easy holiday party snacks

Dirty Chai Spiced Pecans

Is anyone else borderline-obsessed with the flavors of dirty chai? If you need a simple party snack with minimal ingredients for the holidays, allow me to suggest this dirty chai spiced pecan recipe! You can easily customize the nuts and spices based on what you have on hand but this might be my new favorite combination.

Dirty Chai Spiced Pecans

What’s the Difference Between Chai and Dirty Chai?

Chai is most commonly known to be a blend of warm spices steeped with black tea. The spices that make up a chai blend typically include some or all of the following:

  • Cinnamon

  • Ginger

  • Cardamom

  • Nutmeg

  • Cloves

  • Black pepper

These days, it’s become so popular that you can find a chai tea latte in just about every coffee shop. This refers to a base of steamed milk mixed with simple syrup and spices (not to be confused with chai tea, which is just a tea bag steeped in hot water).

For some reason I got the idea of experimenting with my own homemade chai several weeks back. I researched a bunch of different recipes (like here and here) and came up with my own blend based on personal preference; mainly that it’s heavy on the ginger and low on the sweet.

The word “dirty” in reference to coffee shop drinks simply means adding a shot of espresso. In a previous life (namely, college) I was known to add a shot of espresso to my iced coffee sometimes but gone are the days when I caffeinate to that level. Chai lattes seem to be the most popular drink to “dirty” so often times this flavor combo makes its way into recipes too.

Using Instant Espresso Powder in Baking

In recent months, I’ve seen a few other bloggers post recipes using this Delallo Foods Instant Espresso Powder (affiliate link) and had been wanting to order some for myself because it’s hard to find in stores. From there, my dirty chai spice blend was born.

Delallo Foods Instant Espresso Powder

The cool thing about this powder is that it’s perfect for baking and incorporating into your favorite recipes for a strong, roast-y coffee flavor, no espresso machine required. You don’t even have to add water to it before using. Some of the recipes I saw this used in are totally drool-worthy like these 6 Ingredient Espresso Brownies and this Banana Bread with Espresso Glaze.

I rarely make sweets and with holiday parties on repeat this month, I wanted to think of something interesting to make that doesn’t require a separate grocery stop and a lot of hands-on time. For this reason, spiced nuts came to mind!

How to Make the Perfect Spiced Nuts

After some trial and error I found out that the secret to great spiced nuts is to coat them in egg whites before adding the spices. This helps everything stick together and get nice and crispy on the edges. From there you can add whichever spices and sweetener you want!

In addition to being super tasty, these are also dairy-free for those of you who need to avoid it (it can be hard to come by an appetizer than doesn’t involve cheese this time of year). It’s a nice bonus to get some protein and healthy fat in something a little bit more substantial than cookies or fudge, while still feeling special.

Dirty Chai Spiced Pecans

Put these out to tide your guests over until dinner without spoiling appetites or package them up in a mason jar with a bow and you have an easy homemade gift option! I hope you love them as much as I do. If you make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @LeanneRayRDN!

Dirty Chai Spiced Pecans

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: 8 servings | Prep time: 5 minutes | Bake time: 30 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes


  • 1 Tbsp instant espresso powder

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom

  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • 1 egg white

  • 2 cups pecans (halves & pieces)

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

  3. Add espresso powder through salt to a small bowl and mix well with a fork (try to get rid of any large chunks)

  4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy.

  5. Add the pecans to the egg white and toss to coat evenly; then add vanilla extract and the spice mixture and mix to combine.

  6. Spread in one even layer on the sheet pan and roast for 30 minutes (stirring halfway through) until browned and fragrant. These will crisp up as they cool. Once you can handle them, break apart and store in an airtight container for up to one week.

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