All the details you need for how to make Roasted Chestnuts in the oven, or on an open fire, to truly make your holidays feel special! Plus, tips for ensuring they are soft and easy to peel.

A bowl of peeled, Roasted Chestnuts.

Making Roasted Chestnuts is a classic Christmas tradition that deserves a comeback! The smell of reminds me of walking the streets of New York City during Christmas time. If you’re not familiar with them, Roasted Chestnuts are slightly sweet tasting and much softer in texture than other nuts.

What I’ve learned about roasted chestnuts is that the hairy, papery skin found underneath the hard shell can be a pain to remove. So, I experimented with several different methods for preparing them and I’ve finally found the best method that yields nuts that are easy to peel, and taste amazing!

Important Tips:

  • Where to buy chestnuts:  You can purchase fresh chestnuts at many grocery stores starting around Thanksgiving time.  I recommend calling your local grocer to make sure they have them in stock (make sure you ask about raw chestnuts as opposed to pre-packaged roasted chestnuts), or you can order them on Amazon
  • Tips for choosing chestnuts: When choosing chestnuts in the produce section, avoid ones that have any blemishes, small holes, or signs of rot.  Choose chestnuts that are shiny and smooth.  Give the chestnuts a squeeze; they should feel very firm.  If the shell makes  a crunch sound, they are probably a little old.   Horse chestnuts (also called buckeyes) are NOT to be used for roasting as they are poisonous.
  • Roast a small batch first: I recommend starting with a smaller batch in case you need to adjust cook time.
  • Storing and Freezing Chestnuts: Store un-roasted chestnuts in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.  Once you’ve roasted them, peel all of them (even if you don’t eat them right away, because they are much easier to peel when hot).  Eat roasted chestnuts within a few days or store them in a freezer safe bag in the freezer.

What you’ll need:

  • Fresh chestnuts: read above for tips for purchasing.
  • Water: for soaking
  • A baking sheet.
  • A damp towel: to let them steam after roasting.

How to Make Oven Roasted Chestnuts:

1. Slit chestnuts: Place one chestnut on a cutting board with the flat side down (rounded side up).  Grasp the chestnuts firmly between your thumb and pointer finger and use a serrated knife to make a long slit across the rounded side of the nut.  Be sure you cut all the way through the shell.  Then make a second cut, forming an x” on the rounded side of chestnut.  Making a slit in the chestnut is essential to ensure they don’t explode in the oven and will make them easier to peel.

Slits being cut into the top of chestnuts, with a knife.

2. Soak: Place chestnuts in a bowl and cover them with water.  Let them soak overnight or for 10-12 hours.

Chestnuts soaking in a bowl of water.

3. Roast: Preheat your oven to 350ºF.  Remove the chestnuts from the water and pat them dry. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet with the flat side down and slit side facing up. Roast chestnuts for 30-35 minutes or until you see that the skins have pulled back and the nut inside has softened.

A sheet pan with oven roasted chestnuts on it.

4. Steam: As soon as you remove them from the oven, place the hot chestnuts inside a damp kitchen towel, lifting the ends of the towel to form a bag.  Twist the bag closed and squeeze the chestnuts inside firmly (you should hear them crackle).  Let them sit in the towel for 10-15 minutes.  This allows any extra steam to escape and will aid in the peeling process.

5. Peel: Once the chestnuts have had a chance to steam, you can start removing the skins. It’s easiest to remove the skins when the nuts are hot so remove the shell immediately by gently pulling back on the “x” and peeling away hairy, papery skin around the chestnut to reveal the yellow nut inside. Discard any nuts that seems gooey or look like they are spoiled inside.

Oven roasted chestnuts with their skins peeled off, in a bowl.

6. Enjoy: Eat them plain, serve them with soup or pasta, or store them in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Alternate Roasting Methods:

  • On an open fire: To roast on an open fire, first prepare a hot fire.  Then follow steps 1 & 2 of the recipe card and lay chestnuts with the slit side up in a cast iron skillet.  Place them on the hot coals of your fire and roast them for about 10 minutes (stirring once or twice to ensure even roasting and to prevent them from burning).  Then follow steps 4-6 of the recipe.
  • On the grill: Follow steps 1 & 2 of the recipe card and, when ready to roast, preheat your grill to about 400ºF.  Place chestnuts in a single layer (with the slit side up) in a grill basket (or directly on the grill grates if the grates are thick enough to prevent them falling through. Roast chestnuts for about 15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes so they don’t burn. Then follow steps 4-6 of the recipe.
  • Instant pot steamed chestnuts: slit chestnuts as described in recipe card. Cover them with water and pressure cook for 15 minutes with a natural release.  Then pat dry and peel.

Possible Recipe Variations:

  • Candied chestnuts: Preheat oven to 350°F.  Mix ½ cup brown sugar, 1 Tbs water, and 1 Tbs of butter in a small saucepan.  Bring it to a boil and add roasted and peeled chestnuts, tossing until coated on all sides. Lay chestnuts on a greased baking sheet and bake them for 5 minutes, flip, bake for 5 more minutes.
  • Microwave chestnuts: Prepare chestnuts as directed in steps 1 &2 then microwave one chestnut for 30 seconds (or 2 for 1 minute).  Put in damp towel to steam, then peel, enjoy.
  • Quicker soaking method: *I was able to remove the hairy, paper skin with this method but it wasn’t quite as easy as when I soak them overnight. Heat a pot of water until boiling and place the chestnuts in the hot water for 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a baking sheet.  Place chestnuts with the slit side up and the flat side down, in a single layer on your baking sheet.

