Taking the time to toast nuts will make them crunchier and intensify their natural flavor; nuts become more fragrant and release their oil when properly toasted. Also, toasted nuts are less likely to sink in cakes, muffins, and quickbreads batters and doughs.
There are a few ways to toast nuts, the dry skillet method being the most common and time-efficient, but the oven and microwave methods work well too.
We bring you the three most common ways to toast nuts, so you can easily have them ready to mix into your recipes for pesto, nut bars, your homemade nut butter, or simply to season and offer as a snack. Below you'll find more ideas on how to use toasted nuts.
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 with a wooden spoon and frequently turning the pieces around until the nuts are golden brown and aromatic. As soon as they are browned and done, transfer them to a plate to cool off so they will stop cooking.
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 cool off and stop the cooking process.
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. 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.
- Use Them in Salads: Toasted nuts add crunch and protein to salads, and make a simple plate of greens a wholesome vegetarian and/or vegan meal. For a hearty salad think of coating chicken breast in ground toasted nuts and pan-frying it before adding it to the salad. Creamy coleslaw with a handful of nuts is just delicious. Or replace the sunflower seeds in broccoli salad with toasted walnuts or pecans.
- Use Them in Roasted Vegetables or Casseroles: Add crunch and flavor to roasted veggies or vegetable casseroles, and replace bread crumbs with nuts to offer a truly gluten-free dish.
- Use Them on Hot Cereals or Cold Granola Parfaits: Add toasted nuts to oatmeal or other cooked cereal bowls, like quinoa or farro. Layer Greek yogurt, granola, and fruits, and sprinkle toasted nuts for added crunch and protein.
- Add them to Desserts and Trail Mix: Add nuts into fudge, brittles, truffles, cookies, and bars. Pralines are more flavorful with toasted nuts. Make your own trail mix with your favorite dried fruits and toasted nuts.
- Make Nut Butters: Whether toasted or not, nuts can turn into nut butter when processed in a proper blender or food processor. Add 2 cups of nuts and process until very fine. Then turn the blender on low until the nuts "churn" and then set it on high for a minute or so. Scrape down the sides and continue blending with a low-to-high pattern until all the nuts are blended into the butter. Use the butters for sandwiches, to dip fruit, or add them to protein bars, cakes, or cookies.
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.
- If you're using a food processor or other electric chopper, chop the nuts in small batches. If blended too fine they will churn into butter. If you store nuts in the freezer, don't thaw them before chopping.