How to Cook Chestnuts

chestnuts

Yearning for a Fall treat that’s fun to eat? Then let me recommend chestnuts.

Chestnuts fall off trees just like walnuts, almonds, and apples, but they seem much less common. They taste so good though, it’s worth going out of your way to find them!

If you have never had chestnuts, they’re kind of hard to describe. They’re much softer and contain more water than a walnut or almond, and they’re actually starchy, like bread.

And they have a flavor all their own!

Health benefits of chestnuts:

Don’t ask me how they do it, but chestnuts contain a wide variety of nutrients!

First, like many nuts, they are packed with protein, low in fat, and contain no cholesterol.

Second, they are very high in fiber, and very high in potassium.

They also contain good amounts of iron, zinc, and calcium.

And a serving of chestnuts even contains as much Vitamin C as a lemon!

(Plus a wide range of other nutrients in smaller quantities.)

How to prepare chestnuts:

Chestnuts aren’t hard to prepare, but there is more to it than just shelling them…

pile of chestnuts

Step 1: Grab some chestnuts.

Grab some chestnuts and a microwave-safe plate.

slicing chestnuts

Step 2: Slice the shell.

Start by cutting slits into each chestnut with a sharp knife. (Be careful!)

These slits prevent the chestnuts from exploding in the microwave as well as make them easier to peel later on. What I do is put one slit on each side, near the tip of the nut. If the nut is real big, I’ll put a couple extra slits in there.

Step 3: Cook.

I typically cook chestnuts in the microwave because it’s fast and requires little preparation.

Just cover the plate and place in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. (This time will depend on the microwave, so start out at about two minutes and then cook longer if necessary.

Step 4: Let them cool.

Remove the chestnuts from the microwave and let them cool. They’ll be super hot, so wait a minute before peeling them!

peeling chestnuts

Step 5: Peel the shell.

Once the chestnuts have cooled off enough that you can touch them (they should still be warm,) you can peel them.

Simply grab the shell with your fingertips and peel it off, starting at the slits. If it was cut and cooked well, the shell should peel right off.

Then you’re left with a plump yellow nut that will taste delicious!

chestnuts ready to eat

(Just watch out for black rotten sections and worms that may have been in there too!)

Roasting over an open fire?

If you want to get fancy, you could put your chestnuts in a pan and roast them over an open fire.

If no open flame is available, you could bake them in the oven, or even boil them on top of the stove.

If you are baking them, bake on a pan for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. (After putting the slits in them, of course.)

Once you take them out, lay them on a pan with a damp towel over them for 10 minutes. That will moisturize the shell so it peels off nicely.

The other option, which will be quicker than roasting or baking, is to boil them.

In this case, slit the chestnuts and drop them into a shallow pan of hot simmering water (boiling hot water would be overkill) for 1-2 minutes.

Remove them, and once you can touch them, peel them.

However you do it, chestnuts are great!

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8 Comments so far

  1. Black Pearl on November 18th, 2008

    Now that I live in Texas the ONLY thing I miss from my time in New York City are chestnuts on a cold evening. With the bag in a pocket keeping me warm and pealing the warm nuts to keep my fingers warm.

  2. Janet on February 19th, 2009

    Hi,

    You say to cook the chestnuts in simmering water for 1 to 2 minutes.

    My question is: with a lid or without.

    Thanks,

    Janet

  3. Levi on February 19th, 2009

    @Janet

    It should be fine either way. I don’t bother putting a lid on them since it only takes a minute.

    Depends on your stove though as far as exactly how long to cook them and whether or not you need to bother putting a lid on them.

  4. chicago mike on November 24th, 2009

    I bought some chestnuts, wasnt sure if you were able to crack & eat, came to this site ,wow awesome , was so much info & easy how to cook items ,thanks for the pleasure of the perfect chestnut ,now gotta find out if trees are around here ty

  5. Levi on November 30th, 2009

    @chicago mike

    Glad you found some useful info!

    Yeah, chestnuts are much better cooked! I have peeled them raw, but it’s not fun, and they’re not that great.

  6. LOUIS TOSTI on December 9th, 2009

    why are some chestnuts hard to peel or you canit peel them at all, especially the roughage under the hard shell?

  7. Marina on March 10th, 2010

    When i put them in a microwave they exploded on the minute 1.

  8. Todd Cory on November 13th, 2012

    “When i put them in a microwave they exploded on the minute 1.”

    ahem:

    Step 2: Slice the shell.

    …These slits prevent the chestnuts from exploding in the microwave…

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