Grandma Nash's Best Butter Almond English Toffee recipe is one to be handed down through generations. The crunchy, buttery toffee and toasted almonds with a thick layer of chocolate makes this one of our favorite candies and a Christmas tradition that we love to share with friends & neighbors!
If you love making homemade edible gifts for the holidays, be sure not to miss any of my easy Christmas candy recipes! My Classic Southern Pecan Pralines and Old-Fashioned Homemade Peanut Brittle are always popular this time of year! Also, if you have been to Disneyland and tried their famous Churro Toffee, I have a recipe for that now too!
For the past few years, I have made 8 or more batches of this fabulous butter almond English toffee to go on plates of goodies (along with this Rocky Road Fudge) that we take around to friends and neighbors in our area, along with Christmas cards.
And I always make a batch to be lovingly packaged up and shipped off to Paul's grandma (our girls' great-grandma), from whom this recipe comes. She is in her 90's now and no longer makes her famous toffee herself, so I have taken over making it for her and making sure she has a supply to share with her friends who come to visit during December.
This toffee always reminds us of Grandma Nash, along with her creamy apricot pork chops and poppy seed dressing.
Even though you could technically make this butter almond english toffee recipe without a candy thermometer (affiliate link), I highly recommend investing in a good one. They aren't too expensive and it's a great stocking stuffer for anyone who might like to cook but hasn't done much candy-making!
And it almost makes toffee-making a foolproof endeavor since all you have to do is get the toffee up to the right temperature.
Paul's Grandma Madge clipped the recipe for this Butter Almond English Toffee from the San Jose Mercury Newspaper in 1962 and she made multiple batches of it every year after that.
Her toffee is famous in the Nash family, so one Christmas a few years back I asked her if I could get a copy of her recipe so that I could learn to make it since we don't live close by and Paul always raved about her toffee. She pulled out a box of recipe cards and had the original newspaper clipping taped to a card with her handwritten notations "Delicious '62" and "Christmas Candies" over the top, along with recipes for "Creamy Caramels" and "No-Bake Holiday Orange Balls".
I haven't tried either of the other two recipes from those newspaper clippings, but can attest to this "Butter Almond Toffee" being particularly delicious.
The only change I have made is to double the amount of chocolate called for in the original recipe. And I can't imagine who is going to complain about an adjustment like that.
I also rewrote the instructions a bit to include some steps that I have found helpful.
Grandma Nash is such a wonderful, interesting lady. She goes by her middle name, Madge, instead of Gwendolyn, which is her first name. My dad does the same thing so when our Rose was born, we decided to do the same for her and have her go by her middle name as a nod to each of them.
Grandma Nash was born in Mona, Utah in December, 1924 but raised her family in San Jose, California. Paul grew up in the house next door to her and she was his piano teacher, as well as teaching 4th grade at an elementary school for decades. She is still really sharp and loves to discuss books and politics (she's a staunch democrat) and classical music. And she makes the best toffee ever.
[UPDATE: Grandma Nash passed away in 2017 but her memory lives on in many ways, the least of which is her wonderful toffee recipe.]
I have used a large pot and quadrupled the recipe with great success, since I usually make between 8-12 batches. I still divide the chocolate and almond into separate bowls, and pour the toffee out into individual baking sheets to set, but I cook all four batches at the same time with no problem.
How to Make English Toffee
First, toast whole almonds in a 350 degree oven by spreading them in a single layer on a baking sheet and roasting for 10 to 15 minutes. Chop the cooled almonds into small pieces and set aside.
Butter a baking sheet and sprinkle with half of the chopped almonds.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan, then add sugar and water, stirring to combine using a long-handled wooden spoon and bringing to a boil over medium-high heat until a candy thermometer (affiliate link) reaches 300 degrees (hard crack stage), usually between 10-15 minutes.
Remove the candy from the heat and immediately stir in the baking soda. Immediately pour the hot candy over the almonds in the prepared baking sheet and spread out into a thin layer; then sprinkle with chopped chocolate. The heat of the toffee will melt the chocolate which you can then spread out evenly with the back of spatula or knife.
