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The Daily Dish Top Chef

3 Easy Ways to Cook With Pecans for Festive Entertaining With Southern Charm

Crowd-pleasing perfection, southern-style hospitality.

If you're like us, you're nuts for any excuse to make festive, seasonal recipes around this time of year — specifically, we mean incorporating the flavorful, textural, protein-packed ingredient of nuts into as many dishes as possible, sweet and savory alike. 

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And yes, let's say — inspired by new season of Bravo’s Top Chef in Kentucky — you're especially feeling pecans these days, that great staple of southern fare. Consider these recipe ideas to give your next holiday entertaining sesh the ooh and aah factor (not to mention the this-is-going-to-be-all-over-Insta factor).

1. Candied Pecans

Many traditional recipes call for whipping up intoxicatingly fragrant batches of candied pecans in the oven (250 degrees for over an hour usually does the trick). But five minutes on the stovetop does the trick too — just add copious brown sugar and spices like cinnamon to taste. 

2. Pecan Sticky Buns

Could there be any more gracious way — southern hospitality, you might call it — to make guests feel welcome in your home during the holiday season, than with fresh, fragrant sticky buns awaiting them at breakfast? (Best. host. ever.) Make them way ahead to minimize last-minute stress; then pop them in the oven for an incredible breakfast with no morning-time fuss.

3. Pecan Garnish

To celebrate the premiere of Top Chef's Kentucky season, Chef Brian Malarkey, a Season 3 former Cheftestant on Top Chef: Miami, created a mouthwatering pecan-based garnish recipe you’re going to want to add to your regular rotation stat — use it atop a roast chicken, or any main dish of your choosing. 

Festive Pecan-Rosemary-Raisin Garnish

  • 1/2 Cup Peans
  • 1 Stick Rosemary
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1/2 Cup Golden Raisins
  • Cayenne Pepper and Brown Sugar to Taste


  1. Chop the rosemary. Zest and segment the lemon.
  2. Chop the pecans, then sautée them in butter. Next, toss in the rosemary, raisins, and lemon zest; then add cayenne pepper and brown sugar to taste.
  3. Pour the garnish over any main dish of your choice. Top with a squeeze of lemon.


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