edible nuts and seeds that contain important minerals

Edible Nuts and Seeds

What’s the Difference Between a Nut and a Seed?

In botanical terms, all nuts are seeds. Most so-called nuts are NOT nuts, but fruit seeds! In culinary terms, any edible nuts and seeds used as a nut in the kitchen can be called nuts. Confused? It’s helpful for nut allergy sufferers to understand the differences between edible seeds, nuts, kernels, drupes, legumes etc. so we put this list of edible nuts and seeds together…

Frequently Asked Questions About Nuts

Edible Seed Types: Nuts, Drupes, Legumes & Fruit Parts Explained

*Important!* This list of edible nuts and seeds is published for information purposes only and does NOT constitute medical advice. Always seek professional medical advice about nut allergies.
Click the column headings with arrows to sort edible nuts and seeds. Click the + icon to show any hidden columns. Set your browser to full screen and zoom out to show as many columns as possible. Start typing in the Filter table box to find anything inside the table.

Nut Species / Genus Family Common Family Term Nut Tree or Plant Angiosperm/ Gymnosperm Fruit Type Edible nuts and seeds – Taste, Culinary Uses, Native Areas, Facts & Info
Acorn (Oak nut) Quercus Fagaceae Beech family English Oak tree, Pedunculate Oak tree Angiosperm Nut Acorns are edible once the bitter tannins have been leached out in water, and were a staple food in some earlier cultures. Roasted chopped acorns can be used as an Almond alternative. Acorns were used as a coffee substitute by the Germans in WWII and the Confederates in the American civil war. There are hundreds of oak species.
Almond Prunus dulcis Amygdalus Almond family Almond tree, Sweet almond tree Angiosperm Drupe Raw sweet Almonds taste delicious. Raw bitter Almonds should only be eaten in small quantities as they can be toxic in larger amounts. Almonds are difficult to digest, so they should be chewed thoroughly.
Roasted Almonds are used in baked goods, cooked or dried and ground into a powder, or mixed with water to make Almond milk. Almonds can be pressed for oil which is commonly used as a food flavoring and in recipes. Native from the eastern Mediterranean to central Asia, Almonds are the fourth most widely produced of all the edible nuts and seeds worldwide after Coconuts, Peanuts and Cashew nuts.
Araucaria nuts (piñas, pinhas, piñones, pinhões) Araucaria araucana Araucariaceae Araucaria family Monkey Puzzle tree, monkey tail tree, Chilean pine tree, pehuén tree Gymnosperm No fruit Raw Araucaria nuts are delicious, soft like a cashew nut and similar to pine nuts. Can also be cooked. Native to Chile and Argentina.
Beechnuts Fagus sylvatica Fagaceae Beech family Beech tree, Common Beech tree, European beech tree Angiosperm Nut Beechnuts are small. The nuts from this species taste pleasant and sweet, most other species taste bitter. Beech nuts can be dried then ground into flour to make bread, cake etc. or be pressed for edible oil. Native to Europe, western Russia and the Crimea. Various other species are grown worldwide, primarily for wood.
Black walnut (Greek Nut, Akhort) Juglans nigra Juglandaceae Walnut and hickory family Black walnut tree Angiosperm Drupe Black walnuts taste great raw, with a distinctive rich, sweet flavor. Widely used in baked goods and desserts. Can be pressed for oil which will turn rancid if not used quickly. Native to eastern North America.
Brazil nut Bertholletia excelsa Lecythidaceae Sapucaya family Brazil nut tree Angiosperm Capsule Brazil nuts are highly nutritious with a mild flavor. Brazils can be eaten raw, roasted, cooked or pressed for oil which has a nutty flavor and can be used like olive oil. Native to North and western South America.
Breadnut (Maya nut, ramon) Brosimum alicastrum Moraceae Fig and Mulberry family Breadnut tree, Maya nut tree Angiosperm Nut Breadnuts are high in fiber and can be eaten raw or dried or cooked. Breadnuts taste like coffee or chocolate when roasted and mashed potato if stewed. Can be used in powder form in bread and hot drinks. Native to Central America and the Caribbean, probably a staple food of the Mayans.
