If you’re a nut lover like we are, there’s no better way to enjoy nuts than in the form of a buttery pie crust or decadent pecan pie filling.
Pecan pie is an all-time classic, and it’s well-loved by those who aren’t allergic to nuts (and even some who are).
It’s great for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and any other occasion that calls for a little extra sweetness.
- But what if you don’t have pecans?
- Or what if you’re allergic to them?
- Do you have to go your whole life without enjoying the delight of pecan pie?
Of course not!
We’ve rounded up the 9 best substitutes for pecans in pecan pie.
Who knows—you might even find your new favorite nutty ingredient here.
9 Best Substitutes for Pecans in Pecan Pie
While pecans are a traditional ingredient in pecan pie, you can substitute other nuts. You’ll want to use a nut that has a similar texture to pecans, such as walnuts, hazelnuts, or almonds. Some nuts are too dry and will not hold up to the cream cheese filling.
Still looking for options?
Then keep scrolling!
Walnuts are a suitable substitute for pecans in pecan pie because they are similar in taste and texture, they are easy to find, and they can be used in other recipes that call for nuts.
The main difference is that walnuts have a more mild flavor than pecans and are also not as sweet.
A common mistake people make when using walnuts as a substitute is not toasting them first.
This can result in a bland flavor that won’t fulfill the same sweet and nutty flavor you get from toasting pecans.
If you’re looking for a substitute for pecans in your next batch of homemade pecan pie, cashews are a great go-to.
They’re easier to come by than pecans, and there are plenty of recipes that use cashews as the main ingredient and call for additional nuts on top.
Cashews also have a similar sweet flavor to pecans, which will complement the texture and flavor of your pie—and we all know that texture is one of the best parts about pecan pie!
However, cashews are significantly larger than pecans.
To make sure your pie doesn’t end up looking like a cashew-cashew-cashew wonderland, choose small or chopped cashews as your substitute.
Hazelnuts have a similar buttery texture and taste as pecans.
When properly toasted, they are nutty and rich, and when baked into a pie filling they make a great substitute for those of us who can’t or don’t want to use pecans.
It’s important to toast hazelnuts before you add them to your pie filling.
This will enhance the flavor and help them hold their shape better.
If you don’t toast your hazelnuts, they will tend to fall apart in the liquid of the pie filling, resulting in a messier, flatter-looking pie (not the stuff holiday memories are made of).
Almonds are a great fit for recreating the taste and texture of pecans.
But if you’re not careful with them, almonds can be a bit of a wild card.
Here are some common mistakes that people make when using almonds as pecan substitutes, and how to avoid them:
- Buying too many: You’ll only need about half as many almonds as you would of pecans. So if your recipe calls for 2 cups of chopped pecans, you’ll only need 1 cup of chopped almonds.
- Processing them too much: You can chop or slice your almonds before adding them to the pie filling, but try not to chop or process them too much—they should have some texture. Remember to process them by hand instead of using a food processor, because they can turn into almond butter pretty easily.
- Not knowing when to stop: You don’t have to toast your nuts before adding them to your pie, but it certainly doesn’t hurt! Try tossing your nuts in salt and maple syrup and then roasting them at 375 degrees F for about 10 minutes.
Pistachios are, in my opinion, one of the best substitutes for this kind of pie.
While their taste is a bit more distinct than that of pecans, pistachios are still a great option when you’re looking for a crunchier texture and a slightly less-sweet flavor.
I would also highly recommend that you chop your pistachios (or pecans) before putting them into the pie mix.
While this may seem like an extra step, chopping your nuts will actually help them to mix better with the other ingredients and provide you with the best possible final product.
6. Pine nuts
While pecans are the first and most obvious choice, pine nuts can be a great substitute in a pinch.
The common mistake people make with this substitute is that they use the same amount of pine nuts as they would pecans.
Since pine nuts are smaller in size than pecans, you will need to double the amount of pine nuts in your recipe.
7. Macadamia nuts
Like pecans, Macadamia nuts have a buttery flavor and a creamy texture that makes them a great choice to replace pecans in this dessert.
Plus, they’re available year-round, so you don’t have to worry about seasonal availability.
One common mistake people make when substituting macadamia nuts for pecans is thinking that the nut is already shelled and chopped.
Macadamia nuts are usually sold in their shells, so you’ll need to remove the shells first before using them as a substitute.
8. Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds are a great choice for pecan-pie-making.
They have a similar crunchy texture as well as similar flavor—plus, they’re packed with nutrients and antioxidants.
The most important thing to know about making sesame seed pies is that you should definitely use roasted sesame seeds.
If you use unroasted sesame seeds, the flavor will be completely different and your guests might not be too happy with their dessert!
9. Brazil Nuts
Like pecans, brazil nuts are crunchy and sweet with a salty undertone.
They are commonly used as a substitute for pecans in various recipes.
When substituting Brazil nuts for pecans, it is important to not over-bake the pie.
Brazil nuts tend to hold their shape better than pecans do upon baking, so if you bake the pie too long after adding them, they will become hard and difficult to cut through.
9 Best Substitutes for Pecans in Pecan Pie
- Pine nuts
- Macadamia nuts
- Sesame seeds
- Brazil Nuts
- Pick any of the substitutes from this list to put in your pie recipe.
- Prepare the rest of your dessert.
- Be ready to eat in no time!