How many types of nuts do you love? Me? Every single one! Okay, I’ll admit it, I literally go nuts for nuts. There’s nothing not to love about nuts. I mean, they’re just so good, and delicious, and crunchy, and healthy. What else could you ask for? And they’re also very versatile. Sprinkle them over your salads or baked goods for texture, or turn them into tasty nut butter or creamy plant-based milk. You can even eat them as a healthy (but delicious!) snack. Sprinkle with salt, or coat with honey - savory or sweet!
Types of Nuts to Know & Love
Nuts are indeed small but surprisingly packed with lots of flavor and nutrients. No wonder nuts are growing in popularity. And with more and more people going crazy for nuts, there are now many types of nuts at your local grocer.
And if you’re unsure what types of nuts you’re going to grab during your next shopping trip, this article will be helpful. I’ll explain to you about 9 types of nuts you should know and love… their characteristics, flavor profile, and their use in cooking.
What are Nuts?
A nut is a dry fruit, usually with one seed, whereby the inedible outer wall becomes hard when the fruit matures. The shell of the nut does not open to release the seed inside. Pecans and hazelnuts are both types of nuts.
Other types of nuts such as peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pine nuts are botanically not classified as nuts. But, in a modern culinary sense, most people think of them all as nuts and refer to them that way.
Types of Nuts
Nutty, earthy, and sweet… Hazelnuts are rich in flavor. Hazelnuts are the nut from the hazel tree and are native to the Northern Hemisphere. Hazelnuts form inside a fibrous husk enclosed by a smooth shell. When ripe, the nut falls out of the husk. The kernel of the seed can be eaten raw or cooked and the thin brown skin of the hazelnut is often removed before cooking.
You probably know that you can turn hazelnuts into Nutella-like chocolate and hazelnut spread. But that’s not all! These types of nuts blend perfectly with a whole lot of other ingredients. You can toss them with your greens to add more crunch to your salads. Blitz them with your milkshake to boost the creaminess. Or sprinkle them over many baked goods. Roast and coat them with salt for tasty snacks. And the good news is… you’ll never have to worry when munching them. Yes, these types of nuts are extremely healthy.
Though cashews are actually types of seeds, they're commonly categorized as nuts in the culinary world. And the flavor is… well, delicious! Cashews come from a tropical evergreen tree that is native to Central and South America. The cashew nut is that cute C-shape nut that attaches to the bottom end of the cashew apple fruit (yes, the actual fruit is edible and can taste anywhere from sweet to bitter). The cashew apple fruit can be eaten raw, turned into jams and chutneys, and is used in many parts of South America in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Cashews can be quite expensive. However, the dense, creamy, and rich flavor are just to die for. Though they're not crunchy like other types of nuts, they're so very worth it. And the versatility boosts the worthiness even more. From vegan milk to vegan cheese, from nut butter to salad topping, from cookies to yummy snacks, even kung pao chicken and cashew-chicken noodles… you name it!
Peanuts are actually a legume and, like lentils or soybeans, they are the edible seeds that grow in a pod. Unlike other legumes, such as beans, you don't eat the dry pod of the peanut but only the seed inside. Peanuts are generally always referred to as a nut.
Peanuts are also one of the cheapest and most widely available types of nuts to buy. But that doesn’t mean peanuts are inferior to other types of nuts. And, if you taste them carefully, they’re actually quite creamy on their own. And when treated with love, this type of nut is absolutely delicious.
In fact, peanuts are one of the most versatile types of nuts to have in your kitchen pantry. Blitz them with your food processor to make homemade peanut butter, crush them to add texture to your Malaysian peanut sauce, mix them with caramel to make peanut brittle, or toss them with unripe mango to make Thai mango salad… You can even add them into cake frosting and sprinkles! The options are endless.
Almonds. The celebrity of the nut world and one of my very favorite types of nuts. Packed with good fats, vitamins, and fiber, they’re so freakin’ healthy. And they taste heavenly too! Sprinkle them over your quick breads, honeycomb muffins, or glazed donuts. Mix them into your tahini cookies, muffins, and cakes. Turn them into almond milk (types of milk), delicious to use in smoothies and baking. Grind them until creamy to make a peanut butter recipe variation with almonds. Perhaps serve them with a healthy bowl of yogurt and berries? Or glaze them with honey and a dash of flaky salt?
Have you ever wondered where almonds come from? Almond trees were originally native to Iran and nearby countries. Over time, they have been cultivated in many parts of the world. The growing fruit of an almond tree looks similar to a peach. As it ripens, the outer covering splits open and releases the seed which is what we know as an almond.
Almonds can be easily bought at your local grocer either shelled or unshelled. Shelled almonds simply mean that the almonds have been blanched in hot water. This process softens the outer seed coat revealing the white seed inside.
Pecan nuts grow on a species of tree native to northern Mexico and the south of the United States. They tend to have a rich creamy flavor. For that reason, pecans are the darling among pastry chefs. And if you love to bake, it’s always a good idea to have pecans ready in your pantry all the time.