Sprinkle the remaining chopped almonds over the melted chocolate. Let the toffee cool completely and the chocolate re-harden and set, before breaking the toffee pieces.
Troubleshooting this English Toffee Recipe
Generally speaking, this recipe gets rave reviews because it's such a great, easy one to follow for candy success. The biggest question I get from some people is "why did my toffee separate?". And there are three possible reasons (that I'm aware of).
- Using a pot that is too thin. When making toffee, temperature is very important. Hot spots on a pot that is too thin can make toffee making more difficult than it needs to be because the butter will separate. Use a heavy bottom pot or a dutch oven for best results and to avoid wasting expensive ingredients.
- Not stirring enough. This is a recipe that you are going to need to stand by the stove and watch. I usually put an oven mitt over my hand and just stand there and stir for about 10 minutes or so until the toffee comes up to 300 degrees F.
- Not cooking to the right temperature. The final culprit I can think of is if your temperature is off. It's why I highly recommend using a reliable candy thermometer (affiliate link). It doesn't have to be an expensive one, in fact, I find the cheaper ones to be better in my experience. But for a visual cue, the toffee will go from a light color to a nice, golden color that's pretty much the same color as peanut butter.
Tips for the Best English Toffee Recipe in the World
Yes, I'm serious, this really is the BEST. I know it's a bold claim, but I think it's the addition of the baking soda which changes the texture just enough to make it really truly amazing.
You want to make sure that this butter almond English toffee is completely set before breaking it into pieces.
I find that it is easiest to let the toffee set overnight, then use a butter knife to jab firmly down into the toffee, which cracks apart into scrumptious buttery, chocolatey, almond covered shards.
While the recipe calls for semisweet chocolate, I have used milk chocolate in the past instead and it is also delicious. Totally go with whatever is your personal preference.
I'm so glad to have this cherished butter almond English toffee recipe in my collection, along with my mom's Chicken Cordon Bleu and my aunt Becky's Black Forest Cake. I'm sure your family will love it as much as ours does!
More Homemade Candy Recipes that make Great Edible Gifts
- Easy Homemade Rocky Road Fudge
- Old-Fashioned Divinity Candy
- Gourmet Homemade Caramel Apples
- Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
- Old-Fashioned Homemade Peanut Brittle
- Puppy Chow (aka Chex Mix Muddy Buddies)
- Easy Homemade Cream Caramels
- Creamy Easy Chocolate Fudge
- Easy Homemade Peppermint Bark
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Grandma Nash's Best Butter Almond English Toffee
- 1 cup roasted almonds chopped
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate about 6 ounces, finely chopped
- Candy thermometer
- To toast the almonds, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread whole almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast 10-15 minutes, until fragrant and toasted, but being careful not to burn them. Let cool, then chop into small pieces and set aside.
- Butter a baking sheet or silipat mat, then sprinkle half of the chopped almonds on the buttered surface and set aside.
- In a heavy pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter, then add both types of sugar and the water. Stir to combine using a long-handled wooden spoon and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until a candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees (hard crack stage), usually between 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and immediately stir in the baking soda, working quickly. The toffee will bubble and foam a bit when reacting to the baking soda. Immediately pour the hot candy over the almonds in the prepared baking sheet and spread out into a thin layer with the back of your stirring spoon; let cool slightly for 2-3 minutes before sprinkling the chopped chocolate over the toffee. The heat of the candy will melt the chocolate after just a few minutes and then you can spread it out into an even layer with the back of spatula or knife.
- Sprinkle the remaining chopped almonds over the melted chocolate and press down lightly with the back of a clean spoon. Let the toffee cool completely and the chocolate re-harden and set, then break into pieces.
Reader questions and reviews
How do you store the toffee and for how long is it good for? Would like to make ahead of the holiday. Thanks
You could make it now and it will still be good on Friday. I find that it's best within about 4-5 days when stored in an airtight container on the counter at room temperature.
