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chestnuts roasted on an open fire over a hot bed of coals

Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire Recipe

Learn how to roast chestnuts on an open fire and get all my tips on easy peeling. This is a perfect holiday activity to enjoy with family and friends.
Course Healthy Snacks
Cuisine American
Diet Vegan
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Soaking time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 22 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 222kcal


  • 1 lbs chestnuts*


  • Start by scoring chestnuts: Place the flat side of the chestnut down on a cutting board. The rounded side, (aka the belly side) should be facing up. Hold the chestnut firmly and cut horizontally across the rounded side using a sharp paring knife or a chestnut knife, if you have. Then turn the chestnut 90 degrees and make a second cut forming an X. As you are cutting, do your best not to score the inner skin. Continue with the rest of the chestnuts.
  • Place scored chestnuts in a bowl, cover them with cold tap water and let them soak for an hour.
  • Prepare the charcoal grill or open fire pit. When the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly to create a flat bed that the cast iron skillet can rest on. If you have a grill grate, place it on top. Carefully place the cast iron skillet on the hot coals (or grate) and let it warm for 5-10 minutes.
  • Add scored chestnuts to the cast iron skillet in a single later. If they don’t fit in one layer, you may have to do this in two batches.
  • Depending on the type of chestnuts you are using, they should open up as soon as they hit the pan.
  • Let them cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10-12 minutes*. There might be some smoke coming out and that is normal. You will know that they are cooked once the outer skin is fully opened up exposing the inner yellow nut. However, the best way to check doneness is to peel one and give it a taste. If it is soft and creamy it should be done.
  • If it is not fully roasted at the end 10-12 minutes, you can put a lid on it for a few minutes to trap the air inside. However, I highly recommend keeping a close eye on it and checking every few minutes.
  • When they are fully roasted and opened up nicely, let them cool for a few minutes and peel them right away.
  • If they are difficult to peel then let them steam for a few minutes. To do so, carefully remove the cast iron skillet from the grill and transfer the roasted chestnuts onto a tea towel. Collect the edges of the towel in the middle and turn it into a small pouch. Let them steam in the “pouch” for 5-10 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a paper bag. Simply place the hot roasted chestnuts in it, roll the bag trapping the steam inside and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
  • Transfer the roasted chestnuts onto a platter and remove the outer shell of the chestnuts when they are still hot by gently pulling back on the scored “X”, peeling away the papery skin and exposing the yellow flesh inside. If you are unable to remove the fuzzy inner skin by hand, use a small sharp knife to peel it, being careful not to pierce the yellow nut inside. Discard the bad chestnuts that are spoiled inside.
  • Enjoy roasted chestnuts on their own or use it with your favorite herbs or seasoning.


  • I find that American and Italian chestnuts are better for roasting on an open fire. They are also easier compared to Chinese chestnuts. When shopping for chestnuts, do your best to pick ones that are similar in size for even roasting. 
  • The cooking time might change based on the age, size, and type of chestnuts. During my recipe testing with various different type of chestnuts, I learned that 10-12 minutes of roasting delivered perfectly roasted chestnuts, but for foolproof results follow my tips on how to check doneness.
  • How to roast chestnuts on a gas grill? If you are using a gas grill, preheat the grill at 450 degrees F. Follow the recipe as written by scoring and soaking chestnuts. Preheat the cast iron skillet as instructed as well. When cooking, you can put the lid on the gas grill but do not leave it unattended. Keep a very close eye on it and check it every 1-2 minutes.
  • As I mentioned in the recipe, I used a cast iron skillet. If you are using a chestnut roasting pan, the roasting time might be shorter. Follow my tips to check on doneness to prevent burning.
  • An important note on safety: It goes without saying, be careful around fire, especially if there are kids around. Cooking chestnuts on an open fire requires close supervision, so do not leave the site as they are roasting.
  • Do not skip on scoring: While it is a pain to have to score every single chestnut if you skip doing so, you may end up with a scary explosion in your backyard. Unscored raw chestnuts might explode as they are roasting, so take the time to properly score each chestnut.
  • Single layer is the way to go: Do not crowd the pan. Each chesnut should touch the surface of the pan as it roasts. If need be, use tongs to turn them to ensure even roasting.
  • Can I do this on a fireplace? Yes, you can. However, I recommend investing in a chestnut roaster for fireplace roasting for safety and ease. Most roasters that are sold in the market can also be used for making popcorn so you can get a dual-use out of your investment.
  • Storage: Leftover fire-roasted chestnuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge.


Calories: 222kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 549mg | Vitamin A: 29IU | Vitamin C: 46mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg