All Is Not Lost If You Forgot To Season Roasted Nuts

At Tasting Table, we're of the mindset that anything roasted is better, and that includes nuts. Tossed with a spoonful of spices and herbs, these crunchy kernels can transform into an incredibly complex treat. Even though it may be best to impart flavor from the get-go, should seasoning or even salting a batch of raw nuts before roasting slip your mind, find comfort in knowing that a delicious outcome is still achievable.

The roasting process offers a dimension of toasty and caramelized goodness, no matter the ingredient. That said, even though unseasoned cashews, pecans, walnuts, or pine nuts can develop more concentrated nutty aromas and flavors, the truth is that they'll be a bit too bland for snacking as is. Luckily, plain nuts can still be dressed post-roast; you just need to work quickly.

As soon as a tray of warm nuts is pulled from the oven, toss them with seasonings of your choice. Anything from sea salt to smoked paprika, powdered rosemary to grated Parmigiano, freshly picked parsley, or even chopped chives can heighten flavors. Likewise, a splash of hot honey, drizzle of earthy truffle-infused olive oil, or spoonful of melty cultured butter can also be used to season nuts in a flash — not to mention, they can also help the seasonings stick.

Building flavor is a multi-step process

In order to achieve tasty roasted nuts and legumes, it's no doubt best to season them before they even meet the oven, as this will allow spices to better bind to them and the flavors to blend and intensify. However, when nuts come out of the oven, there is a brief window of opportunity to build flavor because the surface of the warm nuts is slightly moist as a result of roasting, meaning spices and herbs still have a chance of adhering. This is your opportunity to amplify flavor by sneaking in the seasonings you spaced on earlier.

That said, adding flavorings afterward may even be recommended depending on the recipe. For example, when dressing nuts with tender herbs like basil, tarragon, or dill, the roasting process will only lead to discoloration, burning, and bitterness of the leaves. Instead, it's best to toss nuts with delicate herbs once nuts are already roasted to maintain a fresher flavor profile. Similarly, ingredients more susceptible to melting (especially when they're not meant to!), like semi-hard cheeses or brown sugar, can benefit from being added to nuts after roasting.

Ultimately, there's no single way to craft flavorful toasted nuts. Whether nuts are coated before or after roasting, opportunities to elevate flavor never cease — test out this recipe for herby almonds and taste for yourself!