Peeling Chestnuts – the easy way

I love chestnuts – just plain roasted, in bread sausage stuffing,  with red cabbage, soup – you name it, I love them. But I despise the kind in jars and I hate the hassle of peeling them. Those pesky inner skins never seem to want to come clean and of course, there is that little problem of spending way too long with a paring knife to make that cross.

Well, I have discovered the fool proof way to cut the chestnuts, plus the foolproof method to peel them.

To cut the chestnuts purchase the Jasco Chestnutter®. This really works. I have no financial relationship with this company so my endorsement is just based on personal experience.

Now once you have cut the chestnuts, I use a trick that was published in the LA Times, Dec 17, 1995. It is also in Verge’s book Vegetables in the French Manner.

Chestnuts to peel

Preheat oven to 550 (my oven only goes to 525, but it still works) for at least 30 minutes.

Score the chestnuts with your Jasco Chestnutter® and roast them on a baking sheet at 550 for 5 minutes. Check them to be sure they are not burning.  If you need to roast them for a minute or two more to be sure they are open, be very careful they don’t burn.

Remove the chestnuts from the oven and immediately cover them with a towel that has been soaked in ice water and wrung out. Let them steam for a minute or so under the cold towel – don’t let them cool too much. 

DO NOT DO TOO MANY CHESTNUTS AT ONCE – for 3 pounds of chestnuts we did them in 4 batches. While we peeled one batch, the second batch was in the oven.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays.


This is a P.S. to this post. There is a huge advantage to being fortunate enough to have wonderful chefs as friends. I sent out a SOS to one of them re freezing chestnuts. He came up with the perfect solution and one that decreases the stress during the holidays. Shell the chestnuts using the above procedure. The chestnuts will still be hard. I don’t have a cry-o-vac machine, but I took the peeled chestnuts to my local market, went to the meat department and asked if they had a cry-o-vac machine. They did and now I have chestnuts in the freezer that are now in cry-o-vac.


When you are ready to use the chestnuts, defrost and cook according to the recipe you are using until crumbly for stuffing. This recipe is ONLY for shelling. They are hard and not ready to eat using this method! My suggestion is to boil them in stock until soft and crumbly.






15 Responses to “Peeling Chestnuts – the easy way”

  1. 1 Loving Annie December 2, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Thank you for the information – that will come in handy 🙂

  2. 2 Rupert Hitzig December 3, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Z love chestnuts too. Usually, when I was in NY, they were from a cart on Fifth Avenue, and the little bagfull was a delight. I think it cost a buck.
    This is the best darn website on the internet. I love the stories, the restaurnants, the menus, the pix.
    This will be a smash … keep going and keep entertaining.
    It’s great.

  3. 3 Marty December 5, 2008 at 5:19 am

    Well hello, Lizzie …

    This took me back a few years ! You sent me a recipe for roast goose (which was to be my first major cooking effort) and also your own recipe for chestnut stuffing. The latter involved me in peeling about 40 chestnuts, which took me about an hour and cost me much damage to my untrained fingers. My family lunch was late, my fingers have never been the same since, but the stuffing was hugely admired !!!

    I still have the recipe, and now you’ve finally decided to tell me how to peel those darn chestnuts, maybe I’ll do it again this year :-)))

  4. 4 lizziee December 5, 2008 at 6:47 am

    Hi Marty, nice to hear from you and a big hi to Rupert as well. I didn’t mention in the original recipe that this only peels the chestnuts. They still need to be cooked. I just use Swanson’s chicken broth and boil them in that until soft, but still crumbly.

  5. 5 Robin November 22, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    My husband and I have tried EVERY method known to man, woman, and beast to easily peel chestnuts and finally we have found it! Thank you SOOOOO much! We don’t have “chestnutter” – just use utility knife but the high heat followed by steam works like a charm.

  6. 6 lizziee November 22, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    So happy it worked – it’s the one job I hate at Thanksgiving – no more!

  7. 7 Dean November 18, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    I just did a trial cook and after I coverd the with a ice soaked towel that I ringed out the outer shell came off pretty easy but the inner skin did not did I under cook them? it seemed like a couple came off pretty easy but the rest did not. Also how long do you boil them for.
    Dean H

  8. 8 lizziee November 19, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Dean, the trick is not to do too many at once. They must still be hot when you peel them. Also, if some inner chestnut skins are pesky, just put them in the oven again for a few more minutes and see if that helps. Every once in a while, I get a very stubborn chestnut and just can’t get the inner skin off.

  9. 9 Maria H April 15, 2012 at 1:27 am

    I just tried this method and it was good although I think I was doing too many chestnuts in one hit. In fact, I started doing the chestnuts and thought “Heck, there must be an easier way to do this” so I googled and found this. Very helpful thanks but all my fingertips are burnt and sore from the effort. I think this’ll be the last time I cook with chestnuts. Not the best exercise 3 days after a shellac manicure!!!

  10. 11 Andres June 4, 2013 at 3:14 am

    Very good Web-site, Carry on the beneficial job. Thanks a lot.

  11. 12 Boo September 26, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    I must be lucky. We have a massive chestnut tree here at our new farm and I just Googled how to cook chestnuts and found several places that said to heat, cook and peel. I do mine at 400 for 20-30 minutes (scored first). Shells just fly off the nuts! Not sure if this extended cooking time cooks them TOO much, as they’re semi-soft and ready to work with. Then again, I’ve never really HAD chestnuts before, so maybe I’m still doing it wrong. My goal is to make chestnut flour to add to my cooking/baking. I followed one recommendation to freeze the shelled nuts for 45 minutes and grind…..seems to have come out fantastic. Now to master storing them. I have a Foodsaver and plan to do it a few ways: Using the mason-jar attachment, I will put the entire nut in-shell and vacuum out the air. Then I will freeze, both shelled and unshelled, according to the directions on the web. I hope I can end up with chestnuts throughout the holiday.

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