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How to Roast Chestnuts on an Open Fire [Step by Step]

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Roasted chestnuts are a delightful treat at any time of year! Although for many homesteaders, they are something we only eat over the holiday season. Luckily, chestnut trees grow in abundance where I live, so we’re frequently roasting them on an open fire throughout the colder months.

There are many different ways to roast chestnuts, with some methods turning out far better than others.

Let’s find out how to roast chestnuts on an open fire. With all the best tips and a step-by-step guide!

How to Roast Chestnuts on an Open Fire | The Art of Manliness

What is the Best Way to Roast Chestnuts on an Open Fire?

Until I moved to Portugal, I’d only tried roasted chestnuts from street stalls at Christmas markets. But, as soon as the fresh chestnuts ripened? Our neighbors were bringing them around by the bucket load for us to try!

The first time we saw chestnuts roasted on an open fire was when an elderly farmer appeared and threw a handful of chestnuts into the hot embers of our bonfire. Yes, that’s right – zero preparation! No fuss, and about as simple as it gets.

They soon started to pop open, and the cooked chestnuts got raked out onto the grass until they were cool enough to handle. They tasted delicious, although a bit sooty!

This chestnut roasting process might be the most straightforward method! But after a long winter of trialing different chestnut roasting methods, I can confirm that it is not the best. A few simple steps can help you make the most of your garden chestnuts. And help to avoid sooty fingers from peeling chestnuts straight from the fire!

chestnuts roasting in hot bed of fiery coals
Some homesteading friends try adding olive oil or butter to their skillets when cooking chestnuts on an open fire. But oil isn’t needed! Nuts have tons of oil – they don’t need the extra lubrication. But don’t stress too much about their fat content. They’re considered tremendously healthy – and contain loads of potassium and magnesium.

How Long Does It Take for Chestnuts to Roast?

It takes around 10 minutes for chestnuts to roast. But, this time can be affected by various factors.

Small chestnuts will cook faster than large ones, and a hotter fire will also reduce the cooking time. The type of pan you use also affects the cooking time, depending on how well it conducts heat.

Do You Have to Soak Chestnuts Before Roasting?

It is not vital to soak chestnuts before roasting, but it will make them easier to peel once cooked. If you don’t have time beforehand, you can skip the soaking step, as it will not alter the flavor or texture of the roasted chestnuts.

Read More – Best Fermented Tomato Recipes!

Should I Boil Chestnuts Before Roasting?

It is not necessary to boil chestnuts before roasting. Chestnuts can get cooked using one of two methods – boiling. Or roasting! Combining the two methods does not give good results.

If you want cooked chestnuts with a smooth texture for making cakes and desserts, then boiling them is the method of choice.

Roasting chestnuts will give you a more intense flavor and dense texture and is ideal for fresh chestnuts to snack on around a warm fire.

roasting chestnuts outdoor campfire party
Once you throw your chestnuts in the skillet and begin heating the pan – mix frequently! Otherwise, you’ll notice that your chestnuts cook unevenly. Instead – cook over low heat and stir the nuts. Having a long-handled skillet with a spatula (of at least 16-inches or more) comes in handy – especially when visiting the campsite.

How to Roast Chestnuts on an Open Fire – Step by Step Guide

OK, so after a lot of trial and error, here is my ultimate guide to roasting chestnuts over an open fire!

1. Prepare the Fire

Chestnuts can get roasted over an open fire – a bonfire, campfire, fire pit, barbeque grill, or a cozy fireplace in your living room. Build the chestnut fire up well and allow it to reduce down to a bed of hot embers.

2. Score the Chestnuts

Using a small, sharp knife, cut an x-shape into the rounded size of each chestnut. The x-shape should be deep enough to cut through the outer shell and fuzzy inner skin, but try to avoid cutting into the flesh of the nut too deep.

3. Soak the Chestnuts (Optional)

Do you have time? Then soak the prepared chestnuts in a water bowl for around an hour. This step is not critical but does make the roasted chestnuts easier to peel.

