Thanks to the rich flavor of chestnuts, they can work great for both savory and sweet recipes. Chestnuts can be snacked upon, added to a salad, mixed with other ingredients in a turkey stuffing, added to a vegetable casserole, or baked to be served next to your steak.
Chestnuts used to be more popular than they are today, but there are still a lot of delicious recipes that call for chestnuts. So, if you’re looking for a delicious chestnut substitute, you’ve come to the right place. Just check our list, and you’ll find several choices to explore.
The best substitutes for chestnuts
Chestnuts are not just consumed around the holidays. These filling and delicious nuts are part of several recipes that are prepared using various cooking methods.
The crackling sound of chestnuts as they’re roasting will probably remind you of the warm campfire. They’re quite buttery and bring a lot of sweetness to every recipe. Chestnuts are packed with Vitamin C, potassium, copper, and manganese and are also rich in antioxidants.
This nut grows on the chestnut tree and has a large yet smooth crust that is covered with dark veins. When you crack a chestnut open, the nut inside is rich in fibers and fats to provide a creamy, delicious taste.
Thanks to their rather neutral aroma, chestnuts can be used in several sweet dishes like cakes, brownies, and mousses. At the same time, they serve as a great savory taste enhancer in a soup, salad, pasta sauce, or side dish.
If you’re looking for a rich, creamy purée, chestnuts can be boiled or roasted. When roasted, the crunchy texture will immediately elevate the taste when you add them to your favorite pasta or salad.
However, chestnuts might not be that easy to find all the time. Moreover, some people might not like their flavor.
This is why finding a substitute for chestnuts will save the day. You can experiment with several options if you don’t like chestnuts or can’t find them.
Picking the right chestnut substitute depends on the cooking method and how you’re trying to incorporate chestnuts into a dish.
From the experts’ point of view, you need to understand that a chestnut is not like a water chestnut, which is an aquatic green vegetable and is quite popular in Asian recipes.
A water chestnuts substitute can provide the texture of Asian pear, with a flavor that is a crossover between an apple and a coconut. Turnips, almond flour, and Jerusalem artichokes will work if you’re looking for a substitute for water chestnuts.
But these options won’t work if you’re trying to find a chestnut substitute for your recipe. The options we chose to replace chestnuts provide a buttery texture and a rather sweet taste that goes with a lot of other ingredients to complement your recipes.
1. Jackfruit Nuts
When boiled or roasted, Jackfruit nuts taste just like chestnuts. Jackfruit nuts are commonly used in Asian cuisine and suitable for people who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet because of their meaty texture.
You can use Jackfruit nuts as a substitute for chestnuts in desserts because they’re rather sweet. They can also be used in soups, sauces, and turkey stuffing. However, they’re not that easy to find either and can be a little bit more expensive than the other chestnut alternatives.
Because they give a nutty, earthy flavor, hazelnuts will be the perfect substitute for roasted chestnuts in a stuffing or any other dish where you want to add some crunch. They’re also affordable.
Lots of people choose to replace chestnuts with hazelnuts because they’re easier to get. They’re also packed with antioxidants and fatty acids.
However, hazelnuts lack the meaty and creamy texture of chestnuts, so they can’t be used as a replacement in a chestnut purée. For the same reason, you can’t use hazelnut as a substitute for water chestnut.
3. Pistachio Nut
Pistachio nut can be eaten raw or cooked in several recipes because it’s so versatile. This type of nut has a smooth flavor and ends on a sweet note.
Thanks to its earthy flavor, pistachio nuts will work as a chestnut replacement if you’re stuffing a turkey or preparing a purée. Pistachio nut spread will be a perfect chestnut substitute in a cake or bread.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Japanese and purple sweet potatoes can replace chestnuts in a stuffing or purée recipe. When boiled and cooked, sweet potatoes will taste exactly like chestnuts, especially when you add the other ingredients that make your turkey filling tasty.
