Ever wondered how to make roasted chestnuts? No open fire required as they say in the Christmas Carols! You can make them right in your oven in under 20 minutes!
Roasted Chestnuts are the perfect after-dinner treat. Mildly nutty and buttery with a soft flour-like texture, unlike any other nut. Eat as a snack or chop them up and use on appetizers, in salads or in holiday dressing.
As a kid, I had heard about roasted chestnuts in various Christmas songs but never had the opportunity to try them. My husband’s family, on the other hand, makes these after every Christmas dinner. We all sit around, jackknives or paring knives in hand and carve a big “X” in each chestnut while chatting and carrying on.
I have to tell you I love big family dinners like this and am so happy to be welcomed into this world. Making roasted chestnuts is just one of the many things I love about Christmas dinner with my in-laws.
What do roasted chestnuts taste like?
Chestnuts are different than any other nut I have tried. Unlike almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and the like, chestnuts are soft and slightly spongy. Almost like baked sweet potato fries. I know that sounds crazy but when I bite into a chestnut that is the closest description I can come up with for the texture.
Oddly enough chestnuts are similar in flavour to a sweet potato too many people say. I am not sure I would go that far. But when chestnuts are roasted they have a sweet buttery flavour and only a slight nuttiness to them. You really must try them.
The other noticeable difference with this nut is that they are sort of floury. And when you eat a few they tend to suck all the saliva out of your mouth much like a rich red wine would. I always recommend having at least water nearby.
What drinks pair well with roasted chestnuts
For the kiddies, it really doesn’t matter. Ginger ale would be my first choice. The ginger would be a great compliment to the buttery mild flavour of the chestnuts. But for us adults you can certainly go ahead and drink water or ginger ale but here are a few other choices to consider.
- Sparkling Wine – slightly sweet and will cleanse the palate of the mild flavour yet dry mouthfeel of the chestnuts
- Oaked Chardonnay – The buttery flavour of a lightly oaked chardonnay would be a great compliment to the buttery flavour of the chestnuts
- A mellow red wine – like a Merlot, Chianti, Beaujolais, or Dolcetta – slightly fruity and less tannic.
- Espresso – the nuttiness of some espressos compliments roasted chestnuts well.
- Liquors – like Frangelico, Amarula, dessert wines complement the buttery and mild nutty flavour of the roasted chestnuts and balance out the dry mouthfeel
Choosing the best chestnuts to roast
When buying chestnuts to roast make sure to be picky and hand-select each one. Pick up the chestnut and give it a squeeze with your thumb between the flat and round edge. If the chestnut has some give and the shell sort of bounces back as a blister pack would put it back. it is likely rotten or dried out. The best chestnuts are firm, blemish-free and feel heavy for their size.
Now that you have a bag full of the best chestnuts you could wrangle. Keep them in a cool dry place for up to a week or if it will be longer store in a perforated bag in the crisper area of your fridge for up to a month.
How to make roasted chestnuts
First, start by making an X in each chestnut through the shell and into the flesh using a sharp paring knife or what tends to be the weapon of choice at the holiday table… jackknives!
Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Roasting at high heat helps the chestnut pull away from the shell. Not a promise but most of the time.
Place the chestnuts on a baking sheet and roast them for abut 15-17 minutes or until they have cracked open where X marks the spot and a toothpick can be inserted into the centre of the largest nut easily. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before grapping them. They are hot nuts like spheres of fire and you’ll be sorry if you grab them right away!
Once the roasted chestnuts have cooled off enough to handle you can start working on peeling off the hard shell. You will notice that underneath the shell there is another furry layer that is much thinner that you will want to peel away too.
Sometimes the fuzzy layer just does not want to come away sort of like those super thin peels on a clove of garlic. Don’t fret though. Just brush off the fuzz and you can still eat them with this thin peel. You will hardly notice it.
Store leftover chestnuts that have been peeled in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge. Or you can place them in a sealed container and freeze for up to 9 months. For more info on the selection and storage of roasted chestnuts check out this article from The Spruce Eats.
Looking for more great holiday recipes? Click Here for desserts, side dishes, main dishes, cookies, and cocktails all perfect for a holiday gathering or celebration!
How To Make Roasted Chestnuts
- Cookie Sheet
- Sharp Paring Knife
- 1 lb fresh chestnuts shell on
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut an X through the shell and into the flesh of the flat or round side of each chestnut. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-17 minutes. Chestnuts shell should be open where the X is to reveal the golden chestnut inside and a toothpick should be able to easily pierce to the centre of the largest nut.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.
- Peel and eat.
For the step-by-step version of this recipe, check out the How To Make Butter Smothered Green Beans & Cashews Story.