Who doesn’t love some pine nuts in their salad? Or toasting them for added crunch and flavor? We all do, but these nuts are expensive and are sometimes hard to find. You don’t have to worry about not having any. There is no reason to stop cooking or to change recipes. All you have to do is choose a second choice that will bring very similar results.
From pasta, salads, sauces, and pesto, pine nuts are used widely as their flavor is unique. However, there are many reasons why you may not be able to find or use pine nuts.
For one, they are very expensive and the demand is high while the supply is low at times. Whatever the reason, you should always have a backup plan when pine nuts aren’t an option.
So, what exactly are pine nuts?
These tiny tear-drop shaped nuts come from pine trees. They are light in color, and they have a sweet, buttery flavor. They can be eaten raw or toasted, and they are often used in sauces, such as the famous pesto, or desserts, like cookies and cakes.
And why are they so expensive?
The truth is that harvesting these nuts is extremely hard. The specific tree is a desert tree, which means it is very spread out, making it a long and tiring job to collect the pinecones and seeds. Also, what’s worse is, some pine trees produce seeds that aren’t edible, so the quantity is scarce.
With all that said, let’s get to the best substitutes for pine nuts.
While these nuts are often called bland, the truth is that almonds are very versatile and can be toasted or roasted for extra flavor. You will often find them as a snack, or sometimes accompanying salads or a yogurt parfait. These nuts are high in protein and fiber, and contain multiple vitamins and minerals, making them a healthy choice too.
To make a better replacement for pine nuts, make sure you pick almonds without the skin, such as halved almonds, or try to toast them. This will add a more nutty and caramel flavor, similar to pine nuts.
#2. Macadamia Nuts
These aren’t much cheaper than pine nuts, but they are very similar in flavor. Macadamia nuts have the same creamy, buttery feel to pine nuts, and they are easier to find. You can always find them as a snack, though they are often used as an accompanying ingredient to add flavor.
You can pretty much change these nuts for pine nuts in the same amount and even use them to make your favorite pesto. All you need is basil, parsley, and olive oil, and you will be set. Be careful with how many you add, as these do have a high fat content.
While pistachios have a stronger, saltier flavor, they are still a good choice if you want to make your favorite salad, dressing, or pesto. You probably need fewer pistachios as they do add more flavor, so you don’t overpower your recipe.
Pistachios are much cheaper and they are easy to find. You can buy them shelled or unshelled depending on what you want, but these are also a great snack full of protein.
These nuts are common when making pesto, so you can be sure that they will make a great alternative to pine nuts. Make sure you remove the skin before adding them though, as this is bitter and will change the flavor of your final product.
Walnuts are considered a great snack, but nowadays they are also common in salads and as part of the decoration in cakes.
It used to be hard to find hazelnuts, but lately, they are everywhere. These nuts are sweeter than the rest, that is why they are often used in chocolate cakes, brownies, or candy. You can replace them in equal parts to pine nuts, but make sure you remove the skin too.
Hazelnuts are a bit higher in fat, but they still have several vitamins and minerals, and they are lower in sodium.
Cashews are very cheap and easy to find. They have a soft texture and a subtle flavor. They may be a little bland compared to your pine nuts, but you can toast them or add a bit of citric to bring out the flavor.
You have probably had cashews as a snack before. They are common in trail mix and they are also used in Asian and Indian meals.
#7. Sunflower Seeds
This alternative is not a nut, but it is a good choice if you are trying to make a salad taste better. If you want to make pesto, these may be a bit too hard, and the color may alter your final product. Commonly, sunflower seeds have been a quick and healthy snack, but they do have less protein than other nuts.
#7. Pumpkin Seeds
Also known as pepitas, these seeds are a cheaper option. They are a good healthy choice as they have high fiber and many vitamins and minerals. These have been around for the longest time, and they can help bring crunch to your meal, but they may have a strong flavor that could change things too much.
All of these are good alternatives, but for better flavor, we recommend macadamia nuts, walnuts, or almonds. You should remove the skin, consider toasting them, and add lime or lemon juice, and garlic.
While pine nuts are not considered a seed, they may have some traces of nut in them or another allergen that could exacerbate an allergy. It is safer to avoid them, or at least have the person try a small trace of them, or smell and touch them to see if there is an allergic reaction happening.
Yes. Peanuts are actually the cheapest action you can use to substitute pine nuts. However, caution is advised to those who are allergic to this nut.
Don’t break your wallet trying to pay for pine nuts, and don’t worry if you can’t find them anywhere, these are good substitutions that will be cheaper and easier to buy. Always try your choice first and make sure you like it before adding it. Don’t wait to make your favorite pesto tonight!
*Photo by Valentyn_Volkov/depositphotos