Za’atar Roasted Cashews

Za'atar Spiced Cashews make the perfect holiday starter!
These Mediterranean inspired spiced nuts are the perfect holiday party starter!

Za’atar Roasted Cashews is a super simple crowd pleasing appetizer that brings together the exotic flavors of the Middle East, and comes together in no time!

single serving spiced cashews in martini glasses

These Mediterranean inspired spiced nuts are the perfect holiday party starter!

Nuts and the holidays have always gone hand in hand in my family. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas there was a silver nut bowl set out on the coffee table, with a big old nutcracker right alongside it. For us kids it was a rite of passage to learn how to crack them open for ourselves, without having to ask a passing Aunt or Uncle for help. The pecans were the easiest. Then it was on to the walnuts and almonds, and finally the Brazil nuts, which I have to admit I never mastered. We had to work hard for our snacks back then! I was glad when my mom started putting out bowls of Planters nuts instead…they’ve been a holiday staple in our house ever since.

za'atar spiced cashews make an easy holiday appetizer

With these luscious Za’atar Roasted Cashews I’m continuing that tradition — let’s hear it for progress!

Za'atar Roasted Cashews for an easy holiday appetizer or game night nibble

If you follow this blog at all you probably already know that I have a thing for nibbly bits and cocktails. I can be perfectly happy all night long with a nice glass of wine and a bowl of something crunchy like these cashews. They’re slightly sweet, slightly salty, tangy, crunchy, herby, and, well, nutty! They’ve got it all going on. I patterned the glaze after a wonderful dip I had at a Middle Eastern restaurant. It was a bright and exciting mix of pomegranate, tahini, olive oil, za’atar, and sumac. Turns out those same flavors make a fabulous glaze for my Planters cashews. Each of the elements is distinct and unique, and each one comes through in every bite.

Cashews roasted with pomegranate molasses and za'atar

On special occasions I really like to serve my family and friends something they haven’t had before, I don’t want them to get bored before the party’s even started! These nuts fit the bill perfectly. Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients in case you’re unfamiliar with any of them…pomegranate molasses is a thick, tangy syrup that is simply pomegranate juice that has been reduced down. It’s sweet and zippy and one of my favorite condiments.  Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds, and is one of the main ingredients in hummus. Za’atar is a wild thyme-like herb that grows in the Middle East, and is used as is, or in an herb blend called by the same name. Sumac is also a classic Middle Eastern spice, made from the sumac berry. It’s a deep reddish brown and looks like chili powder — the flavor is vivid, and citrusy.

Whole Cashews roasted with classic Middle Eastern flavors

A bowl of Za’atar Spiced Nuts for a crowd

Yes the flavors in this dish are unique, but the whole process is simple. Holidays are not the time for elaborate appetizers…for one thing you don’t want everybody to fill up before the big meal, and secondly, who has time? Nuts are the perfect holiday starter because they’re packed with good fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and they’re satisfying enough to stave off the munchies without ruining everybody’s appetite. To make these spiced cashews I just whisk together the glaze, and toss the nuts in it. You want to toss gently, so you don’t break any of those gorgeous whole cashews. I spread them in a single layer on a lined baking sheet and bake for ten minutes. It’s that easy! The coating loses its stickiness after baking, and you’re left with lots of flavor and crunch.

Za'atar Spiced Cashews make the perfect holiday starter!
4 from 2 votes

Za’atar Roasted Cashews

Author Sue Moran


  • 1 8.5 ounce can Planters Deluxe Whole Cashews


  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp za'atar
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp olive oil


  • pomegranate seeds and fresh thyme


  • Set the oven to 350F
  • Whisk the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl until well mixed.
  • Toss the nuts in the glaze, gently so you don't break the nuts.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and spread out the nuts in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes, and then let cool before serving.
  • Garnish with pomegranate seeds and fresh thyme leaves, if desired.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

Planters Deluxe Whole Cashews


  • It goes without saying that you want to use quality whole nuts for this recipe. I used Planter’s Deluxe Whole Cashews.
  • Spiced nuts are best eaten right away. If you need to do them ahead you can coat the nuts first and then bake them just before guests arrive. If you’ve got leftovers you can reheat them for a few minutes in a 350F oven to re-crisp them.
  • I like to serve these nuts in a bowl with a spoon and plenty of cocktail napkins, you can go rustic, festive, or elegant, depending on your style. I sometimes portion them out in single 1/2 ounce servings and offer them in little shot glasses or martini glasses.

Za'atar Roasted Whole Cashews

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


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    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    December 11, 2015 at 5:24 am

    Oh yum! What a fantastic combo. I love the pomegranate molasses too, sounds great!

    • Reply
      December 11, 2015 at 7:46 am

      Thanks Kate, I’m a huge fan of that molasses, I use it on everything, the flavor is so incredible 🙂

  • Reply
    December 8, 2015 at 9:53 am

    I have some Za’atar in the pantry that I haven’t used yet. Great idea! Cashews are a favorite here.

  • Reply
    Gina @ Running to the Kitchen
    December 6, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    I totally remember thinking how weird the nutcracker and nut assortment was at the holiday table as a kid. Like, there was CAKE and PIE to be eaten, who has time for nuts?! I get it now as an adult though and would happily eat these zaatar roasted cashews 🙂

  • Reply
    December 5, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Zaatar and pom make a festive combination. GREG

  • Reply
    December 3, 2015 at 10:26 am

    How long would these keep for?

    • Reply
      December 3, 2015 at 10:45 am

      If you keep them in the refrigerator I think they’d be good for a week, Laura.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2015 at 12:14 am

    Such a great idea, I love this.

  • Reply
    December 2, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    I totally agree that nuts and the holidays go together. You have to have something good to nibble on with drinks! : ) I plan to roast a variety of nuts for our x’mas party and as gifts also and I’m totally intrigued by your recipe. We love cashews and the blend of ingredients you have here sound so exciting. It looks great!

    • Reply
      December 3, 2015 at 7:53 am

      Thanks Monica, let me know if you try it.

  • Reply
    December 2, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    We grew up with a bowl of nuts and a nutcracker too, things sure were different. Love za’ atar, such a wonderful flavor.

  • Reply
    December 2, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Wow! I’ve never been a big cashew fan but I have a feeling this could do the trick. Your mind is a wonder of creativity!

    • Reply
      December 2, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      Thanks Guy!

  • Reply
    John/Kitchen Riffs
    December 2, 2015 at 9:07 am

    That big nut bowl (with a cracker) is one of my family’s traditions, too. Love nuts at any time of the year, but they always seem so appropriate during the holidays. Love the flavor you’ve added to your roasted cashews — this really is a special recipe. Thanks.

    • Reply
      December 2, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      Were you ever able to crack open a Brazil nut John…??

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