The might chestnut! We sing about them at Christmas, we hear stories about them from our grandparents… but how to roast chestnuts is in some sense a lost art. In this PIATTO™ guide, we’ll share the secrets to roasting chestnuts in 3 WAYS! You’ll learn how to…
- How to roast chestnuts in an oven (conventional is fine!)
- How to roast them in a pan
- How to roast chestnuts on an open fire!
Watch our Video Guide!
A video is the easiest way to learn the secrets to roasting chestnuts. We cover all 3 ways of roasting chestnuts in our video guide (below)! You’ll also learn how to…
- Choose chestnuts —What are the characteristics of a healthy chestnut? How do you tell a bad chestnut from a good one?
- Prepare chestnuts for roasting—How to peel chestnuts easily by using simple kitchen scissors to score them — here Victorinox scissors!
- Pre-soak the chestnuts to make peeling them easier after roasting.
How to Select Healthy Chestnuts
When selecting chestnuts in the supermarket, look for chestnuts that…
- are firm to the touch
- have a bit of a shine
- are free of blemishes, cracks or holes
The best chestnuts are arguably marroni chestnuts. These chestnuts are larger than other varieties of chestnuts and have a sweeter, tastier fruit. They are abundant in Italy and often found in groceries abroad as well.
How to Prepare Chestnuts for Roasting
It will be tempting to skip the steps below, but we don’t recommend it! Many people fail at roasting chestnuts because they don’t follow the tips below. At best, the chestnut might be roasted but extremely hard to peel. At worst? Many people have chestnuts explode in their oven! A messy business that is totally avoidable.
Score the Chestnuts
Chestnuts are highly likely to explode during the roast if you don’t score them first. To score chestnuts, set the chestnut on its flat side on a work surface. Score the top with an ‘x’ or better yet make one score laterally across the top of the chestnut.
When scoring, pierce just the skin and not the nut itself. After the nuts soak in the next step, the skin will be more flexible. At that time, you can give each nut a vertical squeeze to see if you need to score a bit deeper to cut through the skin.
Many people use a simple pairing knife to score chestnuts, but we don’t recommend it. Honestly using a knife is unsafe and awkward—although there are special
Instead, we recommend scoring with kitchen scissors. Here’s a look at the Victorinox kitchen scissors [affiliate link] that we use for the job.
Victorinox Kitchen Shears: https://amzn.to/3hSIEkw (affiliate link)
There are some other types of tools for scoring chestnuts to consider [affiliate links below]. These include a score press and a traditional curved chestnuts scoring knife. We’ve not used these tools, but they do look interesting! In general, we prefer multi-use tools and doesn’t everyone need a sturdy pair of kitchen scissors?
Soak the Chestnuts
After scoring the chestnuts, soak them in filtered water or wine for 2 hours. This will soften the skin and make the chestnuts easier to peel after roasting them. After the soak, towel dry the nuts and it’s time to roast!
How to Roast Chestnuts in the Oven
This is by far the easiest method for roasting chestnuts! Almost everyone has an oven. Preheat your oven to 350° F (180° C). Be sure to towel dry your chestnuts after their 2-hour soak. Arrange the chestnuts score-side up on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan. Place the cookie sheet in the bottom third of the oven and roast the chestnuts for 20 minutes.
After the 20 minutes, increase the oven temperature to 425° F (220°C) and roast for an additional 10 to 15 minutes— or until the chestnuts are golden brown and the meat of chestnuts are tender.
Transfer the nuts to a bowl, cover them with a towel. Press on the nuts gently with your palms to loosen the skins of the chestnuts. Be careful! The chestnuts will be hot! Let the chestnuts rest covered for about 15 minutes. Then, peel them and enjoy!
How to Roast Chestnuts in a Pan
Roasting chestnuts over a gas flame is not quite as easy as the oven method. However, it more closely mimics the flavor of fire roasted chestnuts. The skins of the chestnuts will be partially black when you’ve finished roasting them.
There are two inexpensive tools which will help you roast chestnuts in a pan on a gas flame: a flame diffuser and a chestnut cooking pan with holes [affiliate link].
After the two hours soak, place the slightly damp chestnuts cut-side up in the pan (no overlaps). Place a flame diffuser (spreader) under your pan. Crank the flame to medium-low heat and cover the pan with a lid. Let the chestnuts cook covered for about 10 minutes. This gives the chestnut meats a chance to steam, ensuring that the nut is cooked inside.
