Chestnut Recipes from Around the World


chestnut burr 

A hearty cluster of chestnuts in their burr ready to be processed and cooked fresh! 

Having just wrapped up with Christmas — a holiday whose, perhaps, most historically famous song is subtitled Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire — I thought it would be fun to take a look at some new ways to incorporate chestnuts into your diet for the upcoming year. As I explained in a little chestnut post I wrote up last month, these miraculous nuts formed the foundation of American cuisine for hundreds of years before the North American chestnut blight of the early 20th Century rendered the American chestnut, Castanea dentata, virtually extinct.

While the chestnut has since vanished from the vast majority of American tables, its popularity and cultural significance have only grown amongst certain ethnic groups in the U.S. and, certainly, in its traditional appeal abroad. Not only are chestnuts a yummy way for you to try something new in your kitchen, but their consumption as a starch on a large scale has the potential to bring myriad benefits to the future of our food system.

Chestnuts are a miraculous staple crop that grows on trees, and, here in America, they are a lost birthright. Maybe, while trying some of these new chestnut foods, you’ll connect with a lost sense of place, of your ancestor’s land – wherever it happened to be in the world. The chestnut represents a globally-significant cultural artifact that has the power to bring people together in the consumption of a common meal. The best part about them is that we can connect to our past and one another anew with every scrumptious bite. Hopefully, this post will get some Americans back on the chestnut train, for it cuts a path of nourishing deliciousness back through time to those who brought us here.

An Introduction to Chestnut-Based Meals, and Why We Need More of Them

While I mention a variety of cuisines in the following article, these represent only a limited introduction to cooking with chestnuts and a very small sliver of the chestnut world. Wherever a chestnut tree can be found — and, trust me, they are plentiful around the globe — a new chestnut recipe can be discovered with a valuable and loving cultural context. I urge everyone to dive-in and start researching chestnut recipes on your own if any of this stuff interests you.

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