Butternut (White Walnut) Juglans cinerea Juglandaceae Walnut and hickory family Butternut tree, White walnut tree Angiosperm Drupe Butternuts taste sweet, oily and rich. Can be eaten raw, ground into flour or pressed for oil. Native to eastern USA and southeast Canada.
Candlenut (Kukui nuts, Buah Keras, Candleberry, Indian walnut, Kemiri) Aleurites moluccanus Euphorbiaceae Spurge family Candlenut tree, Indian walnut tree, kemiri tree, varnish tree, nuez de la India tree, buah keras tree, kukui nut tree Angiosperm Nut Used as candles because they have a hard seed coat and high oil content. Used in Indonesian (Kemiri) and Malaysian (Buah Keras) cuisine, cosmetics and pressed for oil. Candlenut trees are widespread in tropical countries.
Cashew Anacardium Anacardiaceae Cashew family Cashew tree Angiosperm Drupe Cashews are the seed of the cashew apple. Cashew nuts are popular as snacks and in Indian, Thai and Chinese cuisine. Native to Brazil but now commercially produced in tropical countries on most continents. Cashew nuts are the third most widely produced of all the edible nuts and seeds worldwide after Coconuts and peanuts.
Chestnut (Chinquapin, Chinkapin) Castanea Fagaceae Beech family Chestnut tree, Chinquapin tree, Chinkapin tree Angiosperm Nut Chestnuts are gluten free, low in fat and protein compared to most nuts, with carbohydrate levels similar to rice and wheat. Can cause flatulence. Chestnuts are the only “nuts” that contain vitamin C. Roasted Chestnuts can be used as a coffee substitute. Sugar can be extracted from Chestnuts. There are European, Chinese, Japanese and American chestnut varieties and Chestnuts are grown commercially worldwide. Chestnuts rank sixth in the top ten list of edible nuts and seeds produced worldwide.
Chilean hazel (Avellano chileno) Gevuina avellana Proteaceae Protea family Chilean hazel tree Angiosperm Drupe The seeds can be eaten raw, boiled or toasted. High in mono-unsaturated oils, rich in antioxidants vitamin E and beta-carotene. Its oil is an ingredient in some sunscreens. Also used in cosmetics. Native to south America but grown worldwide.
Chilghoza Pine nut Pinus gerardiana Pinaceae Pine family Chilghoza Pine, Noosa / Neoza gymnosperms No fruit Chilghoza Pine nuts taste slightly resinous. A popular staple local food source. Native to northwestern Himalayas and east Asia.
Coconut Cocos nucifera Arecaceae Palm family Coconut tree Angiosperm Drupe Coconut oil, made from the seed, is healthy for cooking and can be turned into coconut butter, milk, margarine and flour. The white flesh, called coconut meat, is widely used fresh or dried in savory and sweet recipes. Coconuts are the most widely produced of all the edible nuts and seeds worldwide.
English walnut (Persian walnut) Juglans regia Juglandaceae Walnut family English walnut tree Angiosperm Drupe English walnuts are creamy white to light brown and taste delicious raw. They can also be ground and used in sweet and savory recipes including cakes and ice cream. Can be pressed for oil to use on salads or in recipes but must be used quickly or it will turn rancid. Native from eastern Europe to north Asia and also naturalized in south England. Walnuts rank fifth in the top ten list of edible nuts and seeds produced worldwide.
Filbert (Hazelnut, Cobnut) Corylus maxima Betulaceae Hazel family Filbert tree Angiosperm Nut Filbert nuts are edible with a sweet flavor and closely related to the common Hazelnut. Filbert is a species of hazel native to southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia. Filberts are also grown commercially in Oregon, USA.
Gabon Nut (African Walnut) Coula edulis Olacaceae Sour Plum Family Gabon nut tree, African walnut tree Angiosperm Drupe Mild flavor. Can be boiled, roasted and fermented. Used for flour and cooking oil. Found in tropical western Africa.
Ginkgo nuts (Gingko, (Bai Guo) Ginkgo biloba Ginkgoaceae Ginkgo biloba tree, Maidenhair tree gymnosperms Drupe
  • Raw Ginkgo nuts/seeds have a fishy flavor. There’s conflicting advice about the toxicity of eating raw Ginkgo seeds, be sure to inform yourself*.
  • Cooked Ginkgo seeds/nuts have a soft, sweet flavor similar to pine nuts with an oily texture.
  • Baked Ginkgo seeds/nuts taste like a cross between sweet chestnuts and potatoes.
  • Boiled Ginkgo nuts/seeds can be used in congee, porridge, soups etc.
  • Edible Ginkgo oil can be extracted from Ginkgo seeds/nuts.