What size baking sheet do I need to use?
I use a regular half baking sheet.
This is absolutely the best toffee recipe-PERIOD! I made it years ago and couldn’t find the recipe again. I remembered that the one I had included baking soda, which gives it an amazing texture. After searching recipes, I finally added “English butter toffee with baking soda” and finally found it again. I just got through making it and it came out perfect! I roasted pecans instead of almonds, just personal preference. As someone else suggested in the comments, toast the nuts prior to starting the toffee. I started them at the same time and was freaking out, trying to crunch the almonds up before the toffee started cooling so I could pour it. Whew!! Way too much chaos for me! Haha Thanks for sharing this great recipe!
Although I had total success with the brittle - the toffee was a failure the first time. I think I had the heat too high because it didn't take 10-15 min to get to 300 and I remember it taking a while for the brittle!
I will be trying again! I though about using a saucepan (used a stockpot last time) but then I read your comment about doubling the recipe. Gonna use the stock pot again - this time with heat at medium...not medium high and double the recipe!
Doubling the batch and lowering the temp did it. Next time we are tripling the batch cuz husband likes it a little thicker.
We also let it set overnight which worked out perfect too.
HOLY CRAP it was good - best toffee I've had in my life!!!! Can't stay away from it 🙂
Just made it and had no idea something like this could be done at home. I followed the recipe and it turned out great, I did stir it mostly the whole time.
The orange balls have been a favorite of our family for years. We roll ours in coconut. So good.
Thanks for the recipe
I cannot wait to make this!!! Question: May I use slivered almonds? Or do they need to be whole almonds? Thank you for your help and thank you for your recipe(s)!!!
Yes, you can use slivered almonds!
Thank you for posting this. I’ve made a similar recipe for years but at your suggestion added baking soda and it is amazing. In return I want to give you two hints I learned over the years. I buy a few disposable sheet pans at smart and final each year and re-use them for all my toffee each season. They are flexible and make it easy to remove the toffee in sheets. I put the sheets in 2 gallon zip top bags and break up the toffee inside the bags. No more stabbing with the butter knife and no more shards of toffee everywhere. BTW, the shards of toffee and bits of chocolate and almonds left in the bottom of the bag are the perfect ice cream topping.
I usually make Christmas Crack but I was looking for something different. It cooked beautifully, I hope. I never made toffee before. I poured it over a bed of pretzels and sliced toasted almonds then topped with chocolate. topped with more almonds, it weighed a ton. It looks like heaven. We will see if they all think I am as brilliant as I am with crack. Thank you for sharing. Debra
Any suggestions to replace the almonds? Im allergic but loved this before my allergy started
Hi Deb! Are you allergic to all nuts, or just almonds? Macadamia nuts are excellent. But I actually think pretzels make a pretty good nut replacement and would do well for this toffee!
This was my best effort yet! Toffee turned out crispy and sweet. I finally broke down and purchased a small cast iron Dutch oven. Ceramic coating. Between having the right cookware, the white and brown sugar, and the baking soda, this recipe worked beautifully. This was my third year trying, first time with your recipe. Thanks.
P.s. I used hazelnuts on bottom, pistachios on top as I was out of almonds.
I'm so glad this turned out so well for you! Hazelnuts and pistachios sound fantastic!
This is defiantly the best English Toffee
I got this recipe about 10 yrs or more years. ago from a friend . Didn't know where it originated from and I love the story behind it . I was born and raised in San Jose. I have given this out to friends and family for many years it is the best... I have recently moved into a new home and made it and was hard and darker then usual. I had to throw away. The recipe I was given is double the ingredients and the instructions were the same except you just stir it until it comes to a boil , then stop stirring put the thermometer in until hard crack take off the burner add baking soda . It has always come out perfect. My burners seem to burn hotter so I put it between med and low . Any ideas of how to get this to work or how to gadge it . My friends and family will be disappointed if they don't get it this year.
