Union Square Cafe’s Bar Nuts

Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts

When I moved to New York City in 2006 I got my first job waiting tables at a wonderful restaurant called Tabla. It was great for me in so many ways. I met new friends, and had the opportunity to work for a really wonderful company called Union Square Hospitality Group. They owned several restaurants in the city, all of which were amazing. (You may have heard of their burger chain Shake Shack- the original was right outside Tabla’s doors and I enjoyed many a Shack burger during my break between shifts.)

In addition to benefits like medical/dental insurance, they had this amazing voucher program. After 3 months of work all employees got a little debit card type thing where a set amount was deposited per month to eat at any of the USHG restaurants. You could save up to 3 months and if you were smart enough to dine out with a fellow employee, a pretty amazing meal was in store for you.

Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts

I tried all of the restaurants in the group, but the one that I hold dearest to my heart is Union Square Cafe. It quickly because my favorite restaurant ever, and I have so many memories of special dinners at that place. I took pretty much anyone I cared about to dinner there, always blown away, always in love with the rustic Italian food and amazing service. I remember a solo lunch at the bar one day, just walking by and spontaneously checking to see what my chances of getting in were, (they were always packed.) I scored a seat at the bar, had an amazing lunch, which I somehow had room for despite snacking on these addictive nuts beforehand. 

Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts

Union Square Cafe will always hold such a special place in my heart. I feel like there was this huge part of my life, my “coming of age” maybe where this was an essential place for all special occasions. All of their recipes, these simple bar nuts included, are amazing and I am so excited to share it with you.

Chances are you’ve already seen it circulating the web. It’s out there published on lots of blog and websites, but in case you aren’t familiar- get cracking and make these right now! I have a jar waiting for my Christmas Eve spread, but chances are they won’t last until then and I’m totally fine with that.

These nuts are a touch sweet, a touch spicy, and a touch salty, a combo that is really just perfect. They are so good warm, but I made them and am storing them in the fridge until the next time we have company when I’ll rewarm them. Trust me- make these and see how addicting they are!

Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts

Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts

Yield: 3 cups of nuts


  • 3 cups assorted unsalted nuts*
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne**
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


Spread nuts on a large, rimmed cookie sheet, and bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly golden and fragrant.

In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter, rosemary, cayenne, brown sugar, and salt.

When the nuts are done roasting, add them to the bowl and toss well to evenly coat with the mixture.

Spread them back on the sheet and bake for 5 more minutes.

Serve warm, but can be stored in an airtight container and re-warmed when you're ready to serve.


*The original recipe calls for 16 oz. of nuts, but volume and weight aren't always equal forms of measurement. I found 3 cups to be a happy medium, but you could also weigh 16 oz.

**Start with 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne and add the extra to taste if you want them more spicy. Not all cayennes are created equal. 1/4 teaspoon was perfect for me.

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. These look delicious! I’m going to make some and jar them for neighbor holiday gifts. Thanks!

  2. You said you store the nuts in the fridge. Do they have to be put in the fridge or can they sit at room temperature? My husband has been wanting some “not boring nuts” and these look like they would be perfect but I don’t want to waste expensive nuts by letting them sit out.

    1. I think they’d be Ok at room temp for up to a week, but I’d worry about them beyond that since there is butter in the mix. I’m serving these Christmas Eve and made them ahead so that’s why mine are in the fridge :)

  3. Audra, These nuts look wonderful! Going to try them.
    By the way, Bill and I are the couple that you and Andy shared a taxi back to the airport in Costa Rica a few years back. Bill and I were in Costa Rica again, at the coast this time, last week.
    You must tell Andy that I endured the ride back to the airport but we could not help but think of our terrible ride back the last time we were there.
    Your children are beautiful. Life sure does rush on!
    Merry Christmas

  4. Had my eyes on these since you first posted the recipe a few weeks ago. Making these tomorrow for our Christmas Eve. I can’t wait! They look and sound amazing!!

  5. Happy New Year! I can’t wait to make these! Ten to 15 minutes at 350 for the nuts seems long. When I toast nuts, I find I have to watch them very carefully after five minutes. I guess the idea is deep roasting them instead of just simply toasting them? Also, the coated nuts go back in for another five minutes. I think I’m a little concerned about burning the nuts. Looks delicious though and I know my gang will be ravenous for them! I will have to triple the recipe!

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