Pecans vs. Walnuts:
Which Is Better?

Are pecans or walnuts healthier? What nut tastes better? What is the difference between walnuts and pecans? Although often thought of as interchangeable, pecans and walnuts are actually quite different from one another. 

At first glance, pecans and walnuts are remarkably similar. They are about the same size and color. They have similar textures. And, they’re both popular as crunchy components in everything from salads and snacks to pastries and confections. However, despite these shared characteristics, pecans and walnuts are very different. It’s time to crack these nuts open and find out which one reigns supreme. 

What Is The Difference Between Pecans And Walnuts?

Pecans and walnuts seem similar because they are both in the same genus of trees. But the reality is that these two nuts are quite different. From their shells to their taste, pecans and walnuts are anything but interchangeable. Side by side, walnuts are typically a much lighter color, with more irregular edges, and a relatively soft shell. Pecans, on the other hand, are darker, have a more oval-like shape, and have an exceptionally hard shell. So hard, in fact, that their name “pecan” is derived from the Algonquian for “nut that needs a stone to be cracked. 

The Pecan Family Tree 

To get to the root of these nuts, the first thing to address is the tree on which they grow. Walnut and pecan trees are both in the same family known as the Junlandacea family. Native to Mexico, South America, and the southern United States, pecan trees are much hardier and larger than their walnut counterparts. Pecan trees also grow faster and larger than walnut trees. Even a small pecan tree will be much taller and thicker than a full-grown walnut tree, and will eventually grow to be twice its size. Pecan trees are titans of the nut world.  

What Is The Healthiest Nut?

Although their exteriors are different, the most significant differences between pecans and walnuts are exposed beneath the shell. Here’s an in-depth look at some nut nutrition facts. 

Nut Nutrition

Pecans: 1 oz serving (20 nuts)

Calories: 190

Protein: 3 g

Fat: 20 g

Saturated fat: 2 g

Cholesterol: 0 mg

Carbohydrate: 4 g

Fiber: 3 g

Calcium: 20 mg

Iron: 0.72 mg

Phosphorous: 79 mg

Potassium: 116 mg

Zinc: 1.28 mg

Vitamin B6: 0.06 mg (5%)

Vitamin E: 0.04 mg (2%)

Vitamin K: 1.0 ug (1%)


Calories: 200

Protein: 5 g

Fat: 20 g

Saturated fat: 2 g

Cholesterol: 0 mg

Carbohydrate: 4 g

Fiber: 2 g

Calcium: 28 mg

Iron: 0.82 mg

Phosphorous: 98 mg

Potassium: 125 mg

Zinc: 0.88 mg

Vitamin B6: 0.152 mg (12%)

Vitamin E: 0.02 mg (1%)

Vitamin K: 0.8 ug (1%)

There is no denying that both of these nuts are healthy additions to any meal or snack, but with their special fiber-to-carb ratio and vitamin content, pecans have an edge. Fiber helps your body feel full, and therefore curbs hunger, making it essential for weight loss. And, with the anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin E, pecans are the more powerful anti-inflammatory nut. So, if you are looking for a fiber-rich, protein-packed, low-cholesterol, low-calorie nut, pecans are the clear choice.

Do Pecans or Walnuts Taste Better?

Both pecans and walnuts are ideal for elevating a boxed brownie mix, adding a healthy crunch to your salad, even sprinkling on top of oatmeal. But, these nuts don’t taste similar at all. In fact, their taste is the single biggest difference between the two. Walnuts are fairly mild, with their primary note being a tangy, bitter taste. Pecans, on the other hand, are known for having a naturally sweet, buttery flavor. Therefore, if you’re looking to add a touch of sweetness or a rich, buttery crunchy pecans are the nut that gets the job done.

Pecans vs. Walnuts: Which Is Better?

These nuts are known for being extremely similar to each other, but when you take a closer look it’s clear to see that pecans are the better choice. They’re packed with fiber and vitamins to help with weight loss and an overall healthy countenance. And, they make a better addition to your daily dishes. A healthy crunch, with a naturally buttery and slightly sweet taste, pecans are a top-of-the-line nut.

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