Best Substitute for Pine Nuts

There are several options if you can’t use pine nuts! Here’s the best substitute for pine nuts to use in pesto and other recipes.

Substitute for Pine Nuts

Need pine nuts and can’t find them? Or simply don’t like the flavor? There are lots of recipes that call for pine nuts: are actual nuts from pine trees. The most popular recipe with pine nuts is pesto. They’re used in lots of other Mediterranean and Italian-style recipes: in pasta, on greens, on crostini, and even in baking.

Pine nuts can be expensive and hard to find because they’re difficult to harvest and the health of trees worldwide is waning. If you’re looking to substitute these fancy nuts in a recipe, there are ways to get around it. Here’s the best substitute for pine nuts!

Best substitutes for pine nuts

Note that how these options work depend on the type of recipe and how the pine nuts are used.

1. Cashews (chopped and toasted).

The best substitute for pine nuts? Chopped cashews. Cashews have a lightly sweet flavor and soft texture that mimics pine nuts rather well. Chop them down into roughly the size of pine nuts, about 1/2-inch long pieces. Even better? Toast the cashews in a dry pan for 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Toasting the nuts gets an even more similar flavor to the nuttiness of pine nuts.

Cashews work very well as a substitute for pine nuts in pesto. Try our Basil Cashew Pesto or Vegan Cashew Pesto.

2. Almonds (toasted).

The next best substitute for pine nuts? Toasted almonds. Best is slivered or sliced, or you can chop whole almonds into 1/2-inch pieces. Almonds have a different flavor than pine nuts, but they’ll work in a pinch. They have a lightly sweet flavor as well. Just like cashews, they’re even better toasted to mimic the nutty flavor of pine nuts. They work in pesto as well as pastas and salads.

3. Pistachios

The last best substitution for pine nuts: Pistachios! Again, pistachios have a slightly different flavor from pine nuts. But both almonds and pistachios are commonly used in Italian recipes, so they’re a good substitute for pine nuts. You can use pistachios in pesto, pasta, and salad. Just know that the unique flavor of a pine nut is not replicated: it will taste like pistachio.

Here are a few recipes made with pine nuts:

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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