Cooking Tips

Toast Nuts and Spices in Half the Time with Your Air Fryer

It’s faster than the oven and more reliable than the stovetop.  

Published Feb. 15, 2022.

Be honest: How likely are you to turn on your oven to toast the half cup of hazelnuts needed to garnish that side of green beans

You know toasting makes a major difference in the flavor of the nuts or spices, enhancing the dish’s depth of flavor. But preheating just takes so much time. Sure, you can use your stovetop, but you can’t be as precise about its temperature, which can lead to burning if you take your eyes off the skillet for more than a few seconds. 

An air fryer can solve both these problems. It can evenly toast your nuts, whole spices, and whole dried chiles in half the time.

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The controlled heat of an air fryer is ideal for even toasting. There are no hot spots like there are in an oven (so you can trust 350 degrees means just that) and there’s no preheating downtime. Go from raw to toasted nuts and spices in under five minutes. Plus, save for a little basket shaking, it’s pretty hands off.

The next time you need those dried ancho chiles nice and puffy for New Mexican Pork Stew (Posole) or that quarter cup of toasted walnuts for Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, try this method. 

Our favorite air fryers have a basket, but this tip will work for any type of air-frying oven. Here’s how to do it:

  1. For chiles, clean with a damp paper towel. For nuts and whole spices, proceed to step 2.
  2. Using a 6-inch round nonstick or silicone cake pan, arrange your nuts, chiles, or spices in a single layer in the pan.
  3. Place the pan in the basket of your air-fryer. 
  4. Set your air fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  5. Toast for 1-3 minutes, shaking basket occasionally, until nuts and spices are fragrant and chiles are puffed. 
  6. Immediately remove ingredients from air fryer to stop cooking.
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