Pecan Vs Walnut – What’s The Difference?

What’s the difference between pecans and walnuts?

The two are part of the same family but are two different fruits, with distinct shells, appearances, and overall taste. The easiest way to determine the difference is through their appearance. pecans appear darker in comparison to walnuts and are less manipulative.

If you’re in the aisles of nuts at the local bulk supply retailer, you’ll likely see walnuts and pecans in a row. They’re remarkably similar in appearance and even share a similar enough flavor profile to be an acceptable substitute for one another in cooking, but there are some significant distinctions.

Pecans are also sweeter than walnuts, but walnuts have a butterier taste. They share similar nutritional profiles. However, certain key differences could alter their appeal depending on your specific dietary requirements and preferences.

We’ll go over how pecans and walnuts are alike and, most importantly the ways they differ.

Pecan Trees vs Walnut Trees

Pecans and walnuts are from the same family, called the Junlandacea as well as the family of walnuts.

There are over fifty species in this group across the globe The majority of them are found in the Northern Hemisphere, including North and Central America as well as various regions in Europe as well as Asia.

Pecans are indigenous in Mexico along with Central as well as South America, whereas walnuts are native to Central and South America as well as Asia and southern Europe.

Pecan trees are much bigger than walnut trees, which are about 70-80 feet. A small pecan plant can grow as tall as the tallest walnut tree, which is around 70-100 feet, and even higher. Pecan trees could easily reach as high as twice the size when they are at their peak.

Walnut Tree Leaves vs Pecan Tree Leaves

Since walnut trees and pecan trees are very closely linked, they can appear identical. The nuts themselves appear different, however, you can identify the difference between these trees by studying their leaves.

The walnut and pecan trees have different leaf arrangements. This means that the leaves of both are staggered as they ascend a stem in contrast to having leaves opposite one the other. The leaf shape however is different.

Pecans are typically identified by their sickle-shaped leaf and are very distinct. Walnut leaves are lance-like, larger at the base, and then narrow near the tip.

There are additional leaves on the stems of the pecan tree. A walnut tree may have as many as 9 leaves per branch however, a pecan will have at least 9leaves and could even have up to 17.

What Is A Pecan?

The pecans we are familiar with as edible nuts which grow on pecan trees.

They’re among the most well-known nuts, particularly those in North as well as Central America, where they thrive naturally.

They’re great as snacks for the table but are also commonly utilized in cooking and desserts because of their neutral and complimentary taste profile, as well as their smooth and hard texture.

Are Pecans Nuts?

Pecans are considered to be culinary nuts, but they are not nuts.

True nuts are comprised of a non-food hard shell and seeds, that are soft and edible. If you don’t collect your pecans you might not be aware that there’s more to them than the edible seeds as well as the tough shell.

They are a type of fruit with pits, which are similar to peaches, except the flesh is juicy. Pecans have an outer shell that gets dry and then cracks and exposes the stone inside which we consider a pecan.

What Do Pecans Look Like?

Pecans and walnuts might appear similar after they’ve been broken, but they’re completely different nuts.

Pecan shells are lighter brown, oblong and smooth. They’re slightly pointed towards the top of the shells where they connect to stems of plants, and the bottom of the shell is rounded.

The edible part of a pecan appears darker than a walnut and is more uniform in its shape.

Pecans are oblong and typically broken into two when cracked. Both pecans and walnuts are believed to be similar to the human brain.

Pecans can have wrinkles or ridges, similar to a walnut, however, the ridges appear more consistent in appearance and are less random. The pecans usually have a thin dividing line down the middle. Each side is characterized by a single indentation.

What Is The Taste of Pecans?

Pecans are sweet and slightly chewy nuts that are slightly chewy and sweet. They’re a bit drier than walnuts and don’t contain as much oil. their hulls, however, the oils are more savory and rich when they are heated.

Due to their sweet flavor, they are typically used in recipes that require sweet and salty ingredients. They are often served alongside sweet potatoes and fruit and in desserts like Pecan Pie.

Types of Pecans

Incredibly there are more than 500 kinds of distinctive pecans that make nuts that are all slightly different in their flavor shape, color, size, and texture.

In commercial production There are fewer varieties, and, often, they’re not distinct in their packaging, or even marketing.

Pecans grown commercially are used mostly because of the “improved” thin shell that makes them more difficult to crack.

Wild pecans are characterized by a more robust outer shell that needs an enormous amount of effort to open. Thicker shells are also a sign that there’s more meat per nut because the shell doesn’t take up more space.

What Is The Best Way To Harvest Pecans

If you own pecan trees on your own or are located in an area that permits you to hunt to harvest them, the process isn’t difficult.

The easiest method to harvest pecans is to find pecans lying on the ground, and then pick them up. Once they’re fully mature the husk’s outer layer will split and drop the seeds and shell on the ground.

If you’ve found a tree that has many nuts scattered nearby, chances are there are more nuts in the tree that are about to fall. Give the tree a quick shake to intensify the chance of finding pecans.

While you’re removing them look for holes for worms. If the worm has entered the shell, it’s most likely to be rotten, regardless of whether or not the worm hung in the shell.

