How do you toast nuts, and is it necessary?  

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If you have a cooking question, our expert, Marge Perry, can answer it. Marge teaches home cooks in her classes at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She is an award-winning food writer, longtime contributor for Cooking Light and a number of other leading food magazines, author of the blog A Sweet and Savory Life, columnist for Newsday, and has contributed to over 20 cookbooks.

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Toasting nuts gives them a more intense, warm and nutty flavor. Most recipes that call for toasting nuts would not be ruined if you leave them untoasted—but the dish probably won't taste as good.

My favorite way to toast nuts is in a skillet. You simply place the nuts in a dry skillet (don't oil it or coat it with cooking spray!), place it over medium high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the nuts are lightly golden and aromatic. This usually takes between 1 and 3 minutes. Watch them closely, because nuts go from toasted to burned very quickly.

Many people like to toast nuts in a 350º oven: place the nuts on a baking sheet, stir a couple of times, and in about 5 to 8 minutes they'll be toasted. I prefer the skillet method because not only is it faster, the nuts are right under my eyes where I can keep a close watch on them.

You can also toast nuts in the microwave: you'll intensify the flavor but they will not turn that lovely golden color. Place the nuts in a shallow dish (such as a pie plate) and microwave on high, stirring every 30 seconds, for 1 to 3 minutes.

For more tips, watch our video on How to Toast Nuts.

Marge Perry
Dec, 2010
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