Peanut brittle is just part of Christmas in my family. Every year we make several batches around the holidays. But we’ve always used an old school recipe from my mother’s great aunt Matilda. And it’s always perfect.
But it’s also not the easiest stuff to make. It takes a little finesse and can be a little hard to cook with just one person.
For the last several years, I’ve heard from readers about making peanut brittle in the microwave. And honestly, I was quite skeptical. This highly precise method that I’m used to just didn’t seem like it would work well in the microwave – of all things.
When another friend mentioned the microwave version a few weeks back, I broke down and said, “Well, send me the dang recipe. I guess I’ll have to try it.”
And y’all… I’m so glad I did.
Don’t tell my mom, but I’m not sure I’ll ever make peanut brittle the old way again. It’s SO much easier and tastes exactly the same.
Seriously. No one will ever know you made this in a microwave.
But as with everything, there are a few quirks. So this quick list of tips will help you make the BEST microwave peanut brittle you’ve ever had.
This is a big one. Different wattage microwaves will take varying amounts of time. I used a 1650 watt microwave to develop this recipe. This variance will happen in the last cooking after you’ve added the peanuts and butter. And this is why I still recommend having a candy or instant read thermometer to ensure the sugar mixture gets to between 300 and 310°F. This is what’s known as the hard crack stage in candy making and it’s what will give you that crunchy sugar texture you want. Cooking it below means it will be sticky and chewy – more caramely.
Does humidity effect peanut brittle?
Yes. Yes, it does. Rainy, humid days mean sticky, chewy brittle. Cooking it a few degrees above the recommended temp will help.
Humidity will also make brittle sticky after it’s been made. So I recommend storing it in an airtight container right on the counter.
Do I have to use a candy thermometer when making peanut brittle?
If you like living on the edge and don’t mind wasting some ingredients, nope. You sure don’t. But if you want to make sure each batch turns out perfectly, I certainly recommend a thermometer. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a candy thermometer, though. My instant read thermometer measure up high enough to be able to use that and it’s so much easier than using a bulk candy thermometer. Plus, you need one in your kitchen drawer anyway.
There is always some degree of risk when making any kind of candy and using molten sugar. Those of you with hot sugar burns know what I mean. But don’t be afraid. Just be prepared. Have everything measured out and ready to go. Sometimes it’s also good to have an extra set of hands.
Be sure to use a microwave safe bowl. Bowls safe for microwave use won’t get hot when used, so it makes the process easier. With that being said, I always recommend oven mitts when transferring the bowl of sugar to and from the microwave.
Microwave Peanut Brittle
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 1/2 cups raw peanuts
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In large microwave safe glass bowl, stir together the sugar and corn syrup.
- Microwave the mixture for 4 minutes. The sugar will boil. Carefully add the peanuts and butter and use a heatproof utensil to stir to combine.
- Return the bowl to the microwave and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes – or until caramel colored. The mixture will need to reach between 300 and 310°F – the hard crack stage.
- Remove from the microwave and add the vanilla and baking soda and stir quickly to combine. The mixture will foam up. Stir just enough to get all the baking soda combined, but don't over stir. The bubbles/foam is what give the brittle the lighter honeycomb texture and stirring too much will work all those out of the mixture.
- Quickly and carefully pour the mixture onto the prepared pan. Use a silicone spatula sprayed with nonstick cooking spray to spread the brittle evenly. Allow to cool completely before breaking into pieces. Store in an airtight container.