Cut and roast sweet potatoes, and they will add the needed sweetness and richness to your recipe. Sweet potatoes are also rich in fibers and vitamins, so they will represent an excellent healthy addition to your dish, especially if you’re allergic to nuts.
If you’re preparing a baked dish that needs some creaminess or thickness, sweet potatoes will do the trick. They will work for both savory dishes and desserts, as they can replace jarred chestnuts, which are rather creamy.
5. Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are crunchy, so they will replace chestnuts in several recipes. In addition, these nuts have a rich, meaty, and creamy texture, so they will add a buttery flavor to your purées, baked dishes, and soups.
You can use macadamia nuts in your desserts or cookies because they add the richness of chestnuts with a little bit of crunch. You can even sprinkle them on top of your salad after dry-roasting them, which brings out their subtle taste.
Most macadamia nuts are sold dry-roasted, so they will work for you if you’re in a hurry.
Pecan nuts can bring a rich nutty flavor to any recipe. Compared to chestnuts, pecan nuts have a slightly floral aroma, so they will work for you if you’re not that fond of chestnuts flavor.
You can use pecan nuts in any recipe that calls for the use of chestnuts to add some crunchiness and creaminess. They add more texture to your recipes, so you can add them to a soup, cake, or into your stuffing.
Pecans are rich in antioxidants and fibers, and they taste amazing when puréed. Whether you’re using them raw or roasted, pecans will make your dish tastier.
7. Tiger Nuts
Although they’re called nuts, tiger nuts are actually tubers that can be used to replace chestnuts in several recipes. They’re not easy to find, but they will work perfectly as a replacement for chestnuts if you’re allergic to nuts.
Tiger nuts have a beautiful earthy and butter taste and will replace chestnuts if you’re preparing a soup or a purée. Their slightly different flavor can work for you if you don’t like chestnuts flavor.
They look like dried chickpeas and provide a nutty flavor that resembles that of macadamia nuts.
Almonds are healthy and tasty, but this is not why they are on our list. Almonds have a nutty and crunchy taste, so they will work perfectly to replace chestnuts in a recipe that calls for some creaminess with some crunch.
This is another substitute that works well for those who don’t enjoy the typical chestnut taste, as almonds have have a slightly different flavor and aroma. They also have a somewhat woody taste, but they can be used in several types of savory and sweet dishes.
9. Pumpkin Seeds
If you need a crunchy, nutty flavor, pumpkin seeds can do the trick. Because of their subtle warm flavor, pumpkins seeds can be enjoyed as a healthy snack, just like roasted chestnuts.
Pumpkin seeds can replace chestnuts if you’re allergic to nuts. You can also sprinkle them on top of your salads, or mix them with your pasta sauce to add a grainy texture.
10. Chestnut Flour
If you can’t get your hands on fresh or canned chestnuts to enhance the flavor of your recipe, you can use chestnut flour instead.
Dried chestnuts are grounded into a smooth texture to make chestnut flour. It’s suitable for those who want to enhance the flavor of their dishes because they have a stronger and richer profile and aroma than raw chestnuts.
You can use chestnut flour in baking bread or cakes because it intensifies the taste. It can also be added to your soup or savory purée because it thickens the recipe while adding the needed creaminess.
How to choose a chestnut substitute
Chestnuts are highly versatile, but finding them might not always be the easiest task. This won’t be a problem because our list of chestnut substitutes offers different options that you can choose from.
If you’re looking for an alternative that provides the same nutty flavor or even enhances the flavor, we recommend that you try Jackfruit nuts or chestnut flour.
Tiger nuts and sweet potatoes are suitable for those who are allergic to nuts and provide the same creamy and rich texture.
Macadamia nuts, pistachio nuts, and pumpkin seeds will also work, but they more crunch to your recipes.
If you want to replace the chestnut flavor with something different, you can replace chestnuts with hazelnuts, pecans, or almonds. They’re also crunchier, so they will work on top of salads and sauces that call for some crunch in the texture.