A tray of freshly roasted chestnuts is a wonderful festive snack, and can be enjoyed both on their own or in a range of sweet and savoury dishes. Serve them with roasted meats, fold them into your stuffing mixture, or chop them up to add to crumble toppings for an extra layer of caramelised, nutty flavour. You can find plenty of other ideas in our collection of chestnut recipes.

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Read our tips below on what to look for when buying these seasonal beauties and when they are available. Then, follow our step-by-step instructions for how to prepare and roast chestnuts. Also, check out our basic recipe for roast chestnuts.

When are chestnuts available?

Available from late September until January, chestnuts are at their peak over the festive season.

What to look for when buying chestnuts

  1. For maximum flavour, look for the largest and heaviest chestnuts you can find. Aiming for them all to be relatively even in size will also ensure they roast at the same rate.
  2. Choose chestnuts which are well rounded, shiny, smooth and free of blemishes and mould. If possible, roll them in your hands to check the skin is not too dry.

How to roast chestnuts in the oven

1. Cut the shell carefully

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Lay the chestnuts on their flat sides and, with a sharp knife, make a long slit crosswise over the top. Make sure you cut carefully through the outer shell but not the nut inside.

2. Roast the chestnuts for 30 mins until the shells split

Place in a roasting dish large enough to have one layer of chestnuts, without overcrowding them. Roast in the oven for around 30 minutes or until the skins split open. They will be very hot, so leave in the tin for now.

3. Cool, peel and serve

Once cool enough to handle, but still warm enough to work with, peel the outer shell, then remove the inner brown membrane. Serve immediately, or chop, ready to be added to your recipe.

What is the best way to cook chestnuts?

Oven-roasting chestnuts is the best way to bring out the fullest flavour (if you want to eat them straight away or chop them into your stuffing mix). Boiling them will give a smooth texture for cooking in soups or purées. To do this, prepare them in the same way as step 1, then boil for 30 minutes instead of roasting. Peel, then chop or purée as required.

Need inspiration? Try our favourite chestnut recipes...

Chestnut & cranberry roll
Italian sausage & chestnut pasta
Chestnut, bacon & cranberry stuffing
Chestnut, spinach & blue cheese en croûte
Chestnuts in orange liqueur & orange syrup
Chestnut & shallot tatins with mushroom & madeira sauce
Chocolate & chestnut truffle torte
Parsnip, cranberry & chestnut loaf

For more inspiration, see our collection of chestnut recipes read our guide on what to do with chestnuts.

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What are your favourite roasted chestnut recipes? Leave a comment below...

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