Chestnut vs Acorn

Chestnuts and acorns are two nuts that you might see on the ground in autumn, depending on where you live.

Both nuts have a long history of being used as food, but they differ in many ways, including their flavor, nutrition, and availability.

Here’s a look at the similarities and differences between chestnuts and acorns.

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What are chestnuts?

Chestnuts are nuts produced by trees belonging to the Castanea (chestnut) genus, which are found throughout Europe, Asia, and North America (1, 2).

In the United States, they are traditionally eaten during the holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.

Chestnuts are relatively small, with a shiny, reddish-brown exterior that can be cracked open and peeled to reveal a creamy-colored edible portion. 

When raw, they are crunchy and bitter, but they become soft, buttery, and sweet after roasting.

Chestnuts are often roasted and eaten on their own as a snack but can also be used in both sweet and savory dishes, such as soup, pasta, stuffing, and baked goods.

Chestnut nutrition

A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of dried, peeled chestnuts provides the following nutrients (3, 4):

  • Calories: 106
  • Carbohydrates: 22 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams 
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Saturated fat: 0.2 grams
  • Monounsaturated fat: 0.4 grams
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.5 grams
  • Vitamin A: 0 mcg RAE (0% DV)
  • Copper: 0.2 mg (22% DV)
  • Manganese: 0.4 mg (17% DV)
  • Vitamin B6: 0.2 mg (12% DV)
  • Folate: 31 mcg (8% DV)
  • Pantothenic acid: 0.3 mg (6% DV)
  • Magnesium: 21 mg (5% DV)
  • Potassium: 280 mg (6% DV)
  • Niacin: 0.2 mg (1% DV)
  • Thiamin: 0.08 mg (7% DV)
  • Riboflavin: 0.1 mg (8% DV)
  • Phosphorus: 50 mg (4% DV)
  • Iron: 0.7 mg (4% DV)
  • Zinc: 0.1 mg (1% DV)
  • Calcium: 19 mg (1% DV)
  • Selenium: 0.5 mcg (1% DV)
  • Vitamin C: 4 mg (4% DV)
  • Sodium: 11 mg (<1% DV)

What are acorns?

Acorns are nuts produced by trees belonging to the Quercus (oak) genus, which are found mainly in North America, Europe, and Asia (5, 6).

Historically, acorns have been an important part of many cultures’ cuisines, but they haven’t been as widely consumed in recent years (5, 7).

They are small (about ½ inch in diameter) and round with hard, brown shells and a wood-like cap on top. Inside, the edible nut is golden brown and smooth.  

Raw acorns have a strong bitter flavor due to their high concentration of tannins, a group of bitter and astringent compounds that act as part of a plant’s defense mechanism (8).

After they’ve been processed to remove tannins, they’re left with a sweet and nutty flavor that pairs well with grains and warm spices.

Acorns can be used in a variety of dishes, such as soup, porridge, bread, cake, and even coffee substitutes.

Acorn nutrition

A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of dried acorns provides the following nutrients (9, 10, 11):

  • Calories: 144
  • Carbohydrates: 15 grams
  • Fiber: 4 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fat: 9 grams
  • Saturated fat: 1.2 grams
  • Monounsaturated fat: 5.6 grams
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.7 grams
  • Vitamin A: 392 mcg RAE (44% DV)
  • Copper: 0.2 mg (22% DV)
  • Vitamin E: 3 mg (20% DV)
  • Manganese: 0.4 mg (17% DV)
  • Vitamin B6: 0.2 mg (12% DV)
  • Folate: 33 mcg (8% DV)
  • Pantothenic acid: 0.3 mg (6% DV)
  • Magnesium: 23 mg (5% DV)
  • Potassium: 201 mg (4% DV)
  • Niacin: 0.7 mg (4% DV)
  • Thiamin: 0.04 mg (3% DV)
  • Riboflavin: 0.04 mg (3% DV)
  • Phosphorus: 29 mg (2% DV)
  • Iron: 0.3 mg (2% DV)
  • Zinc: 0.2 mg (2% DV)
  • Calcium: 15 mg (1% DV)
  • Selenium: 0 mcg (0% DV)
  • Vitamin C: 0 mg (0% DV)
  • Sodium: 0 mg (0% DV)

Chestnut vs acorn

Chestnuts and acorns have some similarities, but there are a few important differences in their flavor and the nutrients they provide.

Acorns are higher in calories, protein, fiber, and fat than chestnuts and also contain more vitamin A and E.

Chestnuts contain more carbohydrates than acorns and are a better source of certain B vitamins and vitamin C.

Flavor comparison

Chestnuts are known for their sweet, buttery flavor that some people have compared to a cooked sweet potato.

Acorns, on the other hand, are nutty with just a hint of sweetness. They can also be quite bitter if they haven’t been leached to remove tannins. 

