Microwave Chestnuts: Cook a Holiday Favorite in Minutes!

Ditch the open fire and make these microwave chestnuts instead this holiday season! They take only about 5 minutes to cook up perfectly, for a festive snack. While it’s not quite the same as slow roasting, they still come out buttery, warm, and delicious with this quick and easy method.

microwave chestnuts recipe dinners done quick featured image

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Every year, I grab a bag of fresh chestnuts at the market to enjoy. It’s become somewhat of a tradition! The microwave is by far the fastest way to prepare them, and while it’s not quite the same as roasting, they’re still delicious.

Not only are they a tasty snack, but chestnuts are packed with antioxidants, so they’re good for you as well. 

There are several different varieties out there – I’m using American chestnuts. However, this recipe will work with other varieties as well, but the cooking times might vary a little bit for the various shapes and sizes.

fresh microwave chestnuts on a plate circled by uncooked nuts

If you have an air fryer, make sure to check out my recipe for Ninja Air Fryer Chestnuts for an alternative preparation option!

Ingredients List

ingredients to make chestnuts in the microwave
  • Fresh chestnuts
  • Pinch of salt

Ingredient Tips and Notes

  • You can also use frozen chestnuts, but for best results make sure to completely thaw them beforehand
  • Feel free to soak scored chestnuts overnight, as it can sometimes make them easier to peel (though I find it still varies a bit by individual chestnut)
  • Salt is entirely optional, but I like to add just a little to add to the flavor!

Step By Step Directions

  1. Lay the flat side of a chestnut against a hard surface for stability. Using a sharp knife, cut an ‘X’ shape into the curved top side, making sure to pierce the skin. This prevents the chestnut from bursting open during cooking
slice an X in the top of the chestnut shells
  1. Repeat for as many chestnuts as you’d like, and then place them onto a microwave safe plate, allowing space between each one
evenly space your chestnuts on a microwave safe plate
  1. Cover the chestnuts with a dampened paper towel to retain moisture
place a damp paper towel over the chestnuts
  1. Place in the microwave and cook on high for 3 minutes. Check them, and add additional time in 1-minute increments as needed, until the scored section of the skin begins to peel back. Time will vary based on quantity of chestnuts and the wattage of your microwave
  2. Cool just until you can handle them without burning yourself, and peel off the shells, including the fuzzy brown layer underneath. This is easiest to do while they’re still hot
gently peel off the chestnut shells after they cool a bit
  1. Sprinkle with a little salt if desired, and enjoy!
overhead view of warm microwave chestnuts on a plate surrounded by fresh ones

Serving and Pairing Suggestions

Serving Options

  • Solo Snacking: Enjoy microwaved chestnuts as a standalone snack. Serve them warm, peeled, and seasoned according to your preference.
  • In Salads: Incorporate sliced or diced chestnuts into salads to add a nutty flavor and satisfying crunch.
  • With Dips: Pair microwaved chestnuts with sweet or savory dips like hummus, yogurt-based dips, or chocolate sauce.
  • Mixed Nuts Platter: Combine chestnuts with other nuts for a diverse nut platter to serve during gatherings or parties.
  • In Stuffings: Use microwaved chestnuts in stuffing recipes for roasted meats or as a vegetarian stuffing alternative. Add them to my Air Fryer Cornbread Dressing for unique texture and flavor!

Pairing Suggestions

  • Beverages: Pair microwaved chestnuts with beverages such as hot chocolate, mulled wine, apple cider, or a cup of your favorite tea or coffee. Try my Salted Caramel Whiskey Hot Chocolate for a perfect pairing!
  • Wine: Chestnuts complement a variety of wines. Try them with a glass of Chardonnay, Riesling, or a light Pinot Noir.
  • Beer: Enjoy the nutty flavor of chestnuts with a crisp Lager or a darker, malty Ale.
  • Cocktails: Consider serving chestnuts alongside cocktails like a classic Old Fashioned or a whiskey-based drink. A Pear Whiskey Sour or Maple Old Fashioned are good choices!

Recipe FAQs

What Are the Best Chestnuts for Microwaving?

Microwave-friendly chestnuts should have smooth, unblemished shells and be relatively uniform in size to ensure even cooking.

Look for fresh chestnuts that feel firm and heavy.

How Long Should I Microwave Chestnuts?

Typically, microwave for 3-4 minutes, making a small slit on each nut beforehand to prevent explosions.

The microwave duration can vary based on chestnut size and wattage.

How Do I Prep Chestnuts Before Microwaving?

Prior to microwaving, score an “X” on the rounded side of each chestnut’s shell to avoid popping.

This allows steam to escape and prevents nuts from bursting.

How Do I Know When Chestnuts Are Done in the Microwave?

