What Is Chestnut Flour and What Can You Make With It?

This Tuscan specialty flour is an excellent gluten-free alternative, particularly for pasta

The first time I experienced chestnut flour was in a region of Tuscany called Garfagnana, north of Lucca. I ate pasta made with “farina di castagne” (as the Tuscans call chestnut flour), served simply in a sauce of sage and browned butter, and I was blown away by how tasty it was. The taste was so different than pasta made from eggs and semolina flour. Chestnut flour gave the dish a unique, hearty flavor that was nutty, mellow and a little sweet (in Italy, they call it “farina dolce,” or sweet flour).

Years later, back home in the United States, I rediscovered chestnut flour when a family member was diagnosed with celiac intolerance. Chestnut flour was a wonderful gluten-free alternative for bread, cakes, pie crusts and of course, homemade pasta.

Even if you’re not gluten-free, it’s still a great ingredient for a change of pace, especially blended with all-purpose or whole wheat flours in autumn and winter dishes.

Where Does Chestnut Flour Come From and Where Can I Buy It?

Most of the chestnut flour available in the United States comes from Italy or France, and you can find it fairly widely at specialty retailers as well as larger online sources like Nuts.com and even at Walmart.

The reason why there is no American chestnut flour is that there are almost no American chestnut trees. The American chestnut tree was all but eradicated by a blight during the early 20th century and only about 100 remain. Even though most of us know the opening lyrics to Nate King Cole’s “The Christmas Song”—Chestnuts roasting on an open fire—most Americans have likely never roasted chestnuts.

Over in Europe, however, chestnut trees are thriving, and chestnuts are standard fall and winter fare. You’ll often find vendors on European streets and in Christmas markets, roasting chestnuts on an open fire and selling their treats wrapped in paper cones.

What Can I Make with Chestnut Flour?

You can use chestnut flour as a substitute in gnocchi, pie crusts and tarts or the classic Tuscan chestnut flour cake called castagnaccio, made with raisins, pine nuts, rosemary and olive oil. In traditional Italian recipes, chestnut flour is often blended with all-purpose or whole-wheat flour, but you can blend chestnut flour with other gluten-free flour substitutes such as rice flour.

How Do I Make Pasta with Chestnut Flour?

You can start with a basic homemade pasta dough recipe, and replace the semolina flour with chestnut flour. If you’re not gluten-free, use about 2 cups of all-purpose flour to 4 cups of chestnut flour, and 4 eggs (including yolks). Substitute the all-purpose flour with rice flour or other alternatives to make it completely gluten-free.

Chestnut Flour Pasta


• 4 large eggs

• 1/2 cup water

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper, optional

• 2 cups all-purpose flour, or gluten-free rice flour

• 4 cups chestnut flour


1. In a small bowl, whisk the first 5 ingredients and pepper, if using. On a clean work surface, mix the flours, forming a mound. Make a large well in the center. Pour egg mixture into the well. Using a fork or fingers, gradually mix flour mixture into egg mixture, forming a soft dough (the dough will be slightly sticky).

2. Lightly dust work surface with flour; knead dough gently 5 times. Divide into 6 portions; cover and let rest 30 minutes.

3. To make fettuccine, roll each ball into a 10×8-in. rectangle, dusting lightly with flour. Roll up jelly-roll style. Cut into 1/4-in.-wide strips.

4. Cook in boiling water 1-3 minutes. Serve with a sage and browned butter sauce.

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