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How do ya take a heart healthy snack and add smoked flavor, and keep it healthy. Not wanting to add any additional fats, even tho’ olive oil is healthy, I decided to go the sweet-spicy-salty route with maple syrup
maple syrup and COOKSHACK Spicy Chicken Rub.

Here is my basic recipe:

Smoked Spicy Maple Almonds

1 # raw almonds with skin on
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 TBSP COOKSHACK Spicy Chicken Rub

Heat syrup along with the rub (preferrably in a non-stick saucepan) just to a simmer and turn off the heat. Add the almonds and stir well to coat well; cool a bit in pot stirring frequently. Cooling allows more of the mix to coat the almonds. Place on your preferred implement for smoking; you can lightly oil your hands to help press into an even layer. Place almonds in prepared smoker set at 250˚ with 2 ounces of hickory (or your wood of choice). Allow to smoke for two hours.

Remove from smoker and immediately place the hot pecans in a large mixing bowl. Stir and toss in the mixing bowl for a few minutes to cool the nuts. I use my hands in this process to separate any nuts that may have become stuck together; yes it's a bit hot at first. Continue tossing and mixing the nuts until sufficiently cooled to a hard candy coating; at this point the nuts will no longer stick together. This is a process best done in dry weather as high humidity conditions can affect the hardening of the coating.

These things can be very addictive, so just remember that the daily full-dose for natural almonds is 74 grams or 2.61 ounces.

As part of this exercise I experimented with smoking on an Exopat to approximate the use of a foiled rack thus partially limiting smoke exposure and on a Frogmat to approximate use of a screen with full exposure to smoke. The taste buds like both methods equally. Texturally, however, the almonds on the Exopat have a coarse surgery finish on the ‘bottoms’ of the almonds, whereas those on the Frogmat have a fairly even glossy finish (hard to photograph the difference but the glossies on the left are from the Frogmat). Go with whatever cooking implement you have available; tho’ I suggest using nonstick foil if not using silicon. For these spicy maple glazed almonds I like the Frogmats ‘cause the screen does allow heat to more evenly flow resulting a nice finish and they are so easy to clean with simple dish detergent and hot water.

Bottom line: the almonds came out tasting great!

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Took some of these (almond and pecan) to my orthopaedic sergeon's office today; getting hardware removed from a broken ankle (this was results of cycling accident at the very beginning of the summer). Anyway the surgeon was standing by the check-in desk when I arrived and immediately started sampling. He then started asking for the recipe and how to make them. He said we could work out a trade and I told him I was open to bartering. So I get checked-in and make it to the exam room. He pokes his head in several times and asks for more details as he's making his rounds. When he get around to me he suggest they could just take the hardware out one pin at a time every week or so, and that way I'd have to keep coming back with more smoked nuts. I told him I maybe we could come up something that would work for both of us. Needless to say it did appear they they did really enjoy the nuts!

Thanks for the great recipe! I didn't have any rub on hand, so I did an internet search and found a recipe for Spanish Almonds. Never heard of it, but I substituted the following spices for the tablespoon of rub:

2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. It worked great!
My wife shies away from heat, she found the spice mix interesting but not frightening. I would definitely double the cayenne to get something to stand out at the finish. Thanks again.
OMG, are these GREAT. I did 3#'s of these using your recipe TN Q. I see you use the same SAM's brand Maple syrup that I do.... lol. Thanks too for the suggestion on the Frogmats, I bought a piece big enough to do mats for 4 of my racks.

I took about 1 # to the office and they did not last long!! I have had about 6 peeps come and ask if I would "DO" a batch for them.

Thanks TN Q!! Is this a great forum or WHAT!

Next............. PECANS!
Originally posted by SmokinMAINEiac:

Never having tried CS chicken rub how would you describe the flavor profile? Sweet? Hot? Savory? Herb-y?



I have used TN Q's recipe about 5 times now, the flavor profile is "just right" as everyone that I have let taste the almonds. I smoked 3#'s for a foodie friend of mine for her to give as a present to a foodie relative..... so that should give and idea as to how good these are. I gave a good friend some and he described them as "crack"......... I just finished another 3# batch tonight. They are a little spicy, a little sweet, and a little smokey... just right. TN Q has a winner with these.