Native from eastern Asia to northern China. Considered living fossils because they have remained in their current form for many thousands of years.

Hazelnut (Cob Nuts, Filbert) Corylus Betulaceae Birch family Common Hazel tree Angiosperm Nut There are over a dozen species in the Corylus genus, which are all edible and all basically Hazelnuts, including Filbert nuts. Exactly what Hazel nuts are called in your locale is very localized and even varies by generation.
Heartseed walnut Juglans ailanthifolia cordiformis Juglandaceae Walnut and hickory family Heartseed walnut tree Angiosperm Drupe Heartseed walnuts taste great raw with a mild flavor and are often used in desserts. Can be pressed for oil which will turn rancid if not used quickly. Native from east Asia across to Japan. Walnuts rank fifth in the top ten list of edible nuts and seeds produced worldwide.
Hickory Carya Juglandaceae Walnut and hickory family Hickory tree Angiosperm Drupe We’ve listed popular edible Hickory nut sub-species separately. Hickory is primarily used for making tools and wood burning. Hickory can be found across north America, Mexico and Asia
Italian stone pine nut Pinus pinea Pinaceae Pine family Italian stone pine, Umbrella pine, Parasol pine gymnosperms No fruit Italian stone pine nuts have a soft texture with a hint of resin. Can be eaten raw as a snack or cooked. Can be ground into pine nut flour or pine-nut meal to thicken soup, make nut butter or used in recipes for bread, ice cream, cakes etc.
Native to the Mediterranean region of southern Europe. Naturalized in north and south Africa, New South Wales, Australia.
Japanese walnut Juglans ailantifolia Juglandaceae Walnut and hickory family Japanese walnut tree Angiosperm Drupe Japanese walnuts taste good raw and are often used as an ingredient in desserts. Can be pressed for oil which will turn rancid if not used quickly. Native from east Asia across to Japan. Walnuts rank fifth in the top ten list of edible nuts and seeds produced worldwide.
Johnstone River almond Elaeocarpus bancroftii Elaeocarpaceae Kuranda quandong tree, ebony heart tree, grey nut tree, nut tree, nutwood tree, Johnstone River almond tree Angiosperm Nut Edible nut with an excellent flavor, said to rival Macadamia nuts. Native to northeastern Queensland, Australia.
Kola nut (Cola) Cola acuminata Malvaceae Mallow / Cotton family Cola nut tree Angiosperm Legume Edible nut rich in catechine-caffeine (colanine). Can be roasted, ground into a powder for use in drinks, or chewed. When chewed it has an initial bitter taste but leaves a sweet aftertaste which persists to food eaten afterwards. Used to flavor Coca Cola style drinks. Native to tropical rain forests in Africa.
Korean pine nut Pinus koraiensis Pinaceae Pine family Korean Nut pine, Chinese pinenut gymnosperms No fruit Korean pine nuts have a hint of resin and a soft texture and can be eaten raw as a snack or cooked. Can be ground into pine nut flour or pine nut meal to make nut butter or used in recipes for bread, cakes, stews. Native to eastern Asia, Korea, China and temperate rain forests of eastern Russia and central Japan.

