Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire: 2022 Quick Guide

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Who hasn’t heard of chestnut roasting over an open fire? It is such a winter holiday tradition that it is even featured in song (“chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”)! But do any of you know how to roast chestnuts on an open fire? Most of you have probably heard tales of exploding chestnuts and the danger of roasting chestnuts on an open fire. Yet you find most markets selling chestnuts each holiday season. So what are people doing with them. Well, chestnut roasting isn’t as dangerous as its reputation would have you believe. If you know what you are doing, chestnut roasting can be a perfect fireplace cooking event this winter, or any other time for that matter. You just need to follow some simple instructions to have perfectly cooked, toasty and tender roast chestnuts on an open fire for you and your family to enjoy.

What You Will Need for Chestnuts Roasting:

  • Chestnuts, obviously!

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  • A sharp knife, razor blade or poker of some sort (a classic chestnut knife, available at is pictured at right).
  • A long-handled roasting pan or basket – Ideally one with holes work well. You want as long a handle as possible to avoid roasting yourself! I like ones with lids as well so that you can shake your chestnuts around without them falling out into your fire. The ones pictured on this page (both the open pan and the basket) are both available through

Hot fire in your fireplace or fire pit – alternatively, if you prefer, you can cook them in your oven preheated to about 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chestnuts Roasting – How to Roast Chestnuts

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  1. First, use your chestnut knife to cut an “X” into the end of each chestnut shell. Be careful! They are hard to cut and you don’t want to slip and cut yourself! Make sure the cut is deep enough to go through the shell. This allows venting of steam as the chestnut within cooks. If you don’t do this, they can pop which can be dangerous! If you don’t have a knife that works, you can also poke holes in the shell with a poker or fork. You need enough holes to allow steam to escape easily.
  2. In the meantime, get your fire going nice and hot. Ideally you want a nice core of hot embers so that you get good heat without having to completely submerge your chestnuts in the flames of the fire.
  3. Next, put your chestnuts in your roasting pan and hold them over your fire. Shake them occasionally so that they cook evenly. After about 15 to 25 minutes your chestnuts should have turned black. You can take one out and test it to see if they are done but be careful they are hot!
  4. Let your chestnuts cool slightly, but it is easier to peel them when they are still warm or hot. From the cut holes, peel or pry the shell off. The meat inside should be yellow, soft and smell sweet. If the first couple you open are not done, return the rest to the fire for a few minutes more.
  5. Finally, enjoy your roasted chestnuts! I personally like them with some salt sprinkled over them.
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