These Rosemary Salt-and-Pepper Cashews are easy to prepare and come together in just a few minutes! Serve them hot for an incredibly satisfying party treat, or store them for an easy, on-the-go snack that’s perfect for any time of day. The cashews are toasted in olive oil, then tossed while they’re still hot in a mix of salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary. Easy peasy.
I love tweaking my own recipes and coming up with subtle twists to make them new and exciting again. These rosemary cashews are a riff on a salt-and-pepper toasted cashew recipe I created last year for my newsletter on The Washington Post!
While most recipes use more salt than pepper, I’ve done the opposite here, adding double the pepper. Black pepper is typically more of a background flavor, offering a subtle heat that you might not even notice.
This simple S&P ratio tweak creates powerful results. When people think about adding spiciness to a recipe, ground black pepper is rarely mentioned. More common options include ground cayenne, fresh peppers like jalapeños, and hot sauces like Sriracha.
However, I’m a huge fan of simply ramping up the black pepper to create a warmth that really creeps up on you without being overpowering. People are often surprised when I tell them the only heat is coming from black pepper. Nothing fancy and almost every kitchen already has it.
Ingredients in Rosemary Salt-and-Pepper Cashews
- Raw cashews
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- Fresh rosemary
Don’t use roasted and/or salted nuts in this recipe. You want control of the flavor!
How to Make Rosemary Salt-and-Pepper Cashews
Step 1: Heat oil in a saucepan or flat-sided skillet, then add raw cashews
This recipe uses a LOT of olive oil. But before you get grossed out, please note that almost all of the oil will be discarded.
The purpose of the olive oil is to lightly fry the raw cashews. This will caramelize them, add tons of flavor, and create a light coating for the spices to adhere to.
Step 2: Cook until golden, then drain on paper towels
The time it takes to toast the cashews will vary based on the size of your saucepan as well as your stovetop (gas vs. electric, age, etc). Start by occasionally stirring the cashews, but keep an eye on them, and stir frequently once you start noticing a fragrant smell and change in the color. Once nuts start toasting, they often darken quickly.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cashews to a plate lined with paper towels (discard the excess oil once it cools down). You can briefly roll the nuts around to help them drain, but don’t pat them dry. You want to leave some oil on the surface so the spices adhere.
Step 3: Transfer to a bowl; add seasonings
While the nuts are still hot, carefully transfer them to a medium-sized bowl and add the salt, pepper, and rosemary. You want to do this relatively quickly, while the nuts are still hot and glistening.
Step 4: Toss to combine, then serve
Toss until the spices are evenly distributed. The longer you wait, the less the spice will stick (plus these taste amazing while they’re still hot).
Because I was taking step-by-step photos, I waited a bit too long to toss in the spices this time, and if you look closely at the final shots you can see the spices didn’t adhere as well as they could have. Some of them fell to the bottom of the bowl, which doesn’t happen if you move swiftly.
Fresh Ground vs. Pre-Ground Black Pepper
So many recipes call for freshly ground black pepper. So what about the pre-ground stuff? Does it make a difference in recipes like this one?
I have a secret. These days, I almost always use pre-ground black pepper. My favorite is the black pepper from Whole Foods, because it’s slightly coarser (I like a medium-coarse grind) and the flavor seriously pops and always tastes fresh. In my opinion, there’s no reason to sit there grinding out 1/2 teaspoon fresh pepper for a recipe or spice rub.
HOWEVER! Keep in mind that I go through spices quickly. If it takes you a year to go through a small container of black pepper, I recommend grinding your own before using.
Recipe Substitutions and Variations
This recipe is very flexible. Don’t like rosemary? Maybe you prefer a different type of nut? No problem.
- Nuts: This recipe will work with any type of raw nut you already have on hand or prefer to serve. Think almonds, pistachios, pecans, peanuts, etc.
- Herbs: You don’t have to use rosemary here. You can omit the herbs altogether, or you can try a different herb like thyme. Dried herbs will also work, but keep in mind that those often have a more condensed flavor. Start with half the amount, taste, and add more if desired.
- Spices: No need to just stick with salt and pepper. Add your favorite spice or use it in place of the herbs! Again, go easy on the quantity. If you’re using a mix of fresh herbs and spices, make sure they pair well together.
In addition to being a tasty snack, these toasted cashews are a great option to serve alongside tapas and various party appetizers. If you’re planning to create a spread, here are some other appetizers you might want to consider:
These would all be very complimentary!
More Recipes For Parties
You can also see my full archive of party recipes here!
Rosemary Salt-and-Pepper Cashews
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
- 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2-3 teaspoons rosemary, finely chopped
- In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add the cashews and stir to coat.
- Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring periodically with a spatula (and more frequently when you start to notice a change in color), until the cashews are golden brown and fragrant. The amount of time will vary by stove.
- Line a plate or cutting board with paper towels. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the nuts to the plate to drain; do not pat them dry (the oil will help the seasonings adhere).
- While the cashews are still hot, carefully transfer them to a medium-sized bowl and toss with the salt, pepper and rosemary. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. (I recommend enjoying them hot!)
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
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