Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health


Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on February 12, 2009

Chestnuts reside on my favorite pedestal. There is a tendency for many people to avoid using fresh chestnuts because, admittedly, they are a bit time consuming to prepare. I promise, though, they are totally worth the time expended. Here’s the technique:
Using a firm, sharp paring knife, make a horizontal cut completely across the domed or rounded side of each chestnut. If both sides are flat, make the cut across one of the sides. Place the chestnuts into a large saucepan, and cover them with about 3 inches of water.

Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat just slightly to medium-high, and boil the chestnuts gently for about 25 minutes for the large Asian chestnuts purchased in the market and about 35 minutes for chestnuts grown in the U.S..
Roasting is another method of heating the chestnuts so the peels can be removed. Pile the crisscross-cut chestnuts onto a baking sheet and roast them at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool them slightly and peel away. Some chestnut aficionados suggest soaking the chestnuts for about 20 minutes before roasting, claiming it makes them easier to peel.

Still another method for heating chestnuts prior to peeling them begins with making a crisscross cut on the shell. Then put them into a large, deep skillet with a small amount of oil, about one tablespoon for each pound of chestnuts in the shell. Turn the heat to high and cook them for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing the chestnuts continuously with a wooden spoon or shaking the pan to prevent the direct heat from burning them.

I prefer the boiling method because sometimes the roasting and stove-top methods result in chestnuts that also need to be boiled to soften them enough for most recipes.

Now, prepare a cup of tea for yourself and sit down at the table with the pot of cooked chestnuts on a trivet. Have a bowl handy for the peeled chestnuts and another for the shells. Take out three or four chestnuts at a time and put them on a small dish or bowl in front of you. Cool them only slightly–they peel more easily when they are quite hot.
Using your paring knife, take hold of the shell close to a crisscross cut, and remove the shell with a pulling motion. You will also need to remove the brown inner skin as well. Be prepared for a little tug-of-war. Sometimes the inner skin is a bit stubborn. If it is too resistant, the chestnut may need to be cooked a few more minutes.

As the chestnuts cool, they become a little more challenging to peel. It’s best not to fight with them. Just put the pot back on the burner and heat them up for a few minutes so you can finish the task with ease. Just be sure there is enough water in the pot to cover the chestnuts. The job can actually be fun if you can convince your family to participate in the peeling project.


  1. Amy said

    These instructions are really helpful and make the whole idea of cooking with chestnuts seem so much less intimidating. Thanks for providing this helpful information. I look forward to following your suggestions, and maybenext Thanksgiving I can get my family involved in the peeling!

  2. Wil said

    Thanks for the detailed instructions. Was searching all over the net to find some clear and detailed instructions on this. The last time we cooked this, I think we ended up undercooking since it took like 4 people to peel them!

    • nutgourmet said

      Hi Wil,

      Thanks so much for your comment. After doing battle with several ways to cook and peel chestnuts, I finally settled on boiling them. I did discover, though, that different varieties of chestnuts required different cooking times–about 20 – 25 minutes for Asian chestnuts and 30 – 35 for U.S. grown chestnuts. I also found that the chestnuts I ordered online from U.S. growers were much easier to peel than the Asian ones I was buying in the supermarket. Details aside, it sure helps to have a good attitude when it comes to peeling–patience and a good cup of tea over all!


  3. Julia Smith said

    Nice content. When will I get the more details?

    Julia Smith
    escort in warsaw

    • nutgourmet said

      Hi Julia,
      I actually do have another detail for cooking chestnuts. I just love it when I discover new ways to tackle a challenging task. I was shopping in the Asian market recently and was delighted to see a woman cooking chestnuts next to the bin piled high with plump fresh chestnuts. She steamed the chestnuts in a double boiler set-up. The pot on the top had holes in the bottom to allow the steam to come through. She suggested steaming them for 25 minutes. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to actually try that method, but I’ve got some fresh chestnuts in the fridge just waiting patiently for me to give them some attention.


      • Do you still need to cut them if you are steaming them?