Oh that's so frustrating when a recipe has worked well for so long and then you make it somewhere else and it doesn't turn out quite the same! Could altitude be playing a factor? I know for every 1,000 feet about sea level to decrease the cooking temp by 2 degrees F. But yes, the burners could also make a difference if you were used to making it on gas and now are using electric, or vice versa.
This recipe for English tofffee is perfect, just perfect. It came together beautifully with the flavor and texture wonderful. I haven’t made toffee in a few years and was in search of a recipe, stumbling upon yours. It’s simple, easy, idiot proof and anybody should be able to make it. I think for the people that had problems, follow the steps, have everything ready to go next to the stove in dishes and stir stir stir. I suggest using good quality butter (NOT generic grocery store brands) but with that said I used Costco because it has good quality ratios of butterfat/water etc.
I wanted to try this recipe to enter into your December challenge! I make toffee with unsalted butter/white sugar/vanilla/salt every year and it always turns out great. This one started foaming and separated. I read some of your comments above as to why it may have done that, and I couldn't check off any boxes. 🙂 The only thing I can think of since it was my first try at this recipe, is that the butter may have too warm to begin with. And I used unsalted, when your recipe calls for butter, which usually means salted. Fortunately, I noticed it wasn't going well and didn't pour this on top of my almonds. I'll try it again, but for now I'll stick with my proven toffee. I do have memories of english toffee as a child and can't wait to be successful.
So excited, it worked! YAY. I have tried other recipes that never worked correctly. Just keep stirring, it took me about 16 minutes to get up to temperature. I Doubled the recipe and followed it as is. Having everything ready measured out like in a cooking show is key. I also watched the video. Love this, thank you delicious.
I’ve made four batches of this toffee in as many days. I read through the directions carefully, followed the recipe exactly (stirred constantly) and I had four perfect batches of toffee. Definitely the best toffee I’ve ever made. The toffee is this year’s Christmas gift to neighbors and the fourth batch is for our family.
My daughter and I were in New England two weeks ago and sampled some divine English Toffee on the Cape. The candy was SO good that I almost sprang for the $30/box of confectionary delight but stopped and declared to my daughter, "NO, I will make some when I get back to Colorado."
Upon our return, I began to scan recipes online - I had never made English Toffee before, but I had mastered creamy vanilla caramels and molasses taffy, and I am a pretty good baker and cook. Usually. Boy, was I in for a cooking lesson. I always look for the five-star recipes and settled on one that looked delicious, fast, and easy (NOT Grandma Nash's). I mean, how hard could it be? HA!!!!!!!
Over the course of the day I proceeded to make five batches, and they all failed. Between the ingredients separating and weird consistencies, I was fit to be tied. I thought one batch might have been a success, and got it completely done, chocolate and all. However, silly me, I put the pan out back to cool and glanced out the window to find a squirrel sitting in the middle of the chocolate and nuts, munching away. I screamed at the furry rodent that immediately leaped off the table and scurried up a tree, looking over it's shoulder at the charging banshee (me) all the way to the top. Disgusted with my stupidity (how could I have forgotten the dray of squirrels that had invaded my backyard???), I threw the tainted remains in the trash and noticed the consistency looked more like a praline than English toffee.
Discouraged, I decided to give it up and just go buy some Enstrom's. After all, I couldn't go all the way back to New England for that other delicious toffee. However, after getting a good night's rest, I determined to try, try again. I went back to the computer and scrolled through recipes and that is when I found Grandma Nash's Best English Toffee. The recipe was different than the first - Grandma Nash's has brown sugar and baking soda, and the other recipe did not. I pulled out my All-Clad pan, popped in a new candy thermometer, and set out with high hopes, only to find the same problem, namely butter separation. Near tears, I threw the mess away and stood shaking with frustration in the middle of the kitchen. "ONE MORE TRY," I screamed at no one. This time, though, I put the All-Clad away and pulled out a different pan, a heavy non-stick one that I got at a local thrift store. I followed your recipe to a 'T' (again), and within fifteen minutes (not including roasting the almonds), I had what I'd hoped would be honest to goodness English Toffee. When my husband came home from work I popped a piece of it in his mouth and waited for his response. His eyes twinkled (they really did) and he said, "This is amazing, IF you REALLY made it." Confused, I asked him what he meant? "Unless you went to buy that expensive toffee (he meant Enstrom's)," he replied. I played along and looked sheepish, but then led him over to the table where the evidence that I had REALLY made it remained.
