Barton’s Peppered Pecans

This is one of those nutty munchies, like nuts tossed with cayenne pepper, that keeps your tongue racing to eat more fired by the mistaken idea that it will cool it down! This recipe from Barton Levenson, one of the most unique cooks I know, is for pepper lovers only.

As in any pepper-centered dish, take heed to the peppercorns you choose. They come in different varieties and flavors, just like coffee. A mix of Malabar, Tellicherry, and Lampong black peppercorns is a China Moon house favorite.


  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 cup pecans


  1. Combine the sugar, salt, and pepper.
  2. Heat a very heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat until hot enough to evaporate a bead of water on contact. Add the pecans and toss for 1 minute to bring the nut oil to the surface.
  3. Sprinkle the nuts with half of the spice mixture and shake the pan vigorously until the sugar melts, about 1 minute. Add the remaining mixture and continue shaking the pan until the sugar melts again and coats the pecans.
  4. Immediately turn the nuts out onto a baking sheet. When they are cool enough to handle, separate the nuts with your fingers. Let cool completely before storing in a tightly sealed, impeccably clean glass jar.