Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose…

We’ve all heard the classic Christmas song lyrics above. But have you ever stopped to think about chestnuts? What are they, and how do you roast them? After all, chestnuts aren’t nearly as possible as peanuts, almonds, pecans, or any of the other nuts we see in the grocery store or in holiday recipes. Keep reading to get all of your chestnut questions answered!

What are Chestnuts?

To state what is likely obvious, chestnuts are a type of nut. Specifically, they come from the Castanea genus tree, of which there are seven kinds. Chestnuts can be used for food and timber. When used as food, they can be ground into flour, preserved in water, and eaten raw or roasted.  

What Do Chestnuts Taste Like?

The answer depends on how you eat them! When raw, chestnuts are crunchy and bitter. However, when roasted (like the classic song suggests), they are soft and sweet. Some people even compare roasted chestnuts to baked sweet potatoes. Interesting, right?

Where to Buy Chestnuts

Believe it or not, you can most likely buy chestnuts from your local grocery store. Most stores begin selling them this time of year, and sometimes you can even find them throughout the year. If you can’t find any near you, you can always purchase them online.

How to Roast Chestnuts

Now that you know a little more about chestnuts, it’s time to learn how to roast them. After all, the sweet potato comparison sounds much better than the raw, bitter description. Follow this simple recipe from She Loves Biscotti to make your own roasted chestnuts.

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place the oven rack in the middle.
  2. Lay the chestnut flat on your cutting board. With a serrated knife, make a lengthwise slit down the entire middle surface on the long side. Make sure you hold down the chestnut firmly on the cutting board (be careful not to cut yourself as the outer shell is very slippery).
  3. Place the chestnuts in a pot of cold water. As soon as the water begins to boil, remove the chestnuts with a slotted spoon and place them on a shallow baking pan.
  4. Place the chestnuts with the flat side down, and the cut side up in a single layer in your baking pan. Roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Once you have obtained perfectly oven-roasted chestnuts, remove them from the oven and wrap them in a clean tea towel. Allow the wrapped chestnuts to sit in the towel for about 10-15 minutes. Enjoy warm!

If you’re putting together your family winter bucket list, consider adding roasting chestnuts to it. And be sure to play The Christmas Song while you roast them!