Roasted chestnuts is a beloved, nostalgic treat and a wonderful holiday tradition.
Warm, buttery, and slightly sweet roasted chestnuts will is a perfect snack to warm you up while enjoying the company during cozy fireside gatherings.
Feeling a warm paper cone filled with freshly roasted chestnuts, breathing fresh crisp air while watching a street vendor tosses hot chestnuts in a wood-burning roaster are the little things that bring immense joy.
And while we don't get a chance to stroll the streets while warming our hands with this delicious snack quite often, you can roast chestnuts at home quickly and easily. In the recipe below you'll find all the secrets to make the best oven-roasted chestnuts that turn out soft, fragrant and peel in a snap!
Oven Roasted Chestnuts Recipe In A Nutshell
Pun intended and achieved.
- Wash chestnuts in cold water, discarding any chestnuts with signs of spoilage.
- Score chestnuts.
- Let soak in water for 1-2 hours.
- Arrange on a baking sheet cut side up.
- Roast in the preheat oven until done.
- Let rest for 10 minutes wrapped in a tea towel.
THINGS YOU'LL NEED
- Chestnuts - fresh sweet chestnuts. Consider at least 1.1 pound (500 grams) for a company of four.
Chestnuts can be purchased at grocery store or farmer's markets during chestnut season (mid-September, October though January in Northern Hemisphere, mid-March to July in Southern Hemisphere.
- Small sharp knife or Italian chestnuts knife - for scoring
- A bowl filled with water - for soaking
- Baking sheet lined with parchment paper (optional but helps minimize the cleaning) - for roasting
- A kitchen towel - for steaming and keeping cooked chestnuts warm for longer
HOW TO MAKE
See how to roast chestnuts in the oven with these easy to follow step-by-step photos.
STEP 1: WASH
- Rinse chestnuts in cold water rubbing them with your fingers. Discard any bad chestnuts: damaged, cracked or chestnuts with small holes.
STEP 2: SCORE
- Using a small sharp knife or Italian Chestnut Knife make a long straight line across the rounded side of a chestnut.
SIDE NOTE: Sometimes you'll have a chestnut with both rounded sides or with both flat side. Do the cut on either one.
- Make sure to cut the outer hard shell and incise thin inner skin (photos 1-6).
- Try to not cut too deep into the nut. You'll get a hang of it after a few scored chestnuts .
I like to hold chestnut with my fingers as I get a better grip and control over a slippery chestnut and can rotate it easily to make that long cut across the rounded side.
PAY ATTENTION: Be very careful scoring chestnuts, you can cut yourself. If for any reason it doesn't feel safe, hold chestnuts in place on a cutting board and do the cut with your dominant hand. The sharper the knife the safer and easier it is to cut.
STEP 3: SOAK
- Dip scored chestnuts in a bowl with water.
- Repeat the process with remaining chestnuts (photo 7-8).
- Let chestnuts soak in water for 1-2 hours or up to 24 hours.
STEP 4: ROAST
- When ready to roast remove chestnuts from the bowl with water and arrange them on a baking sheet in a single layer (photo 9). Make sure all chestnuts are slit side up which will prevent them from exploding.
- Roast chestnuts in a preheated to 400F (200C) oven for 25-40 minutes.
- It might take a little more or less time depending on the size and quality of the chestnuts, so taste one on 25 minute mark and adjust the time accordingly.
- Chestnut if fully cooked when it's soft to bite.
TIP: Turn on the grill (broil) for the last 5 minutes to slightly char the chestnut shells mimicking the fire-roasted ones (optional).
STEP 5: LET REST
- Once cooked, place chestnuts in a paper bag (optional) and wrap with a slightly damp kitchen towel.
You can also leave chestnuts on a baking sheet and cover with a damp kitchen towel (photo 10).
- Let rest for 10-15 minutes before peeling.
How To Peel Chestnuts
The easiest way to remove chestnuts shell is to press on the shell on both ends of the cut and around it. This move will separate the inner skin and outer shell from the pulp.
Now you can easily squeeze the chestnut and take out the fruit (photos 11-13).
Myths, Facts & Pro Tips
- Scoring: Essential step before roasting chestnuts. It's THE key for easy peeling plus by letting out the steam the form inside, prevents chestnuts from exploding in the oven.
- Slit cut vs X-cut: Long slit cut across the rounded side of a chestnut or an X-cut work equally well. I tend to prefer the long slit cut since it's only take one move.
It takes about 10 minutes to score 2 pounds (about 1 kg) of chestnuts.
- Soaking: The longer you soak chestnuts the softer roasted chestnuts you will get. It also facilitates peeling of the inner skin and protects chestnuts from becoming dry when roasted in the oven.
- Effortless scoring: Soak whole chestnuts in water for 30 minutes before scoring. This will soften the outer shell and help cut chestnuts almost effortless.
- Soaking shortcut: If you don't have time for soaking you can simply bring slit chestnuts to a boil, drain and proceed with the recipe. It helps with peeling BUT with this method they'll still turn out somewhat dry..
