How To Peel A Chestnut Step By Step

Since I have been buying fresh chestnuts by the bag full lately, I have been trying out every method I could find to peel them so I could use them in my recipes. One afternoon I actually took an hour or two and tried a few different methods I found on the internet to peel chestnuts to find the one that worked the best. Yes I know, perhaps my chestnut obsession is getting a little out of control, but just remember, my efforts are your gain! After trying the traditional method of cutting an X into the flat side of each chestnut and then boiling or roasting them, I did find a method that made peeling both the outer hard shell of the chestnut as well as the inner skin or pellicle much easier.

By cutting an X through the flat bottom of the chestnut where the inner skin is attached and toughest to remove I found both layers on the chestnut come off quite easily without much fuss. If you find the inner skin a bit sticky, simply drop that chestnut into the hot water for another minute or two. This method only requires boiling the chestnuts for 7 or 8 minutes, so once peeled they are not already half cooked. I have put a step by step guide together to help you understand exactly what I mean. Don’t look at my nails please, after peeling too many chestnuts I am in dire need of an emergency manicure!

This is the area at the bottom of the chestnut that you need to cut.


Use a sharp knife and cut an X into the bottom of each chestnut while you get a pot of water boiling.


Warning – Do not cut the chestnut while holding it like this or you may cut yourself!


This is what the chestnut should look like after you have cut your X. Place the chestnuts in the boiling water for 7 to 8 minutes.


Remove just a few chestnuts at a time from the water and use your fingers to pull off first the outer shell, then the inner skin. If the skin is sticking, either use a sharp paring knife to help remove it, or simply drop it back in the water for a minute or two.


Pull off all of both the outer shell and inner skin.


This is a chestnut minus the outer shell with just the inner, fuzzy skin left on. I had the return this one to the hot water to remove the inner skin or pellicle.


Here are two perfectly cleaned chestnuts. Once cleaned, cut away any
darkened areas and discard any dark colored chestnuts.


Peeled and ready for using in my Roasted Brussel Sprout recipe!

Deborah Mele 2011


10 Responses to “How To Peel A Chestnut Step By Step”

  1. 1
    Anna Fratazzi-Markowski — December 4, 2012 @ 10:42 am

    Being of italian ethnicity, chestnuts were a staple in our home in the

    Fall in New England. This Christmas my daughter and I will be in Italy. This is the first time I will be there at Christmastime, so I am looking forward to eating roasted chestnuts. Certainly they will be much fresher than what we get here in the states. By the time we get them, we are lucky with some, to even be able to peel them. I am anxious to try your method, and will shortly, as they are now appearing in our stores.. Buon Natale….


    Deborah Reply:

    Enjoy your trip to Italy, it is wonderful at Christmas time!


  2. 2
    Maria — February 19, 2014 @ 9:47 pm

    My family loves roasted chestnuts. I have tried everything under the sun to get them to peel easily after roasting but have not succeeded. Any ideas would be welcomed.


  3. 3
    Linda Gruchy — October 7, 2014 @ 6:19 pm

    Thank you. I shall give this a go.


  4. 4
    Bercita — October 20, 2014 @ 7:56 pm

    I saw chestnuts at the markets (here in Queensland, Australia) and bought them on a whim. I had lovely images of roast chestnuts beside a log wood fire. Of course I don’t have a fire place, it’s subtropical here so I decided I would have to cook them somehow. I will try the x method.

    I am surprised that you would cut the chestnuts against such a beautifully grained wood though. Is that some kind of cutting board or a piece of furniture?


    Deborah Reply:

    Bercita, it is an olive wood cutting board from here in Umbria. I have a bunch of them, some I use daily, others I save for display.


  5. 5
    Tracy — December 1, 2015 @ 3:50 am

    I just bought and roasted my first chesnuts ever. The package had directions for roasting which was to cut an X then place in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. I followed the directions then allowed the nuts to cool before peeling. None of the nuts came out easily and I did not get a single whole one. As I was peeling/ breaking them I noticed that the very center meat had a very light purplish brown hue. Are the nuts spoiled? I tried a piece of one and it tasted ok. It was slightly soft and to me maybe a little mealy (like an apple before ithe spoils). I have never eaten chesnuts before and do not know what they should taste like or what the texture should be like. Do you think my chesnuts are safe to eat? Thank you for yòui advice.


    Deborah Reply:

    Tracy, I have found if I overcook the chestnuts and they dry out too much that they are very difficult to remove from the shell.


  6. 6
    Brenda — December 2, 2015 @ 10:58 pm

    I want whole chestnuts to use in a traditional stuffing, and their appearance is pretty important. So if the skin won’t peel cleanly off the chestnut (and this is mostly the case with 90% of the ones I buy, no matter what method I follow: roasting, boiling, steaming, combination, etc.) I use a microplane to grate off the skin.

    These “grated” chestnuts look more like baby potatoes, but they’re whole and attractive enough, and it saves me some aggravation. Also, micro planing wastes no more meat than peeling, which ends up cutting into the chestnut meat, anyway. This works well with whole chestnuts, but not halves, which I find cannot withstand the stresses of grating.


    Deborah Reply:

    Thanks for the tip!


Leave a Comment