Brussels Sprout Chestnut Rice

Brussels Sprouts and chestnuts, tossed in cooked rice, for a festive and delicious winter side dish. Perfect on a holiday table!


Brussels Sprouts and chestnuts, tossed in cooked rice, for a festive and delicious winter side dish.

When I was in college, I came home for my first Christmas break, and went into mid-town Manhattan to finish my shopping, and see the lights and decorated windows. (Remember – I lived in Manhattan… this was coming home, for me.)  And suddenly, walking down the streets, I thought  “Now it feels like New York at Christmas!” It took me a minute to figure out what had just happened, and then I realized. I smelled chestnuts. When I was young, all winter, there were hot chestnut vendors on every street corner in the business and shopping districts, and the smell of the chestnuts told me I was home.

The irony is that I never ate those chestnuts… I rarely ate from street vendors, growing up… and I never did eat chestnuts, much. They were infrequently available in stores, quality varied when they were, they’re a bit fussy (I burned the last batch, though I think that was just my ignorance) and they were just never really on my radar, so to speak. Here, people usually eat them roasted as a snack, and I just don’t really snack much. I’d used puree once, though, in a souffle, and I knew there are soup recipes, and that Chestnut Rice is a favorite Fall and Winter dish in Japan, and kept thinking I should try them again.

Brussels Sprouts and chestnuts, tossed in cooked rice, for a festive and delicious winter side dish.

Then, we were doing some shopping last week, and Rich said “Look! There’s a bag of roasted chestnuts!” Roasted, peeled, shelf stable, easy to use… Yes, I’m the one who buys fresh and cooks from scratch – but the idea of being able to experiment with a flavor I don’t normally cook with without first roasting and peeling was just too tempting. So I got it. (For the record – we found them at Costco, no affiliation, I get nothing for telling you about this, refrigerate after you open the sealed bag.)

So then I poked around my fine collection of cookbooks to find ways to use them. I tried some in plain rice, and liked them. (I may try freezing them to use later…)  And I found a couple of recipes with Brussels sprouts, and I do still have Brussels sprouts. The recipes I found, though, had you cooking everything to death (which could be the reason so many people hated Brussels sprouts…) so I wasn’t going to use them – but I did think it would be a good combination.

And there is this rather annoying need this week to serve meals that are Fast, Easy, and Festive. Which can be a tricky combination. But I had an idea. See, if you already have cooked rice…

Brussels Sprouts and chestnuts, tossed in cooked rice, for a festive and delicious winter side dish.

I chopped a small onion (don’t all my savory recipes seem to start that way?) and sauteed it in a pan, then added trimmed Brussels Sprouts, the larger ones cut in half for plenty of surface, the smaller ones left whole. Sauteed them in the hot pan until they started to brown, then added chestnuts. (I left them whole for this – pretty pictures and all that – but you may want to cut them in half or smaller. A whole chestnut in a forkful of rice can overwhelm the other flavors, instead of complementing them.) Sauteed all that a bit more, added some water, which promptly boiled up in the hot pan, to finish cooking the sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts and chestnuts, tossed in cooked rice, for a festive and delicious winter side dish.

Then, while there was still some liquid, I added cooked rice, and stirred it all together to heat. I used brown rice, which is simply my default rice, but which I also specifically recommend for this recipe, as I think the nutty flavor of the rice works well. (I don’t think I would use basmati, or any of the delicate scented rices – feature the chestnut flavor.)

And there I had it. This could even work as a side dish on a holiday table – delicious, pretty, a little unusual. Trimming the sprouts does take some effort. (If you use frozen, I’d just drop them into the hot pan to brown, then proceed quickly, just enough to thaw.) And if I did start with raw chestnuts, that of course would be a little more time and effort… But I think, now, that the next time I buy them, I’ll just roast a whole batch, snack on some right away, but put the rest aside, peeled, to use later. I forget how sweet and rich chestnuts are! They definitely need to become a winter tradition around here…

Brussels Sprouts and chestnuts, tossed in cooked rice, for a festive and delicious winter side dish.

Brussels Sprout Chestnut Rice

Anne Murphy
Brussels Sprouts and chestnuts, tossed in cooked rice, for a festive and delicious winter side dish.
5 from 1 vote
Course Side Dish


  • 1 small onion
  • 1 c Brussels Sprouts
  • oil for pan
  • 1/2 c roasted and peeled chestnuts
  • 2 c cooked brown rice
  • pinch salt


  • Chop the onion. Wash and trim sprouts, cut larger ones in half (or quarters, if very large.)
  • Heat oil in pan. Saute onion in pan until soft. Add sprouts to hot pan, and let brown, stirring occasionally. Add chestnuts, stir. Add 1/4 c water and let it simmer to finish cooking the sprouts.
  • Stir in cooked rice, add a pinch of salt, and heat through.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Brussels Sprouts and chestnuts, tossed in cooked rice, for a festive and delicious winter side dish.