4. Prepare Your Roasting Pan

The ideal pan for roasting chestnuts is a cast-iron skillet, which will retain heat well and provide the perfect cooking surface for chestnut roasting. You can also use a bespoke chestnut roasting pan or an old baking tray.

The pan should get placed in the fire to preheat. If you use a barbecue, it can sit directly on the grill top. On an open fire? You will need to nestle the pan on top of the hot embers. Carefully!

5. Put the Chestnuts in the Roasting Pan

Once preheated, remove the pan from the fire. Then place it on a heat-resistant surface. Carefully place the chestnuts flat side down in the roasting pan. Take care, as the pan will be hot!

6. Roast Your Chestnuts!

Place the pan back into the fire, and watch your chestnuts. But be careful! You will see them starting to open where you cut the x-shape into the shell. After around five minutes, give the pan a gentle shake to move them around. They should cook sufficiently after 10 minutes. But, it is a good idea to test one to make sure.

fire roasted grilled chestnuts ready to eat
Check out these delicious chestnuts roasted to perfection! Notice how the nuts get split open. We recommend slicing small slits of the outer shell before cooking. Otherwise – the pressure within the nuts may cause your chestnuts to explode! Also – when stowing your nuts for safekeeping after they are at room temperature? Toss them in mouse-proof storage.

Read More – Building a Backyard Fire Pit! Our DIY Guide!

How to Roast Chestnuts – FAQs

Roasting chestnuts is confusing the first time you crack open your cabinet, grab a pan, and begin frying!

But – after you fry a few batches of chestnuts? Then it’s much more straightforward.

We’re answering some of the most frequent chestnut-cooking questions you may encounter.

We hope they help you!

How Do You Roast Nuts Over a Campfire?

The key to roasting nuts over a campfire is to rake out a flatbed of embers, on which the cast iron skillet gets placed. A cast-iron skillet is an ideal tool for this job, as it will withstand the heat of the campfire without sustaining any damage. Make sure the handle is easily accessible and away from hot flames. The longer the handle – the better. 

You can roast various nuts over a campfire quickly and easily – not just chestnuts! Pecans and almonds are some of our favorites. But be careful roasting chestnuts carefully to avoid burnt fingers.

Can You Roast Chestnuts on a Fire Pit?

Chestnuts are easy to roast on a fire pit. We recommend a reliable cast-iron skillet and a hotbed of coals for the best results. One mistake we see is leaving the fire too high. It is essential to let the flames die down with your fire pit when roasting chestnuts. Otherwise, you may find it difficult to lift the pan out of the fire. Use the method we described above – and stay safe!

How Do You Roast Chestnuts in a Pan With Holes?

A traditional chestnut roasting pan has holes, allowing heat and small flames to make contact with the surface of the chestnuts. This direct contact can reduce the cooking time, and the shell may become scorched. But the chestnuts inside will be much more delicious this way.

How Do You Roast Chestnuts on an Open Fireplace?

Roasting a chestnut batch in an open fireplace is one of the delights of the festive season! And it’s something every family should try! However, don’t pull out your best pans for this job, as cookware can quickly become ruined by open flames.

Allow the fire to die down to a bed of hot embers, and put the prepared chestnuts into a suitable pan. The best choices are cast iron, a bespoke chestnut pan, or an old oven tray that can get sacrificed for this purpose.

How Long Do Chestnuts Take to Roast on Open Fire?

Not long. Chestnuts roasted on an open fire will take around 10-12 minutes to cook. To check that they get cooked, carefully lift one from the pan – they will be hot!

Peel back the shell and sample the chestnut flesh inside. It should taste soft and buttery, with a slightly chewy texture.

Read More – How to Build an Epic Cinderblock Grill!

Best Cast-Iron Skillets for Roasting Chestnuts, Pecans, Almonds, and More!

Don’t wait until Christmas to roast chestnuts! You can start now. Use these cast-iron skillets!

They’re also perfect for roasting more than chestnuts.

