Sometimes when we are on the road, my kids like to get smoked almonds from convenience stores or gas stations. I don’t mind that they have these on occasion as I find them to be better options than some of the other snacks in those type of stores (like candy), but the smoked almonds you buy are usually over-salted and have low quality oils on them and sometimes forms of sugar as well such as maltodextrin. They also usually have “smoke flavor” on them and it’s unclear what that is made of and if it is a good idea to consume it on a regular basis.
So I wanted to come up with an easy smoked almond recipe that we could make at home and have on hand for snacks and take on the road to avoid the convenience store options.
After multiple rounds of testing, I discovered that my kids like a really simple version roasted with just smoked sea salt flakes dissolved in water so they coat the almonds and adhere to them (shown at left). My 8 year old and I also like an upgraded version that has olive oil and urfa biber chili flakes added on at the end and roasted for an additional few minutes (shown at right).
Urfa biber is a Turkish chili that has a naturally smoky flavor and is fairly mild. We like this chili because of the complex flavor profile. If you are unsure about what your kids will think of the heat, start with less. You could also try another chili that is even more mild like ancho.
Both versions are irresistible and disappear quickly when you leave a bowl of them out on the counter. And the recipe is so simple that it’s a great one to invite kids to help with.
Ready to make some? I gave the quantities for roasting 2 cups of almonds in this recipe, which is about the amount that my kids and I would finish on a short trip. I like to eat these fresh, within a week or so of making them, though they will keep for longer if they are properly cooled before storing. You will see that there is still space on the sheet pan, so you could increase the quantities and roast 3 or 4 cups at a time if you have a bigger family (or a longer trip planned).
Sugarproof Smoked Almonds
–1 teaspoon smoked sea salt flakes (we used Maldon brand)
–4 teaspoons warm water
–2 cups (about 260g) raw almonds
Optional flavor boosts*:
–2 teaspoons olive oil
–1/2 to 1 teaspoon urfa biber chili flakes (or substitute with another mild chili like ancho)
–Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C)
–In a medium-sized mixing bowl big enough to accommodate the almonds, mix together the smoked sea salt and water until dissolved. Add the almonds and mix until all of the water is absorbed and the almonds are evenly coated.
–Spread out the nuts onto a rimmed baking sheet.
–Roast in the oven for around 12 minutes or until dry, slightly darker in color, and fragrant, shaking once or twice as they roast.
–For the basic version, remove from the oven at this stage and allow to fully cool before transferring to a serving dish or storage container.
*For the boosted version, add the olive oil and the chili flakes, shake to distribute, and return to the oven for about 3 minutes. Allow to cool and the oil will continue to absorb into the almonds.