Paladini Potpie

Adventures within The Crust!

John’s Famous Super Secret Chinese Fried Walnuts


When my sister, Patti Ann, gave us a wok as a wedding gift 27 years ago, I don’t think any of us imagined that it would be used primarily to fry walnuts.  But yes, we have made over 200 pounds of what we call John’s Famous Super Secret Chinese Fried Walnuts!

It’s not really a super secret recipe, and it’s probably not really Chinese; but the walnuts are fried and they get more famous every year. 

John and I give fancy jars of them to co-workers, friends, and family – and everybody just raves about them.  A couple of people even save their jars and return them for refills in early December the following year.

It’s a big job – I won’t kid you.  Last Saturday it took John and me five hours to make 18 pounds. Both of us were working together pretty much without stopping.

But it was so much fun!  We had the espresso machine going full blast, and Christmas music as loud as it would go. We were dancing in our hearts, but we refrained from actually dancing around our small kitchen, since there are pots of water boiling and a wok full of oil bubbling the entire time. 

This is what you’ll need for one batch. 

4 cups walnut halves (This is about a pound of raw walnuts)

½ cup sugar

at least 2” of canola oil in the bottom of your wok


a wok

a large sauce pan (or two)

A big plastic bowl with a tight-fitting lid

2 large colanders or strainers. (One will be used for water and one will be used for oil – you can’t mix them.  You will want to set the oil colander on a pie pan to catch drips. )

You will also need several sheets of waxed paperBring 6 cups of water to a boil in the saucepan. 

While the water is coming to a boil, lay long sheets of waxed paper on the table and measure out your four cups of nuts.

When the water is boiling, add the nuts.

Let the water return to a boil and then boil the nuts at a rolling boil for 5 minutes  Use a timer.

Meanwhile measure out your ½ cup of sugar and begin to let the oil heat in the wok.

After boiling 5 minutes drain the nuts in one of the colanders in the sink. Rinse them with hot running water and shake off excess water.

Dump the wet nuts from the colander into the big bowl. Add the sugar. Put on the lid and shake it well to coat the wet nuts with sugar.

Carefully pour the wet, sugared nuts into the oil in the wok.  Be careful. If the oil is too hot or the nuts are too wet it will cause scary, excessive bubbling. We have never had it bubble over but we’ve come close a few times.

Deep fry the nuts for about 7 minutes till they are golden brown. Stir with a slotted spoon from time to time.

(If you are making more than one batch of nuts, you should be heating your next pot of water and measuring your next four cups of walnuts and sugar at this time.  You can use the same oil for as many as five batches, but then you’ll have to dump it out and put fresh oil in the wok.

When about 7 minutes has passed and your nuts are a dark golden brown, remove them with a slotted spoon to the other colander. It should be setting on the metal pie pan or plate to catch dripping oil.

Pour the fried walnuts onto the waxed paper and separate them immediately. They have a tendency to stick together as they cool.

Salt immediately.

Be imaginative and think of something fun to do as you allow the nuts to cool COMPLETELY on the waxed paper.


Author: paladinipotpie

Welcome! My name is Andrena Paladini and this is a blog about family and love and faith and fun. I call it Paladini Potpie because a potpie is like an adventure in a crust. You never know what might come up, but it’s always going to be good! Think of the best potpie you’ve ever eaten…hot flaky crust holding a rich savory sauce and all kinds of pieces of meat and vegetables…and who knows what? As a family, we’ve chosen to live within the parameters of God’s love and protection. This is the crust of our Paladini Potpie. The crust never changes. Within this crust, the savory sauce of family love binds it all together. That is also fairly constant. But beyond the crust and the sauce we can add just about anything! Good ideas come our way and we’ve adopted and adapted them to add to what John calls our treasure box of memories. These stories and ideas from John’s treasure box of memories are the ingredients I’m putting into our Paladini Potpie. (Okay, so this ridiculous mixing of metaphors about treasure boxes and potpies is exactly what I’m talking about. Silly and ungrammatically correct. But both illustrations work… so we’ll mix them together and it’ll be just fine!) John and I have been married for 30 years. Our children have wonderfully doubled in number since David married Amanda, Monica married Dan, and Matthew married Sarah. And the newest little treats that have been added to our potpie are six adorable grandchildren - Ethan, Angelina, Nathan, Audrey, Maleia and Caleb! I hope you’ll subscribe to my Paladini Potpie blog, and keep up with all the fun new ingredients I add. Hopefully you’ll enjoy our stories and ideas, and find something you’ll want to put into your own potpie! Bon appétit!

12 thoughts on “John’s Famous Super Secret Chinese Fried Walnuts

  1. This is so awesome! Every year for as long as I can remember we have had our home inundated with the smell of boiling frying nuts. Totally worth the time spent. Delicious! Id bet 200 lbs is a conservative guess for your total cooked.

  2. Sounds yummy but a lot of work.

  3. I hate those things. Perhaps it’s because the multiple child labor law violations that ensued during that time of year. Yes, I do remember (with a mammoth sized amount of animosity) many hours of hard labor trying to get those GD walnuts out of the shell. Only slightly worse than getting the walnuts out (for a paltry .25 cents per pound) was the racket of my mom’s voice telling me to make sure the walnuts stayed whole! I am glad to hear so many of your friends enjoyed a nice Christmas treat at the expense of my poor bleeding fingers. Humbug!

  4. I am pretty sure I remember having M&M’s in there as well… it was all very yummy! Thanks for sharing it.

  5. Loved the photos with the recipe steps! Great idea!

  6. I just tried this with a small batch (olive oil instead of canola) and am now munching on emily’s special lost-track-of-the-time boiled, basted, and burnt walnuts.

  7. This was such a great *potpie*! Loved that you put in so many timely hints; pie pan under colander, getting another pot of water boiling, how many times the oil can be used. And thank heavens you found something creative to do with your time while the walnuts cool!

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