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How to Roast Nuts and Keep Them Healthy

Questions Answered:
  • How do I roast raw nuts in the oven?
  • Which nuts are best for roasting?
  • Do nuts lose health benefits when roasting?
  • Are roasted nuts good for you?
  • Is there a difference between raw roasted vs dry or oil roasted nuts?

Is there anything better than the aroma of roasted toasted nuts? Roasted hazelnuts, roasted cashews, roasted pistachios, roasted macadamia nuts — you name the nut, you just can’t say no!

Still, most of us wait until that late fall football game or outdoor winter carnival to indulge in this tasty treat. And while that’s perfectly fine to do, wouldn’t it be nice to have some roasted nuts at home once in a while as well?

The good news is: It’s super easy to roast nuts. In the following guide, we explain just how in a simple way. But first, let’s talk ideal nuts for roasting and how to retain the nutritional value of your toasted nuts.

What Nuts Are Best for Roasting?

You’ve heard of roasted chestnuts, toasted pine nuts, and roasted almonds. But are all nuts good for roasting?

Technically speaking, you can roast almost any nut. But when it comes to timing your roasts, just be sure to follow a few rules.

  • Lighter nuts like walnuts, pistachios, and pecans don’t need as long in the heat to toast well.
  • Nuts that are denser like Macadamia nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts need more time to get a good toast

With either type of nut, do not roast on high heat, and do not roast for too long.

Are Roasted Nuts Good for You?

Nuts themselves are super healthy. Nearly all varieties are packed with protein, good-for-you fats, and many other vitamins and nutrients — not to mention antioxidants.

But what about roasted? Are roasted nuts as healthy as raw nuts? We know they’re quite a bit tastier in many ways, but as with many foods, one has to wonder if adding heat to nuts changes their nutritional properties.

To understand the answer to this question, we should first say that the enemy of nutritional value when it comes to toasted nuts is high heat. Additionally, if you cook your nuts for too long, the nutritional value can be reduced. More on this later.

We also need to point out that there are the two basic ways you can roast nuts: Dry roasted or oil roasted. 

You’ve probably already guessed which method is healthier … Notoriously, foods cooked in oil are less healthy.

But the truth is, oil roasted nuts are not actually as bad for you as you may think. As it turns out, they are only slightly higher in calories and fat than dry roasted nuts.

And what about dry and oil roasted nuts vs. raw nuts?

There isn’t much of a difference here either — if you roast the nuts correctly. For example, there are 199 calories in 28 grams of dry-roasted pecans and 193 calories in 28 grams of raw pecans.

Of course, this isn’t to say that you should eat all the toasted nuts you like. Like raw nuts, it’s best to eat roasted nuts in moderation. This is especially true if you’ve added other ingredients like white or brown sugar to your nuts.

Retaining Nutritional Value When Roasting Nuts

As we mentioned above, if you want to retain the nutritional value of your roasted nuts, you’ve got to make sure not to add too much heat and not to leave your nuts in the heat too long.

The reason for this is that when you expose fat to heat, you get what’s called “rancid fat.” It’s also called “oxidized fat” because what’s actually happening is that the fats are becoming oxidized (literally: chemically combined with oxygen) as they heat up. Unfortunately, this creates something that is not very good for your body: free radicals.

Free radicals are a form and of molecule that is unstable. Over time, by consuming an increasing amount of free radicals, they can build up in your body (in cells) and end up causing or contributing to illnesses — one of which is cancer. Free radicals are not only bad for you, but they can take away from the delicious flavor of your toasted nuts as well.

How to Avoid Free Radicals in Roasted Nuts

The good news is you can quite easily avoid creating free radicals when roasting and toasting nuts.

1. Start by only roasting your nuts at a low to medium temperature.

2. Don’t roast your nuts too long. As soon as they turn that perfect golden brown (or whatever color you are trying to achieve), take them off the heat. Roasting in small batches will help here. If you have a batch that’s too large, you’ll likely end up roasting them for too long.

In other words, don’t crank the heat up to high and assume you can simply roast your nuts for half the called-for time. Low and slow is the way to go.

How to Roast Raw Nuts in the Oven

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. The temperature here is ultra important, so if you can use a secondary thermometer to make sure that your oven is indeed at 350 degrees F.

2. Use parchment paper to line a baking sheet. Avoid having the parchment paper extend over the sides of the pan as it can burn during roasting. You don’t want to roast your nuts directly on a baking sheet for several reasons. First, if you’re using extra ingredients like sugar, it can be extremely difficult to clean your pan afterward. Next, you want your nuts to roast evenly, and parchment can help with that.

3. Choose the nuts you’re going to roast and spread them out over your parchment paper. Now’s the time to add any additional ingredients, like sugar, oil, or salt. You want your nuts in a single layer here; do not pile them up! Even if you stir and adjust them often, piling up your nuts is going to end in some not getting done at all and some getting burned.

4. Bake your single layer of nuts in the oven for five to ten minutes. You’ll want to check them often because, again, they can burn extremely easily. Make sure that you get that ideal golden brown color you want. If you want the nuts to be darker, add time in 30 second to one minute increments so as not to burn. Never put your nuts under the broiler to roast.

5. When you’re done roasting, you can take them directly off the baking sheet and parchment paper. If you added brown sugar or any other ingredients, be sure to do this step fast as the nuts can easily stick together if you wait too long. Put the nuts on a separate baking sheet or piece of parchment paper to cool. Cool them all apart from each other to keep them from sticking, if necessary.

6. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.

Ready to Try Your Own Roasted Nuts?

Many people are intimidated by a recipe that calls for you to toast walnuts on the stovetop or roast macadamia nuts in the oven. But as you can see, the process is simple, straightforward, and turns out a delicious, aroma-filled result

You can now make roasted nuts in one simple way, any time you want. Even if you’re just hankering for some brown sugar roasted almonds for your ice cream tonight. Now you know how truly easy it is!

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