This Old-Fashioned Peanut Brittle recipe will remind you of childhood and holidays past! This recipe is inspired by the peanut brittle my Grandma Gusty would always make for the holidays. It was always packed in old coffee tins and hidden until it was time to indulge. This old-fashioned recipe is crunchy and crisp, sweet, salty and of course nutty.
What is Peanut Brittle
Peanut brittle is an old-fashioned hard candy made from boiled and hardened sugar and roasted peanuts. It’s made on the stove top and poured into a thin layer on a baking sheet (similar to toffee) before hardening and eventually being broken into smaller pieces. The result is a homemade candy that’s sweet, crunchy, nutty and slightly salty.
Ingredients in Peanut Brittle
- Granulated sugar: you’ll need 2 cups of sugar for this recipe. It makes a lot and it’s the base of the candy!
- Corn syrup: for this recipe, you will need both light corn syrup and dark corn syrup. In a pinch, you can use all light corn syrup if that’s all you have.
- kosher salt: to balance out all the sweetness and enhance the peanut flavor!
- Unsalted butter: I always recommend using unsalted butter in baking and candy making. It allows you control over the seasoning. This recipe was developed with unsalted butter. If you are using salted butter, pull back on the added salt slightly.
- Dry roasted salted peanuts: the bell of the ball! For uber-traditional peanut brittle, try to find Spanish peanuts (they have the red peanut skins still intact). Do not use unsalted peanuts!
- Vanilla extract: a splash of vanilla adds flavor and helps create bubbles in the brittle.
- Baking soda: a key ingredient to giving the peanut brittle a bit of lift and airiness so it’s not so hard. This makes it more enjoyable to eat and less likely that you’ll break a tooth.
How to Make Peanut Brittle
- Prep the Pans
- Make the Sugar Syrup
- Cook to Soft Crack Stage
- Add the Peanuts and Cook to Hard Crack Stage
- Stir in the Baking Soda
- Pour the Peanut Brittle onto Baking Sheets
- Crack the Brittle and Enjoy
Coat two quarter sheet pans or one half sheet pan generously with butter. You can also use nonstick baking spray. Just be sure to coat the pans well so the peanut brittle doesn’t stick!
Secure a candy thermometer to the inside of a saucepan. Then combine the sugar, corn syrups, water and salt in the saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring the sugar syrup to a boil—this will take about 8 minutes. Then add the butter and continue to cook the mixture until it reaches soft crack stage which is 280ºF (138ºC)(use a candy thermometer for this recipe!) this will take about 15 minutes.
Stir in the peanuts.
Continue to cook the mixture until it reaches hard crack stage, which is 305ºF (151ºC). This will take about 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from heat then carefully add the vanilla and baking soda and mix quickly. The mixture will foam—this is what you are looking for!
Immediately pour the hot, molten peanut brittle mixture onto the greased baking sheets.
Smooth into an even layer using a rubber spatula.
Sprinkle kosher salt over top and let the brittle cool to room temperature.
To crack the brittle I like to drop the baking sheet down onto the counter to loosen it from the sheet. I then flip the sheet over and dump it out onto the counter where I then break it into smaller pieces.
Importance of Baking Soda
Adding a bit of baking soda at the end of cooking adds causes the mixture to foam and results in small air pockets throughout the hardened brittle.
This lightens the texture making it crunchy and crisp instead of very hard. I think it’s the key to making Old-Fashioned peanut brittle!
Expert Tips from Grandma Gusty
Who makes the best peanut brittle? Grandma Gusty. Here are her tips:
- To make true old-fashioned peanut brittle, Gusty recommends using Spanish peanuts. We couldn’t find them when we photographed this recipe, but you can usually find them in stores around the holidays.
- Be sure to butter the baking sheets very well! The more butter, the better she says! This ensures the peanut brittle will release out of the pans easily.
- Gusty recommends sprinkling additional salt over top of the brittle right after pouring it onto the baking sheets. This just gives it a bit more oomph!
How to Store Peanut Brittle
Peanut brittle should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month.
For longer storage, you can store the airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just be sure to let the peanut brittle sit out at room temperature for a while before biting in.
Peanut Brittle FAQs
If your peanut brittle isn’t crunchy, the most likely cause is not cooking it long enough and to the correct temperature. Be sure to use a candy thermometer to ensure it reaches 300 degrees F or hard crack stage.
We recommend using any type of shelled, roasted and salted peanuts. If you can find roasted and salted Spanish peanuts, those are the most traditional. Otherwise, just use whatever peanuts you can find! Planters is always a good bet.
Yes, if you use Spanish peanuts, leave the skins on!
I have not tested this with brown sugar and only dark corn syrup. Brown sugar will add more moisture, so decrease the water by 2 tablespoons. This recipe uses a combination of light corn syrup and dark corn syrup. If you use all dark corn syrup, let us know how it goes.
We have not tested this with honey and I do not recommend making this with honey.
More Candy Recipes to Try
We have two chocolate truffle recipes that are absolutely scrumptious! First, our Dark Chocolate Truffles are the perfect holiday or Valentine’s Day treat since they are infused with a bit of red wine. They’re elegant and special.
And for the dairy-free people in your life, try our Vegan Dark Chocolate Truffles. Made with coconut milk, these are just as silky smooth as regular chocolate truffles.
For a softer candy, make these Sea Salt Caramels. I like to infuse them with a bit of rosemary for extra holiday flare.
Chocolate and caramel become one in these Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels. The best of both worlds!
Not sure we can count this as candy, but our White Chocolate Fondue is the perfect holiday party dessert!
Peanut Brittle Recipe
- Generously coat a half-sheet pan (or two quarter sheet pans) with butter.
- Combine 2 cups (400g) sugar, ½ cup (165g) light corn syrup, ½ cup (165g) dark corn syrup, ½ cup water and ¼ teaspoon salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.
- Bring mixture to a boil (this will take about 8 minutes), add 1 cup (226g) butter and cook, stirring frequently until mixture reaches 280ºF (138ºC), 15–20 minutes.
- Stir in 3 cups (410g) peanuts and continue to cook until mixture reaches 305ºF (151ºC), about 10 minutes.
- Off heat, stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon baking soda and stir quickly (mixture will foam). Immediately pour mixture into prepared sheets, dividing evenly.
- Using a greased spatula, press brittle into an even layer.
- Sprinkle brittle lightly with additional kosher salt.
- Let brittle cool completely then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.
- Full-sheet pans measure 26-by-18 inches
- Half-sheet pans measure 18-by-13 inches
- Quarter-sheet pans measure 13-by-9 inches