Garlicky Habanero Macadamia Nuts

Macadamias al Chile Habanero y Ajo
Most North Americans think habanero equals fire.  I think habanero equals the aroma of tropical fruit and flowers—plus some pretty searing heat.  By roasting habaneros (along with garlic) and blending them into a seasoning, we’ve already mitigated their heat without doing too much damage to that beautifully aromatic flavor.  Adding a touch of honey soothes the heat to a very manageable glow. Still scared about using habaneros?  Try using 2 or 3 serrano (or 2 small jalapeño) chiles instead.  And if your macadamia nuts come salted, cut the salt in the seasoning by half.  (Note:  The nuts can be made a week or more ahead.  Store in an air-tight container.)
Servings: 3cups, enough for 9 to 12 as a nibble


  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 to 2fresh habanero chiles, stemmed
  • 2tablespoons olive oil
  • 1tablespoon honey
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • 3cups (about 1 pound) roasted macadamia nuts


Turn on the oven to 350 degrees. In a dry skillet, roast the unpeeled garlic and chiles over medium heat, turning them regularly until soft and blotchy-blackened in spots, about 10 minutes for the habanero, 10 to 15 minutes for the garlic. When the garlic is handleable, peel off the papery skin. In a mortar or small food processor, combine the garlic and habanero. Pound or process to as smooth a mixture as possible. Add the oil, honey and salt and pound or process to incorporate thoroughly.

In a large bowl, combine the macadamias and flavoring, stirring to thoroughly coat the nuts. Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are toasty smelling and the flavorings have formed a shiny, dryish coating, about 20 minutes. Cool.



  1. I brought this as an appetizer at a family reunion and I got many compliments. I used maple syrup instead of honey, 3 small scotch bonnet peppers instead of the habanero, and high-oleic safflower oil instead of olive. I used an ungreased glass baking dish, and the seasoning stuck to the dish quite a bit in the oven, so I lost some of the seasoning, which is maybe why the nuts were not salty enough for me. After they had cooled, I sprinkled salt from a shaker to make them saltier. Also, after 20 minutes in the oven, many of the nuts had darkened, but they were great anyway, maybe even better like that.

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