Sweet Spicy and Smoky Pecans with A Tour at Safari West

I’m in love with a bowl of the most beautiful spicy sweet and smoky flavored pecans or rather I’m in love with the memory of a bowl of the most beautiful spicy sweet and smoky flavored pecans.  Did I also mention that I’m in love with ground red New Mexican chipotle peppers and Spanish smoked paprika?  No, but I will tell you that I do like the deep smoky flavor they add to dishes – like potatoes, chicken, fish, salsas, soups and sauces.  So when I reached in my spice rack to pull out a jar of something spicy to add to a bag of pecans about to be roasted- I thought right away of adding a smoky flavor.  Ground chipotle peppers are used throughout Mexico as well as in Central America and  Spanish paprika or pimenton is one of the main ingredients in Spanish cooking.  Who ever came up with the idea to smoke peppers before grinding them into fragrant spices used for cooking was one creative person that I would have liked to meet.  I’ve made several trips to Mexico and was also fortunate to visit Spain with my family a few years ago.  We visited Spain with a very dear friend who is originally from Madrid as our tour guide.  We have wonderful memories from the trip but the prize souvenir I brought home was the tin of smoked paprika that I tucked into my suitcase.   We are still fortunate to enjoy home cooked Spanish meals at the home of our friend who lives close to us and I do hope that we have another travel adventure in Spain with all of us in the not too far away future.

One adventure we did recently enjoy was a tour at Safari West with our grandchildren last weekend.  Safari West is a 400 acre private wildlife preserve in the hills of Sonoma County with mostly species native to Africa, including giraffes, rhinoceros, cheetahs, zebras and many unusual birds.  The tour involves some driving and walking to see the animals up close and personal where they live.  We started our tour in an open-air authentic safari vehicle, a jeep used in the Korean war that handles the rugged bumpy terrain very well.  The boys, my husband and grandsons had a great view in seats above the jeep.   While I rode down below with my 2 & 1/2 year old granddaughter, who wanted to get out and pet the animals at every stop- which is pretty much every few minutes.  Thank goodness for our tour guide Aaron, who studies African animals and is very knowledgeable on the subject.   He was very patient, answered all our questions and genuinely has a passion for giving the tours as well as the animals at Safari West.  I can’t believe it took us so long to visit, we’ve been talking about taking our grandchildren on a tour all Summer but we were fortunate to pick a warm November day with clear blue skies.  The kids loved our safari experience and in a few years I think it would be fun to return with them to enjoy a ‘sleep over’ in one of the tent cabins (I’ll bring the spicy-sweet-smoky pecans).

I included a link to their site above but just a quick note for visitors who would like to spend the night at Safari West  they offer an African Tented Camp arrangement for groups.  They also offer a dining experience at the Savannah Cafe which features the elegant Elephant room with safari ranch style BBQ meals.  Here are a few photos from our tour of Safari West.

Sweet Spicy and Smoky Pecans

Yield: 2 cups

Adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons Chipotle Ground Red, Penzeys Spices
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Paprika Smoked Spanish Style, Penzeys Spices
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 cups pecan halves


  1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  3. In a small bowl stir together the sugar, salt and spices.
  4. In a large bowl beat the egg white until foamy, toss in the nuts and stir them to coat.
  5. Stir in the sugar and spice mixture, stir to evenly coat the pecans.
  6. Lift the nuts from the bowl, letting any excess egg white drip back into the bowl and spread out on the prepared baking sheet
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until browned.
  8. Cool and then break apart, letting them cool completely.

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  1. What a fun post, Patty! Isn’t Penzeys just the best? We have 3 drawers full of their seasonings.

  2. Patty, your Grandchildren are adorable! Safari West sounds like the perfect place to spend a weekend (how fun would it be to stay in a tent cabin?!).

    These sweet and spicy pecans remind me of a mix that I had years ago called Insane Nuts…the were spicy, and sweet and just amazing. I’m definitely bookmarking this one.

  3. Patty – I am “nuts” for a really great nut recipe and yours is just that! Okay – I now need to go to Safari West – it is not that far and it looks really fun. Your grandkids are A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E! Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Enjoy your upcoming trip! :-)

  4. I love nuts like these they are dangerous for me to have around. Your safari looked so fun and your grand-kids are so cute, I’m partial to toe heads since that runs in my family. Good job with the iphone camera too!
    Have a great week!

