How to Identify Pecans Vs. Walnuts

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Pecans and walnuts both come from the tree nut family, but they're otherwise rather different. Walnuts tend to have a bold, slightly bitter taste while pecans tend to have a sweet flavor. The differences don't stop there. Pecans and walnuts have plenty of physical differences that make it easy to tell them apart, whether they're in their shells or out of them.

  • Look at the shells of the walnut and the pecan. Walnut shells have a bulbous, almost spherical shape while the pecan shell has an oblong or oval shape. Additionally, a walnut shell has a light brown color and the pecan shell has a distinctly mid or dark brown color.

  • Compare the color differences between the two nuts. Like the shells, the walnut has a light brown or golden color and pecans have a darker brown or bronze coloring.

  • Look at the shape differences. Walnuts look almost like popcorn, with random shapes and bulges in the meat with no uniformity. Pecans, on the other hand, have an oval shape with two distinct ridges traveling down the length of the nut.

  • Eat one walnut and one pecan to compare the tastes. Walnuts have a bold flavor with an oily and light feel on the mouth. Pecans have a sweet flavor and feels drier due to its lower oil content.

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  • Photo Credit Santje09/iStock/Getty Images
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