37 thoughts on “Brussels Sprout Chestnut Rice”

  • Can you get a bag of peeled chest nuts like that in the photos? Lucky you. Chest nuts is my favourite but I can’t get any good chest nuts here in Australia.

    • I’d never seen them before this – and I’m fascinated! I probably used them more this week than in the last five years, because they’re so easy.

      And I wanted to tell people this exists – because I would ever have looked for it. I do feel lucky!

    • Thank you.

      I was (alarmingly) near Rockefeller Center yesterday evening – took one look at Fifth Avenue and went back to Madison like a good little New Yorker to avoid the mob scene. But I was close enough to smell chestnuts from a vendor on the corner… I think the first one I’ve seen this year.

  • Love the ingredients. I have a friend who grows chestnuts so always looking for new ways to have them. They are much underrated as are the brussel sprouts.

    • Oh, that’s great!

      This has been interesting, because I never really ate them very much… some of the “fresh” ones I’d gotten years ago were in poor shape, and that put me off them. (Just as that is a problem with Brussels Sprouts, for some people – if you’ve only had them already yellowing, and then overcooked, you’re not going to like them!)

      I was really amazed how sweet the chestnuts are… They were a marvelous accent in this dish, and I am also looking for other uses!

    • That would be delicious!

      I’ve been fascinated by how sweet these are. I’m not used to thinking of nuts as sweet.

  • We had a chestnut tree on our street and my mom used to roast them around Christmas time. So yummy and fragrant. Now, your burssels sprout chestnut rice bowl looks so delicious! Now, to find chestnuts so I can make it!! 🙂

    • LOL – that’s why when I saw the already roasted and peeled ones I grabbed them…

      It’s not really that they’re all that hard, though. It’s more that – well, no one expects you to shell every almond you use in baking… we can buy them both in the shell for snacking and ready to use. Chestnuts haven’t typically been available (except in the form of usually-sweetened puree in gourmet shops.)

      There is some fuss involved in roasting and peeling – and they do need to be roasted before they are peeled. The smell and flavor of fresh roasted chestnuts is amazing, though… Worth trying!

    • I hope you all enjoy it! Isn’t it wonderful when we can do something special like that for someone we love?

    • Thank you! They’re so good – and it does make a little go a long way… Next time you have some roasted ones, just put some aside and try this!

  • I have always wanted to try roasted chestnuts! They are so hard to find here, and the quality is always really questionable. Add to that they are really expensive, and I just haven’t bought them! This looks awesome, though – love that you combined them with brussel sprouts!!

    • They’re delicious, but… yeah, it can be hard to find good ones. I’d been fascinated and delighted to find packaged roasted peeled ones – I mean, I’m normally all about buying fresh and local, but this did solve a problem! LOL

      If you find them, though, a few go a long way in a dish like this. You could probably go down to half as many (be sure to cut them in bite sized pieces) and you’d still have plenty of flavor! (Of course, the full amount is wonderful!)

    • That’s kind of where I was… then I bought some, and had to start exploring! But they are so good, and I’m planning to use them from here on. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

    • Well, glad to help… (trigger craving? LOL) Thank you! They really are amazing in rice, and the Brussels sprouts just add another layer of flavor to set them off!

  • You know…I’ve never used chestnuts before! I’ve used water chestnuts but clearly that is 100% different! Loved your story about feeling like Christmas and I bet is smelled like Christmas to when you made these chesnuts!

    • Oh, totally different! These are tender, nutty, and startlingly sweet and rich. The smell really comes when they’re being roasted, so I did miss out on that – but the taste! And the fresh ones come into season here around now – many people use them in Thanksgiving stuffing, so I though I’d go ahead and Share my old post about another way to use any that are left!

    • Isn’t that smell wonderful?

      Thank you! The combination was new to me when I made it, but I’ve repeated it now – we love it! I hope you enjoy it, too!

  • Chestnuts bring back so many memories of my childhood. My Italian parents loved chestnuts and my mamma would roast them in the oven. Hubby doesn’t like them so I haven’t had them in a long time. I think I’ll get some and add them to some dishes like this one 🙂 I bet he’d like them then.

    • It’s interesting – I’d never really thought of them as Italian, but obviously they are!

      He may well! You can start with a smaller amount 😉 and I would definitely cut them up. I left them whole for the sake of Pretty Pictures, but Rich has expressed a strong preference for small pieces in a forkful of rice, instead of big overwhelming whole chestnuts, so that’s what I really do just for us.

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