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Chestnuts are delicious but they are also high in antioxidants even after the cooking process. Chestnuts are famous in all forms of cooking because of their flexibility. Unfortunately, not everybody likes the taste or can find chestnuts at their local supermarket. Some of us may even be allergic to chestnuts. So what can I use to substitute chestnuts?
Chestnuts have many fantastic substitutes such as hazelnuts, pistachios, Macadamia nuts, and even non-nut products. These products can include raw or rolled oats. No matter the reason you have for wanting to substitute Chestnuts. You have loads of delicious options.
Let’s look at what exactly Chestnuts are and what their different functions are. This will help us better understand what to substitute them with.
Other Nut Products That Can Replace Chestnuts
There are many substitutes for chestnuts, but if you still want to achieve that nutty taste in your cooking, you might want to stick to using nuts. Luckily there are loads of nut substitutes to chestnuts.
What Are Chestnuts?
Before comparing substitutes, here is a complete overview of what a chestnut is.
Chestnuts are found mainly in the Northern Hemisphere. The Japanese and American chestnuts are the most popular. The scientific name for American chestnuts is Castanea Dentata. A few interesting facts about chestnuts include:
Chestnut blight was accidentally introduced to the American chestnut when nuts were imported from Asia. The disease killed up to three billion trees in a few decades. How does a chestnut beer sound? Yes, chestnuts are used to create beer. Their high starch profile is what makes this possible. The oldest chestnut tree is named Hundred Horse Chestnut and can be found in Sicily. The root of this tree is believed to be between 2000 and 4000 years old.
Chestnuts are a tree nut; although they are primarily a staple food in Europe, Turkey, and Eastern Asia, they are consumed worldwide.
Chestnuts have the following uses:
- Chestnut Lasagna
- Boiled Chestnuts
- Chestnut Stuffing
- Chestnut Polenta
- Chestnut Cream
- In Desserts
- Chestnut Flour
Finally, stuff your bird with this delicious stuffing and fill your kitchen with the fantastic smell of roasted, spiced chestnut stuffing.
Chestnuts should not be consumed raw; they must be roasted before using them in any way whatsoever. Now that we know what chestnuts are, how to use them, and how not to poison ourselves, let’s get down to business.
Hazelnuts as a substitute for Chestnuts
The first thing that comes to mind when somebody says hazelnuts is Nutella! Ferrero Rocher, as well as Nutella, uses 25% of the global supply of these nuts. Hazelnuts are used all over the world in the production of chocolate and desserts. They are harvested annually in mid-Autumn.
Hazelnuts and Chestnuts have a few things in common.
They are similar in size; hazelnuts are just a bit crunchier. Hazelnuts can be substituted for chestnuts. When doing so you can use the same number of hazelnuts as you would have used chestnuts. These two nuts have a similar taste as well.
Both should be roasted before use. Hazelnuts are a bit higher in fat.
Dishes where hazelnuts can be substituted for chestnuts, include:
- Turkey stuffing
- Savory dishes
- Candied nuts
Let’s look at a yummy recipe with hazelnuts
Butter (6 tbsp)
Whole wheat pasta (8oz)
Hazelnuts (1/2 cup)
Olive oil (1 tbsp)
Garlic (2 cloves)
Salt and pepper
Brown the butter in a saucepan over medium heat when butter turns brown remove from saucepan immediately to stop the cooking process. Bring water to a boil in a large pot, cook the pasta to al dente. Make sure pasta is still firm when the cooking process is finished.
In a small saucepan over medium heat start roasting the hazelnuts until they turn golden brown (this can take up to seven minutes). Hazelnuts can also be oven roasted at 350F for 10-15 minutes.
In a large pan heat up some olive oil, add the garlic and shallot. Stir in the pasta and hazelnuts when all ingredients are heated through add the browned butter.
For a nice touch ad some Brussel sprouts at the end
If Hazelnuts are not your thing, you can also try Macadamia nuts.
Macadamia Nuts As A Substitute For Chestnuts
Macadamia nuts are native to northeastern New South Wales. In 1997 Australia became the biggest producer of this nut. An amazing fact about these nuts is that apart from humans, the hyacinth macaw is one of the few animals that can crack the macadamia nutshell.
Macadamia nuts and chestnuts have the following in common:
They have the same size and round shape, so equal amounts can be used when substituted.
Both nuts have a rich and meaty flavor making them perfect substitutes in certain dishes.
Dishes where macadamia nuts can substitute for chestnuts
- To add a crunchy element to salads
- When baking cookies
- Pudding cake
Here is the perfect recipe to substitute chestnuts for macadamia nuts
Brown sugar (1/2 cup)
Unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
Granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
Egg (1 large)
Vanilla bean (1)
All-purpose flour (1 ½ cups)
Baking soda (1 ½ tsp)
Dried cranberries (1 cup)
Roasted macadamia nuts (chopped ¾ cup)
Remember that chestnuts and macadamia nuts can be substituted in the same relation.
Preheat your oven to 350 F
Cream the butter and sugar until white and fluffy add the vanilla bean and egg, and mix well.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour and baking soda. Scoop the flour mixture into the butter mixture, mixing well while doing so.
Stir in the remaining ingredients. Scoop heaped spoons of the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Bake one sheet at a time until golden brown (approx. 12 to 15 minutes). Let the cooked cookies cool before you transfer them to an air-tight container.
