Originally published October 29, 2009. Updated on 8/18/2021
Today, I have another version of a more traditional standby!
While peanut brittle is always great, my husband ADORES pistachios - this brittle is a holiday favorite at our house!
Makes a great gift, also!
Tips for Making Brittle
Brittle is easy to make, but also easy to screw up - IF you don’t follow a few best practices.
Here are some tips to ensure your success!
Have everything you need close at hand, measured out, and ready to go.
You have to move FAST when it comes to temperature, so don’t waste any time on things that can be done beforehand!
Heat Your Sheet
Once you stir the pistachios into your brittle, you have to move VERY fast to spread it out, as it will start hardening quickly.
You can buy yourself a little more wiggle time by heating your baking sheet, as you’re cooking the candy.
A cold - or even room temperature - baking pan will kick start the cooling/hardening process, where a warmed one will not.
I set my oven on the lowest temp, spray a pan, and pop it in there until RIGHT before I’m ready to dump the candy. It really helps!
Heat Your Ingredients
If you’re making this in colder months - or if you’re like me, and like to keep your house at walk-in-fridge temps during the summer! - heating your ingredients can be helpful, as well.
Much like a cold pan will kick start the cooling and hardening, so can stirring cold ingredients into the candy.
So, if there’s a cold concern... measure the pistachios into a heat-safe dish and put them in the oven with your pan.
Use a Candy Thermometer
Pretty straightforward - using a candy thermometer is a great way to ensure success when making candy.
Just be sure to watch it, and actually take the candy off when it’s the right temperature.
Too soon, and it won’t set up right. Too late, and it may burn, taste weird, have an off texture, etc.
Spreading the Brittle
There are a few ways you can spread your brittle. How you do it is largely a matter of personal preference:
- You can use two buttered forks to spread it, basically pulling apart large globs of brittle. This is the traditional way.
- You can use a silicone spatula to spread it out. This is my preferred way.
- You can place a piece of parchment paper over it, and use a rolling pin to spread it out. This is a good way to get an even, flat brittle.
- You can use heat-proof gloves (kitchen safe, never used for anything gross, please!) to basically push it down / stretch it out.
Watch the Humidity!
Sugar in general is hydrophilic - it loves water, it attracts it.
... and never is that more the case, than for sugar that’s been cooked to the brittle stage. It will pull water from the air and liquify.
This can make your brittle do anything from go a bit sticky on the surface, to “melt” into a sticky mess.
So... let it harden, break it up, then *immediately* get it into a dry, airtight container, and store it in a dry place. Always keep your brittle as dry as possible!
Also, note: If it’s humid when you’re making the brittle, you may end up with sticky brittle, no matter what you do.
Toast the Pistachios
This isn’t a requirement, but it does make for a nicer finished product.
Before getting the brittle started, toast the pistachios. Just put them in a dry pan and cook over medium-low heat - stirring frequently - until they’re aromatic.
This gives a more complex, roasty flavour to the finished candy.
How to Make Pistachio Brittle
Full recipe follows, here is a pictorial walkthrough for those who enjoy them!
Set oven to “warm”, or lowest temperature.
Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray, or line with parchment paper. Place inside a warm oven.
Note: I like to spray AND line with parchment. The spray sticks the parchment to the pan, holds it in place a bit!
In a heavy saucepan (2 quart), mix together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water.
Bring to boil over medium-high heat, then attach a candy thermometer to the saucepan.
Stir often until temperature reaches 300 degrees F (150 degrees Celcius).
KEEP A VERY CLOSE EYE ON IT after about 280 degrees, as the temp has a tendency to race up at that point. If you turn your back, you could burn it!
At 300 degrees, remove the pan from heat, add baking soda and butter, stir until incorporated.
Quickly add in pistachios and vanilla, stir until completely coated.
Remove cookie sheet from oven, and pour brittle out onto it.
Use 2 buttered forks, a silicone spatula, and/or parchment & a rolling pin to pull the brittle mixture out from the center, till it is thinly spread and relatively even.
Cool completely, then break into pieces.
More Candy Making Recipes
In the mood to melt some sugar, make some gummies, or play with chocolate? I've got you!
Bananas Foster Pralines
Banana Walnut Brittle
Dill Pickle Gummy Worms
Festive Easy Fudge
Ginger Molasses Sponge Toffee
Homemade BCAA Gummies
Homemade Crunchie Bars
Homemade Jolly Rancher Candies
Hop Flavoured Beer Lollipops (LolliHOPS!)
How to Make Marshmallow Cones
Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle
Milk Chocolate Chai Truffles
Peppermint Patties Recipe
Ube White Chocolate Fudge
White Chocolate Almond Amaretto Truffles
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- 1 cup Granulated Sugar
- ½ cup Light Corn Syrup
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ¼ cup Water
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 2 tablespoon Butter
- 2 cups Shelled Pistachios
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Cooking Spray
- Set oven to “warm”, or lowest temperature.
- Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place inside warm oven.
- In a heavy saucepan (2 quart), mix together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water
- Bring to boil over medium-high heat, then attach candy thermometer to saucepan. Stir often until temperature reaches 300 degrees F (150 degrees Celcius). KEEP A VERY CLOSE EYE ON IT after about 280 degrees, as the temp has a tendency to race up at that point. If you turn your back, you could burn it!
- At 300 degrees, remove the pan from heat, add baking soda and butter, stir until incorporated. Quickly add in pistachios and vanilla, stir until completely coated.
- Remove cookie sheet from oven, and pour brittle out onto it. Use 2 buttered forks to pull the brittle mixture out from the center, till it is thinly spread and relatively even.
- Cool completely, then break into pieces.