The One Food Alton Brown Says He Burns Every Time

While celebrity chef Alton Brown has been noted for his occasionally prickly personality, there's one thing the Food Network star possesses that fans seem to love as much as his unique brand of culinary smarts: his refreshing honesty. Sometimes that candidness reveals less-than-praiseworthy ideas, like when Brown spouted harsh views on obesity to the East Bay Times in 2008. More often than not, however, Brown speaks the language of humility; he admitted that even an expert like him sometimes makes mistakes or struggles with an ingredient, and once called for a judgment-free zone when it comes to food preferences like pizza toppings. For example, Brown has been frank about his initial stumped state when it came to cooking with avocados (via Delish). 

Additionally, Brown made a confession about another snag he routinely hits on Twitter, saying, "#CulinaryTruth I burn the nuts. Every. Damn. Time." As proof, he added a video of some, er, extra crispy cashews. Brown's fans loved hearing this very human problem from the cooking star, and related. "The nanosecond between perfect and burnt is not perceptible by humans," agreed one user.

Toasted nuts are often recommended as an instant boost for all kinds of meals (via the Associated Press), but nuts are notoriously hard to cook without burning. "Does anyone have a foolproof method for toasting nuts without burning them?" a user asked on a Food52 forum. It's a question posed commonly on social media, and luckily, there are tips for success, even coming from Brown himself.

How to toast nuts without burning them

From pastas to pies, nuts elevate dishes with flavor and crunch. Toasting before adding nuts, however, is often required or at least encouraged. "Toasting or lightly roasting nuts removes all the raw green, slightly astringent flavors that you taste when they are uncooked," writes Southern cook Elizabeth Karmel for the Associated Press. She added that this is especially necessary for walnuts, and a great way to enhance the flavor of pecans, hazelnuts, and pine nuts. 

So, how can you perfect this ingredient without any burning disasters? Importantly, avoid direct contact with high heat. Nuts have oils they release when heated, which is why they burn so easily. So, never cook them on a skillet on the stove; instead, toast them on a cookie sheet in the oven at a low heat. 

If you want an even faster, foolproof method, consider the microwave. Lifehacker reports on this easy process, right from Brown, himself, which also cuts down on clean-up. Just rinse and drain the nuts, salt them, put them in a paper bag folded at top, and microwave them for a minute. Wonder How To concurs this method is legit, but adds you won't get that golden-brown color you get from oven-toasting. Serious Eats suggests adding some oil to the nuts in the bag to get that hue even in the microwave. We're just happy to have a quick, easy, reliable route to the goodness of toasted nuts, and that Brown does too.