Fully microwaved chestnuts are easy to peel and reveal a tender, cooked nut inside.

The shells will also slightly open at the cuts you’ve made.

Are Microwaved Chestnuts as Flavorful as Oven-Roasted Ones?

Microwaved chestnuts offer a similar taste profile but may lack the smoky depth of oven-roasted.

They’re convenient for a quick cooking method, and a good alternative if you don’t have an oven.

How Do I Store Microwaved Chestnuts?

Store any leftover microwaved chestnuts in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Reheat before serving, if desired, for about 30-45 seconds in the microwave.

How Safe Is It to Microwave Chestnuts?

When properly scored, microwaving chestnuts is safe.

Slitting the shells prevents nuts from exploding during the heating process.

Can I Freeze Microwaved Chestnuts?

Yes, you can freeze them in a sealed container for up to three months.

Thaw and reheat as needed.

Recipe Pro Tips

  • I generally cook about a dozen chestnuts at a time, but you can cook as many as comfortably fit on your plate
  • My recipe was made in a 1000W microwave and my chestnuts were perfect at the 3 minute mark. Other wattages may vary
  • If you get a particularly large or difficult to peel nut, feel free to give it another 20-30 seconds and try again, as it can help loosen it up!
closeup of microwave chestnut lightly salted

Storage and Reheating Tips

  • Store leftover chestnuts in the refrigerator for up to 1 week in container or bag
  • To reheat, microwave for about 20-30 seconds until warm, and enjoy! I do not recommend reheating more than once, as they dry out with each subsequent cooking

More Festive Microwave Treats

Final Thoughts

These microwave chestnuts are so easy to make! It takes under 5 minutes to cook them, for a quick and festive snack. Plus, they’re naturally low fat, gluten free, and vegetarian friendly, so they work for a variety of dietary needs.

They look lovely as part of your mixed nut platter or charcuterie board, but are equally great in stuffing for Thanksgiving or Christmas!

While the flavor profile isn’t quite the same as roasting them, you’ll save a ton of time with this easy preparation method. It’s also a great option if you don’t have an oven!

For another crunchy snack perfect for your holiday platters, also make sure to check out my Honey Roasted Pecans in the Air Fryer for a sweet and salty treat!

microwave chestnuts recipe dinners done quick featured image

Quick Microwave Chestnuts

Cook your fresh chestnuts in the microwave in under 5 minutes! They’re perfect as a festive snack or on a charcuterie board, or mix them in with your stuffing for a holiday classic.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Course Snack
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Servings 4
Calories 59 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 12 Fresh chestnuts
  • ¼ Tsp salt (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Lay the flat side of a chestnut against a hard surface for stability. Using a sharp knife, cut an ‘X’ shape into the curved top side, making sure to pierce the skin. This prevents the chestnut from bursting open during cooking
    12 Fresh chestnuts
  • Repeat for as many chestnuts as you’d like, and then place them onto a microwave safe plate, allowing space between each one
  • Cover the chestnuts with a dampened paper towel to retain moisture
  • Place in the microwave and cook on high for 3 minutes. Check them, and add additional time in 1-minute increments as needed, until the scored section of the skin begins to peel back. Time will vary based on quantity of chestnuts and the wattage of your microwave
  • Cool just until you can handle them without burning yourself, and peel off the shells, including the fuzzy brown layer underneath. This is easiest to do while they’re still hot
  • Sprinkle with a little salt if desired, and enjoy!
    ¼ Tsp salt

Notes

  • You can also use frozen chestnuts, but for best results make sure to completely thaw them beforehand
  • My recipe was made in a 1000W microwave and my chestnuts were perfect at the 3 minute mark. Other wattages may vary
  • You can cook as many chestnuts at a time as comfortably fit on your plate
  • If you get a particularly large or difficult to peel nut, feel free to give it another 20-30 seconds and try again, as it can help loosen it up!
  • Store leftover chestnuts in the refrigerator for up to 1 week in container or bag
  • To reheat chestnuts, microwave for about 20-30 seconds until warm, and enjoy! I do not recommend reheating more than once, as they dry out with each subsequent cooking
  • Exact nutritional values will vary based on variety and size of chestnuts, any seasonings added, and total quantity consumed, so please consider this a guideline only

Nutrition

Serving: 24gCalories: 59kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 0.8gFat: 0.5gSaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 146mgPotassium: 142mgFiber: 1.2gSugar: 2.5gVitamin A: 0.8IUVitamin C: 6.2mgCalcium: 7.1mgIron: 0.2mg
Keyword chestnut recipes, how to microwave chestnuts, microwave chestnuts, nutritious snacks, quick chestnut cooking
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Katie Vine