You've Probably Been Toasting Pecans Wrong This Whole Time

Anyone who has ever made a dish containing nuts likely knows all about the benefits of taking the extra few minutes to toast the nuts you're using before incorporating them into your dish. As The Pioneer Woman explains, this extra step will not only add gorgeous color to the nuts (great for recipes where they're sprinkled visibly throughout or on top), it will also improve the texture by adding some crunch, and of course, bring out all the flavors within the pecans since the heating process coaxes all those nutty oils to the top.

However, there's one mistake that many people make when dealing with pecans, according to Food Network, and the only thing you need to do to prevent that mistake is to change one simple thing about how you're toasting the nuts. It has absolutely nothing to do with technique — you can toast them either in a pan on the stovetop or on a baking sheet in the oven, or even in the microwave, whichever method you prefer — and everything to do with preparation.

Simply put, per Food Network, you want to toast the pecans when they're whole, not after chopping them up. This remains true whether your dish calls for whole pecans or chopped pecans. Yes, you may need to wait for the toasted nuts to cool down a bit before chopping them for your dish, but trust us, the flavor will more than make up for the extra few minutes added to your prep time. Here's exactly how to do it.

A few tips for perfectly toasted pecans

As Savoring the Good explains, another reason to avoid chopping your pecans before toasting them is that chopping can create that fine dust that gathers on your cutting board, which will inevitably get mixed in with the pecans and could potentially burn or become bitter.

The method you use to toast your pecans depends on preference, and often on amount — it's easier to toast a large amount of pecans on a baking sheet than in a small pan. However, whichever one you pick, there are a few tips to ensure you get the results you want every time. Also, when it comes to adding anything else into the mix, it completely depends on how you're using the pecans. It's entirely possible to dry roast them with absolutely no butter or oil, as Soulfully Made reports, and this might be preferable if you're incorporating the pecans in a mixture. However, if you're looking to add a burst of seasoning after toasting, a fat like butter or oil can help any seasonings stick to the nuts.

And, if you don't want to go through the process of toasting a fresh batch every time you need them during the busy holiday season, know that they can be stored in an airtight container, toasted, for up to two weeks in the refrigerator, per Food Network.