Save time and hassle with this nut-toasting technique

I used to cringe whenever I saw a recipe that called for toasted nuts, having flashbacks to all of the blackened-beyond-hope nuts I had to throw in the trash. Too many times I forgot about the nuts in the oven or I turned my back on a hot skillet, and in both scenarios I ended up with scorched almonds, pecans, walnuts, or pistachios. My famous last words were “I won’t get distracted this time!” Rather than risk ruining the nuts I often skipped the toasting step, which meant that I sacrificed flavor.

This all changed last year when I discovered that you can use the microwave to toast nuts perfectly every time. Not only did it not burn them, the microwave technique was easier and faster as well. I know plenty of cooks who snub microwaves, but you will not find me among that group. I use it for a variety of tasks including melting chocolate, heating cream to a boil, and making rice (gasp!), among other things. The advantages of the microwave include speed and ease of use. Plus, the appliance turns off after the specified time, so even if I forget something all I will get is an annoying reminder beep instead of flaming ingredients.

Over at Food & Wine, Justin Chapple provides a video demonstration of microwave nut toasting, which takes a mere three minutes. Chapple has more microwave tips to explore, including how to dry herbs and make brown butter as a foolproof alternative to the traditional skillet method.

Photo of Wine bar nut mix from Food & Wine by Carolyn Wente and Kimball Jones

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  • valbe  on  April 18, 2021

    What a great little tidbit of info as I can identify 100% with the mentioned drama and trauma of burnt nuts and then just not doing it. I use the microwave to dry herbs (rosemary) but using it to toast nuts is new to me, but not for long! Thank you.

  • KatieK1  on  April 18, 2021

    Different quantities must take different times. So best to check at regular intervals.

  • annmartina  on  April 18, 2021

    I can’t wait to try this. I also make pralines and hollandaise sauce in the microwave.

  • averythingcooks  on  April 19, 2021

    My mother taught me to make lemon curd in the microwave…it works perfectly EVERY time and all I do to finish it is give it a run through a strainer in case of any random eggy bits. People rave about it and can’t believe it is made in the microwave.

  • anightowl  on  April 21, 2021

    That’s a great tip! I use my microwave for so many tasks in the kitchen, but it never occurred to me to try toasting nuts in it.

  • galdrich  on  April 23, 2021

    Justin Chapple has a book of this tips. I’m checking it out from the library. Love this tip!

  • averythingcooks  on  April 24, 2021

    I checked out the above link re: browning butter in the microwave and then I also read an Epicurious article on the same topic. I used Chapple’s idea to cover the bowl with parchment and then a microwave safe plate but then used the Epicurious timing (slightly different depending on using less/more than 1 stick of butter). I needed a 1/2 stick so I checked at 2 minutes and then went in 30 second bursts – I meant to count and lost track after burst 3 (or 4?) so ….oh well. This is my 1st browned butter and I think I’ve reached the goal (I actually googled pics of perfectly browned butter for comparison). One warning (maybe not necessary) but when you lift the parchment – the puff of steam is CRAZY HOT 🙁

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