Chestnuts are a delicious and filling nut that is typically enjoyed around the holidays. They are very popular when roasted, and many people tuck them into their seasonal stuffing, though they can be enjoyed any time of the year. Unfortunately, they aren’t the most common ingredient, so you may find yourself having to search for something to replace them.
What are the best substitutes for chestnuts? Depending on what type of recipe you plan on preparing, you have a few options when it comes to replacing them. Common nuts, such as pecans, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts, can be great options, though the more exotic jackfruit seeds and tiger nuts are also great substitutes.
Keep reading to find out what is the best way to substitute chestnuts in any and every situation. We’ll also answer some of the most common questions related to chestnuts and finding ways to replace them.
The 5 Best Substitutes For Chestnuts
Below are our favorite alternatives to chestnuts for every recipe and use we could think of.
Another tree nut, hazelnuts can be a great replacement for chestnuts in a variety of recipes.
They give the earthy, nutty flavor that chestnuts provide in homemade stuffing, and are much easier to access.
However, they are significantly crunchier than chestnuts, so they won’t serve in a puree.
Finally, hazelnuts are delicious when roasted, which helps to mimic the flavor of roasted chestnuts.
Hazelnuts are incredibly healthy food and are rich in nutrients and healthy fats. They offer high concentrations of Vitamin E, Copper, and Manganese, and are loaded with antioxidants.
You can buy roasted hazelnuts at a reasonable price, ensuring that you have them on hand whenever you can’t seem to find chestnuts.
Pecans, a nut that grows on the Hickory tree, are another great nut that you can use in place of chestnuts.
They go great in stuffing, just like hazelnuts, but they tend to be a bit softer and more tender than hazelnuts, giving them a texture more similar to that of chestnuts.
Pecans are also an incredibly healthy nut that contains a plethora of vitamins and minerals.
Just one ounce of pecans contains 10% of the daily recommended intake of fiber, along with having high levels of protein and low levels of carbohydrates.
3. Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts, which are round, hard, and fat-rich nuts, are produced by the macadamia tree.
Macadamia nuts, though hard like a pecan, have a richer and meatier texture due to their high-fat content, which makes them a delicious substitute for chestnuts when preparing desserts.
Macadamia nuts are most commonly purchased dry-roasted, which means that you won’t have to take the time to roast them yourself, cutting down on cooking time.
Macadamia nuts, though healthy food, have a very high-fat content. They are a calorie-rich food that, if consumed in too high of quantities, could cause more harm than good.
However, they are packed with antioxidants and may even help to improve heart health.
4. Jackfruit Seeds
Jackfruit, a relative belonging to the fig family, can offer a surprisingly great substitute for chestnuts.
Jackfruit is very popular among vegans and vegetarians due to its incredibly meaty texture, which is similar to mango but not as sweet. If you are able to get your hands on jackfruit, the seeds, when roasted, are incredibly similar to roasted chestnuts.
Jackfruit seeds are low in calories and contain healthy amounts of fiber, protein, and vital minerals. They, like many other nuts and seeds, have high concentrations of antioxidants, and jackfruit seeds may even have antimicrobial effects.
5. Tiger Nuts
Though not as well known as the nuts listed above, tiger nuts are another very healthy replacement for chestnuts.
Tiger nuts are not actually nuts but rather tubers that come from a wild grass-root that grows in Africa. They are rich in fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, and other essential plant nutrient compounds.
Tiger nuts are small, shriveled nuts about the size of a dried chickpea that have a similar flavor to macadamia nuts.
Additionally, due to the fact that they are not actually a nut but rather a tuber, they are a safe substitute for chestnuts for those who suffer from nut allergies.
The Healthiest Substitute For Chestnuts
Though all of the foods listed above are incredibly healthy, natural foods, they each have distinct nutritional considerations. Take a look at the nutritional details of each one.
As you can see, each food has distinct nutritional considerations, so depending on what you value when seeking out a replacement for chestnuts, the answer to this question will vary.
If you are looking to minimize calorie and/or fat intake, jackfruit seeds are the best choice for you. If fat is something that you are avoiding, you should stay from macadamia nuts.
If you are trying to minimize carbohydrate intake, hazelnuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts are all great choices.
As an added bonus, hazelnuts offer the highest concentration of protein of the five options.
Finally, if you’d like to up your daily fiber intake, turn to tiger nuts, which can offer the highest levels of fiber.
The Cheapest Substitute For Chestnuts
Let’s begin by sharing the most expensive substitutes for chestnuts.
Jackfruit seeds can be quite hard to get your hands on, so they probably won’t be the most affordable alternative to chestnuts.
Your cheapest alternative is usually pecans, which are quite easy to find and cost a little over $0.50 per ounce.
The next cheapest option would be hazelnuts, at a little under $1 per ounce.
Macadamia nuts and tiger nuts, on the other hand, will cost you over $1 per ounce, around $1.15 in the case of tiger nuts and over $1.50 for macadamia nuts.
Though macadamia nuts are delicious, they tend to be quite expensive due to the fact that the trees on which they grow take much longer than the average nut tree to begin producing nuts.
The Best Way To Use Chestnuts
Though you may be most familiar with the roasted chestnuts that are served around the holidays and classic turkey stuffing with chestnuts, chestnuts can actually be used in a wide variety of delicious recipes, both sweet and savory.
When it comes to sweet recipes, chestnuts are delicious when baked into a chestnut cranberry bread, chocolate chestnut torte, chestnut cheesecake, or chestnut mousse cake.
Chestnuts go well in just about any dessert recipe that would call for one of the similar nuts listed above, and it adds an autumnal tone to any sweet dish.
Chestnuts also go well in a variety of savory dishes. Aside from the traditional stuffing with chestnuts, it is also common to make a chestnut puree.
But your options don’t end there!
Chestnuts can be blended into soup or hummus, served with pasta or vegetable side dishes, and are even an incredible way to spruce up an autumn salad.
Are people with nut allergies allergic to chestnuts?
Chestnuts, though they are a nut that grows on trees, may not cause the same reaction that other tree nuts, such as pecans, hazelnuts, or almonds, cause in people with tree nut allergies.
Chestnuts belong to a different biological category than tree nuts, so if you are allergic to tree nuts, you may be fine eating chestnuts.
Additionally, people with peanut allergies should be fine eating chestnuts because peanuts are, in fact, a legume and not a nut.
That being said, it is possible to have an allergy to chestnuts, even if you are also allergic to other nuts, so if this is a possible risk for you, consult your allergist before consuming.
Which chestnut substitutes are best for people with nut allergies?
If you suffer from a nut allergy, a lot of these substitutes won’t be safe for you to enjoy.
However, you do still have the option of jackfruit seeds, which should pose no issue for people with nut allergies, and tiger nuts, which are not, in fact, a nut but actually a tuber.
Are water chestnuts and chestnuts the same thing?
The fact that they share the same name is actually quite deceiving because water chestnuts and chestnuts are very different things that belong to distinct plant families.
On one hand, the chestnuts that we have been talking about in this article belong to the beech tree family and are shiny, brown nuts that grow on forest trees.
On the other hand, water chestnuts are a part of the sedge family, which are plants that grow in swampy and aquatic environments. Water chestnuts, in fact, are not nuts at all, but rather tubers that grow underwater and must be dug up to be harvested.