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What Is the Difference Between Pecans and Walnuts?

Even if you’re someone who goes nuts for nuts — and who wouldn’t? — you may have trouble identifying different types of nuts.

As fifth-generation pecan farmers, we’re pretty good about knowing a pecan versus a walnut. However, we also realize that it can be tough to figure out what you have on your hands, especially if the nut hasn’t been shelled or you’re staring up at a beautiful nut tree!

We’ve put together a helpful pecan vs. walnut guide to help increase your nut education. Use it to impress your friends and family with your nut savvy!

What Are the Origins of Pecans vs. Walnuts?

Interestingly, pecan and walnut trees both hail from the same type of tree. However, while walnuts are not native to America, pecans are.

Today, you might find both pecan and walnut trees in the wild or in orchards. To tell the difference between pecan and walnut trees, take a quick look at the trees’ heights. Pecan trees usually tower over walnut trees. How tall can a pecan tree get? A select few have exceeded 100 feet according to records!

Looking for other ways to tip you off to the presence of a pecan tree versus a walnut tree?

  • Leaves: Pecan tree leaves have a unique appearance, like a bird’s curving beak. Walnut tree leaves are staggered along a branch, leaving them with a kind of “step” look.
  • Foliage shape: Pecan trees tend to be a bit bushier and fuller than walnut trees. If you spot a nut tree with tons of foliage, you may have a pecan tree on your hands!

Are you still stumped? See if you can pull down a nut from each tree and then move on for identification tips.

Pecan vs. Walnut Shell and Nut Appearance

The shells of pecans and walnuts offer clues to the type of nut inside. Pecan shells are smooth and flatter while walnut shells are rounder and craggy. Additionally, walnut shells are tougher to crack. Even if you have your handy-dandy nutcracker with you, cracking a walnut should take more effort than cracking a pecan.

The appearance of the nutmeat itself is quite different between pecans and walnuts. Though both types of nutmeat have grooves and ridges, walnut meat will be much bumpier. You may also notice that the pecan’s ridges look more uniformly distributed.

Taste-wise, both pecans and walnuts are delicious! Pecans have a bit of a sweeter, drier essence than their walnut cousins. That’s why so many people love to use pecans in dessert recipes!

Pecan and Walnut Nutritional Facts

As you probably know, eating nuts routinely can be great for your health. Pecans edge out walnuts in the nutrition category because they contain more Vitamin A, B1, B5, E and K. Walnuts contain more Vitamin B6.

Both types of nuts are filled with heart-healthy fats, although pecans are lower in polyunsaturated fats and offer an extra dose of fiber.

Pecan or Walnut — What’s Your Choice?

At Pecan Nation, we appreciate the value of all nuts. Nevertheless, we have a sweet spot for pecans!

If you’re looking for the freshest pecans available, you don’t have to go hunting for a tree in the Georgia wilds. Just buy some pecans online at our store!

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