John D Lee is a chef and restauranteur living and working in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He's always loved to cook.
It's the little things that transform the merely good to great—and in the kitchen, it's those little things that make all the difference.
It's also the little things that cookbook authors sometimes assume that everyone already has a sure grasp of, and much to the frustration of novice cooks everywhere, it's the little things that they tend not to explain.
But toasty nuts are where it's at. Seriously.
The difference between a complex, golden roasted almond and a sorry-looking blanched specimen is no small thing, and it's that three-minute toasting step that can make your next nut recipe so much better.
So here are four very easy ways to toast nuts.
1. Stovetop (No Oil or Butter)
- In a heavy-bottomed skillet, spread your nuts out in an even layer and heat over medium, shaking often. Be sure not to overcrowd your nuts.
- Keep stirring or shaking for about 5 minutes, or until the nuts are fragrant and browned.
- Nuts toasted using the stovetop method will not be uniformly browned; rather, they will be more mottled in appearance.
- Make sure to keep watching the nuts. Take your eyes off the progress at the wrong point for 30 seconds and you'll find yourself throwing out a pan full of burnt and bitter nuts.
- Do not try to toast different kinds of nuts at the same time. Different nuts will toast at different rates.
2. Stovetop (With Oil or Butter)
If you want to toast on the stovetop but also want that uniformly browned look, follow these instructions:
- In a heavy-bottomed skillet, spread your nuts out in an even layer and add a scant teaspoon of oil or butter.
- Heat over medium, shaking often. Be sure not to overcrowd your nuts.
This will result in a more evenly toasted nut—but a slightly oilier final product.
You can also toast any kind of nut in a hot oven.
- Preheat the oven to 350-425 degrees (honestly, the exact temperature doesn’t matter very much).
- Place your nuts on a baking sheet and bake away for a few minutes, watching carefully and shaking occasionally.
- They are done when golden and fragrant, about 5-10 minutes. Oven-toasted nuts are a bit slower than stovetop toasted nuts, but they will be more uniformly browned without needing the use of oil.
- Spread out your nuts on a plate and microwave on high.
- A ½ cup of nuts will take 3-5 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave.
- Watch carefully, and take out when nuts are just slightly less browned than you want, as nuts will continue to brown for a moment after removal (from the heated oil inside the nut).
Using Toasted Nuts
Once your nuts are toasty and warm, salt them generously and enjoy. If you have any leftovers, the best way to store is always in the freezer. The oils in nuts spoils quickly and nuts stored in the cupboard will become rancid and unpleasant.
All of the above techniques will work to toast seeds or coconut, as well.
Brian on August 07, 2013:
I roast cashews in a cast iron skillet with just the oil that is already on the iron and on medium-low. I stir them occasionally for a while, then turn off the heat and let them finish as the pan cools. Uniformity offends me and this produces delicious, interesting looking roasted nuts. They are best hot, but delicious at all temperatures.
LetitiaFT from Paris via California on June 02, 2012:
This is really useful! I'm going to link to it in my next recipe, it's just what I needed. Thanks for sharing this.
Kris Heeter from Indiana on November 20, 2011:
While I love raw nuts too, there are some that are definitely better roasted (cashews for me!). I never actually considered roasting them myself - I'll have to give one of these methods a try!
cyrospan on September 17, 2011:
I enjoy roasted nuts very much, I like to roast a big portion to take with me while I travel, but when I roast a whole bunch they tend to burn in the middle, is there any type of mixer available that I can install in to my microwave to mix nuts evenly and avoid burning in the middle, thanks
John D Lee (author) on September 05, 2011:
Yeah, cast iron is great for pretty much everything!
Deb K on September 02, 2011:
Roasting nuts in a CAST IRON pan/skillet in the oven is best! So yummy as the seasoned pan adds more flavors - but of course you can never have too much garlic salt!
Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 04, 2011:
Great topic for a hub. Useful information!
Emma from Houston TX on March 19, 2011:
Informative and educative hub which has a colorful pics that actually look tasty.
md zahid malick on July 25, 2010:
i want to know more about the roasting process.my Email :firstname.lastname@example.org
ray bennett on June 24, 2010:
Beautiful page, I suggest that you tak much slower in the future productions. Ray
John D Lee (author) on October 24, 2009:
Glad to be of service - Hope your nuts toasted up nicely
Aimee on October 20, 2009:
Thank you so much! Exactly the information I needed!
Nicolette Goff from British Columbia on December 02, 2008:
We roast them for about 8 minutes in the oven, after tossing them with a bit of oil and sometimes a bit of hot pepper - really good with pecans!
fishskinfreak2008 from Fremont CA on July 30, 2008:
Rob Jundt from Midwest USA on July 30, 2008:
Thanks for the tips. I haven't had the greatest luck roasting or toasting lately. I'm sure your tips will work.