The striker's pre-season preparations had been hit by a virus but he took just 38 minutes to register in his first friendly action of the summer.
Kanoute, who played World Cup qualifiers for Mali all the way into July, was soon back in the old routine with Jermain Defoe and that combination opened up the Forest defence for the first goal.
With Kanoute back, Defoe inevitably on target as well - a no-doubts penalty in the second half - Jamie Redknapp completing 70 minutes, trialist Dagui Bakari making an immediate impact and no injuries, it was a happier Spurs camp at Forest than at Ibrox just three days earlier.
It might have been a different story had Kasey Keller not been on his toes as Forest came out firing.
He saved magnificently twice from Johnson in the opening exchanges with the second stop, a reaction block from six yards, right out of the top drawer.
Forest had an even better chance after 24 minutes as James somehow failed to divert Reid's low cross home from barely a yard.
But we got stronger and stronger and opened the scoring after 38 minutes. After good possession, Kanoute played a one-two with Defoe and finished with some aplomb.
The second didn't quite match the first as, again, substitutions made the action somewhat stop-start.
The home side didn't carry the same threat and we were on top. Sean Davis clattered the woodwork after 55 minutes and four minutes later it was 2-0, thanks in no little way to Bakari.
The trialist from Lens, a big, powerful six-foot-plus striker, proved too strong for Hjelde who could only bundle him over in the box - Defoe made no mistake from the spot.
Fellow trialist Edson Rolando Silva Sousa from PSV came off the bench late on and provided one of few late moments of action, a low shot that Gerrard saved to his right.
MINUTE BY MINUTE GUIDE
2mins: Hjelde inches away from Impey's inswinging corner.
4mins: Johnson attempted curler from 20 yards gathered easily enough by diving Keller.
5mins: Redknapp's clever, cushioned volley landed on roof of net.
7mins: Davis fired over from 15 yards as Forest struggled to clear.
9mins: SAVE/MISS Johnson onto King's flick, Keller fine palm away from fierce striker, King blasted rebound over from 10 yards.
14mins: Kanoute's instinctive volley towards goal cleared by Johnson.
18mins: SAVE. Keller magnificent, instinctive block as Johnson met Rogers' cross just eight yards out.
19mins: Fine pass from Carr released Kanoute into box, controlled in an instant but Morgan blocked shot.
24mins: MISS. Quick Forest break from our attack, lovely all across goal from Reid somehow poked wide on the slide by James from barely a yard out.
27mins: CHANCE. Johnson through on Keller, right side of box, tricky angle but went for power at near post, Keller up to it.
31mins: Davis 30-yarder straight at Gerrard.
32mins: Jess 25-yarder flew over.
34mins: CHANCE/SAVE. Carr's deep cross knocked back into danger area by Jackson, Defoe onto it in a flash but Gerrard out quickly to block.
38mins: GOAL. Good possession ended with one-two between Kanoute and Defoe on the edge of the area, Kanoute through one-on-one, finished clinically. 1-0.
43mins: Break from Forest corner, Jackson, on right flank, cut in a lashed shot just over.
44mins: Fine move, Kanoute and Defoe linked again, Kanoute out wide to Davis, cut back to Kanoute who curled just over.
Half-time: Forest 0, Spurs 1
Half-time: SUBS. Bakari for Kanoute; Westcarr and Fanni for Morgan and James.
46mins: Reid bobbler saved low to his right by Keller.
55mins: WOODWORK. Great possession, Bakari shot blocked, Davis left-foot curler cannoned back off the crossbar, Defoe got hold of the ball again and low cross somehow evaded everyone.
59mins: PENALTY/GOAL. Hjelde brought down Bakari, Defoe made no mistake from the penalty spot. 2-0.
60mins: SUB. Marney for Davis.
61mins: SUBS. Taylor and Doig for Hjelde and King.
63mins: Johnson through on right side but superb pace from King ended the danger.
70mins: Defoe pounced on Bakari flick but volley straight at Gerrard.
72mins: SUBS. Hughes for Redknapp; Beaumont and Cash for Johnson and Jess.
75mins: Lovely flick from Defoe inches away from putting Bakari through but Gerrard out to gather.
77mins: SUB. Silva for Defoe.
81mins: Inswinging cross from Mendes flicked straight at Gerrard by Bakari.
83mins: SUB. Yeates for Jackson.
88mins: Bakari teed-up Silva for low shot saved by Gerrard.
Line-ups: Nottingham Forest: Gerrard, Impey, Rogers, Morgan (Fanni, 45), Louis-Jean, Hjelde (Doig, 61), James (Westcarr, 45), Jess (Cash, 72), Reid, Johnson (Beaumont, 72), King (Taylor, 61). Subs: Ward, Perch, Robertson, Bopp, Roche, Sarr.
Spurs: Keller, Carr, Taricco, Redknapp (Hughes, 72), Doherty, King, Davis (Marney, 60), Mendes, Defoe (Silva, 77), Kanoute (Bakari, 45), Jackson (Yeates, 83). Subs: Robinson, Bunjevcevic, Ifil, Ricketts.
Referee: A Hall.
Fredi Kanoute returned to action with a goal as we toppled Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Saturday.