How to roast chestnuts? Simply place them in the oven for 30 minutes, then peel them while they’re still hot, or they’ll be impossible to peel.
Some recipes are strongly associated with a season. This is certainly one of them. If you’ve ever lived in Manhattan, or visited during the month of December, surely you noticed the many street vendors selling wonderfully fragrant chestnuts.
Roasted chestnuts are so delicious. They’re a classic winter comfort food! Rich, warm, buttery and flavorful, all you need to do is bake them in the oven. Sure, you could drizzle them with some melted butter if you wish, but truly, they are amazing all on their own. 🌰
The ingredients you’ll need
You’ll only need one ingredient – fresh chestnuts! As I said above, you can also use some melted butter to drizzle on top of them after they’re done. But it’s purely optional.
If you’re curious about the difference between chestnuts and other edible nuts, here’s some interesting info.
How to roast chestnuts in the oven
The roasting itself is easy. Peeling them is the part that most people find challenging! The detailed instructions are listed in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
Prepare them. Cut a large X on the chestnuts’ flat side to allow steam to escape.
Arrange them on a baking sheet.
Roast for about 30 minutes, until their shells burst open and the nuts are golden brown and fragrant.
Do you have to soak chestnuts before roasting?
You don’t have to. But soaking them even briefly in a bowl of hot water helps them stay moist while they’re in the oven, and possibly helps with peeling them when they’re done. I don’t always bother with this step, but I did include it in the recipe card below.
How do you peel chestnuts easily?
That’s an excellent question, the answer to which is not that simple. Peeling them is the part that most people find quite challenging. Sometimes to the point that they declare the whole thing as just not worth it.
I have learned over the years that the best way to ensure relatively easy peeling is to peel them while they’re still hot. Not hot enough to burn your fingers, but hot enough for it to feel a little uncomfortable! Once cooled, they are VERY difficult to peel.
Here’s a good story for you
One of our most treasured family traditions is roasting chestnuts on cold winter afternoons. They make such a wonderful snack. Honey roasted nuts are wonderful too, but there’s something special about chestnuts.
So one day, a few years ago, I made some for our family to enjoy. We each got a small bowl and immediately set out to peel them.
My daughter ate most of hers, and was left with one stubborn chestnut that was almost impossible to peel. I guess it has already cooled. She worked on it for a long time, patiently and stubbornly. When she was done, she handed it to me, proudly.
I don’t know what came over me. But in a moment of pure insanity, I somehow decided that she was giving me the chestnut to eat, and I ate it. You should have seen the look on her face! Astonished, bewildered, and deeply disappointed.
That’s when I realized that she was simply *showing* me the chestnut, not *giving* it to me. But it was too late. I had already put it in my mouth. 😳
As you can imagine, this was not one of my finest moments as a mother. My family will never let me live it down, and rightfully so! Every year, come winter, I am forced to relive one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. 😀
What do they taste like? Are they good?
I think they are wonderful. Unlike tree nuts and seeds, which most people seem to agree are delicious, not everyone loves chestnuts.
They are quite different than tree nuts. They are bigger and softer. Their flavor isn’t nutty but more buttery. I think they are amazing! But if you’ve never tasted a chestnut, you will need to decide for yourself.
How to serve roasted chestnuts
As mentioned above, in my family, we like to simply sit together by the kitchen table, peeling and eating them. Some people like to peel them all, then drizzle them with melted butter.
I tried it a couple of times and liked it, but I much prefer our own family tradition. Plus, it relieves me from peeling all of them by myself! 🙂
What to do with leftovers?
Keep the peeled and cooled nuts in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days. You can reheat them in a 200F degrees oven or in the microwave on 50% power.
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- 1/2 lb. raw chestnuts
- 2 tablespoons melted butter (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
- With a sharp paring knife, cut a large X on the flat side of each chestnut, cutting through the shell and into the inner skin, but not into the meat. This will allow steam to escape as the chestnuts are roasting.
- Optional: Fill a bowl with hot tap water and soak the chestnuts for 5 minutes. Transfer them to paper towels to drain.
- Arrange the chestnuts, cut side up, in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet (I like to use a large cast-iron skillet).
- Roast until the shells curl wide open at the X and the chestnuts are golden brown and fragrant, about 30 minutes, shaking the pan midway through roasting.
- Allow the roasted chestnuts to cool just until you can handle them, then immediately peel them. Drizzle with melted butter if desired, and enjoy them warm.