Use them to top your quick bake breads such as sticky coffee buns, or as the main star for old-fashioned pecan pie. Candied pecans, yum. Or add crunch to your sweet potato gratin. Ah… and here’s my favorite way to enjoy pecans… scattered over a beautiful disc of baked brie, drizzled with maple syrup, cranberry jam, pomegranate seeds, and fresh figs! What a treat!
Walnuts are one of the best nuts ever - such a kitchen treasure! Tasty, crunchy, and super healthy.
Walnuts are actually a stone fruit from the walnut tree, with most modern commercially grown plants derived from a species in Iran. Once ripened, the husk can be removed to show the walnut shell. Inside the shell is the kernel which is typically two segments.
You can buy walnuts either shelled or deshelled. The nut may be whole, or in smaller portions (these are often cheaper to buy). They can be eaten raw, roasted, or added as an ingredient to your baking.
Walnuts have a very complex flavor. Sweet, rich, buttery, earthy, and a hint of pleasant bitterness. These types of nuts are great in a tart, traditional apple cobbler, and toffee fillings. Glazed with maple syrup? Yum! To top my banana bread recipe, muffins, or carrot cake? Ahh! Sprinkle over pasta, quinoa salad, or roasted brussels sprouts or cabbage? Yes, please!
Types of Nuts - Pine nuts
As the name suggests, pine nuts (also referred to as Pignolia nuts) come from pine trees. These types of nuts might be small and pale, but pine nuts are actually a flavor bomb.
They’re mildly buttery and creamy, ideal for classic pesto sauce. This nut is also the best to make your vegetables look and taste more exciting. Sautee with spinach or green beans, or sprinkle over broccoli or cabbage. The crunch creates a beautiful contrast with the vegetables while adding extraordinary nutty flavor. You can also mix them with couscous or rice, or turn them into pine nut hummus as a delicious and healthy substitute for mayonnaise.
Macadamia nuts are sometimes called Australian nuts. Yes, these types of nuts are indigenous to Australia and were an important source of food for the Australian Aboriginal people. And it seems like Macadamia nuts are getting more popular day by day, which is nice!
Macadamia nuts are highly nutritious. And I especially love them for their sweet, buttery flavor. They’re crunchy on the outside, but taste very creamy inside, which makes them pair well with milk chocolate for chocolate chip cookies, fudge, and brownies. They’re also a great pairing with caramel and maple syrup and are ideal as toppings for tarts. Or blitz them to make macadamia nut butter. Or turn them into fancy macadamia milk (types of milk).
Types of Nuts Pistachios
For centuries now, pistachios have been a common food eaten either raw or roasted. salted or unsalted. They grow on the pistachio tree which is a small tree that originated from Central Asia and the Middle East. Today, Iran and the United States are some of the biggest producers of pistachio nuts in the world.
Pistachios are heavily used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. From Turkish delight or lokum, biscotti, baklava, to spumoni ice cream. Pistachios are also great for making western desserts, like pistachio sponge cake and French macarons. Pistachios are also a great snack on their own and are one of my favorites.
Did you know that pistachio trees can live up to 300 years!
Types of Nuts - How to Roast Nuts
- How to Roast Nuts in the Oven?
This method of roasting nuts is my go-to as it’s so easy. First, preheat your oven to 350°F | 175°C. Spread the nuts evenly on a baking tray. You can drizzle them with a tiny amount of oil, but it’s not mandatory. Then, roast them in the oven for 15 minutes. Check the nuts every 5 minutes and move them around on the tray to avoid overcooking.
- How to Roast Nuts on the Stovetop?
Put your nuts in a frying pan. Remember not to overcrowd your pan. Constantly shake and swirl the pan over medium heat. It might take between 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the types of nuts you’re roasting. Smaller nuts like pine nuts or peanuts might be ready at around 5 minutes, while bigger nuts like hazelnuts or walnuts might take up to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them so that they don't burn. If your pan is too smoky, turn down the heat to medium-low or low.
- How to Roast Nuts in the Microwave?
Are you in a hurry? Then roasting nuts in the microwave might be suitable for you. It’s so simple and quick. Simply spread your nuts on a microwave-safe flat plate. Pop it in the microwave, on 1-minute intervals, for 3 to 7 minutes, or until the nuts are sizzling hot and turned into your desired shade. Yes, it’s that easy!
How to Store Nuts
To maintain the freshness of your nuts, keep them in an airtight plastic bag or container. At room temperature, nuts can last up to 3 months. But if you want to extend their shelf life, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Pro tip: Don’t keep nuts near high-odor foods like onion and garlic. Nuts have the ability to take on the smell around them.
Raw vs Roasted Nuts
Frankly speaking, there’s no exact rule whether you should or shouldn’t roast your nuts before using. Raw or roasted, both have their own pros and cons. Some argue that raw nuts are better for health since they’ve not been processed at all. However, if you’re looking for deeper color, aroma, flavor, and texture, I suggest you roast your nuts before using them.
Types of Nuts - In Conclusion
Now that you’re familiar with these 9 popular types of nuts, let’s go nuts! Buy more nuts, cook with more nuts, and eat more nuts!