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Recipe

A bowl of Roasted Chestnuts.
Prep 5 mins
Cook 35 mins
Total 40 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Equipment

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Slit chestnuts: Place one chestnut on a cutting board with the flat side down (rounded side up).  Grasp the chestnuts firmly between your thumb and pointer finger and use a serrated knife to make a long slit across the rounded side of the nut.  Be sure you cut all the way through the shell.  Then make a second cut, forming an x" on the rounded side of chestnut.  Making a slit in the chestnut is essential to ensure they don't explode in the oven and will make them easier to peel.
    Slits being cut into the top of chestnuts, with a knife.
  • Soak: Place chestnuts in a bowl and cover them with water.  Let them soak overnight or for 10-12 hours.
    Chestnuts soaking in a bowl of water.
  • Roast: Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Remove the chestnuts from the water and pat them dry. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet with the flat side down and slit side facing up. Roast chestnuts for 30-35 minutes or until you see that the skins have pulled back and the nut inside has softened.
    A sheet pan with oven roasted chestnuts on it.
  • Steam: As soon as you remove them from the oven, place the hot chestnuts on a damp kitchen towel, lifting the ends of the towel to form a bag.  Twist the bag closed and squeeze the chestnuts inside firmly (you should hear them crackle).  Let them sit in the towel for 10-15 minutes. This allows any extra steam to escape and will aid in the peeling process.
  • Peel: Once the chestnuts have had a chance to steam, you can start removing the skins. It's easiest to remove the skins when the nuts are hot so remove the shell immediately by gently pulling back on the "x" and peeling away hairy, papery skin around the chestnut to reveal the yellow nut inside. Discard any nuts that seems gooey or look like they are spoiled inside.
    Oven roasted chestnuts with their skins removed, in a bowl.
  • Enjoy: Eat them plain, serve them with soup or pasta, or store them in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Notes

  • Tips for choosing chestnuts: When choosing chestnuts in the produce section, avoid ones that have any blemishes, small holes, or signs of rot.  Choose chestnuts that are shiny and smooth.  Give the chestnuts a squeeze; they should feel very firm.  If the shell makes  a crunch sound, they are probably a little old.   Horse chestnuts (also called buckeyes) are NOT to be used for roasting as they are poisonous.
  • Storing and Freezing Chestnuts: Store un-roasted chestnuts in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.  Once you've roasted them, peel all of them (even if you don't eat them right away, because they are much easier to peel when hot).  Eat roasted chestnuts within a few days or store them in a freezer safe bag in the freezer.
Alternate Roasting Methods:
  • On an open fire: To roast on an open fire, first prepare a hot fire.  Then follow steps 1 & 2 of the recipe card and then lay chestnuts with the slit side up in a cast iron skillet.  Place them on the hot coals of your fire and roast them for about 10 minutes (stirring once or twice to ensure even roasting and to prevent them from burning).  Then follow steps 4-6 of the recipe.
  • On the grill: Follow steps 1 & 2 of the recipe card and, when ready to roast, preheat your grill to about 400ºF.  Place chestnuts in a single layer (with the slit side up) in a grill basket (or directly on the grill grates if the grates are thick enough to prevent them falling through. Roast chestnuts for about 15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes so they don't burn. Then follow steps 4-6 of the recipe.
  • Instant pot steamed chestnuts: slit chestnuts as described in recipe card. Cover them with water and pressure cook for 15 minutes with a natural release.  Then pat dry and peel.

Recipe Variations:

  • Candied chestnuts: Preheat oven to 350°F.  Mix ½ cup brown sugar, 1 Tbs water, and 1 Tbs of butter in a small saucepan.  Bring it to a boil and add roasted and peeled chestnuts, tossing until coated on all sides. Lay chestnuts on a greased baking sheet and bake them for 5 minutes, flip, bake for 5 more minutes.
  • Microwave chestnuts: Prepare chestnuts as directed in steps 1 &2 then microwave one chestnut for 30 seconds (or 2 for 1 minute).  Put in damp towel to steam, then peel, enjoy.
  • Quicker soaking method: *I was able to remove the hairy, paper skin with this method but it wasn't quite as easy as when I soak them overnight. Heat a pot of water until boiling and place the chestnuts in the hot water for 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a baking sheet.  Place chestnuts with the slit side up and the flat side down, in a single layer on your baking sheet.

Nutrition

Calories: 222kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 2mgPotassium: 549mgVitamin A: 29IUVitamin C: 46mgCalcium: 22mgIron: 1mg

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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  1. 5 stars
    The closest I have come to roasting chestnuts is singing about them is a song. My husband, however, has always loved these. After seeing your recipe, I was encouraged to try them for myself. I’m not sure I knew what to expect, but I thought they were delicious and my husband was singing my praises (I guess that means I did it right?!). Thank you!