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30 August 2011

How-To: Toast Nuts

We've all done it...come across a recipe that calls for TOASTED pecans, almonds, or some other type of nut.  And instead of taking the time to toast them, we just toss nuts straight from the package into the recipe.  But, I beg of you, next time...DON'T!  It doesn't take long to toast nuts (usually only about 15 minutes tops) and the results are magical!  Toasting nuts allows the flavor and texture to deepen, and also makes them easier to chop, crunchier, and less likely to sink in batters and mixes.

If you've never toasted nuts before - don't be intimidated!  There are several ways to accomplish the task, in fact, you can even use the microwave!

Toasting Nuts - Microwave Method
Spread a single layer (approximately one cup) of nuts on a microwave safe plate.  Cook on high power in 1 minute intervals until the nuts begin to smell and taste toasted.  **Microwave toasting will not yield the beautiful deeper brown you get from pan or oven toasting.

Toasting Nuts - Pan (i.e. stove top) Method
Heat a large skillet on medium high heat.  When the pan is hot, add a single layer of nuts.  Do not add any oil or cooking spray - the nuts have enough natural oil to cook sufficiently without sticking.  Cook until the nuts begin to smell toasted and have turned a pleasing golden brown color.  Remove from heat.

Toasting Nuts - Oven Method
This is the method I use most often...and is recommended for making large quantities.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake according to the chart below or until the nuts begin to smell toasted and have turned golden brown.  You may wish to stir the nuts or turn the pan halfway through the cooking time to help ensure even toasting.

Nut Type Suggested Time
Almonds, sliced 7 - 10 minutes
Almonds, whole 10 minutes
Chestnuts 25 minutes
Hazelnuts 12 - 15 minutes
Macadamia Nuts 12 - 15 minutes
Mixed Nuts 15 - 20 minutes
Peanuts (in shell) 15 - 20 minutes
Peanuts (shelled) 20 - 25 minutes
Pecans 10 - 15 minutes
Pine Nuts 5 minutes
Walnuts 10 - 15 minutes

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