A few years ago, I was gifted a subscription to a snack box company. One where you vote on what you like and don’t like; and they send a selection of snack packs each month. Recently they sent different selections of flavored roasted nuts. There were two different kinds of roasted cashews that were really delicious. One was a garlic and rosemary and the other was a chili lime flavor. As not everyone in my family likes spicy food, but do all love garlic, so I set out to try and create my own mix of garlic and herb roasted cashews.
It turns out there are a lot of different ways to make your own herb roasted cashews. And I tried nearly all of them to see what was the best.
Some were oven roasted, some were pan roasted.
And then, some were coated in egg whites, some were coated in oil.
Finally, some were soaked in salt water, some were dry roasted
And after all of these attempts, I tried to find the simplest recipe that produced the best homemade roasted cashews. Here’s what I learned.
Everyone Loves Garlic Roasted Cashews
The kicker here that takes ordinary salted, roasted cashews to a new level is the garlic. While many people will say “I don’t like too much garlic”, they really do love a lot of garlic.
To make it palatable, the garlic flavor needs to be evenly distributed and not simply found in large chunks.
You do this by infusing the oil with garlic. If you want to make a Super Garlic Oil that’s great for everyday cooking, see my recipe for One Hundred Cloves of Garlic Spread.
For this roasted cashew recipe, you’ll start by infusing the garlic and herbs into the oil over low heat before adding the cashews. This gets the flavor into the oil which will cover the cashews while roasting.
How to Roast Raw Cashews
Among all of the different recipes that exist, I made a grid of different oven temperatures (from 325 to 375) and different total roasting times (from 8 minutes to 15 minutes).
On one end you’ll get soft, mushy nuts to crispy cashews with a bitter taste. On the other end of the spectrum you’ll find that the garlic and herbs don’t respond well to the heat.
The perfect balance is in the middle at 350 degrees and roasting for 15 minutes. Similar to cooking large cuts of meat, the cashews will still be roasting when taken out of the oven.
If you wait until they are a golden brown, you’ll find they keep browning more when taken out. The lesson here is to pull them just before you think they are done.
Kitchen Tricks for Roasting Cashews
If your favorite dried herb mix contains large pieces, it’s best to grind it up a bit into smaller pieces. The same applies to the kosher salt, it will need to be ground into finer pieces to get a more uniform application
The best tool for the job here is a large, granite Mortar and Pestle that lets you grind all of the flavors together.
For the dried garlic, while I will advocate for fresh chopped garlic about 99% of the time, this is one case where dried just works better. The best dried garlic out there is at Costco. It’s a step up from the powdered version in most dried spice sections and is closer to a dehydrated garlic. If you don’t have a Costco nearby, you can find Kirkland Granulated Garlic on Amazon.
Lastly, think about how much of this recipe that you want to make. If you do not want to use your whole oven just to make a pound of roasted nuts, then a countertop oven (this is my favorite model) is definitely the way to go.
The challenge is that you can only make about one pound at a time. In this house, one pound of roasted garlic cashews goes really, really fast.
So I will triple this recipe and spread them out over a standard sized half sheet pan. These are essential for the kitchen and can replace every “cookie sheet” that you may own. These particular half sheet pans are commercial quality, NSF listed pans that won’t warp in the oven and are sized for most silpats.
If you’re looking for something to make over the holidays, another great variation is these honey roasted cashews. They’re perfect for fall and winter weather and will also be a big hit with party crowds.
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Mixed Herbs
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Garlic Costco California Granulated
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Pound Unsalted and Unroasted Cashews
In a mortar & pestle, grind the herbs, salt and garlic powder together
Warm the olive oil in sauce pan and add the herbs and cashews. Simmer over low for 3 minutes, stirring constantly
On a foil lined pan, roast the herbs in a countertop oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees