Pecans are toasted for adding texture and flavor. Toasting ALWAYS improves a recipe, so don't skip this step if a recipe calls for it. And if a recipe doesn't call for it, do it anyway unless there is a good reason not to do so.
For best results, toast pecans as whole pieces, then chop if the recipe suggests. Toasting pecans that are all a similar size rather than roughly chopped will promote even toasting.
For proper storage, store toasted pecans in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you’re not planning to use your pecans within two weeks of purchasing them, throw them in a resealable bag or airtight container and freeze them. Nuts in general are very oily and tend to go rancid when stored at room temperature for an extended period of time. The freezer will keep pecans fresher longer.
How to Toast Pecans on the Stove
The stovetop method is best for smaller batches of pecans, as pecans can cook unevenly if not stirred and tossed frequently. Also, be sure to not overcrowd the pan; too many pecans in a small skillet will also result in uneven toasting.
Place the pecans in a dry stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until they are a deep golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stirring frequently will prevent uneven toasting or burning. Transfer to a cutting board or plate and cool completely, then chop if required, and use accordingly in your favorite savory dishes and baked goods.
How to Toast Pecans in the Oven
While it does take a little bit of extra time to preheat your oven, this method is great for toasting larger batches of pecans evenly and at the same time.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until they begin to brown and become aromatic, making sure to toss halfway through, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.