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How To Prepare Chestnuts for Cooking in Stuffing and Other Dishes


How to Peel and Prepare Chestnuts for Cooking

Peeled chestnuts ready for cooking

Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Chestnuts are a favorite ingredient in many recipes for stuffing, sweets,, in rice and vegetable dishes, and with meats, but they do need to come out of their shells and be soft enough to use. Learn how in a few easy and simple steps. The process is easy and takes about 25 minutes.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 25 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Make sure the chestnuts are free from outer evidence of worm or bug damage. Don't use chestnuts that appear to have worm holes or other suspicious-looking breaks in the shell.
  2. With a sharp knife, make a cross-cut across the flat side of the chestnuts, like an X. If the shell comes off, the inner skin will protect the chestnut; continue the process.
  3. Add the chestnuts to a pot of boiling water.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for for 15-25 minutes minutes, or until tender, and remove pot from heat. (Check at 15 minutes.)
  5. Take a few chestnuts at a time and peel off shell and inner skin with fingers or a sharp knife.
  6. Do not let nuts cool while shelling; the inner skin can stiffen and be difficult or impossible to remove.
  7. Continue as per recipe directions, and use.


  1. Shelled chestnuts can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for later use.
  2. Even though the shells soften, they are too fibrous for most kitchen disposals.

What You Need

  • fresh chestnuts
  • sharp knife
  • saucepan
  • colander or strainer
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