Cocoa, Cayenne and Espresso Roasted Walnuts

A great treat all year round, these Cocoa, Cayenne and Espresso Roasted Walnuts are easy to make and lovely to gift to friends.

Cocoa, Cayenne and Espresso Roasted Walnuts

As soon as I saw Jen Schall at My Kitchen Addiction post a recipe for almonds with a crispy coating that included cocoa, I knew I would be using that recipe as inspiration for my own appetizer for this week; these Cocoa, Cayenne and Espresso Roasted Walnuts.

I used to be about pecans all the time but I’ve been awakened in the past couple of years to the wonderfulness of walnuts. The secret? Roasting or toasting them. It makes such a difference in the taste that I now love them more than any other nut.

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Essentially it’s the difference between raw and cooked. I had never thought of that before; clearly I love nuts more after they are cooked; I’ll even toast nuts that I’m adding to a cake or cookie; it makes a difference…just baking with them in an ingredient does not equate to toasting them. Try it!

Not just cookies or cakes either. Salads with toasted walnuts? Fantastic. So I couldn’t wait to put my spin on Jen’s idea with walnuts as an appetizer for this week.

I’ve paired Cocoa, Cayenne and Espresso Roasted Walnuts with a bottle of 2009 Georges DuBoeuf Brouilly; a red wine from France that is best enjoyed when young (the wine that is…too late for me!). This red wine with notes of plum and blackberry was terrific with the cocoa and subtle heat of this appetizer.

Cocoa, Cayenne and Espresso Roasted Walnuts

If you love walnuts like I love walnuts I hope you will try this recipe but be sure to visit the California Walnuts website too where they’ve got a whole section on their site devoted to recipes. Yum!

Cocoa, Cayenne and Espresso Roasted Walnuts

These Cocoa, Cayenne and Espresso Roasted Walnuts would make a great holiday gift too. My friends know that I’ll be making some sort of gift from my kitchen; don’t tell them that this year, it’s these nuts!

Cocoa, Cayenne and Espresso Roasted Walnuts

Creative Culinary
4.25 from 50 or more votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Appetizers, Snacks
Cuisine American
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 472 kcal


  • 4 cups walnuts
  • 2 egg whites I happened to have small eggs on hand…if you have extra large, one might be enough…you just need enough to coat all of the nuts a bit
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried Chipotle pepper or use dried Cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  • Preheat oven to 275°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
  • Whisk together the egg white(s) and vanilla.
  • Combine the brown sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, Chipotle pepper and salt in a processor and mix til thoroughly blended.
  • In a larger mixing bowl mix the egg white with the walnuts and mix well to coat the nuts.
  • Add the sugar and cocoa mixture into the walnuts and stir until the nuts are evenly coated.
  • Spread the nuts on the baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes; stirring every 15 minutes.




Nutrition Facts
Cocoa, Cayenne and Espresso Roasted Walnuts
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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  1. Hi there……..I am a full time career woman from India and I love trying out new and unusual recipes. It is a great way to de-stress for me. I stumbled on your blog when I did a search to make my own kahlua and couldn’t stop going through the rest of your recipes. I love the walnut recipe. Thank you so much for sharing…..I am just hooked!!!

    1. So glad you visited! By the way, Monday, in conjunction with two friends, we are publishing a post with an Indian dish and doing a month long Indian Food Palooza. We’ll each post an Indian recipe on our blogs and ask readers to link up to us with some of their own efforts. You can certainly tell this is NOT my forte so it will be an experience for me too…but you must come back and let us know what you think. I made a Mumbai sandwich I’ll be posting. I know…very simple but I’m hooked; just loved it!

    1. Yay…I just loved these. Enough so that I ate so many I had to make a 2nd batch to not feel so guilty about not having anything to show for my efforts. Yes, they are that good.

