Contrary to popular belief, you do not need an open fire to roast chestnuts or be listening to Nat King Cole to enjoy this festive treat. A quick soak, score, and just 10 minutes or less in the Air Fryer is all you need.
These EASY to PEEL Air Fryer Roasted Chestnuts are sweet, nutty, creamy, and simply delicious. We bet our fast and easy Chestnut roasting recipe will be your new favorite winter toasty warm snack.
In this article, you will learn easy hacks on how to choose, prepare, roast and peel chestnuts. Whether you enjoy peeling and eating this festive treat right out of a paper sack for the holidays, tossed in butter and salt or in our Roasted Chestnut Pumpkin Risotto, you are going to be hooked.
Unlike baking or boiling, air frying them gives them an extra toasty sweet flavor. Enjoy them now as the chestnut season is short!
Don't have an air fryer? No Worries! We have also included directions for boiled chestnuts and oven method for your convenience.
Eat them While They are Hot!
Have you ever eaten charcoal roasted warm chestnuts in the streets of Hong Kong? You can smell the sweet aroma in the air long before you see the street vendor. This seasonal favorite is cooked in these huge drums and tossed right in with the charcoal to give it a sweet and smoky flavor. Street hawkers sell bags of toasty hot sweet, yellow-centered chestnuts for a quick pedestrian snack.
The best news is you do not need to travel to Asia enjoy this delicious treat. You can roast them right from the comfort of your own kitchen in a snap!
Are you ready for it? …. Chestnuts. Yep, just one ingredient. However, there are a couple of very important things to note about choosing the BEST chestnuts.
- They have a very short season and are best enjoyed Mid-September through December.
- Believe it or not, just because a chestnut is big, does not mean that they are the sweetest. Some of the sweetest ones are the small local ones.
- Try to buy them from a local source. That is best option as chestnuts tend to get moldy the longer, they are stored. If they are imported from another country, they need to be used quickly as they perish fast.
- Choose nuts that feel heavy for size and firm. Ripe chestnuts are dark brown with light tan edges. You may notice that they have a light sheen to them when you hold them to the light. They should not have any holes, blemishes, or rattle inside their shell. In addition, they should be firm or slight give when you squeeze them. If you feel a large movement between the skin and the flesh, this is an indication of a problem. They may be rotten.
- Buy more than you need. You are always going to find some in the batch that don’t make the cut.
- Always wash and soak before you air fry them. If they float during the short soaking time, then you know these are rotten and they should be discarded.
How to Store?
Raw chestnuts do not last very long. It is best to use them 2 to 3 weeks of purchase for optimal results. Store them in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to roast. Do not wash them until you are ready to cook or roast them.
If you harvest your own, fallen from the tree, the outer spiky shell needs to be removed. In addition, fresh chestnuts need to be cured at room temperature for a couple of days before using or placing in the refrigerator to store. This changes the taste from bland to sweet.
How to Prepare and Roast?
- Preheat Air fryer to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C)
- Wash raw nuts well and soak in warm water for about 15 minutes. (If any of them float, assess them as they may be probably rotten) Soaking helps them peel easier. Pat dry.
- Using a serrated knife make an “X” score on the rounded side of the chestnut. Be careful! Put the flat side down on the cutting board. This allows steam to release during the cooking process and makes them easier to peel.
- Place chestnuts in the air fryer basket with the “X” upright. Air fry for about 10 minutes or until the skin starts to peel back showing the yellow chestnut. Toss midway in air fryer so they cook evenly.
- The time in the air fryer depends on how large your nuts are. Smaller ones may only need 4 or 5 minutes and large ones may need up to 15 minutes or more. Keep a close eye on them. Do not let them burn or burst.
How to Peel?
- After the nuts are roasted and still piping hot, place in a kitchen towel or paper bag. (see the #6 photo above) Tie tight for a couple of minutes and give them a good shake. You might even hear them crackle.
- While still hot, they are easy to peel. Use your fingers to peel off the shell and skin. If the nuts are really hot, we use kitchen gloves or a tea towel to assist in the procedure. The kitchen towel or paper bag method along with the pre-soaking is key for success.
- Don’t let them cool down as they are harder to peel. Peel while they are warm!
What Do Chestnuts Taste Like?
We must warn you. They are completely addictive, and you won’t be able to stop at just one. Roasted air fried chestnuts taste sweet and buttery. The texture is like a firm potato and the taste is like a sweet potato. The inner flesh is a golden yellow color.
How to Eat?
There are so many ways to enjoy our air fryer roasted chestnut recipe. What are your favorite ways?
- Peel and eat while hot!
- Toss in a little brown butter and salt lightly.
- Delicious in our Chicken Breast with Chestnuts and Mushrooms recipe
- Try our Roasted Chestnut Pumpkin Risotto drizzled with chestnut brown butter.
- Add chopped roasted chestnuts to French Canadian Meat Dressing or Curried Harvest Black Forbidden Rice
- Don’t forget the desserts! A delicious topping to our Coconut Rice Pudding with Cardamom Spiced Honey Pears.
- Heat the peeled air fryer roasted chestnuts on the stove top with a little sugar, vanilla, and orange peel for a quick and delicious treat.
- Try them in a lentil soup, bake them in a cake, in a pasta or even soak them in brandy.
- And so many more ways
Unlike the almond or pecan, the chestnut is very low in fat and is about 37 calories each. They are also vegan and gluten-free. In a study by Zhang et al, there were promising results showing flavonoids and polyphenolic acids in the humble chestnut possess anti-diabetes and anti-cancer properties.