Pecan nuts As A Substitute For Chestnuts
Pecans were only recently domesticated. Only in the 1880s did Americans start growing pecans commercially.
Pecans are one of my least favorite nuts for consumption. They are great in baked goods, but fresh they have an extremely distinguished taste. Pecans have a buttery taste, probably the taste we all love in pecan nut pie. Pecans can be used in the following ways to substitute chestnuts.
- A topping on your favorite pie
- Perfect substitute in baked goods such as cookies
- Component to a healthy breakfast
Almonds As A Substitute For Chestnuts
Almonds were spread all over the world from their native country Iran. Almonds have loads of culinary uses, including milk, flour, and desserts. Almonds may be more well-known in desserts and sweet confectionaries, but they can be used in savory dishes as well to add an amazing taste and texture.
Dishes where Almonds can be used instead of chestnuts:
- Cream cake
- Cream produced with nuts
- Soaking the nut in honey
Pistachios As A Substitute For Chestnuts
Pistachios are part of the cashew nut family. The country that produces the most pistachios in the world is Iran. In 2019 Iran produced 337 815 Tons of pistachios. Unlike chestnuts, pistachios can be consumed either raw or roasted.
Be careful when substituting pistachios for chestnuts. If you are a nut lover, you will know that pistachios have a unique size, texture, and taste. The only similarity between these two nuts is the fact that they belong to the same food family.
There are however a few dishes where pistachios can be used instead of chestnuts:
- Health bars
An interesting tip is to buy these nuts in their shells as it will cost much less than already deshelled pistachios.
What if I have a nut allergy? Not to worry, I have you covered.
Chestnut Substitutes (Nut Allergy)
Ofcourse, not all of us have the privilege to consume nuts and nut products. Luckily in this day and age, there are many tried and tested nut alternatives.
Pumpkin Seeds As A Substitute for Chestnuts
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a great source of nutrition; the American Heart Association recommends 30grams of pumpkin seeds to be consumed per day. Pumpkin seeds have so many different uses and functions and can be delicious if incorporated into your daily cooking.
Pumpkin seeds are great substitutes for chestnuts and can be used in the following ways:
- Roasted and salted, they are great as a healthy snack
- They can be used as a salad topper
- Mix them into baked goods such as biscotti for that extra crunch
- They can be used to make a delicious pesto
Next up on the nut-free substitute list is sesame seeds.
Sesame Seeds As A Substitute For Chestnuts
You either love the taste of sesame seeds or you hate the taste of sesame seeds. There is no in-between. The good news for sesame lovers is the fact that they are a great substitute for chestnuts. The great news is that sesame seeds are also gluten-free. Sesame seeds are a crop that is mainly grown for its oils. Sesame seeds also offer a wide variety of health benefits. Sesame seeds are high in minerals. They are also a great source of fiber.
Sesame seeds can substitute chestnuts in the following dishes:
- Salad toppings
- Baking alternative
- Used in brittles
Flax Seeds As A Substitute for Chestnuts
If you’re like me and don’t follow a super healthy plant-based diet, you probably have no idea what flax seeds are. Not to worry, we are going to figure this seed out together.
Flax seeds grow from a tree and were first cultivated in Egypt. Flax seeds are not only good for consumption but can be vowed into linen. They are rich in protein and Omega 3.
Flax seeds can substitute chestnuts in the following dishes:
- Can be whisked into salad dressings
- It can be made the base of your breakfast bowl
- You can use them in your yogurt instead of chestnuts
Jackfruit Seeds As Substitute For Chestnuts
If you are unfamiliar with jackfruit, it is a fruit native to Asia. Normally the flesh is consumed, and the seeds are thrown away. But wait before you disregard these seeds.
Jackfruit seeds should be roasted or boiled before consumption. They can be roasted in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 F. Jackfruit seeds also hold health benefits for diabetic individuals.
How do you consume this seed? Jackfruit seeds are large, making them very versatile for consumption. They can be eaten alone, turned into butter, or made into flour. Here are a few ways how jackfruit seeds can substitute chestnuts.
- Used in desserts
- A crunchy element to salads
- Incorporate into a healthy dip
- Use in bread, rusks, and cakes
Unsure how to cook with jackfruit seeds? Here is a great recipe to help you.
Salt (1 tsp)
Onion (1 finely chopped)
Garlic (1 clove chopped)
Ginger (1 tsp minced)
Water (1 cup)
Garam masala (2 tsp.)
Tomato paste (1 ½ tsp.)
Jackfruit seeds (2 cups)
Coconut milk (1/2 cup)
Place your jackfruit seeds into a medium saucepan, cover them with water bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Set aside to cool. After the seeds have cooled, pat them dry and slowly peel away the outer white skin.
Simply add all your ingredients to a saucepan over medium heat and leave it to simmer for 20 minutes.
Voila, you have a delicious jackfruit curry.
Which Chestnuts Alternative Will You Pick?
Whether you don’t like chestnuts, can’t find them in your nearest supermarket, or are allergic to them. There are many ways to substitute them in dishes. The original thing may still be the best, but other nuts work just as well in some recipes. It may not taste the same for those who are allergic, but at least you can safely enjoy your nut-free meal.