Iconic Salt and Pepper Roasted Chestnuts are a sweet and savory Christmas snack everyone will love! They’re easy to roast in your oven, and a delight to eat, thanks to their unique nutty flavor and soft texture.
Soft, Sweet Roasted Chestnuts at Home (No Open Fire Needed!)
Do you like to roasted chestnuts at Christmastime? We love it! If you’ve never tried this classic holiday tradition, you really should give it a try. And, no worries, the open fire is totally optional. You can easily roast them to perfection in the oven!
This is a great warming and wholesome snack for Christmas Eve, or for a quiet and delicious end to Christmas Day, when everyone wants to eat a little something, but not necessarily a full meal right before bed.
So put on some Christmas music, and let’s make salt and pepper roasted chestnuts! They’re incredible. ?
What Do Roasted Chestnuts Taste Like?
Salt and pepper roasted chestnuts are not like ordinary roasted nuts like almonds or pecans. After roasting, chestnuts are soft, with a distinctive sweetness similar to sweet potatoes or hazelnuts. With buttery salt and pepper seasoning, they are just exquisite!
The Ingredients List
These ingredients are very, very simple! So if you see fresh chestnuts in the shell, grab them! You’ve already got everything else you need.
- Hot water: Hot water is needed for soaking the chestnuts briefly before roasting.
- Chestnuts: Use fresh chestnuts in the shell for this method, not peeled chestnuts.
- Butter: You’ll need a few tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted. If you use salted butter, you may want to reduce the amount of added salt.
- Salt: I like to use sea salt, to taste. You could also use kosher salt or regular table salt.
- Pepper: Freshly ground or cracked black pepper gives these salt and pepper roasted chestnuts the zestiest flavor.
How to Roast Chestnuts in the Oven
This process is so easy, I promise. All you have to do is soak, score, and roast the chestnuts to perfection. You’ll love making this classic Christmas snack at home!
- Prep the Oven, Baking Sheet, and Hot Water. First, make sure to preheat your oven to 425˚F. Then line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, and set it aside. Finally, set a pot of water on high heat and bring it to a boil while you score the chestnuts.
- Score the Chestnuts. One at a time, hold the chestnuts firmly, flat side down, and use a sharp paring knife to carefully cut through the shell on the rounded side, to make an X.
- Soak the Chestnuts. Once the water boils, take it off the heat. Carefully lower the scored chestnuts into the hot water, and let soak for a minute or two. Drain the chestnuts in a colander, and pat them dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
- Season the Chestnuts. Put the chestnuts in a large bowl, and pour the melted butter over them. Sprinkle generously with the salt and pepper, and toss them to evenly coat.
- Roast! Arrange the seasoned chestnuts on your previously prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Roast them for 35 – 45 minutes, or until the scored part of the peel begins to curl up, and the chestnuts are soft and cooked through. (The amount of time depends on the size of the chestnuts.)
- Enjoy! Season the salt and pepper roasted chestnuts with additional salt and pepper, if desired, and serve warm.
Do You Have to Soak Chestnuts Before Roasting?
You don’t have to, if you don’t want to! However, most of the time, chestnuts are soaked before roasting. It seems to help them steam in the shell better, and it can make them easier to peel.
Easy Tips and Tricks
I hope you’re excited to try roasting your own chestnuts at home, especially with this easy, buttery recipe! But before you do, check out these easy tips for absolutely amazing salt and pepper roasted chestnuts.
- Careful, They’re Hot: This goes without saying, but better safe than sorry! Roasted chestnuts are very hot when they come out of the oven, and are usually served hot, so be very careful when handling them. Make sure not to serve them unless you are certain they’re cool enough to handle. Do not serve chestnuts to children without peeling them and then testing the peeled chestnuts to make sure they are cool enough.
- Check for Doneness: To test the chestnuts for doneness, poke into the meat of the chestnut through the scored area, using a fork or knife. The fork or knife should easily pierce the chestnut, similar to testing a cooked potato for doneness.
- Try a Towel and Serrated Knife: If you find that scoring the chestnuts is tricky with a paring knife, you can also try using a tea towel to help grip the chestnut, and sawing through the shells gently with a serrated bread knife.
- Peel While Warm: As soon as the chestnuts are cool enough to handle, peel away the shells and any “hairy” husk, using a small knife if necessary. The shells are easy to peel when warm, but more difficult as they cool and harden again.
Salt and pepper roasted chestnuts are just one variation on the classic—the possibilities are endless! If you’re looking for more ideas, here are a few of my very favorites.
- Rosemary and Black Pepper: Add a generous sprinkling of rosemary to this recipe. Fresh minced rosemary leaves or dried rosemary leaves will both work just fine.
- Browned Butter: Make browned butter first, by gently cooking the butter in a skillet over low heat until the milk solids collect at the bottom of the skillet and begin to toast. Don’t let it burn. Use your browned butter in place of the regular butter for salt and pepper roasted chestnuts. Take the flavor up even more by adding some sage or thyme.
- Sweet Chestnuts: Roast the chestnuts without any seasonings, and then peel them. Toss in a mixture of melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar for a delicious treat.
- Orange Liqueur: Roast the chestnuts plain, peel them, and then cook them briefly in a skillet with butter, salt, and a splash of Gran Marnier. Add a little bit of sugar or honey to taste.
- To refrigerate, place peeled salt and pepper roasted chestnuts in zip-top bags or airtight containers. Keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Freeze leftover chestnuts by placing them in freezer bags and pressing out as much air as possible before sealing. They will keep in the freezer for up to 4 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
- To reheat, place in a skillet over low to medium heat and cook until heated through, tossing or stirring occasionally. You can also bake them again until hot.
Salt and Pepper Roasted Chesnuts
- Preheat oven to 425˚F.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and set aside.
- In the meantime, bring a pot of water to a boil.
- Using a sharp paring knife, carefully cut through the shell on the rounded side of each chestnut and score an X.
- Place the scored chestnuts in the hot water and let sit for 1 minute.
- Drain the chestnuts and pat them dry.
- Put the chestnuts in a large bowl and add the melted butter; season with salt and pepper and mix and stir until thoroughly coated.
- Transfer the chestnuts to previously prepared baking sheet and arrange them in a single layer.
- Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the peel begins to curl up and the chestnuts are cooked through. Roasting time will depend on the size of the chestnuts.
- Remove from oven.
- Season with more salt and pepper, if desired.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.