The chestnuts on an open fire question reminded me: Is there a trick to peeling chestnuts easily? I always end up with bits of hairy skin stuck to the chestnuts (ick), and/or stuck under my fingernails (ouch). We usually roast them in the oven (after slitting them suitably, of course); is there a cooking method that results in easier peeling?

In case it matters, I'd want the chestnuts either for eating out of hand, or for making chestnut puree.


My experience has been that the freshest chestnuts can be peeled pretty easily if I do it while they're still hot (I usually roast them). This does mean that one's fingers can get burned, though! I wonder whether some of the recommended techniques for peeling garlic cloves would help with "sticky" chestnut-skins? [Choosing fresh chestnuts over moldy ones is a problem in itself; off to see if there's a question about that!]

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    +1. The "secret" is that supermarket chestnuts aren't fresh. Go to a good-quality Chinese market for fresh chestnuts. – Craig Stuntz Nov 10 '10 at 19:08
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    I use a dishtowel to handle and peel them, when very hot, and this reduces most of the burning but my thumbs are usually very sore when I am done. It's worth it though! – Kate Gregory Nov 12 '10 at 10:20

I have just shelled & peeled a kilo (forty ounces) of chestnuts in 20 mins using the following method. cross cut the chestnuts, six at a time. Microwave dry on full power for 30 secs. The outer shells and skin will then have opened out where cut. Squeeze the still hot nut between thumb & forefinger, this further loosened the inner skin. I then found that the shell & skin were easily removed and the kernel came out whole in one piece.

Ray Newall. North Wales.

  • I'll have to try this. Thanks for the detailed description! – Marti Dec 18 '10 at 17:45

I was told but I never tried, so try this at your own risk

Put the chestnuts in microwave (yes the whole chestnuts with outer skins) for 30 seconds. The skin should crack open and the hairy skin will come off nicely.

Please don't vote me down if this sounds stupid and I will remove this.

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    I did this a number of times and it works. I did score the outer skin, though. – BaffledCook Nov 12 '10 at 15:30

One word: Soak. About 20' in lukewarm water should do it.

Edit: First --peel the outer skin off--. Score the outer skin.

Look at culinary in this article. Also look at Martha's answer here.

  • Before or after cooking? – Marti Nov 11 '10 at 1:52
  • Before, I don't know how soaking would be a good idea after... – BaffledCook Nov 11 '10 at 7:26
  • Ok, the edit is confusing me. You want me to peel raw chestnuts? Then soak them? Then cook them (how)? – Marti Nov 11 '10 at 14:48
  • We're talking about the Chestnut, chestnut, right? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chestnut – BaffledCook Nov 11 '10 at 21:47
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    Yes, we're talking about the edible chestnuts. Sheesh. :-) Basically, I think your answer is unnecessarily cryptic, and would appreciate more detailed, step-by-step instructions. (For example, the linked answer from my namesake lists many different cooking methods; which of them are suitable for cooking soaked chestnuts such that the purported easy-peeling feature of soaking is preserved?) – Marti Nov 11 '10 at 22:43

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