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Plate of Roasted Chestnuts

Roasted Chestnuts with Brown Butter and Lemon

Dec 11, 2011Posted by guestchefPrint

Despite their holiday ubiquity from a pop-culture standpoint, chestnuts are a woefully underused and underappreciated food that can bring some much-needed diversity to any holiday table. I’ll make no claims to the contrary; chestnuts can be a bit of a pain to work with, but in the end, I think you’ll find the effort is worth it. This is a simple recipe meant to highlight chestnuts’ sweet, earthy flavor.

Plate of Roasted Chestnuts

Roasted Chestnuts with Brown Butter and Lemon

A delicious appetizer perfect for the fall and winter seasons!
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian


  • 2 lbs chestnuts fresh, shell-on
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 Tbsp butter unsalted
  • 1 zest lemon and juice of 1/2 lemons


  • First, score the chestnuts. Seriously, score the chestnuts. They will explode in your oven if you don’t! This would make for good holiday entertainment, but not good holiday eating. I find a serrated knife works pretty well for the task. Score each chestnut around the equator on its rounded side. By scoring them this way, when the nuts roast, they will pop open on a hinge, making them easier (note: not easy, just easier) to clean. Soak the scored chestnuts in cool water for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the water and place in a roasting tray. Toss with the vegetable oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place in a hot oven to roast. I roasted mine at 700 degrees F (air temp). Roast for approximately 10 minutes, stirring once until the outer shells have darkened and blistered and the meat has swelled and popped open the slits that you made.
  • Remove the chestnuts from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle them. Then begin the process of peeling the chestnuts. On some, the shells will pop right off; others will take some more work. A paring knife is the best tool, particularly for scraping off any of the tough inside skin that remains stuck to the meat.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium-high heat in a small saucepot. Once the butter begins to foam, whisk continuously. This will keep the solids from sticking to the bottom of the pan. When the butter solids take on a mahogany hue, remove from the heat and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon to halt the cooking process. The mixture will foam violently – don’t worry, this is normal. Use a microplane to remove the zest from the lemon and add this to the mixture. Add the cleaned chestnuts to the pot and place over low heat. Cook gently just until the chestnuts are warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy your chestnuts on their own as a side dish, or combine with roasted carrots or squash for more hearty fare.


Note: You can also roast your chestnuts at 450 -500°F. (Different chefs prefer different temperatures.)
Keyword Wood-Fired Cooking, chestnut recipe, roasted chestnuts, fall cooking, Dan Compton

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