When your recipe or dish calls for adding nuts, chopped, halved, or whole nuts, whether it suggests it or not, you should take a moment and toast them.
Why Toast Pecans or Other Nuts?
Toasting pecans, almonds, and other nuts is often overlooked in favorite recipes because it adds time and extra steps. Whether you’re toasting pecans or roasting other nuts, the extra effort is worth it. The increased nutty flavor that is added to dishes is deeper, nuttier, and gives the extra crunch that you didn’t even know was possible.
Roasting nuts reduces the risk of exposure to harmful bacteria that may cause diseases. Toasted nuts are also easier to digest than raw ones, which makes them a good snack for people with digestive problems or those who have trouble chewing.
You can toast any type of nut, but the most often used ones are:
And they can be toasted dry or with a little bit of olive oil or even butter.
There are Different Ways to Toast Nuts
The method that is used to toast nuts is a matter of preference, time, or even availability of the tools needed at the moment. But whatever method you choose, it will make the effort worthwhile. And you can always make more each time, use what you need, and save the rest for later in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
What you’ll need
- A pan with an edge, like a rimmed baking sheet
- Cooling plate
- Nut Oil (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Spread the nuts evenly in the pan (lightly shake or shift the pan to help spread them more evenly)
- OPTIONAL: Spray or drizzle a small amount of oil over the top to coat the nuts evenly.
- Place in the oven, middle rack, for about 5 minutes
- Take them out and toss/stir them around to make sure they are evenly distributed and moved to different parts of the pan (to account for variations in oven temperatures)
- Return to the oven to continue roasting, checking every 3-5 minutes to see if they’re done.
- They are done when the smell is nutty and they appear brown or darker brown, and might appear to crackle. (No more than a total of 15 minutes in the oven.)
- When done place immediately on the cooling plate
What you’ll need
- Skillet or pan
- Cooling plate or towel
- Warm skillet over medium heat
- Add the nuts to the dry skillet
- Shake the skillet or pan to evenly distribute the nuts in a single layer
- Heat for about 5 minutes or until the nutty aroma starts to rise
- While heating them toss, slide them around and over to ensure they are evenly toasted
- Once done, move immediately to the cooling plate or paper towel
Not the best method, but perfect for a quick bonus for any meal or to toss some nuts over a salad at lunch.
What you’ll need
- Paper towel
- Microwave-safe plate
- Place the paper towel over the plate
- Spread the nuts in a single layer on the covered plate
- Microwave on high for 1 minute
- Repeat the 1-minute heating until the nuts are golden brown and aromatic
- Remove the plate and let cool
Tips and Tricks
- Stir regularly and watch closely to ensure the nuts are evenly toasted and not overdone
- If the recipe calls for chopped nuts, do this AFTER you’ve toasted them. Chopped nuts toast much quicker, so if you do chop or slice before, reduce the cooking time and watch closely
- Pine nuts can burn quickly, so keep a close eye on them and turn them regularly
- If adding oil while toasting, try to use the same nut oil as the nuts, for an added boost of flavor and consistency
- Toast the nuts dry if you’re adding to a dish that has or uses oil for cooking, such as mixing with other ingredients to Sautee
- Don’t use oil for baking dishes. They typically have oil added into the recipes and that would be overkill
- You can use a toaster oven for the oven method, but be aware that toaster ovens have heating elements much closer to the nuts so they will cook much faster, and probably unevenly
- Add a little extra flavor by including cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg for sweeter dishes, Italian and steak seasoning for an even bigger boost to your meat dishes
What Can You Do With Roasted Nuts (Recipes)
Looking for some great recipes to use your newfound skills in? Here are a few links to help you out.
Nuts are great to add to sauces, salads, baking dishes, and more because they add a surprise of flavor and crunchy texture. By toasting them, they bring out more of the flavor and add an additional crunch to the dish. Depending on what method you use, it’s an easy way to make a huge impact on your dish.
If you don't want to take the extra few minutes each time you make a recipe, just toast extra, then store them in airtight containers, and keep them at the ready when the urge strikes.