Remove any nuts that have cracks, holes, or obvious cracks and other signs of damage.

If you have too many pecans to consume You can preserve your pecans for longer, and prolong their shelf-life for up to 2 years by keeping your pecans in a freezer after harvesting them.

What Is of A Walnut?

Walnut is a nut that can be eaten from any tree of walnut. They are also among the most sought-after nuts to eat raw and also used in baking.

They’ve gained a lot of attention for their fat content which is healthy and is considered to be healthy food.

Are Walnuts Nuts?

As with pecans, walnuts can be described as culinary nuts, but they are not nuts. An alternative definition is Drupe, however, they’re not drupes. They’re a type of drupe or nuts-like fruit.

The walnut fruit has a green outer shell covering the hard shell which safeguards the seeds that are edible inside.

As the walnut grows the husk becomes hard and cracks eventually expose the shell.

What Do Walnuts Look Like?

The walnuts inside the shell are more round than pecans and are significantly bumpier. They have a distinct line that connects the 2 halves and extends lengthwise across it. The shells look aged and wrinkled.

On the inside of the shell, the nuts appear similar to brain pecans. The two halves of the walnut are rough and uneven and vulnerable to breaking into smaller fragments when opened. A walnut’s flesh is thinner than the flesh of the pecan.

Within each walnut is a thin, papery skin that can separate the grooves and ridges the walnut.

A majority of people don’t consume this skin, however, it is difficult to get it out of all the crevices and nooks and causes more cracks as the nut gets cleaned. It’s not the case with pecans.

What Do Walnuts Taste Like?

Walnuts are a bit bitter and extremely buttery in their texture. They possess a distinct flavor of nuts and are loved for their soft, crunchy crunch as well as earthy taste.

They’re most likely to be used in recipes that contain an additional natural sweetener, like raisins or maple syrup. Walnuts are often used in oatmeal and granola and also in hearty muffins and of course maple walnut Ice cream.

Types of Walnuts

The two most well-known varieties of walnut are those of the Persian as well as the English walnut as well as The Black walnut.

Black walnuts are famous for their extraordinary flavor as well as their incredibly hard shells. Because they’re harder to break, English walnuts are more commercially sought-after.

The majority of walnuts come from Europe and Asia however, Southern states within the U.S., as well as California and Arizona, have been discovered to be ideal environments for the growth of walnut trees.

The varieties that are found across these regions are typically named after their geographical location for example, for example, the Arizona walnut and the California Black walnut.

What Way To Eat Walnuts

Walnuts can be consumed in their raw form, or toasted and transformed into butter and picked, in certain places. However, it is important to remove them from their shells before you can enjoy them.

Standard English walnuts can typically be cracked using most nuts crackers or the nut-cracking feature of the top kitchen scissors. Black walnuts, on contrary, require an extremely strong nutcracker to deal with the hard shell.

Walnut meat can be used in a variety of ways and is utilized in both savory and sweet recipes.

Baked goods typically include nuts, either as an ingredient or as a crushed topping. They add crunch and chew texture, as well as a slight nuanced flavor.

In savory dishes, it is common to toast the walnuts first. It is a wonderful ingredient in sauces, and it transforms into a smooth consistency once the nuts are either soaked or toasting and later puréed.

It is also a well-known method of bringing the savory taste of walnuts to food without having to use the whole nut.

Young walnuts can also be utilized to make very specific liquors, like Nocino, the Italian Nocino.

As with pecans and walnuts like pecans, you can store walnuts in a freezer to extend their shelf lives to make them in your cooking or even as snacks for up to one year.

Pecans vs Walnuts – Nutrition Guide

Walnuts and pecans have extremely alike in their nutritional composition because they’re close in relation.

They’re both known to be high in healthy fats low in carbohydrates, and rich in a wide range of minerals and vitamins.

However, there are significant differences in the kinds of fat that each is celebrated for, in addition to the different forms of vital nutrients and vitamins.

The Nutritional Content of Pecans

Although keto is certainly the most popular trend in diets today, however, there are plenty of people who feel anxious regarding fat. Is it healthy?

With more than 78 grams of fat in a cup of pecans, can pecans be good for your health?

Yes, pecans can be beneficial to you in many ways. They are low in sugar and low in carbs nuts, yet they’re packed with fiber and are excellent for your metabolic and digestive systems.

They also contain a good amount of protein and healthy fats and a variety of minerals and vitamins.

Fat Content

The first thing to note is that very few people will eat the entire portion of pecans in one sitting.

However, if you did, you’d most likely be the highest amount of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of calories the day, based on your body’s specific size and requirements.

More important than the amount of fat that is present in pecans, it is important to determine what type that fat. Pecans are especially rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs).

They are regarded as one of the most healthy kinds of fats you can consume. It is associated with positive changes in blood sugar levels as well as blood pressure levels and well-balanced cholesterol levels.

Vitamin Content

Pecans and walnuts are both rich in B vitamins, however, walnuts have a higher level of thiamine also known as vitamin B1. Thiamine is among the vitamins that help your body convert food items into energy.

