How to Toast and Prepare Nuts for Use in Recipes

Toasted Slivered Almonds
Diana Rattray

Taking the time to toast nuts will make them crunchier and intensify their natural flavor, plus they are less likely to sink in batters for cakes, muffins, and quickbreads.

There are a few ways to toast nuts. I usually opt for the dry skillet method because it is so fast, but you can use the oven or microwave as well. The oven takes a little more time, but the nuts will be more evenly browned.

Here are three common ways to toast nuts.

Skillet Method

Put the nuts in a dry skillet in an even layer and place the skillet over medium heat. Cook, shaking the skillet from time to time, stirring and frequently turning until the nuts are golden brown and aromatic. As soon as they are browned and done, transfer them to a plate so they will stop cooking.

Oven Method

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Arrange the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake them, stirring and occasionally turning, for about 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer them to a plate to stop the cooking.

Microwave Method

Put one cup of nuts on a microwave-safe plate or paper plate. Microwave the nuts, uncovered, on 100% power for about three to four minutes, rotating the plate after about 1 1/2 minutes. They will not look browned but you should be able to tell they are toasted by the nutty smell and flavor.

Using Toasted Nuts

You can use toasted nuts in any recipe calling for nuts or use ground toasted nuts as a protein-rich filler for meatloaf or meatballs.

  • They add crunch and flavor to pasta salads, vegetable salads, and coleslaw. 
  • Toast walnuts for fruit salads or Waldorf salad.
  • Replace the sunflower seeds in broccoli salad with toasted walnuts or pecans. 
  • Add toasted pecans to a spinach salad.
  • Toss steamed broccoli or green beans, roasted Brussels sprouts, or other vegetables with toasted nuts. Or sprinkle them over the top just before serving.
  • Add toasted nuts to oatmeal or other hot cereals.
  • Add them to rice, quinoa, or bulgur dishes.
  • Toast nuts to use in fudge, brittles, truffles, cookies, and bars. Pralines are more flavorful with toasted nuts.

Chopping Nuts

Whether toasted or not, nuts can turn into nut butter if processed too finely. If you're using a food processor or other electric chopper, chop them in small batches. If you store nuts in the freezer, don't thaw them before chopping.

Removing the Skins From Peanuts and Hazelnuts

Toast or roast the nuts for 10 to 15 minutes at 350 F. While the nuts are still quite warm, wrap them in a kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove the skins. You can also just rub them in small batches with your bare or gloved hands.