Toasting Nuts in the Microwave

By Cook's Illustrated Published May 2015

There’s another option for toasting nuts: the microwave.

We’ve always toasted small amounts of nuts in a skillet on the stovetop (for larger amounts of nuts, we turn to the oven and spread them out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet), but this method requires a watchful eye and near-constant stirring to avoid burning. But there’s another option: toasting nuts in the microwave. The cooking is more even in the microwave, so less stirring is required. Plus, there will be less carryover cooking in a microwave-safe vessel than in a highly conductive metal skillet, so you don’t have to worry about quickly transferring the nuts to a cool bowl or plate.

We found that this microwave approach works well not only with nuts but also with other ingredients that need a quick toasting before use, such as bread crumbs, seeds (like pepitas, sesame, or sunflower), shredded coconut, and whole spices like coriander or cumin seeds. Whole spices need only a couple of minutes, while most other ingredients need about 5 minutes (your timing may vary depending on your microwave, of course).

Here’s the method: Place the ingredient in a shallow microwave-safe bowl or pie plate in a thin, even layer. Cook on full power, stopping to check the color and stir every minute at first. As the food starts to take on color, microwave it in 30-second increments to avoid burning.

NEW-WAVE APPROACH: To toast nuts or other ingredients in the microwave, spread them over a glass pie plate in a thin, even layer.