BTW, THANKS TN Q for the reccie on the Frogmats...........!!!!!!!!! They make life easier....

Sadly, no pecans YET...... lol

Wow! These are great! Got a couple of questions for you:

Are you pre-heating your smoker?

Are you putting a pound per shelf?

Mine seem to be sticking together and the skin tears when I separate them. Still tastes good, but presentation not as nice as yours.

Five pounds down, 13 to go. Making swap gifts for the folks at the office and some friends and relatives.


I did 3 lbs of mixed today that came out pretty nice. I usually do arrange about a pound on a shelf and do start with a cold smoker; as cold as it was today (24 degrees) I added a half hour to the smoke time to allow for the warm up. For a better prsentation I try to separate any that stick together while they are still warm. Today I did 3 lbs of mixed on 2 shelves and they ended up piled a little more than usual. Then when the smoke was done I opened the door and let them cool completely. Had to put them in a big bowl and break them apart. But hey, no body takes time to look at them while they're muchin'.


Thanks for the advice. I just took my last two pounds out of the smoker.

I am using my new Frogmats, but I am getting the coarse sugary finish on the bottoms. I wonder if I am maybe heating the maply syrup too much? I let it just come to a boil before adding the almonds.

Regardless, the almonds are great and I'm sure people will enjoy them.


I thought about using local honey for this recipe as it can be roughly about half the costs of maple syrup in this part of the U.S. So I started by simply replacing the maple syrup with honey. This worked fine up to a point; the smoky spicy honey flavor was great, but no matter how long I worked with them, carefully separating each one, when they were cooled and put in a container they would end up sticking together. So it appears that honey is inherently quite sticky even when the moisture content is reduced by the smoking process. After a bit more research I experimented with coating the finished product. What I ended up with was a coating consisting of 2 tbsp granulated sugar, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp CS Rib Rub. This coating will stick to the honey coating on the nuts and keep them from forming a stuck together mass of nuts.

The process I followed was to put the hot nuts, as they come out of the smoker, into a good sized mixing bowl. I then sprinkled the sugar spice mixture over the hot nuts and tossed them with my hands to evenly coat each almond. Continue mixing the nuts bringing them from the bottom of the bowl to top so that each nut is coated with the sugar coating as they cool, separating any nuts that may tend to stick together. Continue in this fashion for several minutes until the nuts are sufficiently cooled. Place bowl of nuts in the fridge to completely cool for about an hour or so. Remove bowl from fridge and stir with your hands again to see that they are fully cooled. Now the nuts can be packaged in an airtight container and they won't clump together in one big mass.

This process will only use about half of the sugar/spice mix. So it adds roughly 1 tbsp of sugar and 1/4 tsp of salt to each one pound of nuts. The smoky spicy honey flavor is not compromised by this added step and the end product is much easier to handle.

Last edited by tnq

for the smoked pecan enthusiast out there, I have updated the instructional part of the above recipe. Having made these multiple times since their invention I've developed the cooling process to turn out a better end product. It is basically: take the nuts directly from the hot smoker and place them in a large bowl and toss them, by hand preferably, to separate any nuts that have become stuck together. Continue tossing until the nuts begin to cool and form a hard candy coating.

Also an update on the honey nuts; altho' they do taste great, they also, in relatively short time, become sticky again. So the honey version is best for those occasions when they will be consumed fairly quickly.

Honey is hydroscopic meaning that it attracts or holds onto water. Old world bread makers used honey in bread recipes to keep their bread from drying out.

I'm afraid that honey or agave syrup are both doomed to become sticky almost immediately. That said, when I make these nuts for a party they never last long enough for this to become a problem. Great recipe!
yep, even the sugars in the maple syrup are a bit hygroscopic too. I do keep them (for there short life) in sealed containers but the honey ones still start to stick together after a day or two.

Like MAINEiac said, Frogmats are easy to trim to any size you need. They are made of silicon coated fabric that is easy to cut.
Last edited by tnq

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