Italian-Style Candied Chestnuts

Candied chestnuts
Norman Hollands/Getty Images
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 70 mins
Total: 80 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
675 Calories
4g Fat
157g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 675
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 32mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 157g 57%
Dietary Fiber 9g 31%
Total Sugars 85g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 44mg 221%
Calcium 55mg 4%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 1008mg 21%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This way of candying chestnuts—boiling them in a sugar syrup—originated in southern France and northern Italy around the 15th or 16th century. The first known recipe for them dates to Louis XIV's court at Versailles and the great chef La Varenne. They are a common treat during Christmas time and the New Year and make a wonderful Christmas gift or hostess present.

This easy recipe for homemade candied chestnuts calls for marroni, which are the larger, higher-quality chestnuts that are easier to peel. They are generally more expensive than smaller chestnuts (those that Italians call castagne), but they are less labor-intensive, and far more visually impressive.


  • 2 1/4 pounds (1 kilogram) large chestnuts (marroni)

  • 1 pinch sea salt

For the Syrup:

  • 2 cups (500 grams) granulated sugar

  • 4 cups (1 liter) water

  • 1 vanilla bean, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Peel the chestnuts and add them to a large pot of boiling, lightly salted water. Boil for about 20 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and let the chestnuts steep in the hot water for 5 minutes more.

  2. Remove the chestnuts one at a time with a slotted spoon, peeling off the thin skin that covers the nuts, while being careful not to damage the nuts themselves (they'll be soft). ​Once you have skinned them, transfer the chestnuts to a wide, stainless-steel skillet.

  3. To make the syrup, dissolve the sugar in the water in a large pot over low heat. Add the vanilla bean, if using, and simmer the syrup, stirring it gently with a wooden spoon, until the syrup thickens somewhat (you want it to remain fairly fluid).

  4. Pour the syrup over the chestnuts; return pan to the stove and simmer over very low heat for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let them sit for 10 minutes more.

  5. Remove the chestnuts one at a time and arrange on a serving platter.

Serving Suggestions

In addition to simply placing on a platter, you can also serve the candied chestnuts in small cups with a little of the syrup spooned over them. They are also delicious served with unsweetened whipped cream or sprinkled with brandy. If you'd like to give as gifts, pack into clear bags, glass jars, or small tins.

Peeling Chestnuts

If you couldn't find the marroni chestnuts and are having trouble peeling the smaller type, you can employ one of two methods—roasting or steaming—to make the task easier. First, cut an "x" in one side of the nut. Then either roast the chestnuts for 30 minutes at 400 F, or steam the nuts over simmering water for about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before peeling.

How to Store Italian-Style Candied Chestnuts

Candied chestnuts can be stored at room temperature, but they're best when separated with parchment or in individual paper liners within a sealed container—they'll keep for at least a couple of weeks. For longer storage, you can refrigerate them, but they are so delicious they're not likely to last that long.