Honey Pecan Toffee–a No Thermometer Candy Recipe

Honey Pecan Toffee–a No Thermometer Candy Recipe
Honey Pecan Toffee–a No Thermometer Candy Recipe

Honey Pecan Toffee is a great addition to your Christmas specialties repertoire. It has the crunch and taste of toffee that you love, but made with just a few simple, “real food” ingredients and no corn syrup. And it’s so easy to make!

honey pecan toffee

Have you ever used honey in your baking? It can be a tricky sweetener.  It’s a liquid and a humectant, meaning it attracts and maintains moisture, so it gives a different, not always so desirable, quality to baked goods.  It browns faster and darker and baked goods made with honey are soft instead of crispy.  But in candy, especially this recipe, it’s a different tale. It’s absolutely perfect.

I adapted this recipe several years ago from a 1970s-era natural foods cookbook and it’s become a Christmas classic around here. If there are any leftovers, it freezes perfectly. Or, you can chop it finely and mix into cookie dough or sprinkle it over ice cream.

If you want to step it up a notch, sprinkle chocolate chips over the still-hot toffee. After a few minutes, spread the melted chocolate chips and let it all cool.

Tips for Making Honey Pecan Toffee without a Thermometer

Making toffee without a thermometer may seem a little intimidating if you’ve never made candy without one (and especially if you’ve never made candy before!) Here are some tips to help you feel more confident.

  • It’s easy to second-guess yourself and wonder if you’re seeing the color change but you’re not quite sure. Don’t overthink this one–the mixture will noticeably darken. It’s hard to compare colors to a screen while you’re stirring, so think “brown paper bag” brown or the color of the outside of an almond.
  • Some people have noticed that the skillet starts “smoking” when it reaches the right temperature. FYI, you’re not waiting for a burned, charred smell. I think a better description is “steaming.” You might notice an increasing amount of steam coming from the pan.
  • Finally, the mixture in the pan starts to separate a little and begin thickening and “clumping” while remaining a liquid. It’s not the smooth mixture how it started. It’s a little hard to describe, but you’ll recognize it when you see it.

These tips, combined with watching the clock for the general time recommendation, will give you perfect honey pecan toffee. However, if you do happen to under cook the toffee, what’s the worst that can happen? You’ll wind up with chewy honey pecan caramel. Not what you could call a flop!!

Honey Pecan Toffee

a simple candy made with honey
Course: Dessert, Snack
Servings: 24 pieces


  • c. butter
  • ¼ c. honey
  • ¾ c. pecans chopped
  • sprinkle salt


  • Melt the butter and honey in a skillet.
  • Add chopped pecans.
  • Cook over medium heat and keep stirring for 7 to 9 minutes or until mixture turns a deep golden brown. After it browns, pour quickly into a buttered 8" square pan. Immediately cut into small squares. Alternatively, break into irregular pieces after the batch cools.


  1. This looks simple — and delicious! I love the idea of not using a candy thermometer. Do you think the “by-the-way-it-looks” method would work at a higher altitude? My home is approximately 7,000 ft above sea level.

    1. I’ve never lived at a high altitude, so I can’t speak from personal experience. However, I know that boiling points are different at high elevations, so you have to make adjustments to the temperatures when candy-making with a thermometer, but it’s my understanding the stages of candy-making would remain the same.

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