I was so confident in your recipe and my cooking instruments that I whipped up another batch, and if it's possible, it's even better than the first!!!!!!!!!! I will definitely make this a part of my Christmas confections repertoire from now on. GRANDMA NASH ENGLISH TOFFEE IS A WINNER!!!!!!!!
My best advice is to use a heavy non-stick pan, keep the heat on medium, stir constantly, and have an accurate candy thermometer (I usually depend on the water test but this candy cooks pretty fast once it gets past the plateau stage). AND MAKE MORE THAN ONE BATCH. Also, I love lots of almonds on and under my English Toffee and roasted closer to 2 cups on the second batch.
Diana, I cannot even tell you what joy your comment brought to my life today! I'm so glad you persisted until you succeeded at making English toffee! I made six batches this weekend myself and I know I'm biased, but it really is the best toffee ever! Now just don't set it outside to cool where the squirrels can get at it, lol!
Hi, I haven’t made this yet but just had a disastrous attempt with another recipe! I have a heavy Le Creuset Dutch oven and a heavy sheet pan 12x18. Should I make a double batch in one pan? Is the Le Creuset ok? My last toffee was soooo hard I was afraid to give it out!
Hi Kelsey! I have made this in a Le Creuset dutch oven before (double batch) with no problems, although there is a chance that it might be too large for a single batch. If your toffee was so hard that you couldn't give it out, my guess is that it might have cooked too long (aside from the recipe itself). I'm at sea level but I have read that for every 1,000 feet you are above sea level you should consider decreasing your target temp by 2 degrees Fahrenheit. I don't know if that impacts you or not, but maybe it will help? Please let me know how it goes!
01/05/22 Will be gifting this next Christmas. This was easy and better then the toffee I normally buy at a homemade specialty candy store at $20.00 a pound. Followed directions to a T excellent recipe. Thank you for sharing
This is my go to and foolproof easy recipe now. thanks you ! The taste is incredible the texture soft and buttery , the baking soda - Genius. I do not make any changes and its perfect. It is very addictive and surprisingly not sickly sweet either. I do use schafenberger chocolate for an elevated product.
I made this and it is now a staple in our home. It was so easy and beyond delicious! Thank you so much for sharing your family recipe with me.
You said in an earlier comment that this toffee is good for only 4-5 days. What happens to it after 5 days? Other toffees last for months.
I feel like it starts to get sticky on the bottom where the toffee is exposed to the air if there is any humidity in the environment. It will last much longer if you break up the toffee and dip the whole thing in melted chocolate, then cover with nuts, like other toffee you can purchase.
Hello from Tn. Just finished making my second batch. First with dark chocolate, 2nd with a herseys bar. Both are awesome! Followed instructions to a T. Perfect receipe. I suggest that everyone use a cast iron Dutch oven pot. It is the perfect pot for getting the temp even when making this. Thank you
Hi! I'm so glad you loved how it turned out!
Delicious! Your instructions made it so easy to make. Thank you
I have seen several recipes that flip the toffee over to coat the bottom with chocolate and nuts. Have you ever done that? I like your recipe best and may try that extra step. Thanks!
Yes, absolutely you can do that! You could either cut or break the toffee once it has hardened and dip the pieces into melted chocolate and then roll in nuts (just like how I do my churro toffee), or you could let the chocolate set completely on top, then flip the whole slab of toffee over and spread melted chocolate on the other side and sprinkle with nuts, let that set up, and then break it into pieces. Either works and it's definitely delicious and more like the toffee you would get at a nice chocolate shop or Disneyland.
Do we use salted or unsalted butter? Thank!