  5. These pecans look incredibly addicting, Patty! Can’t wait to try them out! :) Cute pics at Safari West!

  6. They are addictive!

  7. Love all your photos with the kids; what fun and your pecans are must try. I always have a bowl of some kind of flavored pecans on my table.

  8. Your grandkids are so cute! And those nuts…love them! So drool-worthy! I’d like to eat them on their own or on my salad! Mmmmm…

  9. Esta receta me encantó se ve muy deliciosa,abrazos y abrazos.

  10. I could snack on pecans like these all day long! I might have to make a batch this weekend!

  11. The pecans look wonderful Patty!
    And I love the family photos…so adorable!

  12. The flavors with the pecans sound delicious. What a great snack to have around, or give as gifts this time of year.

    The safari looks like a great time, I am sure the kids had a great time!

  13. Your grandchildren are lovely! You’re so fortunate to be able to spend such precious time with them.

    And your pecans looks terrific! I have a tin of smoked paprika in my cupboard that I’ve never used. This would be a great reason to open it up.

  14. Looks like such a fun day! The only thing that might have made it better would have been to have a little bag of those delicious looking pecans in your pocket to nibble on throughout the day! :) I love smokey flavor also and with the sweet sugar it sounds like an amazing combination!

  15. I could eat a whole bowl full of these pecans! I love plain pecans, but coating them in sugar and spice makes them irresistible.

  16. Patty, your Sweet , Smoky, and Spicy Pecans are amazingly good with the Spanish smoked paprika, that I also love to use for certain recipes! They are incredibly addictive, I would not be able to stop eating them:)
    Your grandchildren are so adorable, and they must have had such a memorable fun time at the Safari…priceless photos, as well!
    Here at our Lion Country Safari in W. Palm Beach, we have to tour the grounds in our car, and the animals virtually come up to our car; of course we have to keep the windows closed!

  17. It’s really nice to see you spend a lot of time with your grandchildren. I wish I could when I was younger and I wish my parents could with my children. The time spent together and memories they are going to carry are priceless! Thanks for posting about the safari. It looks similar to the one we did in San Diego, but the best part is it’s nearby! I didn’t know they offer camp arrangement. Now that could be fun! Your delicious pecans would be popular at any occasions! Looks yuumm!!

  18. Those pecans look gorgeous – what a perfect addition to any cocktail party!

  19. Looks like a fun day was had by all. I adore spiced nuts – must include some in my Christmas boxes.

  20. I want to go to Safari West. ;) Pecans are maybe my second favorite nut. They pair deliciously with chipotle peppers. Great recipe Patty!

  21. What a delicious pecan recipe! We are lucky to have Penzeys stores locally as they are made here in right here in Milwaukee. It’s like visiting a candy store to me ;)

    Your Safari West reminds me of the outer tour at the San Diego zoo we did when our girls were younger. They got to feed the giraffe’s by hand. I have some priceless photos.

  22. I’m still kicking myself for missing out on a trip to Africa a few years ago–it’s been on top of the bucket list since. I HAVE to visit this place–never even knew it existed and so close to me! Your Littles are adorbs, Patty!

    And these pecans…I usually cheat and buy the candied pecans from Trader Joe’s. Your version is loads better!

  23. Lora @cakeduchess says:

    Beautiful grandkids, Patty. I think they had a great time with you and seeing the animals:)LOVE spicy nuts. It’s been too long since I’ve made something like this. Enjoy your getaway!xx

  24. How Yummy! and…thanks a bunch for the kind words about Safari West…we are blessed.

  25. I would go nuts if a bowl of these were placed in front of me. These sound so good right now and I just ate. I need to stop doing this to myself, lol. You already know I think you have the cutest grandkids ever.

  26. Patty, your grandkids are so adorable! The pecans look like the perfect little snack, and would make a perfect gift!

  27. Your spicy and smokey pecans look really good, Patty. We have not been to Safari West yet, but it looks like a fun place.

  28. Chrissie says:

    I’m allergic to tree nuts, so can’t have these, but I love your photos…I lived near Safari West for years and was on the 101 the day they brought up a new giraffe! So fun to see it go under the Mendocino Ave. overpass! You have adorable grandchildren!

  29. Could this be done with Splenda?

  30. Pronto haré esta receta, porque se ven deliciosas y soy fanática de las nueces. Muchas gracias.


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