While on a recent flight, I was handed some Southwest Honey Roasted Peanuts. In my carry-on bag, I had some other snacks, including a sleeve of Lance Honey Toasted Peanuts. Naturally, that led me to this discussion, which is all about the difference between Honey Roasted and Honey Toasted.
First, let’s talk about Honey Roasted. Roasting is a cooking method that uses dry heat. Roasting using a dry heat source usually results in a Malliard reaction, or a form of non-enzymatic browning typically referred to as caramelization. Dry roasted nuts are typically browned without the additional of oil. But honey roasted refers to a cooking method in which butter and honey are mixed and applied to the surface area of the item that is to be dry roasted. So, in effect, honey roasted peanuts are tossed in a butter-honey slurry and baked in an oven.
Honey Toasting is a slightly different process but it yields the same result, though the nuts will be browner. Toasted nuts are usually toasted using a direct heat source, such as adding them to a skillet and stir frying them in hot oil. However, many proprietors use “honey toasted” as a selling point against “honey roasted”, claiming that honey toasted nuts use less oil, and have less fat, less saturated fat, less sodium and fewer calories than regular roasted nuts. In the end, the roasted nuts are probably better in that they come in less contact with saturated fats or cooking oils.
Looking at the Lance packaging, I was surprised to see it say “Fresh roasted peanuts with a golden honey glaze.” I was happy to see Honey as an actual ingredient, whereas the Southwest ingredient list read like this: Peanuts, Dry Roasted with Salt, Honey and Tapioca Dextrin. The ingredient list of the Lance honey toasted peanuts is a bit longer overall: Peanuts, Sugar, Peanut Oil and/or Cottonseed Oil, Dextrose, Salt, Honey, Modified Wheat Starch, Soy Lecithin, Molasses, Guar Gum, Artificial Flavoring.
From this ingredient listing, you can see the difference in roasted versus toasted. With roasted, the peanuts are put in an oven and allowed to dry out & lightly brown. With toasted, the peanuts are fried in peanut and/or cottonseed oil until much browner.
What about Tapioca Dextrin? Tapioca dextrin is created by the breakdown of tapioca starch. It is a filler.
In conclusion – I think Honey Roasted nuts edge out Honey Toasted in terms of health. For flavor, toasted is the way to go, provided the oil used for toasting was fresh.