Classic Peanut Brittle

According to Southern lore, peanut brittle originated by accident. Allegedly, a housewife was trying to make taffy, but added baking soda instead of cream of tartar. After realizing her innocent goof, she added some Georgia peanuts and was quite delighted by the outcome. In the league of iconic Southern candy—the likes of bourbon balls, divinity, and pralines—homemade peanut brittle is now as much a year-round favorite as a holiday delicacy. Sugar is one of the most finicky ingredients in brittle recipes, making a candy thermometer more than just a helpful recommendation. (No one likes burnt or sticky, bendy brittle.) When it comes to brittle, it's important to keep on stirring until the deed is fully done and cooling on a baking sheet. This holiday season, if you're not indulging in a festive slice of warm homemade pie or classic layer cake, this old-fashioned peanut brittle recipe will gladly handle that sugar hankering.   

Peanut Brittle
Photo: Charles Walton
1 pound


  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup dry-roasted or shelled raw peanuts

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


  1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large glass bowl. Microwave on HIGH 5 minutes, add peanuts, and microwave 2 more minutes with 1,000-watt microwave. Microwave 4 more minutes if using a 700-watt microwave. Stir in remaining ingredients.

  2. Pour into a buttered 15- x 10-inch jellyroll pan; shake pan to spread thinly. Cool until firm, and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

  3. Cooktop Brittle: Prep: 5 min., Cook: 8 min., Stand: 5 min. Cook first 3 ingredients in a medium-size heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to boil. Boil without stirring 5 minutes or until a candy thermometer reaches 310°. Add peanuts, and cook 2 to 3 more minutes or to 280°. (Mixture should be golden brown.) Remove from heat, and stir in butter and remaining ingredients. Pour mixture onto a metal surface or into a shallow pan. Allow to stand 5 minutes or until hardened. Break into pieces.

Chef's Notes

Peanut Brittle Variations

Pecan Brittle: Substitute 1 cup chopped pecans for peanuts.

Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Brittle: Prepare peanut brittle as directed. Melt 2 (2-ounce) chocolate bark coating squares; dip peanut brittle pieces into melted chocolate. Place on wax paper, and let harden.

Popcorn Peanut Brittle: Prepare brittle as directed. Stir in 1 cup popped popcorn before pouring into pan.

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