How to Toast Almonds
We’re nuts about ‘em.
Toasting nuts might seem like a fussy unnecessary extra when you're cooking an already involved recipe. The process is simple enough, but it’s also not the kind of cooking task you can start and walk away from. But toasted nuts can bring flavor and textures to dishes of all kinds, from holiday green beans with almonds to a crowd-pleasing pasta salad.
Chef and author Ned Baldwin is someone who considers toasted nuts and seeds a fundamental pantry item, using them to add crunch and flavor to a range of dishes from salads to fish to cake. In his cookbook, How to Dress an Egg, he recommends toasting nuts, including almonds, in a 325-degree oven. Be sure to spread the nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer to ensure even toasting.
“The slower the cook, the more even and thorough it will be,” Baldwin says. “This is as true for nuts as it is for short ribs or leeks.”
Start checking the almonds after 10 minutes (Be sure to set a timer!), then continue to check at 3-minute intervals until the nuts darken in color and emit a toasty smell. You can increase the oven temperature to 350-degrees, but you’ll need to check the nuts for doneness sooner.
“It's easy to over-roast an almond. When the [nut] meat goes from light to blond or a pale tan, it's done,” Baldwin explains.
Roasting almonds in stove-top saute pan is another option and is best-suited to smaller quantities of nuts. It’s also quicker, but if you go this route, be sure to stay close and keep a watchful eye. Trust your nose to alert you to their doneness — when you start smelling them getting toasty it’s time to check (and probably pull them from the heat), as they can go from toasted to burnt pretty quickly.
Even if you buy almonds pre-roasted, Baldwin finds that they still benefit from a little more time in the oven or hot oil. His preferred method for toasting nuts in general is to fry them in oil (heated to 350 degrees) because it produces a uniform crispness. Plus, the nuts infuse the oil with flavor so once you’re done, you have a nut-infused oil too.
Ready to add some toasted almond goodness to your Thanksgiving spread and weeknight cooking repertoire? Here are three recipes to try:
Rachael Ray adds toasted slivered almonds and a lemon butter sauce to dress up this Thanksgiving classic.
Here, toasted almonds offer a complementary crunch to crisp green beans punched up with a zesty lemon-parsley-garlic gremolata.
Half the toasted sliced almonds are folded into warm pasta and dressed with a lemon-Parmesan dressing; the rest are scattered on top with red pepper flakes for a toasty crunch.
Think beyond butter: Here are dozens of ways to top your toast.
Photographs by Levi Brown