Aunty Kathryn’s Spiced Pecans

Photographer: Adam

In October this year, I packed my suitcase and popped across the ditch to be bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding on Queensland’s Gold Coast.  A few days before the wedding, we travelled south-west along the Pacific Highway, through Bangalow (gorgeous, must return), past Lismore and onto Casino to visit the matriarch of the Jones family, “Jonesy” herself (aka the 91 year old Grandmother of Bride).  We were tasked with packing her suitcase, ready for the big day.

As we headed out of the Gold Coast, the landscape changed, from concrete highways and dense housing, to quiet roads that weave through increasingly lush, green bush, macadamia orchards, and sleepy towns with shutters closed against the heat of the day.  Casino is a country town, a place that celebrates its farming heritage with an annual Beef Week (so got to attend that one year!) and horse races, and where the local car hire doesn’t require a deposit or credit card imprint (“nah, love, that’ll be fine, we’ll see ya next week”).  Casino is also home to Kathryn and Jim, great aunt and uncle of the bride and retired beef farmers, whose son grows organic pecans on the old farm.  Once Jonesy was all packed, we were welcomed into their beautiful home for a cold drink and a snack of Aunty Kathryn’s incredibly more-ish spiced pecans.

Kathryn makes these by blanching, roasting and then tossing the pecans in a spice mix.  At once savoury but a little sweet, they make a delicious home-made gift.  I made three medium-sized jars from 250g of pecans; I just hope I can resist eating them before Christmas day!


250g pecan nuts
½ cup caster sugar
1 tbsp oil (I used canola – anything light in flavour is fine)
1 tsp salt
Pinch of black pepper
Pinch of paprika
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
Pinch of ground coriander
½ tsp curry powder


Preheat oven to 150ºC on Bake
1. Blanch nuts in boiling water for one minute, drain thoroughly.
2. Mix caster sugar and oil together.
3. Toss nuts in the sugar and oil until they are well coated in the mixture.
4. On a paper-lined baking tray, spread out the nuts into one layer. Bake for about 15 minutes; watch them very carefully and keep turning them. Take them out as soon as they are lightly browned.
5. Mix the nuts in the spice mixture until well covered.
6. Spread the nuts out to cool. Store in an airtight container.