Toasting nuts intensifies their flavor. A properly toasted nut (be it a peanut, pecan, almond, hazelnut—cue Waiting for Guffman clip) should be lightly golden not just on the outside, but it should pick up light color and deeper flavor throughout. When in doubt, cut one in half to see.
But how do you actually toast the nuts? It depends on the volume of nuts to be toasted.
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How to Toast 1 Cup of Nuts or Less
The stovetop gives you better control toasting smaller amounts of nuts. We recommend a 10- or 12-inch traditional skillet over medium heat. You need to stir often for even toasting, which should take 5 minutes or less.
Or you can use the microwave. Simply put the nuts in a glass pie plate (or other microwave-safe flat dish) and cook them for 1 minute. Then stop, stir, and continue, stopping and stirring—and evaluating toastiness—every 30 seconds. The timing varies according to how fresh the nuts are and how powerful your microwave is, but they should be done in less than 5 minutes.
You can also use the same method to toast bread crumbs, sesame seeds, and shredded coconut in the microwave.
How to Toast More Than 1 Cup of Nuts
With volumes of 1 cup or more of nuts, it’s best to toast them on a rimmed baking sheet in a 350-degree oven; this prevents overcrowding and allows the nuts ample room to toast evenly. You still need to stir, though, to prevent scorching. The nuts should be nicely toasted in 5 to 10 minutes—but check, and stir, early and often.