Walnuts vs. Pecans: What’s the Difference?

by Charlie
Walnuts vs. Pecans

Nut lovers won’t refuse a serving of walnuts or pecans. These tree nuts are great at lowering all that unhealthy blood cholesterol in our bodies. They are also good sources of antioxidants and bear anti-inflammatory properties.

Walnuts and pecans are similar in appearance that people mistake one for the other. They have quite the same color and are roughly the same size. You may also use them to add a tasty crunch to your salad or have a handful of either one for snacking. Despite the similarities, walnuts and pecans are different in a number of ways.

What’s the difference between walnuts and pecans? The two main differences between walnuts and pecans lie in their color and shape. Walnuts have a lighter brown color, while pecans have a darker brown color. Moreover, walnuts have an irregular round shape, while pecans are oval or elliptical in shape.

What are Other Differences Between Walnuts and Pecans?

There are some more differences between walnuts and pecans. Firstly, walnuts have tougher shells than pecans. It is true that the origin of the word pecan denotes the meaning of a nut that requires a stone to crack open. However, walnuts are even a harder type of tree nut to crack compared to pecans.

Secondly, they differ in taste. Walnuts are a bit bitter while pecans are sweeter in taste. 

Thirdly, they differ in texture. Walnuts have an oily texture while pecans have a dry texture. This is the reason many prefer to roast walnuts before enjoying them as a snack or ingredient in salads and other recipes.

Fourthly, they differ in price. In the US, pecans are cheaper to buy compared to walnuts. In Europe and parts of Asia, however, walnuts are cheaper to buy.

Fifthly, they differ in nutritional profiles. Walnuts have more polyunsaturated fats, while pecans have more monounsaturated fats. Pecans also have more fiber. Lastly, walnuts have lower sugar content, while pecans have a lower sodium content.

Can You Use Walnuts in Place of Pecans?

Yes, you can use walnuts in place of pecans and the other way around. Keep in mind that walnuts will add oil content and a bitter taste to your dish. On the other hand, replacing walnuts with pecans will sweeten your dish while lessening the overall fat content of your recipe.

Others use hickory nuts to replace pecans, while some use hazelnuts and pine nuts to replace walnuts in recipes. If you have pecan oil or walnut oil, they can also be good substitutes for actual pecans and walnuts. The general recommendation is for you to use between 2 to 4 tablespoons of pecan or walnut oil for every cup of pecans or walnuts.

How Do You Use Walnuts and Pecans in Recipes?

Walnuts and pecans do a great job of enhancing and completing your recipes. They add more crunch to your crisp salads. Drop a good serving of roasted walnuts or pecans in your rocket or arugula salad. Cube some feta cheese. Slice up some apples or use avocados. Squeeze in some lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper as you like. Yum!

You may also add ground walnuts or pecans to your crumb or batter recipe for meat roasts. Mix them in and coat your steak thoroughly before laying them on your baking pan for oven-roasting.

Walnuts and pecans can be processed to make tasty dips. You may also add them to your creamy vegetable soups.

Walnuts and pecans make great additions to your banana muffins.

Here is an easy way to bake them:

  1. Mash some very ripe bananas. The more, the tastier!
  2. Melt 1/3 cup of butter.
  3. Prepare ¾ cup to 1 cup of brown sugar. Add or lessen sugar as you desire.
  4. Beat 1 large egg.
  5. Prepare 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla.
  6. Measure out 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
  7. Ready ¼ teaspoon of salt.
  8. Have 1.5 cups of aerated all-purpose flour.
  9. Chop ¼ to ½ cup of walnuts or pecans.
  10. Mix all dry ingredients. Blend all wet ingredients. Combine.
  11. Scoop out equally in your muffin pan.
  12. Bake at 180 degrees F for 15 minutes. You may need more or less time depending on your oven specifications. Watch your muffins by the 15-minute mark and make adjustments from there. Brown your muffins as you desire.

When cooling your muffins, don’t leave them in the pan too long. Else, they may become soggy. Take them out to cool on a rack once they are stable enough. You may also line your muffin tins with baking paper, so you can easily take them out to cool on a rack after baking.

How Long Do Walnuts and Pecans Last?

Walnuts and pecans can last up to 6 months in the pantry or 1 year in the fridge or freezer. Remember to keep them in an airtight bag or jar once opened. This way, you get to enjoy good-tasting walnuts and pecans every snack time. To be on the safe side, discard any foul-smelling or rancid-smelling tree nuts or peanuts.

How Do You Crack Walnuts and Pecans?

Walnuts and pecans have strong, hard shells that are difficult for a lot of people to crack open with their bare hands. You could always use a nutcracker, a hammer, and maybe a mallet.

Some even use Channellock pliers (or similar handyman tools) to open these nuts.

Others have come up with alternative ways to make it easier to open hard nutshells. Try any of the following yourself:

  1. Freeze them. Place some walnuts or pecans in an airtight bag. Freeze them for several hours or until the shells crack open.
  2. Roast them. Loosely space them out on a baking pan. Roast them at 170 degrees F for 20 minutes. Cool. They should be easier to crack open.

Final Thoughts

  • Pecans are darker in color compared to pecans.
  • Walnuts have an irregular round shape, while pecans are oval or elliptical in shape.
  • Walnuts have tougher shells than pecans.
  • Pecans are sweeter, while walnuts are a bit bitter.
  • Walnuts are oily in texture, while pecans are dry. 
  • In the United States, pecans cost more.
  • Walnuts have more polyunsaturated fats, while pecans have more monounsaturated fats.
  • Walnuts have low sugar content, while pecans have low sodium content.

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