We’ll get right to the point. Yes. Toasting nuts at home is worth it. In fact, it’s more than worth it, and if you don’t know how to toast nuts, we’ll teach you. Because toasting nuts at home will straight-up change your salad game, snack game, pilaf game, and just about any other kitchen-related game you might participate in forever.
Toasted nuts that you buy at the store are fine—we’ve been known to call for them from time to time. But why settle for “fine” when you can do better in less than 10 minutes? Store bought nuts are never really toasted enough. They’re about 75% of the way there, but when you buy raw nuts and toast them at home, you can take it all the way, bringing out deep, nutty, roasted flavors you can’t get from the store-bought stuff. You just can’t.
Most of the time, we like to toast nuts in the oven. Why? Because the dry, indirect heat the oven offers will toast the nuts more evenly than a skillet will. Using a skillet might trim a few minutes off your cook time, but the heat is uneven. Even if you’re using medium or medium-low heat, you’ll still get black or charred spots. Using a sheet pan in the oven will give you beautiful, even browning. Here’s how to do it.
First things first: Toss the nuts with a good pinch of kosher salt. As the nuts heat up, oils will rise to the surface, giving the salt something to adhere to—a good thing. Spread them out in an even layer on a sheet pan, and pop them in a 350° oven. Generally speaking, lighter, more tender nuts like pecans, pistachios, and walnuts will take 6-8 minutes to get to a good place. Denser nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, and macadamias will take more like 8-10 minutes to finish toasting. But trust your nose over the timer: Good toasted nuts should be fragrant and roast-y smelling, never burnt or acrid. Regardless of the type of nut, you should give your sheet pan a solid shake halfway through to shift the position of the nuts for even browning.