      • nutgourmet said

        Hi Homestoregals, It’s important to make a criss-cross cut because it helps the chestnuts to release pressure. It also helps to bring the heat into the nut and soften it. It also makes it easier to peel the chestnuts. Please do check back because I’ll be posting an illustrated blog on cooking and peeling chestnuts.

  4. EMIL said

    I’ve struggled with peeling chestnut for years until I found a secret. Don’t cross cut them at the top. Instead score them completely around the circumference (equator). The shell will pop off in two easy halves after you cook them. It’s amazing!!!

    • nutgourmet said

      Hi Emil,
      Thanks a million for this great suggestion. Every which way I’ve tried cross cutting chestnuts, they are still a beast to peel. I intend to try your suggestion this week, while chestnuts are still available in the markets.

    • sadia said

      Hi Emil,
      Don’t quite understand your description on how to peel chestnuts.
      Do you mean that we have to make a cut all around the middle of the
      chestnut shell and then, do we boil or roast them to have the chestnut pop off easily?

      • nutgourmet said

        Hi Sadia, I asked Emil about his unique chestnut peeling method because I was unclear also. He said he uses a firm paring knife and cuts a horizontal line around the entire circumference of the chestnut. Kind of like cutting through the equator that encircles the earth. Hope this helps.

  5. SussyGunish said

    Good blog! I’ll be back for new info! Keep it up! And don’t forget to add additional images!

    Sussy Gunish
    Teen London escort

    • nutgourmet said

      Hi Sussy, Thanks for the kind words. Shortly I’ll be posting illustrated directions for cooking and peeling chestnuts. This is their glorious season and I would love to encourage more people to experience the creamy, starchy texture and sweet flavor of chestnuts at the peak of their season. Please do check back often. Zel

  6. Sue said

    Thanks a million for the info gang. I’m off to score and boil some chestnuts using the equator method. I’ll let you know how I did

    • nutgourmet said

      Hi Harvey, Just got back from vacation and was delighted to read your very kind words about the chestnut information and recipes on my NutGourmet Blog. This year’s chestnuts were the best I had every tasted. Thanks so much for the dedication and hard work that goes into growing and harvesting those wonderful chestnuts. Feel free to use any of my recipes and chestnut information–it’s all for the sharing. Zel

  7. Mary said

    Thank you, put them in the oven last time and they exploded, going to boil them now

    • Hi Mary,

      Quite honestly, I haven’t had great success with roasting chestnuts. My go-to method is boiling them–it’s been my no-fail method for many years. I thought it would be helpful to include the roasting details because the method is successful for many people. Scoring the chestnuts, either with an X mark on one side or scoring the chestnut all around the “equator,” is supposed to eliminate the exploding problem because the opening gives them the air release they need. Could it be your oven temperature was too hot and the chestnuts were in there too long? It’s worth giving the roasting method another shot and try varying the roasting temperature and length of cooking time. Chestnuts are a delicious treat–enjoy!

  8. Hurrah, that’s what I was looking for, what a stuff!
    present here at this weblog, thanks admin of this web

    • Hi there Galaxy,

      So glad my post on step-by-step cooking and peeling chestnuts was helpful. Because chestnuts require a bit of time and effort to cook and peel at home, many people are opting to buy them already cooked and peeled, and they’re now available year round. If you can’t find them in a market, they’re always available at Melissas.com But, I must say, there’s nothing like cooking them at home and eating them hot and fresh. Enjoy!


  9. Thanks for the info, after a few explosions I’ve got the whole scoring thing down pat! I was wondering if once I have my cooked, peeled chestnuts I can freeze them? We have a good glut this year and I want to squirrel it away so the family doesn’t get sick of chestnuts every night of the week! Cheers!

    • Hi Naomi,

      Three cheers for you for cooking chestnuts from scratch! Yes, you definitely can freeze them. Be sure to put them in a heavy-duty plastic bag and seal them securely. After being frozen for several months, the chestnuts tend to be a bit on the mealy side and are best used for sauces, soups, puddings, and mousse-like recipes. However, they are just as sweet and tasty as ever. Enjoy your chestnut adventures!

  10. My pleasure, Naomi. It’s always fun to meet another chestnut aficionado! Enjoy!

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