Baking with nuts is a great way to add flavor and texture to your baked goods. But like any ingredient, it’s important to know the best way to prepare nuts before using them – and which nut is best to use in the recipe you’re making! Here is my cheat sheet that I reference in my kitchen when I’m baking with nuts!
Walnuts have a mild, buttery flavor that makes them perfect for baking into cookies and cakes. They have a high oil content, so they tend to toast much faster than other varieties. Because of this, it’s best to use raw walnuts to prevent them from burning during the baking process.
To add an even stronger flavor to cookies, try using chopped black walnuts. They have a more savory flavor than regular walnuts, which is perfect for cookies made with sweet ingredients like toffee or white chocolate.
This nut is a popular baking ingredient in the south, and for good reason! Pecans develop a rich flavor, and brittle, crunchy texture when baked. Use pecan halves in pies and cookies, or grind them up with butter and sugar to create a decadent gluten-free pie crust!
Whole hazelnuts are a delicious addition to dessert, but are one of the most time intensive nuts to prepare. Before using the nuts, you’ll need to remove the skin, which can become bitter and flaky when baked. To do this, toast the hazelnuts for 8 minutes at 250 degrees, then use a clean kitchen towel to rub the skin off. Since hazelnuts have a lower oil content than other nuts, it’s ok to toast them before baking with them.
I love using whole hazelnuts to garnish fancy desserts or cakes because they have such a uniform, round shape. Hazelnuts also pair best with chocolate, which makes them ideal to use for chocolate nut butter, or truffle filling!
One of the most versatile nuts for baking, raw almonds can be used for anything from a gluten-free flour substitute to topping shortbread. To make almond flour, also known as almond meal, simply grind the nuts in a food processor for 30 to 40 seconds. Use almond flour with another gluten free flour blend or in conjunction with all-purpose flour to give baked goods a chewy, nutty texture.
To give almonds a milder taste and lighter color, you can remove the skins by boiling the nuts for 1 minute. Rinse the almonds in cool water to loosen the skin, which will then be easy to peel off the nut.
Pistachios are commonly used in Middle Eastern baking for dishes like baklava. They are also used as garnish for many desserts because of their bright green color. Pistachios have a cherry-like flavor that isn’t too sweet and pairs excellently with fruit or other sugary ingredients. Try grinding them up to using as crust for a fruit tart or mix them with honey for a pastry filling. When baking, I always look for shelled pistachios (like Diamond® Nuts!) to cut back on time!
Since some macadamia nuts are grown in Hawaii, this nut is most commonly used with light, tropical flavors like pineapple or white chocolate. They are high in oil, so they take on a deep buttery flavor and texture when baked. They are my favorite kind of nut to use in chocolate chip cookies or brittle!
You may think of pine nuts as a savory recipe addition, but their earthy flavor and soft texture also make them ideal for baking. If you haven’t used them before, try throwing a handful into cookie batter or bake them into a lightly sweet snack cake.
What is your favorite kind of nut to bake with? I’d love to know how you use them! Share in the comment section below!