Knowing how to roast or toast nuts will come in handy when you want to use raw, organic nuts for toppings on hot cereals and desserts, or would like a crunchy snack. You can roast nuts in as little as eight minutes, with no oil needed, using your oven or stove top. Roasting or toasting nuts releases the natural oils from them, bringing the oils to the surface. Continued cooking with that oil on the surface makes them crunchy and full of flavor.
I always thought the difference between “roasted” and “toasted” was as simple as where you cook the nuts. Roasted, for me, means you cook them in the oven, and toasted means you cook the nuts on the stove top. I see both words used interchangeably online, though. I use both methods, depending on whether I need to roast a few nuts or a lot, and how quickly I need them.
While roasting nuts using the oven or stove top, you will know they are done when they darken slightly and become aromatic. You might even hear some crackling sounds as the nuts heat up (especially when toasting them in a skillet). One test I use for doneness is to pick up one of the nuts and try to snap it in half (be careful, they’re hot!). If I get a good clean crisp snap without too much effort, then I know the nuts are ready.
Most softer nuts, such as pecans, walnuts, or cashews will be done roasting in 8 to 10 minutes. Some harder nuts like almonds or hazelnuts might take 12 to 15 minutes. Most nuts fall into the 8 to 12 minute range. If the nuts are small, or are already in small pieces, the cooking time will be shorter. Once you have gone through the cooking process a couple of times, you’ll see how long it takes using your own oven or stove top.
Once the nuts have cooked to your satisfaction, remove them from the hot baking sheet or skillet immediately. They will continue to cook if they are left on the hot pan. Moving them to a cooling rack is recommended, but even a plate or platter will work.
If you need to chop any nuts for the recipe you are using them in, do the breaking after the nuts have roasted. They will be easier to cut and you have less risk of small pieces overcooking if you cut them first.
You might enjoy these recipes made with nuts: