The Best Substitute For Walnuts (#3 You Might HAVE NOW!)

image of replace walnuts in a recipe

We all have our moments.

We plan our dinner in the morning and look forward to it all day. Then we get home, only to realize we ran out of an essential ingredient. If this happens to you, you already know the stress that comes with the situation.

Luckily, if you find out you are out of walnuts last minute, we’ve got your back. Many ingredients can replace walnuts, no matter what your recipe is.

Walnuts: Taste, Texture, Benefits

So, why do we love to cook with walnuts? Walnuts are a fantastic ingredient to add to almost any dish. They have a great texture, not too hard, not too soft, and the perfect amount of creaminess.

Walnuts have a natural, earthy taste with a hint of nuttiness and a twinge of bitterness. This ingredient goes well in several recipes, whether cooked, baked, or left raw.

The benefits of these nuts don’t stop at how these edible seeds taste and feel; they are also good for you. 

Walnuts offer a wide variety of health benefits, such as

  • Rich in Antioxidants
  • Believed to decrease Inflammation in the body
  • They may help lower blood pressure
  • Supports weight control
  • Great source of Omega-3s
  • May reduce the risk of some cancers
  • Promotes a healthy gut
  • They May lower the risk of  and help manage type 2 diabetes
  • Supports healthy aging

When Should You Leave Walnuts Out of the Recipe?

image of a good replacement for nut allergy

The main reason people choose to leave walnuts out of their favorite dishes is allergies.

If this is the case, you shouldn’t substitute the ingredient with any other tree nut. Some of the other tree nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, and hazelnuts.

Most tree nuts contain a similar protein profile which is the root cause of the nut allergy. If you are allergic to tree nuts, you should consider the other options on our list. The best choices include seeds, dried fruits, or chocolate pieces. (*)

Now that you know everything about walnuts and why we love them, let’s talk about substitutes.

10 of The Best Walnut Substitutes to Try!

When you run out of walnuts or aren’t as excited about them as we are and want to use something else, here is a list of 10 substitutes. These options will still taste great and work as well, if not better.

1. Granola

Granola is a sweet substitute for walnuts, usually seen as a breakfast food. This item contains rolled oats, honey, or brown sugar. Granola has a good amount of fiber, with around 4-6 grams per serving.

You will find granola in almost any store, and it isn’t as expensive as a bag of Walnuts. For the reasons listed, granola makes a fantastic walnut substitute.

Best places to substitute:

  • Salads
  • Yogurt
  • Cookies

2. Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are the seeds from sunflowers, obviously, right?  Once harvested, the seeds are then dried and often roasted in their shell. You can also add different flavors during the roasting process.

While you can replace sunflower seeds still in their shell for walnuts, it is better to use them without. Buying shell-less or removing the shell first makes it easier to add to a recipe or eat right away.

Best places to substitute:

  • Garnishes
  • Bread
  • Roasting

3. Almonds

The almond is a fruit that comes from the almond tree, a species native to Iran. This tree nut is a great source of protein, nutrients, and antioxidants. We use this substitute for walnuts because of the smooth texture and delicate crunch.

You can salt, sweeten, roast, etc., almonds with ease. You can interchange almonds with walnuts in most recipes without any issues.

Best places to substitute:

  • Cookies
  • Pancakes
  • Stir Fry

4. Raisins

Well, we all know raisins are not in the nut family, but they can still make a great walnut substitute in many dishes. Since raisins dry grapes, they are sweeter and juicer than walnuts. This revelation means they aren’t the ideal substitute for everything.

This food does have a similar texture to walnuts, with a soft inside and a more rigid outer layer. The matching texture makes them perfect for any dish that needs a little consistency.

Best places to substitute:

  • Salads
  • Trail mix
  • Oatmeal

5. Pecans

If you are not looking for a replacement due to allergies, pecans are one of the closest options to walnuts. 

This nut offers a similar texture, flavor profile, and shape. Pecans provide a sweet, hickory flavor and crunchy texture. These characteristics mean they are perfect for most dishes that call for walnuts.

Even with a sweet taste, pecans have a low sugar content and can improve blood sugar levels. These tree nuts taste good raw, cooked, roasted, or sugared. We also love them smothered in chocolate.

Best places to substitute:

  • Ice cream
  • Pies
  • The coating on fish or meat

6. Pistachios

Pistachios are an edible seed that comes from an Asian evergreen tree. Like walnuts, pistachios have a hard shell and are delicious when raw or roasted.

Unlike walnuts, this food has a sweet undertone and will give your recipe a mild earthy flavor. If you want to keep your dish on the savory side, you might want to look elsewhere for an alternative.

Best places to substitute

  • Tarts
  • Cookies
  • Candy

7. Dried Cranberries

Dried cranberries provide a sweet, candylike taste to many dishes.  This makes them poor alternatives in recipes looking for a specific flavor profile. You can always pair this option with foods like apples, butternut squash, or spicy sausages.

If you have a nut allergy, dried cranberries are the perfect go to item for holiday recipes. (*) You can also serve them alone, dipped in chocolate, or freeze them for later.

Best places to substitute:

  • Cookies
  • Salads
  • Muffins/Cakes

8. Chick Peas or Other Beans

Nuts and beans can go hand in hand in the right dishes.  Feel free to roast a batch of beans, such as chickpeas, to replace the walnuts in your recipes.

Consider the flavor you are going for before adding this ingredient. Roasted beans will give your dish a crunchy texture and earthy taste like walnuts. Some beans are better for sweet recipes, while others work well in savory ones.

Best places to substitute:

  • Cookies
  • Salads
  • Stir fry

9. Chocolate Chips Are Amazing

Of course, chocolate chips don’t taste or look anything like walnuts. This product doesn’t even share the same texture. But, these are great options to add to desserts when you can’t use walnuts.

Chocolate chips are an excellent walnut substitute since you can find them in most pantries. These alternatives are also pretty inexpensive and easy to find.

Best places to substitute:

  • Ice Cream
  • Cookies
  • Cakes/Cupcakes

10. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a fantastic substitute for nut recipes. These seeds have a similar taste and feel to walnuts, with a mild nutty flavor. Roasted, these seeds are crunchy and crisp, making them perfect for most recipes.

You can roast pumpkin seeds with various seasonings to give them an extra zip of flavor to go with any recipe.

Remember that many pre-packaged pumpkin seeds already have salt.  Reduce the salt the recipe calls for when swapping walnuts with pumpkin seeds.

Best place to substitute:

  • Granola Bars
  • Salads
  • Bread

Great Walnut Recipes to Try

If you love the taste of walnuts as much as we do, here are some fantastic recipes to try. Remember, if you don’t have walnuts on hand, you can always use one of the substitutes provided.

  • Banana Bread With Walnuts –  This option is Great for cool winter days. Click here for the delicious recipe.
  • Chicken Salad With Grapes and Walnuts– A fantastic summer favorite. Click here for the original recipe.
  • Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Cinnamon and Walnut Swirls- This is a great idea for those much needed coffee break snacks. Click here for this fabulous recipe.
  • Old Fashion Maple and Walnut Fudge- Nothing says holidays quite like a delicious batch of old fashion fudge. Click here for an amazing recipe.


Summing Things Up

Walnuts provide a unique flavor profile to many recipes. Yet when necessary, you can swap them for other ingredients. The list above offers many options to choose from that will provide the same great taste, texture, or both.

image of walnuts alternatives

About The Author

Scroll to Top