Old-Fashioned Homemade Peanut Brittle is a crispy, crunchy homemade candy loaded with roasted peanuts in a buttery, sweet candy coating. It’s the best peanut brittle EVER and perfect for homemade gift-giving.
I love making and giving homemade candy around the holidays, especially english toffee, divinity, and rocky road fudge. The process of making candy is just so interesting and different from baking Christmas cookies, and as long as you have a candy thermometer, it’s really a cinch to create some pretty phenomenal candy confections to delight friends and neighbors.
This homemade peanut brittle recipe is made the old-fashioned way on the stove-top, using sugar, corn syrup, butter and roasted peanuts.
How to make Peanut Brittle
Peanut brittle is a lot easier to make than you might guess. It’s just a matter of combining a handful of ingredients and then stirring until they reach 300 degrees F. on a candy thermometer. Here’s how to make peanut brittle:
- Combine corn syrup, sugar, water, and a little salt in a large pot, heating over medium heat and stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until it comes to a boil and reaches 280 degrees F.
- Add cubed butter and unsalted roasted peanuts and stir, stir, stir until the butter is melted and the peanuts are completely coated in the candy mixture. The candy gets thick and takes a little muscle, but it’s easier if stir while pouring the peanuts in (I get one of my kids or husband to pour the peanuts in while I’m stirring).
- Keep cooking the candy until it has reached 300 degrees F on a candy thermometer and a rich and golden brown candy the color of peanut butter has formed. 300 degrees F is also known as the “hard crack” stage in candy making.
- Lastly, add a little vanilla and baking soda. This will cause a reaction and the candy will bubble up a bit, which is why you want to make sure you are working with a large enough pot to contain the candy. Stir quickly and pour the hot peanut brittle mixture onto a prepared sheet pan, then let it cool completely before breaking into pieces.
Why do you use Baking Soda in Peanut Brittle?
Just like in my favorite english toffee recipe, this homemade peanut brittle recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of baking soda to be added right at the end of the cooking process. This is important because of a chemical reaction that results in the perfect peanut brittle texture.
Baking soda creates lots of little air bubbles in the brittle, giving it that perfect crunch that I love. Some peanut brittle recipes use it, some don’t. But I really think it’s what puts this peanut brittle over the top and makes it the best.
Tips for the Best Peanut Brittle
- Break the brittle into bite sized pieces for easy eating, or larger shards, which look pretty packaged in festive tins for gift-giving.
- Some people store nuts in the freezer for longer keeping. If you keep your peanuts in the freezer, be sure to pull them out at least an hour or two before making this peanut brittle so they aren’t cold when added to the hot melted sugar or it will freeze up really fast.
- I highly recommend investing in a candy thermometer before undertaking this homemade peanut brittle recipe. They are inexpensive and you can just pick on up at Target. It’s so important because if you cook your brittle much beyond the 300 degree F point, it could burn, and if you don’t cook it long enough, the peanut brittle won’t set as hard and be more sticky and chewy than crunchy and, well, brittle.
- Be ready to move quickly once the temperature reaches 300 degrees F. Have your pan ready ahead of time so that you can pour and spread the brittle immediately. I actually tend to just tilt and shake the pan around to spread it rather than using a spoon or spatula.
- If you have peanut allergies or just plain don’t like them, you can always sub an equal amount of any other nut like cashews, macadamia nuts, or almonds, if you prefer.
- Store your peanut brittle in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. If you leave it out, it will get sticky on top.
More Candy Recipes for the Holidays
- Caramel Nougat Pecan Rolls from the Food Charlatan
- Pecan Pralines from Stephie Cooks
- Sesame Brittle from Take Two Tapas
- Peanut Clusters from An Affair From the Heart
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup corn syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, cubed
- 2 1/2 cups unsalted, roasted peanuts
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat, or butter it well.
- In a large, heavy bottomed pan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook, stirring frequently until the temperature reaches 280 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
- Add the butter and peanuts and continue to cook, stirring constantly another 7-10 minutes until the temperature reaches 300 degrees F.
- When the candy reaches 300 degrees F, immediately remove from heat and add the baking soda and vanilla, stirring vigorously to combine.
- Immediately pour the hot brittle mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, then tilt and jiggle the sheet to help it spread covering the entire pan from corner to corner.
- Let the peanut brittle set until completely hard, then use a mallet or back of a spoon to crack the brittle into chunks or bite-size pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
If using salted peanuts, omit the salt in the recipe.
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