What is the Best Substitute for Pine Nuts?

by Charlie

Pine nuts aren’t for everyone, especially if you have an allergy preventing you from consuming them or even being in the same space as them. Yet, so many recipes call pine nuts a key ingredient that adds flavor and consistency to the dish. Whether it’s a health risk or simply preference, it’s important to note the best substitutes for pine nuts so that you can get back to the recipes you love most.

In terms of a one-for-one replacement, cashews might be your best choice substitute for pine nuts. There are many replacements available for pine nuts – nut-based and not – but cashews strike a resounding resemblance to the popular, and expensive, pine nut.

On top of that, cashews are quite cheap and can be found in almost every convenience store.

5 Best Nut-Based Substitutes for Pine Nuts

Here are five of the best nut-based substitutes for pine nuts. Each of these capitalizes on solving the issues presented by the pine nut and makes for a delicious and safe alternative for any recipe you may wish to make. No longer will you have to pay a premium price for a pine nut that might leave a metallic taste in your mouth for days or weeks to come.

Cashews

As we mentioned, cashews seem to reign supreme in the pine nut replacement category, and for good reason. They bear a striking resemblance to pine nuts, not only in terms of taste but texture and consistency. The taste is slightly sweet and the texture is softer than most other nuts which are well-placed next to the popular pine nut.

The taste and texture are all well and good, but the price is where you’ll find the most joy. One major issue with pine nuts is their pricing which is much higher than most common cooking nuts. Cashews solve that problem by being both affordable and accessible in almost any grocery store. Prepare them in the right way and you won’t be able to tell the difference between cashews and pine nuts.

Pistachios

You may notice that pistachios and pine nuts come with a slightly different flavor, but the sweetness is present in both which can play to the recipe well. Pistachios are a common Italian ingredient so you won’t be far off with this nut as your replacement. There are plenty of popular pesto recipes that already use a pistachio base instead of a pine nut one.

Unlike the cashews, pistachios do come with a hefty price, but you’re getting a quality snack that can be used in many different recipes. As long as you’re aware that the pistachio flavor might shine through, these will be a fantastic substitute for pine nuts. Plus, most people who have a pine nut allergy have no allergic reaction to pistachios.

Almonds

Much like the pistachio, almonds are no replacement in terms of tasting like pine nuts. With that being said, they do bring something to the table that pistachios cannot: quality preparation. What we mean by this is that almonds, when toasted, can bring out that nutty flavor that pine nuts are so sought out for. Lightly toasting the almonds gives off a soft, sweet, and nutty flavoring.

The only issue though is that you do have to prepare almonds to taste like pine nuts and even then, there’s still a noticeable difference. Almonds are quite affordable and can be bought in bulk at any grocery store. We recommend you to chop them into 1/2-inch pieces so that they can best resemble pine nuts in terms of size.

Walnuts

We’ll start this part off with the negatives of walnuts as they can be tricky to prepare. First, you have to remove all of the skin of the walnut, otherwise, you’ll be left with a rancid, bitter-tasting dish. The skin can be difficult to remove, and if not done properly, will hurt your dish. It’ll still be edible, but you might not want to.

With that being said, walnuts are the best replacement for pine nuts when making pesto as they are easy to manage and quick to brighten up the taste. You’ll get that sweet, nutty flavoring that pine nuts provide without the metallic feeling that some people experience with pine nuts. As long as you prepare them properly, walnuts are a fantastic replacement for pine nuts.

Pecans

There is a heavy sweetness to pecans that other nuts do not offer. This sweetness will certainly shine through, but that might make them the perfect replacement for any desserts that use pine nuts. They are sweet, yet mild, and easy to prepare which makes them a common choice for substitution.

If you want to bring out the best and most intense flavoring, try roasting the pecans. This highlights their sweetness and turns their mild selves into a fantastic dessert. If you’re making bread or desserts that call for pine nuts, pecans are a fantastic replacement to consider.

Best Seed-Based Substitutes for Pine Nuts

For many, the pine might not be the issue present with the recipe. A nut allergy is one of the most common and most deadly food-related allergies out there, so it’s useful to find a dependable and delicious alternative to nuts, in general, should the need arise. Seed substitutes seem to be one of the best tasting and most popular replacements for recipes.

Sunflower Seeds

If you’re looking to replace any nut with a seed-based alternative, we cannot recommend sunflower seeds enough. There’s bound to be an interesting aftertaste that might take you out of the illusion for a second, but that goes away quickly. Sunflower seeds have an amazing ability to transform your dish into a peanut allergy-friendly experience without anyone noticing the difference.

The only issue that you might find with sunflower seeds is that they can dilute the coloring of the food. For example, peanut butter balls might go from their classic beige coloring to a slight grayish tint. In terms of taste, the difference is minimal.

Pumpkin Seeds

These seeds, a popular dish by themselves throughout the fall, can be easily transformed into a pine nut alternative with the right preparation process. They don’t offer much of a nutty taste, but in terms of texture, pumpkin seeds have you covered.

They’re easy to mash up and can add a nice crunch to your dish. They’re a healthy alternative that offers plenty of protein and minerals that other seeds might be lacking so that your dish can be the envy of the table. 

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