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Can You Substitute Walnuts for Pecans? (Read This First!)

Isn’t it frustrating when you want to cook something but don’t have an ingredient? Most of us think of something else as a substitute for that ingredient. So, you are cooking a dessert that needs pecan, but you don’t have that in your home. 

Can you use walnuts instead? What difference will it make? Let’s dive into the discussion.

Can you substitute walnuts for pecans?

Pecans and walnuts are interchangeable in most dishes for their similar characteristics. However, they have some differences in taste, appearance and nutrition. Using walnut instead of pecan will slightly change the taste of the food without affecting the tastiness. 

Many people often mistake Pecans and walnuts as they have similarities, but they have noticeable differences. Walnuts are bigger and have a hard shell, and are light reddish-brown. On the other hand, pecans are harder to break, a bit smaller and have a darker color. 

The edible portion of those nuts also has some differences. The edible part of walnut is bigger than pecan, and they look a bit different. 

Now let’s talk about the taste of those nuts and try to understand what happens when you use walnuts instead of pecan or vice versa. 

Pecan has a sweeter taste and has its unique flavor. On the other hand, walnuts have a bitter taste and are crunchier than pecan. 

So, those differences will undoubtedly make some differences, but the difference will not be too noticeable if you use a similar amount of walnut instead of pecan.

The dish will taste less sweet as the walnut is less sweet than the pecan. Walnut will add a crunchier texture when used in the place of walnut.

Can you use pecan instead of walnut in a dish? Yes, they are the best alternative for each other. 

What makes them good alternatives for each other? Aside from some differences, they both have similar tastes and textures. They play a similar role in many recipes like dessert, sweet salad, cookies etc.

We know walnut and pecan are interchangeable due to their taste and similar characteristics from the discussion above. But we can go even deeper into the topic.

What are the differences in the nutrition profile of pecan and walnut? Not too much. They provide almost similar amounts of nutrients with some differences. 

They both provide a similar amount of energy and have similarities in fat, carbohydrate, iron, potassium and other nutrients. 

Walnut provides more protein while pecan has more fiber. More fiber content of pecan makes it a better option for weight loss and a quick snack to grab in hunger. We will talk more about the topic in later sections. Now, let’s find out if you can use walnuts instead of pecan.

In pecan pie: 

You can use walnuts instead of pecan in a pecan pie. That will taste a bit different, but it will surely be the dish you want to make. Use an equal amount of walnuts instead of pecan. Well, I was thinking, if you use walnut instead of pecan in pecan pie, is it okay to call it pecan pie!

In sweet potato casserole:

You can make sweet potato casserole with walnuts or almonds instead of pecans. You can use both if you wish. 

in carrot cake: 

It’s possible to substitute pecan with walnuts in a carrot cake. Make sure you adjust the sweetness as walnuts are less sweet than pecan.

In german chocolate cake: 

You can use walnuts in German chocolate cake instead of pecan. The taste will be a bit different but will still be very delicious.

In Mexican wedding cookies: 

Although pecan is better for cookies, walnut can also be used in Mexican wedding cookies.

In banana bread: 

Pecan and walnut are interchangeable in banana bread easily.

In zucchini bread: 

You can replace pecan with walnut in zucchini bread without any problem.

Do pecans and walnuts taste the same?

Pecan and walnuts taste the same enough to be interchangeable. But there are some significant distinguishable differences between them.

Pecan tastes sweeter than a walnut. Walnut is less sweet and has a bitter taste. Walnut is more buttery than pecan as it has less fiber than pecan.

Pecan is crunchier than walnuts, and it has a unique flavor that can make a noticeable difference in the flavor of a dish. On the other hand, walnuts have a less pungent smell.

Pecan will make you feel full for a longer time as it has more fiber content. However, they both are nuts of the same tree family, and they taste like nuts. They have similarities in their nutrition also. For those reasons, both nuts fit interchangeably in many recipes.

3 reasons why you can substitute walnuts for pecans

Walnuts can be a good substitute for pecan for many reasons. Here are some points we found why walnuts are a good substitute for pecans.

They play the same role:

Walnuts and pecans play the same role in a dish. They add a nutty flavor and texture to a dish. No matter if you are cooking dessert, salad or cookies. Walnuts and pecans can fit well in everything. 

However, you can’t expect the same result after using a different item. The taste may be a bit different, but you can be confident that the dish will be delicious with both. 

Walnuts will make the dish less sweet and add a bitter buttery taste. If you use pecans, the dish will be sweeter and crunchier, and you will notice the existence of those nuts more.

They are from the same family:

Pecans and walnuts belong to the same family of trees. That means they are like cousins. For that reason, there are a lot of similarities in the texture and chemical components. 

For someone who doesn’t have a good idea about those nuts, he will not possibly notice the difference after eating the dish.

Nutritional value:

Walnuts provide slightly more energy than walnuts, although the difference is not too much. There are many similarities in nutrient content in those nuts. 

You will get almost similar nutrients in almost similar amounts. Both nuts have good food value that is helpful for the heart, and both contain heart-friendly fat. Walnuts have slightly more protein than walnuts. 

Walnuts have 15 grams of protein per 100 grams, while pecans have 9 grams per 100 grams. Most people are not worried about nutrients. But that’s another reason you can substitute those nuts for each other. 

How to substitute walnuts for pecans?

Substituting walnuts for pecans is pretty straightforward. Here are the steps you can follow to replace it.

Use an equal amount:

You can use an equal amount of walnuts instead of pecans. If the recipe says to add one cup of pecan, just add one cup of walnut instead. 

Similarly, pecans are also suitable for use instead of walnuts. Just add an equal amount of walnuts.

Adjust sweetness:

You need to keep in mind that walnuts are less sweeter than pecans. So, if you are using walnut instead of pecan, you may want to double-check the sweetness you want from your dish. 

Pecan oil: 

Do you know pecan oil can be a suitable replacement for pecans? Use 2-4 spoons of pecan oil instead of one cup of pecans. However, pecan oil will not add the texture of pecans, but it will add flavor to the dish.

How many walnuts to use instead of pecan?

Walnuts are a bit bigger than pecan. If a recipe guides you through adding 10 pecans, you should add about 8-9 walnuts. The only rule of using walnuts instead of pecan is to use equal amounts. So, how can you know the equal quantity? 

Generally, it should be easy, as most recipes will tell you one or two cups of pecan. Just use one cup of walnut instead.

What can I substitute for pecans?

There is no doubt that pecans are the best substitute for walnuts and vice-versa. There are many other suitable substitutes for pecans. Here is the list.

  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia Nuts
  •  Cashews
  • Pistachios
  • Almond

Final Thoughts 

Walnuts can be used as a good substitute for pecans. Using an equal amount of walnuts will make your dish taste almost normal. However, walnuts can add hints of bitterness, so you may like to add more sweetness. Hazelnuts and almonds can also be substitutes for pecan.