This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Perfect for bake sales, gift swaps, or snacking by yourself.
Microwave peanut brittle can be made without a thermometer and it sets up in minutes! Try this easy recipe for a classic holiday treat.
With crispy, buttery bites that melt in your mouth, it’s no wonder that old fashioned peanut brittle is a popular treat! Homemade candy is so easy to make yourself, and that extra touch of love makes it taste better, too.
Add this to your holiday dessert table or package it up with other treats as an easy homemade gift! Some nutty caramel corn and a few pieces of English Toffee will create a crunchy variety that anyone will love.
Key ingredients & substitutions for Microwave Peanut Brittle
- Peanuts — Use plain dry-roasted or shelled peanuts so the candy isn’t too salty. A honey-roasted variety may also be tasty, just keep a close eye so they don’t burn.
- Baking soda — While it may seem like an odd ingredient, baking soda is responsible for all the little air bubbles that give this treat its crispy texture!
- Sugar — Regular granulated sugar is all you need for this recipe.
- Corn syrup — This helps the brittle set up correctly and give it that classic snap. You may get similar results with honey, but the flavor and texture will be a bit different.
- Butter — A little goes a long way for an incredibly buttery flavor. It also keeps the candy a bit tender, making it easier to chew.
- Not a fan of peanuts? Swap in your favorite nuts instead — almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, or cashew pieces would all be delicious!
How to make old fashioned peanut brittle?
STEP 1 | Heat the sugar
Combine granulated sugar, light corn starch, and salt in a glass bowl and microwave on HIGH for five minutes. This mixture expands quite a bit, especially at the end, so be sure your bowl has plenty of room.
STEP 2 | Add the peanuts
Stir in the nuts, then heat for an additional two minutes. The mixture should turn a lovely golden brown towards the end.
STEP 3 | Stir in remaining ingredients
Melt in the butter along with vanilla and baking soda, then pour the mixture out onto a greased jelly roll pan. Tilt the pan from side to side so it spreads out evenly — work quickly because it starts to cool right away!
STEP 4 | Cool and crack
Let the microwave peanut brittle set up completely, then break it into smaller pieces. You can use your hands or gently tap it with a kitchen mallet, whichever is easiest.
- Make sure your glass bowl (affiliate link) is both microwave and heat-safe. Carefully handle with oven mitts (affiliate link), and don’t set the hot bowl on a cold surface — it could shatter!
- This microwave peanut brittle recipe was made in a 1,000-watt appliance. If yours is only 700-watts, you’ll need to double the cooking time after adding the peanuts. For higher wattage models, reduce both cooking times by about 30 seconds.
Frequently asked questions
When stored in an airtight container, it should keep at room temperature for up to two months! Add a piece of wax paper or parchment between layers to prevent them from sticking together.
I would recommend cooking one batch at a time in the microwave, but you could make several in one go and let them cool all at once.
Otherwise, you should be able to double or triple the ingredient amounts with a stovetop version. Just be sure to use a large enough pot and monitor the temperature carefully.
Instead of heating the sugar and corn syrup in the microwave, you will need to boil it on the stove. Combine both ingredients in a medium saucepan with the salt, then place over medium heat and stir constantly until the mixture begins to boil.
Cook for about 5 minutes without stirring, or until a candy thermometer reaches 310 degrees. Add the peanuts and cook for a few more minutes — the temperature will drop, so bring it back up to 280 degrees.
Remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Then pour onto the sheet pan and cool as directed.
Make this treat extra decadent with a variety of toppings. Sprinkle on extra nuts or candy pieces before it cools, or drizzle caramel over the pieces and let them set a bit longer.
Old fashioned peanut brittle: behind the recipe
One of my Dad’s all-time favorite Christmas candies was old fashioned peanut brittle. For several years, I would wrap some up in a tin for my Dad and my Father-In-Law as a gift on Christmas Eve.
The funny thing is that both of them would open the gift, take a sneak peek inside, and then quietly hide it away so as to keep it all to themselves!
Over the years, my nieces took over making Papaw Cecil’s brittle. This is the recipe they liked best because it’s so easy and turns out so delicious.
Microwave Peanut Brittle
- 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dry-roasted or shelled raw peanuts
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Grease a 15 x 10 inch jelly roll pan with with 1 /2 tablespoon of the butter.
- Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a large glass bowl.
- Microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes. Add the peanuts and microwave for 2 more minutes with 1,000-watt microwave. Microwave 4 more minutes if using a 700-watt microwave.
- Carefully stir in the butter, baking soda, and vanilla. Working quickly, pour the brittle into the prepared pan and shake gently to spread into a thin layer.
- Cool until firm, then break into pieces.
To make this recipe on the stove:
- Grease a 15 x 10 inch jelly roll pan with 1 /2 tablespoon of the butter.
- Cook the sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a medium-size heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to boil.
- Boil — without stirring — for 5 minutes or until a candy thermometer reaches 310 degrees.
- Add the peanuts and cook 2 – 3 more minutes, or until the mixture reaches 280 degrees. The mixture should be golden brown.
- Remove from heat and carefully stir in the butter, baking soda, and vanilla.
- Working quickly, pour the brittle into the prepared pan and shake to spread into a thin layer. Allow to stand 5 minutes or until hardened. Break into pieces.
About Sheila Thigpen
Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer
Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.