Nuts & Seeds Buying Guide

Nuts and seeds are a healthy, inexpensive snack and a great recipe ingredient too. This nuts and seeds buying guide outlines some popular types and offers helpful buying and storage tips.

Nuts & Seeds 101

What's not to like about seeds and nuts? They're delicious to nibble on and will enhance the taste of any meal, from the appetizers through to the dessert. Even better, they're good for you. Seeds and nuts are packed with protein, essential fats, dietary fibre and micronutrients essential for a healthy life. While seeds and nuts tend to be high in fats, they mostly contain the healthier unsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which can help improve cholesterol levels and are good for your heart. So it’s a good idea get to know your seeds and nuts and begin adding them to your family's diet. 

Types of Nuts



Almonds bring a wonderful toasty flavour to baked goods such as breads and muffins. They also complement fish, chicken and vegetable dishes. Almonds are commonly sold shelled with their deep brown skins still on. You can also find them blanched with no skins; these almonds have a pale-white complexion. If using almonds in recipes, slice them to release their smoky flavour and get the most taste possible.


Cashews are typically sold pre-roasted, ready for tasty snacking. You can also find cashews labelled as “raw,” but they're not truly raw as heat is used in the shelling and cleaning process. When shopping for cashews check to ensure they are a light brown colour — this means they’re fresh. Also note that cashews are highly perishable due to their high oil content and will only last a few months after purchase. 


Hazelnuts provide a chocolaty essence to dishes and are often added to recipes that already contain chocolate to enhance the rich flavour. Drying hazelnuts concentrates the flavour, so look for hazelnuts that are thoroughly dried and deep brown in colour. Hazelnuts are typically sold with the skin removed. If you purchase them with the skin on, you’ll find they are slightly less expensive. The skins are also easy to remove by chopping the nuts.


Possibly the world’s most popular nut, peanuts are delicious eaten whole as a snack, or chopped up and added to vegetable dishes. Peanuts are particularly popular in Thai food and other South Pacific cuisines. Peanuts sold in their shells are firm, but shelled and roasted peanuts will provide a much larger crunch factor to meals. 


Pecans are available all year round. They have a higher fat content than most nuts, which can add great richness to desserts like pecan pie. When buying shelled pecans, make sure the shells are 1.5 inches in length. Inside the pecan shell, the nut is encased in a dark-brown bark-like sheath that needs to be removed before eating. Pecans are graded as “fancy” (golden colour), “choice” (golden brown), “standard” (green with fuzzy kernels) and “damaged” (broken or cracked kernels).


Walnuts are mild flavoured, making them a perfect candidate for baked goods such as brownies and tarts. Their high oil content helps deepen their flavours and brown their skins when pan roasted. Walnuts are freshest when purchased still in the shell.


Pistachios are sold year-round and are available raw, roasted, salted, unsalted, shelled and unshelled. They're fantastic eaten raw as a snack; for cooking purposes, buy un-dyed pistachios with little or no salt. Raw pistachios are firm and have the same consistency as a raw pine nut. Roasted pistachios are crunchier and sweeter in taste.


December is a prime month for fresh chestnuts, making them a great treat idea for the holiday season. Your kids will enjoy helping you roast them in the oven to bring out their sweet, smoky flavour. You can also purée chestnuts to add richness to recipes for delicious soups and tasty turkey stuffing.

Macadamia Nuts

The marble-sized macadamia nut has a sweet, buttery flavour, which makes it perfect for desserts such as chocolate macadamia cookies and mango macadamia crisps. The oil content of macadamia nuts is quite high, and the meat of the nut is tenderer than most other nuts. Macadamia nuts are sold both shelled and unshelled, but the latter is popular. Look for a pearl-white nut that is firm but not too hard.

Types of Seeds


Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are typically sold in the shell and salted as a snack food. You can eat the entire seed, shell and all, if you wish. However, many people prefer to crack the shell and eat only the tender seed inside. Use the unsalted, shelled variety when adding crunchy sunflower seeds to salads or other dishes — they will complement the flavour of the items around them. 

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds provide a delicious crunch to dishes such as salads and granola, and are considered one of the most nutritious seeds available. Popular in vegetarian cuisine, they're high in protein and contain all the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids necessary for good health. Hemp seeds offer the most nutritional value when consumed raw.