- Good things come to those who wait: Don't rush to peel chestnuts immediately after roasting. First, they're too hot to handle with bare hands. Second, letting them rest and steam for 10-20 minutes will (again) make peeling easier.
- Peel with ease: if you have done all the previous steps your chestnuts will peel quickly and easily. BUT. Make sure to peel them while they are still warm
How To Store
There are two ways how you can store cooked chestnuts: in the fridge (for 3 days) or in the freezer (for 3 months).
- Peel roasted chestnuts while they are still warm.
- Let cool completely.
- Store in a zip-lock plastic bag in the fridge or in the freezer.
Freezing cooked chestnuts is a great way to make them in advance and use in the recipes during the holidays.
If you want to have the feel, aroma and the taste of freshly roasted chestnuts even if they're not in season it's best to freeze them raw in a shell.
Watch How To Make This Recipe
Chestnut Varieties Suitable For Roasting
Edible chestnuts suitable for roasting are sweet chestnuts (Castanea sativa). These chestnuts are different from the inedible horse chestnuts (Aesculus hippocastanum), which are toxic to humans and should not be consumed.
At the grocery stores and at the markets Sweet Chestnuts are represented by European, Italian, Chinese, Korean and Hybrid varieties which are cultivated to have specific characteristics, such as size or flavor.
You might also come across Marron Chestnut or Marroni in Italian.
Marron Chestnuts are a larger, sweeter variety of chestnuts, and they are often considered a premium type. They are often used in fine dining and desserts, such as marron glacé.
Different varieties of sweet chestnuts may have subtle variations in flavor and size.
If in doubt and if you a choice, get Italian, European or locally grown chestnuts. They will have the best flavor and will be a pleasure to peel.
Chestnut Cutter or Chestnut Knife?
Chestnut cutters seem to be a popular thing lately, so let's see if they absolutely necessary and best chestnuts knife that won't be another cool useless tool.
If you’re a chestnut addict (like I am!) you might be tempted to get a chestnut cutter. There are a couple of version on the market. What they all do (or suppose to do) is score chestnut in one single move.
If you decide to get one, make sure you get a robust stainless steel cutter, like this one for example or better yet an Italian Chestnut Knife. It is designed specifically for scoring and peeling chestnuts and it’ll serve you a lifetime.
But, please, avoid this kind of chestnut cutter! I had a similar one and it was a completely useless tool, waste of money.
Absolutely! Besides scoring chestnuts using one of the methods described above you also need to make sure that you place chestnuts on a baking sheet slit side up.
Heads up: non scored chestnuts explode in the oven making a huge mess.
It’s not necessary to soak chestnuts before toasting but it's highly recommended. Soaking chestnuts at least for an hour help them peel so much easier. They also become much softer due to the steam that was created between the shell and the pulp.
Enjoy Chestnuts How Italians Do It
In Italy, roasting chestnuts is an integral part of Christmas Holiday tradition. Typically they're enjoyed after dinner with a glass of red wine along with nuts, dried fruit and holiday sweet treats.
My suocera (mother-in-law) at times roasts them on hot coals of the fireplace, but mostly often on a stove top in a pan or simply popped in the oven, which, to me, is the best method for roasting chestnuts at home.
Other Ways To Cook Chestnuts
- Boil chestnuts. Boiling is the the best cooking method for chestnut quality that won’t peel no matter what you do. It also makes the softest and butter-y chestnuts out of all methods. You can boil chestnuts if you need to use them in the recipes too.
- Roast chestnuts on an open fire. The best way to roast chestnuts if you have a fireplace, outdoor fire-pit, and even simply on a campfire. Check out this recipe for grilled chestnuts as well.
- Pan roasted chestnuts on a stove. Use a chestnuts roasting pan or a cast iron skillet. Chestnuts cooked in this way turn very simile to chestnuts roasted on an open fire.
Best part? You can cook them on any kind of stove top at home!
How To Roast Chestnuts In The Oven (Perfect Every Time!)
- 2 pounds fresh chestnuts
- Salt (optional)
- Small pairing knife or chestnuts knife
- A bowl with water
- Baking sheet
Prepare chestnuts for roasting
- Wash and rub chestnuts in cold water, discard any chestnuts with signs of spoilage.
- Using a small sharp knife or Italian Chestnut Knife make a long slit cut across the rounded side of a chestnut trying not to cut too deep into the nut.
- Dip scored chestnuts in a bowl with water.Repeat the process with remaining chestnuts.
- Let chestnuts soak in water for 1-2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Static setting (fan off).
- Drain the water and arrange chestnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Check that all chestnuts are scored and placed cut side up.
- Roast chestnuts in a preheated oven for 25-40 minutes. It might take a little more or less time depending on the size and quality of the chestnuts.Take one chestnuts out from the oven at 25 minute mark and adjust cooking time as needed.Chestnut if fully cooked when it's soft to bite.
- Once cooked, wrap chestnuts in a slightly damp kitchen towel and let rest for 10-15 minutes before peeling.
With all the secrets and the best technique, now you know how to roast chestnuts in the oven, even if you've never done this before!