Substitute for Pine Nuts

Substitute for Pine Nuts
Substitute for Pine Nuts

Pine nuts have a sweet and subtle flavour making them the fanciest amidst all nuts. The high prices and scarcity might send you looking for a substitute for pine nuts. They have a teardrop shape and they are harvested from pine trees. Note that pine seed and pine nuts refer to the same thing. Seeds are edible and you will find them inside a hard and inedible nut casing. There are over 20 varieties of pine trees which produce pine nuts. However, the most common varieties are the Mexican pinion, Chinese nut pine, and the Italian nut pine.

Unfortunately, you will need a lot of time and hard labour to produce them. For instance, it takes a period of 15 to 25 years for pine trees to start producing the seeds. The harvesting process is tiresome since it’s done by hand contributing more to the high price tag. Despite all that struggle people love pine nuts and the have become a versatile treasure in the kitchen. Most cooks use them to thicken sauces while others spread them over salads. In some parts of Canada and USA, they roast and salt the pine nuts turning them into a delicious snack. Another reason that may hinder you to look for a substitute for pine nuts is the pine nut syndrome.

Consider the following cheap and suitable alternatives:


1.    Almonds

The best substitute for pine nuts is the almonds because they have a similar texture. They are produced by the almond tree which is popular in North Africa, India, and the Middle East. Additionally, Almonds are cheaper compared to the pine nuts. I.E. One Kg of almonds costs around $35 while 1kg of pine nuts goes for around $138 on Amazon. Almonds are packed with minerals proteins, fiber and vitamins. Also, they are relatively packed with a handful of health benefits.

You can eat almonds raw, toast them, or even flake them. Below are some of Almond’s health benefits.

•    Can lower cholesterol levels

•    They prevent harmful oxidation

•    Effective for weight loss

•    Keeps blood sugar under control

•    Defends your cells against damage

•    Good for heart health


Almonds make a good substitute for pine nuts because of their fine texture. Also, the price is relatively cheaper. They are also packed with numerous nutrients and health benefits just like the pine nuts.

2.    Walnuts

Walnuts are the best substitutes for pine nuts for culinary purposes. They are a little bitter than almonds but they will serve you perfectly. You can remove this bitterness by roasting and removing the skins of your walnuts. English walnut is the most common variety and the most studied walnut in the world. They provide minerals, healthy fats, vitamins, and fiber. Walnuts originate from central Asia and the Mediterranean region.

In comparison to pine nuts, walnuts are cheaper. However, walnuts are very allergic too. They make a suitable substitute for pine nuts in terms of pricing and the nutritional values only. Let us see some of the health benefits for Walnuts.

•    Aids in weight management

•    Good for bone health

•    Good for heart health

•    Cancer prevention

•    Decreases inflammation

•    May lower blood pressure


Walnuts are a bit bitter but they make a good substitute for pine nuts in terms of pricing and culinary flavour. Also, they have a ton of nutritional benefits just like the almonds and the pine nuts.

3.    Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are the best nut-free substitutes for pine nuts. They will some crunch to your salad, sauce and other dishes. Note that the sunflower seeds might change the colour of your dish because they have a strong grayish effect. Sunflower seeds are widely available in the market so it might be the easiest alternative for you to find. They are highly nutritious as well, for example, they are a good source of vitamin E, phosphorus, calcium, and Iron.

Note that there are three types of sunflower seeds, I.E. high oleic, linoleic, and sunflower oil seeds. Linoleic and High oleic is the most suitable substitutes for pine nuts. The only difference between the seed is the levels of saturated, polyunsaturated and mono-saturated fats in them. These are some of the health benefits of sunflower seeds.

•    Can calm your muscles, blood vessels, and nerves

•    Sunflower seeds can lower cholesterol

•    Cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits

•    Can ease constipation

•    Regulates Estrogen imbalance


If you are allergic to nuts then sunflower seeds are the best for you. They are easy to prepare and widely available at a cheap price.

4.    Cashews

Cashew nuts are extracted from the cashew fruits. They are typically attached at the bottom of the fruit. Cashew nuts are used for the culinary purpose in snacks and preparation of several dishes. They are commonly used for the Pakistani and Indian Cuisine. Cashew nuts contain similar flavour with the pine nuts and they are used in the same way. They are also relatively cheaper and widely available too making them a perfect substitute for pine nuts.

Cashew nuts are highly nutritious, for instance, they are a great source of Magnesium, vitamin B-6, proteins, Iron, and potassium. Some of its health benefits are:

•    Prevents blood disease

•    Boosts your heart health

•    Good for the skin

•    Weight loss


If you have no option consider buying cashews to replace the pine nuts. They are easy to prepare and easily reachable at almost any grocery store.

5.    Hazelnuts

Hazelnut also is widely known as filbert and is obtained from the Corylus tree. They usually contain a pleasant taste and are eaten raw, grounded into a paste or roasted. These nuts are used for pastries and coffee as well as a topping to garnish savory dishes and desserts. They are a good source of dietary fiber which helps to prevent constipation. Hazelnuts make a good alternative because they can be used in almost every way pine nuts are used. Additionally, hazelnuts are relatively cheaper compared to some other alternatives such as macadamia nuts.

They are packed with nutrients such as vitamin c, Iron, calcium, magnesium, and dietary fiber. Lastly, they are packed with several health benefits such as:

•    Lowers the rates of cancer

•    Decrease inflammation

•    Lower blood sugar levels

•    Helps to manage diabetes

•    Can boost your brain

Nutritional Facts Summary Table

Item Calories Total Fats Carbohydrates Proteins Source Works Best In
Almonds 579 (per 100g) 49.4g 21.7g 21.2g Nuts of Prunus dulcis tree Snacking, baking, salads
Walnuts 654 (per 100g) 65.2g 13.7g 14.4g Nuts of Juglans regia tree Snacking, baking, trail mix
Sunflower Seeds 584 (per 100g) 51.5g 20.0g 20.8g Seeds of sunflower plant Snacking, salads, granola
Cashews 553 (per 100g) 44.2g 30.2g 18.2g Nuts of Anacardium occidentale tree Snacking, cooking, desserts
Hazelnuts 628 (per 100g) 60.8g 16.7g 14.95g Nuts of Corylus avellana tree Snacking, baking, spreads


What can you use instead of pine nuts in pesto?

You can use various nuts like walnuts, almonds, cashews, or even sunflower seeds as substitutes for pine nuts in pesto.

Can I use walnuts instead of pine nuts?

Yes, you can use walnuts as a substitute for pine nuts in pesto. They have a slightly different flavor but can work well and provide a delicious pesto variation.

Why do you need pine nuts for pesto?

Pine nuts are traditionally used in pesto for their rich, buttery flavor and creamy texture. They contribute to the unique taste and consistency of traditional pesto sauce.

Are almonds better than pine nuts for pesto?

It’s a matter of personal preference. Almonds can be used as an alternative to pine nuts in pesto, providing a slightly different taste and texture. Some people might prefer the flavor of almonds in their pesto, while others enjoy the traditional pine nut flavor.


The best substitute for pine nuts in almost all culinary uses because of the similarities in flavour. On top of that hazels, nuts are cheaper than pine nuts and other suitable alternatives such as macadamia nuts.

Mei Lin Zhang

Written by Mei Lin Zhang

I love to writes about stories and cooking. I really enjoys creating new recipes and taking pictures of my food. When I am not writing, you can find me in the kitchen or snapping photos of my tasty creations.

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