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Old Fashioned Peanut Brittle – Easy Gift Idea

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This old fashioned recipe is an easy way to make peanut brittle at home. This homemade peanut brittle makes a tasty and easy gift idea you can give this holiday season. Your family and friends will love to receive this classic candy!

closeup of finished peanut brittle

Peanut brittle is a smooth, hard candy with peanuts. Its uneven broken shape makes it distinctive and fun to make.

I love to make holiday cookies for neighbors, but for people who live farther away candy is ideal. It keeps longer and holds up much better to packaging and mailing.

old fashioned peanut brittle in cardboard boxes for gifting

Why You Will Love Peanut Brittle

  • This homemade candy is the ultimate combination of sweet and salty and has the perfect crunch.
  • This is a very cost effective homemade gift, perfect when you want to make something for a lot of people. The main ingredients are peanuts, corn syrup and sugar, all of which are relatively inexpensive.
  • The candy will keep for weeks, so it is great for mailing as a gift to distant relatives.
  • This is an old fashioned candy, just like your grandma used to make!
  • Kids love to help break the candy up into little pieces once it is cooled. Kids need to stay away during the cooking and pouring of the candy though, because of the high temperatures involved.
peanut brittle on a red plate

Key Equipment

To successfully make this recipe I strongly suggest you use a candy thermometer. These are inexpensive and clip to the side of the saucepan as you make the candy.

To ensure a crispy, crunch brittle you need the candy to reach the “hard crack” state, which it gets to at 300 F. Without a thermometer you have to judge that by color and thickness of the syrup, which is difficult unless you are an experienced candy maker.

ingredients for peanut brittle

Step by Step Instructions

1. Preparation

This recipe is not difficult, but to be successful you need to get everything ready before you start. Measure all the ingredients out and have them lined up next to the stove.

Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set it aside for later. I like to use a half sheet size cookie sheet, which is about 18 by 13 inches in size. Make sure it is a rimmed baking sheet so the candy stays inside.

Pick a saucepan that is larger than you think you will need. The candy will foam up some, and you don’t want it to overflow. I use 4 quart saucepan.

Find your candy thermometer and have it ready to use. If you are like me it is something you only use a few times a year! And finally have oven mitts ready to protect your hands when you pour the candy.

2. Make the Sugar Syrup

In your large saucepan stir together the sugar, corn syrup and water. Attach the thermometer to the side of the saucepan, making sure that it doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan.

mixing the sugar and corn syrup

Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the thermometer reaches 240 F. It can be tempting to turn the burner up higher to make it go faster, but don’t do it! Be patient. It is normal for the temperature to plateau for a while and then start going up again.

sugar syrup in saucepan

Once the temperature reaches 240 F add the peanuts. The sugar syrup will be bubbly and start to thicken.

adding the peanuts

Keep stirring so that the peanuts are completely coated in the candy mixture. Keep watching the thermometer until it reaches 280 F.

At this point add the butter to the saucepan and continue to stir until the thermometer reaches 300 F. The sugar syrup will turn a pretty amber colored brown when it reaches this temperature, which is called the hard crack stage.

candy after adding baking soda

3. Pour the Syrup

Once the thermometer shows 300 F take the saucepan off the heat. Keep stirring and add in the vanilla extract and baking soda.

The baking soda is essential because it causes a chemical reaction which creates a bunch of tiny air bubbles that is key to the final texture. The contents of the sauce pan will foam up as these ingredients are added, just keep stirring.

Remember the sugar mixture is HOT. It can splash as you pour it. So put oven mitts on now to protect your hands. It is best if they extend up your wrists a bit.

Pour the peanut mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it out with a spatula. You can also spread it by tilting the baking sheet if you prefer.

peanut brittle on a tray

The candy will set fast, so work quickly to spread it out. You don’t have to cover the baking sheet from corner to corner and it is fine if the edges are irregular.

4. Finish

Let the peanut brittle cool completely. This will take about 30 minutes.

Then break it into pieces. You can make large pieces or small bite sized pieces, depending on how you are going to package it for gift giving.

top view of peanut brittle on a plate

How to Store

Peanut brittle should be stored at room temperature – don’t put it in the refrigerator. The candy is susceptible to humidity so it needs to be stored in an airtight container.

One of the reasons this is such a classic candy to give as a gift it that it keeps for a long time – up to two months. Of course it never lasts that long at my house!

Variations

I used roasted salted peanuts in this recipe and I love the sweet and salty flavor that results. But you can make it with raw peanuts or unsalted peanuts.

And there is no reason you have to use peanuts in this recipe. If you prefer almonds or cashews or pecans go right ahead. It will be a little more expensive to buy the ingredients, but it will taste amazing.

Package for Gift Giving

The most important thing for packaging peanut brittle for gift giving is to keep it in an airtight container. A decorative metal cookie tin makes a great storage container.

putting candy in boxes for gifting

You can also use decorative paper boxes, metal pails or a coffee mug for a fun and festive presentation. Just put the candy inside a plastic bag before giving it as a Christmas present.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my peanut brittle sticky?

Peanut brittle is supposed to be hard and crunchy. If yours is sticky there are two possible reasons.

First if you didn’t cook it long enough to reach the hard crack stage at 300 F it might be sticky. This is why it is important to use a thermometer.

Second if it is not stored in an airtight container humidity can cause it to become sticky.

Can I substitute for the corn syrup?

If you prefer not to use corn syrup you can use other sweet liquids such as honey, brown rice syrup or agave. But doing so will affect the taste and consistency of the candy. I suggest if you want to do this you find a different recipe that is designed with one of those liquids instead of trying to adapt this one.

classic peanut brittle for Christmas

Find More Recipes for Food Gifts

Yield: 20

Peanut Brittle

peanut brittle on a red plate

This old fashioned recipe is an easy way to make peanut brittle at home.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups roasted salted peanut

Instructions

    1. For best results get everything ready before you start!
    2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment papers, a silicone mat or waxed paper.
    3. Get a large, heavy saucepan and put the sugar, corn syrup and water inside it.
    4. Measure peanuts, butter, vanilla and baking soda so they are ready to add later.
    5. Put candy thermometer on the side of the saucepan, making sure it doesn't touch the bottom.
    6. Put the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until temperature reaches 240 degrees F on the thermometer. Don't be tempted to turn the heat up to make it go faster!
    7. Add the peanuts and stir constantly until temperature reaches 280 degrees F.
    8. Add butter and continue to stir constantly until temperature reaches 300 degrees F, which is the hard crack candy stage.
    9. Once the temperature reaches 300 F take the saucepan off the heat. Add the vanilla extract and baking soda, stirring constantly. The candy will foam up as the baking soda is added.
    10. The candy syrup is HOT. Be careful during the next step and use oven mitts in case it splashes as you pour. Pour the syrup onto the prepared baking sheet and spread as evenly as possible. Use a spatula or spread it by tilting the cookie sheet. The candy will cool fast, so work quickly.
    11. Let the peanut brittle cool completely, which will take about 30 minutes.
    12. Break into pieces, either large or small, depending on how your are packaging the peanut brittle.

Notes

Store the peanut brittle in an air tight container at room temperature. It will keep for 6-8 weeks. Don't refrigerate it.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 172Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 172mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 0gSugar: 41gProtein: 0g

Nutrition facts are estimates.

top view of peanut brittle on a plate
This old fashioned recipe is an easy way to make peanut brittle at home. This homemade peanut brittle makes a tasty and easy gift idea you can give this holiday season. Your friends will love to receive this family favorite classic candy!

By on December 2nd, 2020

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