In the absence of a sufficient supply of energy, your metabolism will have difficulty in creating ATP which is the energy source that transports to cells for use.

Mineral Content

When it comes to minerals, walnuts fare better than pecans most of the time although there are some exceptions.

Pecans are an excellent supply of zinc a vital mineral essential for the health of your immune system, in addition to other advantages. It’s so crucial that a lot of food items are enriched with zinc, but pecans are a good source of it.

Manganese is also abundantly supplied through pecans. It is an element that can be traced which means you will only require very little amounts of it but it’s essential to your health.

Manganese aids your nervous system and brain to function effectively. Walnuts can also be a good source of manganese. However, pecans are more beneficial.

The Nutritional Content of Walnuts

Another food item with the most fat of all includes the walnut. Let’s examine the issue of whether walnuts are good for you?

Walnuts are well-known as being beneficial to your brain, something that is easy to remember because the nut itself is shaped like an actual brain.

Healthy fats and vitamins found in walnuts have been shown to lower inflammation and damage to the brain tissue.

Walnuts contain less fiber than pecans with the same amount However, they are rich in protein. They both increase satiety, as well as feeling full after eating.

Fat Content

Pecans are high in MUFAs. Walnuts reign at the top in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs). You’ve likely been told about the value of omega-fatty acids, especially omega 3.

Omega 3 fats have been shown to decrease inflammation and improve conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Many food items contain omega 6 fats which are vital, however, they could cause an increase in inflammation when the ratios of omega 3 and 6 are disturbed.

Modern diets are high in omega 6 but extremely deficient in omega 3. Walnuts contain the highest ratio of all nuts and are thought to be one of the top plant-based Omega 3 sources that you can eat.

Vitamin Content

Pecans and walnuts are both excellent sources of vitamins in tiny amounts that include vitamins A E K, as well as all B vitamins. The place where walnuts shine is in vitamin B6.

Vitamin B6 is a different vitamin that aids in ensuring your metabolism function effectively However, it’s also vital in the development and development of red blood cells as well as neurotransmitters.

Mineral Content

Apart from manganese and zinc walnuts are the only clear winners in the mineral department when faced with pecans.

Walnuts are an excellent source of iron, calcium, and potassium, all of which are vital to maintaining the health of blood vessels and bones. They also provide a good food source for magnesium and phosphorus and, perhaps copper.

Copper is a trace mineral essential for the intake of iron. It also plays an important part in the creation of blood-red cells as well as in the development and maintaining connective tissue, bone, and the major organs.

Interesting Facts & Questions

How Do You Toast Pecans?

Toasting pecans can bring out an intense new flavor profile that can make your mouth go sour.

If you aren’t sure what you would prefer to use your pecans for, mix them with a little additional fat, like Ghee or coconut oil that has been melted, and then sprinkle them with some seasonings that match the dish you’re making.

Simple, popular seasonings include sugar salt, and cinnamon, as well as nutmeg or something spicier like a curry blend or pepper.

To toast the pecans, uniformly sprinkle the pecans on an oven sheet lined with parchment paper. Put on top of an oven heated to 350 degrees F.

It will take between 8 and 10 minutes to be well-toasted But you’ll want to shake them or mix them at least one or two times to avoid burning or only toasting only one side.

Pecans can also be toasted in a pan at moderate temperature. This is the fastest method and takes five minutes, however, you’ll have to pay continuous attention. Make sure to stir them often to keep the pecans in check from scorching.

Are Pecans Keto-Friendly?

Pecans are among the keto-friendly nuts that are available! One ounce of pecans contains an overall fat of around 20g and less than four grams of carbs.

Do walnuts qualify as keto-friendly? Yes, they’re keto-friendly. They have an identical nutritional composition. For the same 1 ounce serving size, you’ll receive around 4 grams of carbs however, you’ll get a lesser quantity of fats, which is 18 grams.

Also, you’ll get fewer calories, however, which means they’re still a good snack for keto-conscious people.

Can Dogs Consume Walnuts?

The raw meat of English walnuts is typically suitable for dogs, however, black walnuts can be poisonous as can the walnut hulls.

If you’ve dropped a couple of pieces during the making of the morning muesli or your dog was able to enjoy a special snack, there’s no reason to be worried.

If you do have walnut trees in your backyard or close by or have a habit of taking your walnuts and shelling them frequently You should ensure that your puppy does not get into the habit of looking for the nuts.

This could result in the consumption of the shells and hulls and hulls. Walnuts that have been rotting for a long time could be extremely harmful to your dog, which is why it’s best not to make this into a regular snack for the dog.

The next question that is on your mind might be, do dogs consume pecans? You should not feed your dog pecans since they contain a chemical known as aflatoxin, which could result in liver damage in dogs.

Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, the founder and editor of YummyTasteFood! She's a seasoned food writer and editor with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry as a former pastry chef, sous chef, and barista. When not writing about food, she explores new recipes or travels the world for culinary inspiration.

Exclusive Coupons & Discounts and Yummy Recipes!

Sign up to our free newsletter!