Toasting nuts makes them fragrant and adds colour. Most cooks do it in a pan or the oven. A microwave can heat them up, but don't do much for the colour or flavour. The secret is to add a little oil to the plate.
Photo by Kirsten Loza
Serious Eats experimented with toasting nuts on a plate in the microwave. They found the right balance of colour, fragrance and temperature with a little oil:
The solution? Just help the outsides along a bit by tossing the raw nuts in a bit of oil before placing them on a plate. I add a half teaspoon of neutral vegetable or canola oil to a cup of nuts before spreading it in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave the nuts at one-minute intervals, stirring in between until evenly toasted and golden. Depending on the amount of nuts you're working with, this takes between three and eight minutes or so, and the results are more even and better-flavored than anything you can get out of a skillet or toaster oven.
If you're adding the toasted nuts to the recipe later, the microwave option is best. Some recipes have you add food to the pan after toasting the nuts. With those recipes, I'd suggest still using the pan.
Toasting Nuts? The Microwave is Your Best Friend [Serious Eats]