Most of us have heard the famous Christmas song that sets the holiday scene with a reference to roasting chestnuts on an open fire. Fewer of us have actually tried to roast chestnuts. The seasonal treat is more common in Europe, where you’ll find them tossed in herbs and spices, chopped into pasta with sage and butter, or pureed and sweetened to be used in cakes and truffles.
Here’s our advice for oven-roasting chestnuts and a few recipes from our favorite food blogs.
Pro Tips for Roasting Your Chestnuts
Chestnuts can be a tough nut to crack, and the majority of the heavy lifting in preparing them will be softening and peeling the outer shell. We suggest soaking them in water for about 15 minutes prior to roasting. While many recipes skip soaking, this step will help the process along.
After soaking and drying the chestnuts, lay them flat side down on a baking sheet or in an iron skillet. Take a paring knife and score an X on the rounded side. This helps the shell open up and makes it easier to peel when they come out of the oven.
You want to roast the chestnuts for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Steam can aid in softening the shells, so you may want to try wrapping the chestnuts in foil to form a packet, but it’s not necessary.
Once they come out of the oven, wait till they’re cool enough to handle but still warm, then peel. If you wait too long, the shells will begin to harden again and make it more difficult to get to the delicate, slightly starchy flesh of the roasted nut.
How to Eat Roast Chestnuts
Once peeled and sufficiently cooled, you can enjoy them as they are or toss them in butter or oil along with your favorite herbs and spices. “The Spruce Eats” has a simple, savory recipe with chestnuts for Pasta with Butter and Sage Sauce. The Australian blog “Taste” has a sweeter take and suggests serving up Chestnuts with Cinnamon Butter.
Roasted chestnuts are as versatile as any other nut and can be used to make anything from hummus to this Decadently Healthy Chestnut and Hazelnut Cheesecake from “The Healthy Foodie.”
If you’re ready to give it try, Doris Market has chestnuts imported from Italy to assist you in holiday culinary adventures.