      1. Oh I make those as well. They are great!
        My problem is the girlfriend keeps eating them, so I still don’t have anything to show for my efforts. Not after 2nd batch, or the 3rd. Haha!
        But I’m very popular with the girl. 🙂

        1. These walnuts give new meaning to the word ‘addiction’ don’t they?

    1. The only problem I had with these nuts Carolyn? I simply could not stop eating them. I made them for company. Ahem..I had to make a 2nd batch. 🙂

    1. I’m making more today…my problem is loving what I make and eating what I love and then…none left for the guests I made them for. Uh oh. 🙂

  2. Wow! This will spell out delicious starting from the aroma of preparation up until the last pieces have vanished. Don’t forget the loads of Vitamin E that this walnut recipe brings…Good for the palate, good for the skin too!

  3. How wonderful and addictive these look. Walnuts and me are great friends and I love how far you took this with ‘twitter’ intervention. I do really bow to the reach of this little blue bird {and you Barb!} Love the photographs too.

    1. Oh thank you my sweet friend; whose photos I am forever amazed by, so your sweet comment means the world. And I love how a world away from each other Twitter has allowed us to meet and inspire…I just smile when I hear people say, ‘Twitter…I don’t get it, it’s just dumb.’ Yeah right. 🙂

  4. I began roasting my nuts for baking when I made your Pecan Butter Balls last year. The difference is very noticeable and I love it. I also love walnuts and this roasted recipe for them is a keeper. Once again Barb you have shared a great recipe and some beautiful photographs. Still going on about how lovely your *best lemon cheesecake* photo is.

    1. You have only cited one of my most favorite cookies ever. My grandma’s recipe and I love this so much. Not sure why I save them only for Christmas but maybe that keeps them more special? And the roasting/toasting of nuts does make all the difference doesn’t it Paula? I may have learned later in life just happy I learned.

    1. And thank you Katherine for being a willing participant and visitor; I’m seeing some great additions to the post that will keep me busy for a while. A LONG while.

  5. Barb, these sound fantastic! I am going to have to make them this weekend – we have a little street party on Sunday and these would be perfect!!! Love the use of cocoa powder and expresso – different and delicious… and with the wine… Oh my!! WHEN we meet IRL … we are going to get into SO much trouble since our palates are so similar!

    Truly loving this series … I look forward to it every week!

    1. Thank you my friend. So glad you love the series; I’ve enjoyed planning something for it each week too! And yes, trouble will ensue. Lots of food trouble!

    1. Mine too. I love chocolate with a bit of heat and of course chocolate and espresso were meant to be married. Roasting them all together would be good even without the nuts!

    1. Thanks Heather; and I in turn think I must try that pulled pork crockpot recipe. I’m doing ribs on the smoker today but that will happen.

  6. Your walnuts look amazing! I am going to have to give them a try. And it is too funny that I decided last week to post my roasted almonds I made earlier this month. It’s a nutty Happy Hour Friday this week!

    1. Yes I might have! Thinking bacon jam, these walnuts and one more thing and I’ll have my holiday gifts done. Cutting back this year and not doing dozens of cookies but some different and easier for me things that I hope folks will still love.

  7. Barbara – Pecans are one of the largest crops here in Georgia, so I always tend to choose those first. But this recipe has suddenly made me crave walnuts! I do something similar with pecans but I’ve never had roasted nuts with cocoa and coffee in the mix. This one’s on my to-make list for the holidays.

    1. Oh I bet you are a pecan person for sure. Well, I think this would also be great with pecans Lana or almonds; whichever nut you feel like at the time!

  8. I love the aroma and flavor of roasting nuts. Such a great combination of flavors! The only problem I see is that I’d probably scoff these all up before my guests even arrive! hmm…double batch?! 🙂

    1. Yes. I made more than Jen’s original recipe cause I just knew I would be a bad girl. And I was…ate a whole bowlful. I called it dinner.

    1. Well, sometimes you feel like a cork! Thanks Wendy; I have so far to go but I look back two years and realize I have also come far!

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