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Oven Roasted Chestnuts – Italian style

Roasted chestnuts are a cozy, cold-season snack and roasting them is fairly easy. They taste great with red wine and mulled wine.

Cast iron pan full of roasted chestnuts. A bottle of red wine and a wine glass in the background. Dark and moody image.

I learned to eat and roast chestnuts when I lived in Italy. Putting them into the oven is the easiest way to roast them.

Cooked chestnuts taste a little sweet and are the perfect snack to have with mulled wine. 

Three steps of roasting

There are three important steps before you can put the chestnuts in the oven.

Step 1

Rinse the chestnuts. Half fill a medium bowl with water.

Take one chestnut at a time on a cutting board. Place them on the board the flat side down, hold firmly between your fingers, and with a sharp paring knife, cut a long slit from side to side.

Make sure to cut through the whole shell and the skin under it. You can cut the nut inside a little too, but avoid deep cuts into the nut.

Chestnut shell is quite soft, so they are pretty easy to cut.

A demonstration of how to cut a full-length slit on chestnuts.

Step 2

Put the cut chestnuts into the water bowl. Let them soak at least for an hour.

Soaking helps them to steam and cook better in the oven.

Step 3

After an hour (or maybe two) of soaking, preheat the oven to 375 F / 180 C.

Drain the soaked chestnuts. Put them on a kitchen towel and pat them dry.

Line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper. Arrange the chestnuts on the tray the cut side up.

Choose a tray big enough to fit all the chestnuts in one layer quite loosely.

Roast them for about 25 minutes.

Eat them hot! Peel them gently and enjoy the sweet and salty, unique flavor.

A close up of roasted, opened chestnuts.

Often asked about this recipe

Why do I have to cut a slit on the nuts?

For two important reasons.
1. To release pressure inside. They will explode on the oven if you skip this step. I repeat, uncut chestnuts will explode in the oven. And what a mess is that then!
2. To make them easy to peel.

Is soaking necessary?

Soaking is not necessary. A lot of recipes don’t suggest that. But this is the method I had learned when I lived in Italy.

Some nuts were impossible to open even if I did everything instructed in the recipe and cut them carefully. What went wrong?

This is normal. There will always be a couple of stubborn nuts in every batch that will not open easily.

How can I store roasted chestnuts?

Don’t store them. Eat them straight from the oven as hot as you can without burning your fingers peeling them.

If you have leftovers, peel them still warm and keep them in the fridge.

A flatlay of cast iron pan full of chestnuts.

Nordic notes on chestnuts

The type of chestnuts that grow here in Finland is not edible. The edible chestnuts grow only in warmer territories.

Therefore the first time I tasted roasted chestnuts was when I lived in Italy back in the late -90’s. Some years after that, I ran into them in Helsinki in an international market. 

These days I don’t go too often to the city center, but maybe I should take a walk there in the holiday season to see if I can still find that little stall preparing them in Christmas markets.

Roasting chestnuts is very nostalgic to me. The little crafting getting them out of their shells and their lightly sweet taste reminds me of my days in Milano.

A bag of raw chestnuts on wooden surface. Overhead shot.

Enjoy the chestnuts with:

Nordic Glögg

Roasted Chestnuts

Easy, oven-roasted chestnuts in Italian style
Prep time15 mins
Cooking time25 mins
Soaking2 hrs
Total time2 hrs 40 mins
Category: Dessert
Italian
Servings: 5 people
Calories: 196kcal

Ingredients

  • 500 g chestnuts

Instructions

  • Rinse the chestnuts.
  • Half fill a medium bowl with water.
  • Take one chestnut at a time on a cutting board. Place them on the board the flat side down, hold firmly between your fingers, and with a sharp paring knife, cut a long slit from side to side.
  • Put the cut chestnuts into the water bowl. Let them soak at least for an hour.
  • Once the chestnuts has soaked enough, preheat the oven to 375 F / 180 C.
  • Drain the soaked chestnuts and dry them with a kitchen towel.
  • Line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper.
  • Arrange the chestnuts on the tray the cut side up. The nuts have to fit on the pan in one layer.
  • Roast the nuts for about 25 minutes.

Tips

The nutrition values are a pretty exact for 100 grams of chestnuts.

Nutrition

Calories: 196kcal (10%) | Carbohydrates: 44.17g (15%) | Protein: 1.63g (3%) | Fat: 1.25g (2%) | Saturated Fat: 0.24g (2%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.49g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.43g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 484mg (14%) | Vitamin A: 26IU (1%) | Vitamin C: 40.2mg (49%) | Calcium: 19mg (2%) | Iron: 0.94mg (5%)

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