These Roasted Spiced Walnuts are a staple at my house every winter. One of the easiest, tastiest, and most versatile things you could make. Eat them on their own or add them to a dish to give some texture or flavor pop. For me, the key to getting the spice mixture to stick is adding some canola oil to the walnuts beforehand. Toss in a bowl with the spices after. Lay on a baking sheet in a preheated oven at 350F for 15-20 minutes or until browned. Done!
Have you ever cracked a walnut in the shell? If you have, I bet you didn’t use the tool my family used to use in China. This is going to sound a bit ridiculous to you, but it’s a helluva effective way. However, I don’t recommend you to do so in your own house unless you have a very very strong door.
What does a door have anything to do with cracking walnuts?
Well, the tool we used to use for that purpose is a side door gap, where the hinges are.
Here’s how it works. We pick a door in the house and open it a little bit until the side door gap is wide enough to hold a walnut. Once the walnut is trapped in the door gap, we push the door close. As the door gap instantly closes, the walnut is being cracked perfectly. Any effort is barely made.
I surely had a lot fun cracking walnuts when I was a kid. The sound of the crack was like a music to my ears. However, I had never actually enjoyed eating them. Because the thin and light brown skin that covers the walnut lobes tastes bitter, which happens to be the first thing that interacts with my taste bud before I get to the buttery and nutty lobes, the part that I actually like.
“Why don’t you peel off the skin then?” You asked.
Because mom says, “All the nutrients are in the skin!” 99% of the time, that woman is right, even though she can’t explain why most of the time.
Research says that approximately 90% of the phenols in walnuts are found in the skin, including key phenolic acids, tannins, and flavonoids, which are really good for us.
Every time we visit China, before we return to the States, mom will pack a huge bag of shelled walnuts and stuff it into my luggage. That said, the challenge of consuming walnuts has been going on for quite a while.
Although I have learned to put walnuts in my smoothies, mix them into energy bars and make a salad with heavy tasting dressing in the hope of burying the bitterness from the walnut skin, having walnuts in their original form is still not a breeze for me until a dear fellow Instagrammer named Herb posted a photo of these amazing looking roasted walnuts.
Herb’s description about these roasted walnuts and all the spices he arranged around the dish really made the image talk. My mind went through the entire process of cooking them after Herb kindly gave me some more instructions. I secretly thought, “This might be it – the ultimate, easiest recipe of walnuts in their original form that I might enjoy.”
You know what? THIS IS IT!
These walnuts are spiced up, generously and roasted to perfection. I followed Herb’s instruction to use fresh thyme and rosemary for the recipe as well as smoked paprika, a good amount of ground cumin, and freshly ground coarse sea salt and black pepper. (Herb suggests Himalayan Pink Salt and Fresh Cracked Tellicherry Pepper).
What I love the most about these roasted walnuts is that the flavor of the spices totally decreased the bitterness from the walnut skin, then the original creamy and buttery taste from the walnuts follows immediately, which make them dangerously addictive!
Additionally, you can play around with the spices based on your own liking. Want some heat? Add cayenne pepper. Want some sweetness? Add brown sugar. Want some exotic flavor? How about taco seasoning, Creole seasoning, or cajun seasoning?
Got the idea? Now go roast your own walnuts and let me know how you spice them up in the comments below. I would love to see what you come up with.
P.S. If you want some amazing cooking inspirations like this one, kindly give Herb a follow on Instagram. I always find myself having trouble tapping away from his gorgeous feed. 🙂
Yields 3 cups
5 minPrep Time
15 minCook Time
20 minTotal Time
- 3 cups raw walnut halves
- 2 tablespoons Canola oil
- 1/4 teaspoon ground Coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced (or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, chopped)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place walnuts in a large mixing bowl and toss with canola oil.
- Add all spices in the bowl and toss well.
- Lay the spiced walnut on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 15-20 minutes until brown. Enjoy!
If you want a more intense flavor, feel free to double the spices!
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