Equipment and Utensils
Knife - Do you have a serrated knife or a bread knife? This type of knife works best to easily slice into chestnut to make a scored “x”.
Air Fryer - We used a Cosori brand toaster oven style air fryer. Every air fryer is a little different regarding how many nuts you can fit inside the basket, how fast and even it cooks. Therefore, if your chestnuts are small start looking at them at the 4-to-5-minute mark. Keep a close eye on them. However, large ones could take much longer. Once your chestnuts skin starts to pull back to reveal that bright yellow nut, it is cooked.
The purchase of an air fryer has been life changing. It makes mealtime less stressful and healthier. Be sure to check out our Air Fryer Jalapeno Poppers, Banana Spring Rolls and Chinese-Style Garlic Ribs for more delicious air fryer recipes.
Boiled vs Roasted
A very common question that many people ask, “Are boiled chestnuts better than roasted?” Well, that depends. Are you plan on eating them plain, using them in a baked good or another recipe?
Personally, from a taste perspective, roasted chestnuts are far better than boiled chestnuts as they have an intense toasty nutty flavor, are firmer and easier to peel. However, it is difficult to flavor the entire nut when it is covered in the shell. It is much easier to infuse flavors into a roasted chestnut after they are peeled.
Baked or air fried chestnuts are fun snack served hot. In addition, if you want a recipe to have a little texture, roasted is the preferred method. Using the air fryer, instead of baking saves on time and also gives them a extra delicious nutty flavor.
Whereas boiled chestnuts are still delicious but have a much more mellow flavor. If you boil them, they pick up the aroma and flavors of whatever you may add to the liquid. Try adding orange peel like you see in the photo below for sweet recipes or bay leaves for savory recipes.
The boiled cooking method leaves a creamier texture but can be more difficult to peel. Just gently squeeze the chestnut to remove the filling and it comes right out. We like to use the boiled version in sweet dessert recipes and savory recipes that require a smoother texture.
Frequent Asked Questions (FAQ's)
Soaking before roasting is not required but it performs two very important tasks. First, when you soak, you can identify the chestnuts that float as these may be moldy or rotten and should be discarded. Secondly, soaking them for just 10 to 15 minutes before air frying them makes them easier to peel.
Roasted and peeled nuts can be kept for 3 to 4 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator or up to 2 months frozen. Thawed, previously frozen chestnuts, need to be consumed right after thawing due to the high sugar content.
In a 400 degrees F (204 degrees C) preheated air fryer, chestnuts can cook in as little as 4 to 5 minutes and up to 15 minutes or more, depending on the size of the chestnut. The roasting process is complete when the shell and peel pull back and show the yellow nut beneath.
The most common types are the Chinese, American, Japanese, Korean and European chestnuts.
More NUTS and SEEDS Recipes
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Air Fryer Roasted Chestnuts
- air fryer
- serrated knife
- 20 chestnuts
- water (warm just enough to cover chestnuts)
- Wash and soak raw chestnuts for 10 to 15 minutes in warm water - this makes the chestnuts easier to peel. Drain water and pat dry. (Pitch any nuts with blemishes, holes, or rattle inside their shell. Chestnuts should be firm or give only slightly when you squeeze them. If you feel a large movement between the skin and the flesh, this is an indication that chestnut may be rotten. Assess any that float as they may be rotten.)
- Preheat Air fryer to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C)
- Lay chestnut on cutting board with the flat side down and rounded side up. Score an "X" on the rounded side of the chestnut with a serrated knife. Be careful! Using a serrated knife makes this process easier. (Some like to just make one large slash across the chestnut but we find the "X" scoring makes it easier to peel.) The purpose behind creating a score on the chestnut is to allow steam to escape during the cooking process. If you do not do this, they might explode in the air fryer- and who wants to clean up that mess?
- Place chestnuts "X" scored side up in the air fryer basket and place in the air fryer. Toss or shake air fryer basket halfway during the cooking process. Chestnuts are perfectly roasted when the shell and skin of the chestnut pulls back and curls up to show the bright yellow flesh of the chestnut. Keep a close eye on them as they can go from raw to fully cooked in just minutes. Small chestnuts can as little as 4 minutes in the air fryer.Medium ones take round 10 minutes.Large ones up to 15 minutes or as needed for the skin to pull back and show the yellow flesh of the chestnut. Many factors determine how long to cook chestnuts such as brand of air fryer, age and size of chestnuts and length of soak time. Don't leave your cooking nuts unattended.
- Immediately, place air fried roasted chestnuts in either a dry tea towel or paper bag and tie tightly. You may even hear them crackle. Allow to rest in the tea towel or paper sack for 1 to 2 minutes. The internal hot steam that builds up in the bag or tea towel helps the peeling process. (We like to serve plain roasted chestnut in a paper lunch sack as this way your guests can close up the bag in between peeling and eating and keep the chestnuts warm.)
- Peel chestnuts straight away. We know they are still warm so use a tea towel or kitchen gloves as needed. The sooner you peel them, the easier it is. Do not allow them to get cold before attempting to peel. Use your fingers to peel the hard outer shell and the skin of the chestnut. Warm roasted chestnuts are easy to peel and the outer shell and skin come out together. Once they are cold, the skin has a tendency to stick and it is more difficult to remove.
- We love to eat chestnuts warm right after peeling, one right after the other. You can try tossing them in brown butter and adding a little salt or use in your favorite recipe. Enjoy!
- Oven and boiled chestnut directions in the recipe notes below.