Like many folks, I’m a fan of raw nuts … but then again, roasted nuts have a deeper, more pronounced flavor. After all, the only thing that tastes more like a pecan is a roasted pecan! The problem with most commercially roasted nuts, though, is that they’re drowned in cheap oil during the process. It’s a lucky day when I find dry-roasted nuts that aren’t peanuts. Not that there’s anything wrong with peanuts, but variety isn’t just the spice of it, it’s the health of it.
The answer? Simpler than you’d think: dry-roast nuts yourself. You can do it in a skillet on the stove or on a baking sheet in the oven. With sliced nuts, I find that I’m better off toasting them in a skillet — that way I can keep an eye and nose on them so that they don’t burn. But when it comes to whole nuts, the oven is the way to go. These cashews, for example, got perfectly roasted in just 15 minutes. And as a bonus, the house acquired a delicious buttery scent in the process. Dry-roasting your own nuts is shockingly easy! And you’ll be amazed at how much fresher your DIY-roasted nuts taste.
One final tip: always store nuts in the fridge! Delicate nuts like walnuts and pecans are best when stored in the freezer, especially if you’re going to have them on hand for a month or more.
Note: oily nuts like walnuts and pecans roast more quickly than dry nuts like cashews and whole almonds, so roasting time and temp vary between the “oily” and “dry” nut categories.
Preheat oven to 350F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. (If your sheet doesn’t have rimmed edges, don’t tilt the sheet — the nuts will slide right off!) Scatter a layer of cashews onto the sheet and slip them into the oven for 10 minutes. Stir them with a long-handled wooden spoon and see if they’re all starting to turn golden. They may be perfectly done for your taste, or you may want to continue roasting them for another 5 minutes. If you’re roasting oily nuts like walnuts and pecans, roast them at 325F for 8 minutes, then stir them and check on their golden-or-not-golden status.
Let the nuts cool on a wire rack. If they’re threatening to segue from golden brown to decidedly brown (which means they’re a short step away from burnt), slide the parchment/foil directly onto the wire rack — they’ll cool much faster if they’re not in contact with a hot baking sheet. Allow to cool completely before storing in a glass jar. Fresh-roasted nuts can be stashed in the fridge for a month or stored at room temp for 2 weeks. If you’re a salted-nut fan, sprinkle a little sea salt on them and give the jar a few shakes to distribute the salt.