After the 10 minutes, remove the lid, crank the flame to medium heat and cook for an additional 20 minutes or so. Shake the chestnuts or toss them in the pan every few minutes to make sure no chestnut stays in the hottest part of the flame for too long. If you shake, use a pair of tongs to turn the chestnuts score-side up again to avoid burning the nut meat.
When the nuts are cooked inside with dark brown skins, transfer to a bowl and cover with a towel. Use the palms of your hands to press, loosening up the nut skins. Let the chestnuts rest for about 15 minutes, then peel and enjoy!
How to Roast Chestnuts on an Open Fire
There’s a reason we sing about chestnuts roasting on an open fire during the holidays! Fire-roasted chestnuts have a lovely fragrance and a flavor that is unmatched. Of course, an open fire is required. We use our indoor fireplace to do the job.
After the two-hour soak, add the chestnuts to the pan. When roasting chestnuts over fire, we use an enclosed chestnut pan [affiliate link].
Enclosed Chestnut Roasting Pan on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3jnM00x (affiliate link)
Is an enclosed chestnut pan necessary? You can use a chestnut pan with holes as with an open top if you prefer. If you use this type of pan over the fire, just shake the pan and do not flip it—obviously!
Here there is no need to position the chestnuts cut-side up in the pan as we will be flipping them upside down and shaking them vigorously every two to three minutes. That’s why we are using an enclosed pan! We do want just a single layer of chestnuts though.
When roasting chestnuts over a fire, we use a fire tripod positioned over the logs to give us enough space for the logs and enough height for the flames to gently wrap our chestnut pan. Check out the video embedded at the top of this guide to see it in action!
We position our wood logs 10 to 15 inches from the pan, which we set on the tripod. It normally takes only 10 to 15 minutes to roast the chestnuts to perfection! The skins will be charred and the meat tender.
As always, transfer them to a bowl, cover with towel, press with palms. Then, let the chestnuts rest about 15 minutes before peeling. Buon appetito!
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How to Roast Chestnuts 3 Ways: Oven, Pan, Fire!
- Scoring Tools: Kitchen Scissors, Paring Knife or Specialty Tool
- Cookie sheet or roasting pan
Score the Chestnuts
- Score the skin of the chestnuts. Score with an 'X' or laterally from one side each chestnut to the other.Pierce just the skin and not the nut meat. Use kitchen scissors, paring knife or chestnut scoring knife or tool for this job.
Soak the Chestnuts
- Soak the scored chestnuts in a bowl of filtered water or wine for 2 hours.
Dry the Chestnuts
- Towel dry the chestnuts after the soak.
Choose One Roasting Option:
How to Roast Chestnuts in an Oven
- Preheat your oven to 350° F (180° C).
- Arrange the chestnuts score-side up on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan.
- Place the cookie sheet in the bottom third of the oven and roast the chestnuts for 20 minutes.
- After the 20 minutes, increase the oven temperature to 425° F (220°C).Roast for an additional 10 to 15 minutes
How to Roast Chestnuts in a Pan
- Place the slightly damp chestnuts cut-side up in the pan (no overlaps).
- Place a flame diffuser (spreader) under your pan. Crank the flame to medium-low heat and cover the pan with a lid.
- Let the chestnuts cook covered for about 10 minutes. This gives the chestnut meats a chance to steam, ensuring that the nut is cooked inside.
- After the 10 minutes, remove the lid, crank the flame to medium heat and cook for an additional 20 minutes or so. Shake the chestnuts or toss them in the pan every few minutes to make sure no chestnut stays in the hottest part of the flame for too long. If you shake, use a pair of tongs to turn the chestnuts score-side up again to avoid burning the nut meat.
How to Roast Chestnuts over a Fire
- Place a fire tripod or similar prop 10 to 15 inches from the logs producing your fire.
- Place chestnuts in a single layer in a pan with holes (preferably a chestnut roasting pan.
- Place the pan on the tripod. Let the nuts cook for 10 to 15 over the fire! The skins will be charred and the meat tender.
- Every 2-3 minutes, shake the nuts in the pan vigorously before returning to the fire. Turn the pan upside down after shaking if your pan is enclosed.
Let Chestnuts Rest
- Transfer the chestnuts to a bowl and cover with a towel. Use the palms of your hands to gently press to loosen the nut skins. Let the chestnuts rest covered for 15 minutes. Peel the skins and enjoy!