expected. My husband said it was the best brittle he has ever eaten! Thank you for sharing!!
Thanks Stacey, glad you enjoyed it. Grandpa would be proud 🙂
Thanks for the recipe. I’ve made it twice recently. The last batch I used half peanuts/half almonds. It was sooo good. Thank you. Linda
Thanks for the note Linda, glad you enjoyed the recipe. It works with about any kind of nut – cashews, pistachios, etc. Feel free to get creative 🙂
Just made peanut brittle for the first time following this recipe exactly (candy thermometer is a MUST!) and it turned out perfect! I sprinkled a few sea salt flakes on top and wow!! Just delicious!
Awesome, thanks for leaving a comment! As you said, a candy thermometer is an absolute must for this recipe (and most candy recipes). Glad you enjoyed the recipe.
When I was a child, my father would make batches of peanut brittle to give to our neighbors as Christmas presents. Our neighbors waited all year for that candy because he only made it at Christmas. I hadn’t been able to find his recipe, but yours is the closest to it! I’m in the same group as you, I can tell by sight and smell when it’s done. I’ve made 4 batches already. For the neighbors and my siblings. Feels like my Dad is in the kitchen with me. Thank you so much for sharing your Grandpa’s recipe. I’m sure he’s very pleased and very proud of you.
I’m due to make a batch today myself, and I always think of dad and grandpa making this for the holidays. I’m so glad to share and delighted it brings back good memories for you too.
I’m going to get some peanuts tomorrow so I can make this!! Family getting together and I’ll take it in evening. Thanks! Just in time!!
Enjoy! It’s a family favorite at our house.
Can you substitute dark corn syrup instead of clear?
Hi Marilyn. The recipe would certainly work, it would likely be darker in color and you may get a hint of molasses like flavor.
I made this a couple times now and it is delicious! The only trick I would add is that I spread it on a warmed cookie sheet covered in parchment. The warmed tray allows for more time to spread it thin. We love it! Thank you for sharing!!!
Hi Diane – thanks for the comment and kind words, glad you enjoy grandpa’s recipe. You make and excellent point, a warmed tray will buy you a little extra time to spread it around
Tarey – I’m sorry to hear you had trouble with this recipe. We make it several times a year exactly as written and it turns out beautifully. Is it possible that altitude or some other factor is at play? We’re the Peanuts at room temperature? Trying to understand what could possibly have gone wrong for you?
I’d be happy to video chat and demonstrate to see where the problem came up for you.
I made this. It turned out perfect!
Thanks Connie, glad you enjoyed grandpa’s time tested recipe.
Can you use parchment paper instead of grease pan.
Waxed paper might work, but it is really sticky. I don’t think parchment paper would work
I have made this several times and comes out perfect every time. Thanks for sharing a family recipe! I have people ask all tge time for me to make it for them. I also make it at Christmas and give to the neighbors as a Christmas gift. If you follow the recipe it won’t stear you wrong…
Hi Becky- so happy you have enjoyed one of our family favorites. As long as you watch the temps everything should come out great. That is for sharing your experience I. A cment