If you’re in the mood for more of a classic nut flavor, then acorns are the clear winner, but if you want something a little sweeter and more unique, give chestnuts a try.

Both nuts can be used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes and pair well with fall flavors like apples, warm spices, roasted meats, and squash soups.

Nutrition comparison

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the calorie and macronutrient content of chestnuts and acorns, based on a 1-ounce (28-gram) dried serving size (3, 9, 10): 

NutrientChestnuts (dried) (28g)Acorns (dried) (28g)
Protein1 gram2 grams
Fat1 gram9 grams
Saturated fat0.2 grams1.2 grams
Monounsaturated fat0.4 grams5.6 grams
Polyunsaturated fat0.5 grams1.7 grams
Carbohydrates22 grams15 grams
Fiber3 grams4 grams


Compared to acorns, chestnuts provide about 25% fewer calories. There are 106 calories in a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of chestnuts, while an equal portion of acorns provides 144 calories.  


Both chestnuts and acorns are considered low-protein foods, each providing 2 grams or less of protein per serving.


Unlike most other nuts, chestnuts are very low in fat, with only 1 gram per serving. Acorns, on the other hand, contain 9 grams of fat per serving.


Chestnuts are higher in carbohydrates than any other nut, with 22 grams of carbohydrates per serving, including 3 grams of fiber. 

Acorns are slightly lower in carbohydrates, providing 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving, including 4 grams of fiber. 

Vitamins and minerals

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the vitamin and mineral content of acorns and chestnuts, based on a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving size (3, 4, 9, 11): 

NutrientChestnuts (dried) (28g)Acorns (dried) (28g)
Vitamin A0 mcg RAE (0% DV)392 mcg RAE (44% DV)
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)0.08 mg (7% DV)0.04 mg (3% DV)
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.1 mg (8% DV)0.04 mg (3% DV)
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)0.2 mg (1% DV)0.7 mg (4% DV)
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)0.3 mg (6% DV)0.3 mg (6% DV)
Vitamin B9 (Folate)31 mcg (8% DV)33 mcg (8% DV)
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)0 mcg (0% DV)Not listed
Vitamin C4 mg (4% DV)0 mg (0% DV)
Vitamin D0 mcg (0% DV)Not listed
Vitamin E<1 mg (<6% DV)3 mg (20% DV)
Sodium11 mg (<1% DV)0 mg (0% DV)
Potassium280 mg (6% DV)201 mg (4% DV)
Calcium19 mg (1% DV)15 mg (1% DV)
Phosphorus50 mg (4% DV)29 mg (2% DV)
Magnesium21 mg (5% DV)23 mg (5% DV)
Iron0.7 mg (4% DV)0.3 mg (2% DV)
Zinc0.1 mg (1% DV)0.2 mg (2% DV)
Copper0.2 mg (22% DV)0.2 mg (22% DV)
Manganese0.4 mg (17% DV)0.4 mg (17% DV)
Selenium0.5 mcg (1% DV)0 mcg (0% DV)

As you can see, chestnuts and acorns contain similar amounts of vitamins and minerals, with a few exceptions.

Acorns have significantly more fat-soluble vitamins, particularly vitamins A and E, than chestnuts. This is due in part to their higher fat content.

Chestnuts are slightly higher in B vitamins and provide a small amount of vitamin C, which is not found in acorns.

Available forms

1. Whole (chestnuts and acorns)

Whole chestnuts are typically only available when they are in season, from late September through December. You’ll find them in the produce section of most grocery stores.

Whole acorns, on the other hand, are almost never available for purchase in stores or online. However, they can easily be foraged in most parts of the United States, wherever oak trees are found.

2. Flour (chestnuts and acorns)

Chestnut flour isn’t often available at grocery stores, but it can be purchased online here.

We aren’t aware of any companies that sell acorn flour, but it can sometimes be found on sites like Etsy

Another option is to make your own by leaching shelled acorns to remove the tannins, then grinding them in a food processor until they reach a flour-like consistency. 

3. Oil (acorns only)

While you’re not likely to find acorn oil at the supermarket, it is available for purchase online here.

Chestnuts, however, are naturally very low in fat, so they’re not typically used to make oil.

Final thoughts

Both chestnuts and acorns are delicious, nutrient-dense nuts that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. 

However, they have several key differences, including their fat and calorie content, vitamin and mineral composition, and availability.

Chestnuts are sweeter, higher in carbohydrates, and more widely available, while acorns are nuttier, higher in fat and fat-soluble vitamins, and must be foraged. 

So which one is better? Well, it’s up to your own personal taste and nutrition needs! Both can be fabulous additions to your diet.

Want to learn more about acorns?

Check out our in-depth post:

Amy Richter is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Missouri. She is an experienced nutrition writer and medical advisor for Healthline and Medical News Today.  Amy is passionate about all things food-related and enjoys translating complex science into easy-to-understand articles.

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