Fry your next egg, stir-fry, or cheeseburger in one of these pans. 

We hope you’ll love using them.

  1. Enameled Cast-Iron Skillet 9-Inches | Le Creuset

    Want a premium cast-iron pan for baking chestnuts and fresh garden veggies? This lovely 9-inch cast-iron skillet has a spacious heating surface - perfect when cooking for friends and family. It also has a durable finish (black enamel) - so you don't need seasoning.

    You'll notice that the skillet distributes heat perfectly - so when you fry an egg or a flank of meat - the food cooks evenly. The skillet has a limited lifetime warranty. The reviews are also stellar.

    Get More Info

    PAID LINK - We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    06/12/2024 01:56 pm GMT
  2. Cast Iron Square Skillet 10.5-Inches | Lodge
    $35.00 $31.98

    We love this square-shaped cast iron skillet for frying chestnuts, chicken tenders, stir-fried veggies, and massive egg and cheese omelets! Square pans are also excellent for frying burgers, pancakes, and porterhouse steaks.

    It has a hefty 10.5-inch surface area perfect for baking, searing, stir-frying, and sauteing. It's also pre-seasoned and one of the most affordable cast iron pans. It has overwhelmingly positive reviews. It also comes from the USA.

    Get More Info

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    06/13/2024 11:56 am GMT
  3. Cast Iron Wanderlust Series 8-Inch | Lodge
    $27.50 $19.96

    Need a reliable skillet for your camper? Here's another cast-iron skillet from Lodge - and the USA! We love this campsite skillet for the campfire, campsite, tent, RV, truck, or glamping and camping trips.

    It has 100% natural pre-season (vegetable oil) and is ready for cooking. It's only eight inches and perfect for heating trout, salmon, chestnuts, eggs, and fresh garden veggies.

    Get More Info

    PAID LINK - We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    06/12/2024 06:16 pm GMT
  4. Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron 5 Piece Set | Lodge
    $150.00 $99.90

    Need to fill your kitchen with cookware? The 5-piece cast-iron cook set is perfect for induction cooking! It has vegetable oil pre-season and is ready to sear, bake, broil, roast, fry, grill, or braise. It's perfect for cooking chestnuts, fresh eggs, or kale and pepper stir-fry.

    It also has thousands of reviews - and most of the reviews are stellar. We also noticed a handful of negative reviews. They cite how the build quality isn't the best. However, most of the reviews are positive.

    Get More Info

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    06/13/2024 04:51 am GMT
  5. Cast Iron Skillet with Lid 12-Inches | Legend Cookware

    Here's a massive twelve-inch cast-iron pan with a glass lid! It has a long handle allowing you to maneuver the pan around your fire with precision for a better cook. The glass lid helps you sizzle and sear savory meats and tender garden veggies.

    The reviews are mostly excellent. For best results? Don't forget to coat the entire surface with vegetable oil! The pan comes with a vegetable oil pre-season. However, we always recommend adding your oil too.

    Get More Info

    PAID LINK - We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  6. Modern Heirloom Handcrafted Cast Iron Skillet | FINEX
    $230.00 $183.96

    Here's an underrated skillet - from an underrated brand. Want to fry chestnuts, chicken, and eggs in style? Then check out this handcrafted cast-iron skillet from the USA. The skillet has a smooth flaxseed oil polish making it effortless to cook eggs without sticking.

    It's also great for searing large chunks of salmon, steaks, or pork. This skillet isn't anywhere near as popular as other brands. However, the reviews are excellent. And the crafters suggest that it will last you forever.

    Get More Info

    PAID LINK - We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    06/13/2024 03:21 pm GMT


We know that you’re supposed to only roast chestnuts during the holidays. But the weather is so beautiful outside – why wait?

If you have questions about roasting and baking chestnuts, almonds, pecans, or other nuts? Let us know!

And – if you have good chestnut recipes or cooking tips? Please share them!

We love discussing the best outdoor (and indoor) cooking methods with you.

Thanks so much for reading.

Have a great day!

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