Pumpkin Seeds

No Halloween pumpkin carving would be complete without roasting pumpkin seeds in the oven for a delicious snack. Raw pumpkin seeds are very moist; roasting dries them and also brings out a nice, smoky flavour. Pumpkin seed shells are edible, but you should use only the interior seed when adding them to salads or vegetable dishes.

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds have a sweet, nutty flavour that makes them a great addition to recipes for breads, desserts such as sesame seed cookies, and main courses such as beef stir-fries. Toasting sesame seeds lightly in a pan helps enhance the flavour and increase the crunch factor. When using the seeds raw in vegetable dishes, chop them up first to release the oils.

Flax Seeds

The tiny flax seed is a nutritional powerhouse that packs a large amount of dietary fibre, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. To get the most health benefits and to release the nutty flavour, grind the seeds thoroughly before adding them to your food. They go great in baked goods, stir-fries and much more. You can eat flax seeds whole, but chew them well to release their nutrients and flavour. 

Chia Seeds

Similar to flax seeds, chia seeds are known to promote weight loss and reduce cardiovascular disease due to their high level of dietary fibre and omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are used mainly as a thickening agent or nutrient additive to meals. Dry chia seeds contribute a delicious crunch to salads. When soaked, they plump out and take on a subtle sweetness that goes well with baked goods such as bread, muffins and cookies. Ground chia seeds are a great addition to smoothies and puddings.

Nuts & Seeds Buying Tips:

Almonds: Shake an almond in the shell: if you hear a rattle the nut has probably aged and shrunk. You can also slice an almond in half: if the interior is yellow or has a honeycomb texture, the almond has gone bad.
Peanuts: Look for intact shells, which lengthen freshness. Ensure there's no tangy odour.
Pecans: For shelled nuts, select pecans that are clean, plump and uniform in size and colour. For unshelled pecans, the nut should be heavy with a smooth shell that has no holes or scratches. Don’t select pecans that rattle in the shell when shaken.
Pine Nuts: Due to their high oil content, pine nuts spoil quickly. Pick pine nuts that are firm and not mushy.
Walnuts: Walnuts are best purchased in the shell. Look for hard shells, as rubbery or shrivelled shells indicate the walnuts are old. When opening walnuts, the shell should be brittle and snap open easily.
Chestnuts: Select chestnuts with smooth, glossy shells. The shell should be a deep-brown colour and the chestnut should feel heavy for its size. If you hear rattling, the chestnut is drying out.
Brazil Nuts: Brazil nut shells should be clean and should not rattle when shaken. The nutmeat should be plump and crisp.
Sunflower Seeds: Don’t choose mouldy or yellowish sunflower seeds. If possible, smell the seeds prior to purchase to ensure they don't have a pungent odour.
Sesame Seeds: The high oil content in sesame seeds allows them to go bad quickly. Purchase sesame seeds in small amounts and use them quickly for the freshest taste.

Nuts & Seeds Storage Tips:

Cashews: Store cashews in a dry, cool place in airtight containers for up to three months.
Pecans: Store unshelled pecans by wrapping them tightly in plastic and placing in a cool dry place for up to six months. Shelled pecans can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three months or the freezer for six months.
Pine Nuts: Store both shelled and unshelled pine nuts in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month or in the freezer for up to three months.
Walnuts: Unshelled walnuts keep longer than shelled walnuts. Store unshelled walnuts in the refrigerator for two to three months, or freeze for up to a year.
Pistachios: Pistachios have a very limited shelf life since their shell splits upon ripening. Store them in an airtight bag in the refrigerator for up to three months, and refresh them in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes. Do not freeze pistachios.
Chestnuts: When fresh, refrigerate for up to three weeks and freeze for up to nine months. Once shelled and cooked, chestnuts should be covered, refrigerated and used within three to four days.
Macadamia Nuts: The best way to store these delicate nuts is to vacuum pack them. Refrigerate unopened nuts in an airtight container for up to six months, or freeze for a year. Once opened, refrigerate and use within two months.
Sunflower Seeds: Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to a month. For longer-term storage, keep them in the freezer up to six months.
Sesame Seeds: Store sesame seeds in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to three months, refrigerate for up to six months or freeze for up to a year.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



Store details