Cheatin' Wheat Gluten Free Baking Blog

How to Toast Nuts

A search on toasting nuts yields a lot of results. I find the "how to" is the easy part; it is convincing people to actually do it that is hard.

Question: When is a nut not a nut?
Answer: When it has been deeply toasted with a little butter and salt. It truly becomes much more interesting and deeply satisfying.

Question: Why do roasted nuts taste better?
Answer: Nuts are high in fat and oils which means their flavor, color and aroma intensify from roasting. This is a huge benefit to your baking since it will create more depth of flavor and texture.

Question: Are the butter and salt mandatory?
Answer: If you avoid dairy or salt you get a pass. Otherwise, yes. I do not use large amounts of either since intensifying the flavor of the nut is the goal. However, a little of each makes the nut taste more nutty.

Question: What do you mean by deeply roasted?
Answer: Don't chicken out. Color equals flavor and the color change must occur throughout, not just on the outside, of the nut. Maybe the reason you don't think roasted nuts are that much different is because you have never actually roasted the nut all the way through.

Question: Do you always toast nuts for baked goods?
Answer: You betcha! I am rattling my brain to recall the last time I used raw nuts in a baking recipe.

Question: Don't the nuts toast while being baked in the baked good?
Answer: No way Jose! Please do not convince yourself the nuts buried in batter realize any toasty benefit.

Question: Can I use store bought roasted salted nuts?
Answer: Ummm, well, they are not as good, you cannot decide how toasty, you do not know how much salt is added and sometimes there are other ingredients....catch my drift?

Question: Can I toast several different kinds of nuts at the same time?
Answer: Same oven, yes. Same sheet pan, no. Different nuts are different sizes and have different amounts of fat which means they will toast at different rates.

Question: I have heard some people use a microwave to toast nuts.
Answer: That was not a question, but still no. I have tried it and I do not think you get the same depth of flavor using the microwave. Besides, if you are going to do something, take the time to do it right, right?

Question: How about toasting nuts on the stove top?
Answer: Still no. It is surprisingly more difficult and high maintenance to achieve the desired amount of color throughout the nut. The stove top is very good at toasting the outside, but it is tricky to do more then that without scorching the nut in spots.

Question: So what is the best method for toasting nuts?
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
Always roast whole nuts, not pieces, to ensure consistency.
Melt about 1 T. of butter and pour over 2-3 cups of nuts.
Rub the nuts and butter between your hands until they are evenly coasted.
Sprinkle a little salt over the nuts and toss to coat.
Spread in a single layer on a sheet pan. Toast, stirring every 10 minutes until you achieve the desired flavor and color.

Question: How do I know when the nuts are done?
Answer: Eat one.