Smoked Butter Pecans 8.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Feb 12, 2014

Your pecans will turn out better if you smoke them with fruit woods, which have a more delicate perfume than hickory or oak. The key is to not overdo it; too much smoke can emphasize the nuts' natural bitterness.

Clarified butter is recommended here, to avoid any congealing of butter solids on the pecans (not that you'll have any nuts left over).

Where to Buy: You will need a fine-mesh grill screen, which is available at hardware stores and online.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8 servings; makes 2 cups

  • 2 cups raw, unsalted pecan halves
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, clarified (see NOTE; may substitute melted ghee)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • Coarse sea salt


If using a smoker, light charcoal in a chimney starter and let the briquettes burn until the flames subside and the coals become ashen. Drop the heated briquettes into the firebox. Place wood chunks on top of the hot coals. Close the firebox and let your smoker chamber reach 225 degrees.

If using a charcoal grill, follow the same directions for starting the charcoal. Dump the hot coals on one side of your grill, leaving the other side empty (the setup for indirect heat).

Place the fine-mesh grill screen over the grill grates, on the indirect heat side or as far away as possible from the source of smoke. Spread the pecans on the screen; cover the grill or smoker. Smoke the nuts for no longer than 25 minutes, until they start to turn a deeper brown. Transfer the nuts to a plate to cool.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the sugar, stirring just until dissolved. Remove from the heat.

Add the smoked pecans to the butter mixture, stirring to coat evenly. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pecans to a serving plate; discard the butter left in the saucepan.

Sprinkle generously with the salt; serve right away.

NOTE: To clarify butter, heat it slowly in a small saucepan over low heat. Once it has melted, let it stand for 10 minutes, then use a spoon to skim off and discard the foamy solids on the top. Pour off the clarified butter, discarding the watery residue in the pan (a fat-separator cup can be helpful for this).

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Recipe Source

From Food section staff writer Tim Carman.

Tested by Tim Carman.

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