Kurrajong nut

Brachychiton populneus Malvaceae Mallow / Cotton family Kurrajong nut tree Angiosperm Legume Can be eaten raw, roasted or ground into a powder and used in bread and baked goods. Originally popular with Aboriginal Australians the highly nutritious nuts have a rich earthy flavor. The roasted nuts can be used as a coffee substitute. Native to mainland Australia.
Macadamia nut (Queensland nut, bauple nut, bush nut, Hawaii nut, maroochi nut) Macadamia integrifolia Proteaceae Protea family Macadamia nut tree, Queensland nut tree, bauple nut tree, bush nut tree, Hawaii nut tree, maroochi nut tree Angiosperm Legume Macadamia nuts, also known as the Queen of nuts, are edible with a sweet, delicate flavor and crunchy texture perfect for desserts including biscuits, cakes and ice cream. Macadamia nuts can be eaten raw, roasted, cooked, ground into flour or pressed for oil, which can then be used like olive oil.
Malabar chestnut (French peanut, Guiana chestnut) Pachira aquatica Malvaceae Mallow / Cotton family Malabar chestnut tree, French peanut tree, Guiana chestnut tree Angiosperm Nut Malabar chestnuts are can be eaten raw and taste like peanuts, or fried or roasted and taste similar to other chestnuts. Roasted Malabar chestnuts can be ground into a powder to make cocoa-like hot drinks. Can also be ground into a flour to make bread. Native to central and south America.
Manchurian walnut ( Chinese walnut) Juglans cathayensis Juglandaceae Walnut and hickory family Manchurian walnut tree, Chinese walnut tree Angiosperm Drupe Chinese walnuts have thick shells and small seeds. Chinese walnuts taste good raw and are used in sweetmeats and confectionery. Can be pressed for oil which turns rancid if not used quickly. Native from east Asia to China
Mexican Pine nut Pinus cembroides Pinaceae Pine family Mexican Pine, Pinyon Pine, Mexican pinyon, Mexican stone pine gymnosperms No fruit Mexican Pine nuts have an oily taste and are great raw and roasted. Ground into Can be ground into pine nut meal or pine nut flour to make nut butter or used in recipes for bread, cakes etc. Highest in protein and lowest in starch of the piñons. Native to southern north America and Mexico.
Mongongo nut (mongongo nut, manketti tree) Schinziophyton rautanenii Euphorbiaceae Spurge family Mongongo nut tree, mongongo nut tree, manketti tree Angiosperm Nut Mongongo nuts are nutritious and can be eaten raw, pounded and used as an ingredient or cooked. Roasted Mongongo nuts taste like Cashew nuts or Brazil nuts or, when roasted longer, like vintage cheese! Rich in oil which is extracted and used locally for cooking. Native to tropical Africa.
Palm nut Elaeis guineensis (African) / Elaeis oleifera (American) Arecaceae Palm family Palm tree Angiosperm Nut African, American (and other of Oil Palm tree species) produce two types of oil. Palm oil from the fruit and Palm kernel oil from the kernels/Palm nuts. Both have a wide range of uses. Palm kernel oil is used to produce ice cream, margarine, candy and cooking oil. Palm nuts are boiled and pounded to produce palm nut butter, used to make soup and other dishes. African Oil Palms are native to tropical west and central Africa. American Oil Palms are native to central and south America.
Paradise (Cream nut, Monkey pot, Sapucaia, Castanha-de-Sapucaia ) Lecythis pisonis Lecythidaceae Brazil nut family Paradise tree, Cream nut tree, Monkey pot tree, Sapucaia tree, Castanha-de-Sapucaia tree Angiosperm Legume Paradise nuts are similar in shape and size to Brazil nuts but sweeter with a soft, creamy texture. Paradise nuts are highly nutritious and can be eaten raw or pressed for oil which is pale yellow and smells and tastes similar to almond oil. Native to south America.
Peanut (Groundnut, Goober) Arachis hypogaea Fabaceae / Leguminosae Pea, Bean, Legume family Peanut plant (annual plant) Angiosperm Legume Peanuts grow in pods underground not on trees. Peanuts are a staple food in many tropical areas and valuable export. Native to south America. As food:
  • Raw Peanuts have a tasty nutty flavor.
  • Ground peanuts for Peanut butter.
  • Powdered Peanuts in cereals, bread, cakes.
  • Pressed Peanuts make Peanut oil which can be used just like Olive oil.
  • Roasted Peanuts can be eaten as a snack or used as a Coffee substitute.

After Coconuts, peanuts are the most widely produced of edible nuts and seeds worldwide.

Peanut Tree nut

Sterculia quadrifida Malvaceae Mallow / Cotton family Peanut tree Angiosperm Legume Peanut tree nuts are satin-black in color, they taste similar to peanuts and hazelnuts and can be eaten raw or cooked. Native to Australia.
Pecan Carya illinoinensis Juglandaceae Walnut and hickory family Pecan tree Angiosperm Drupe
  • Raw Pecans are delicious with a rich buttery flavor and popular in sweet desserts like Pecan pie, enjoyed in the USA and worldwide.
  • Cooked Pecans can be used to make bread, cakes, ice cream etc.
  • Milk to thicken soups and season hominy, corn cakes etc.
  • Pressed Pecans make an edible Pecan oil.

Native to the mid-southern states of the USA.

Pili Canarium ovatum Burseraceae Frankincense family Pili tree Angiosperm Drupe
  • Raw Pili nuts taste sweet, like roasted pumpkin seeds.
  • Roasted Pili nuts taste similar to Pine nuts.
  • Cooked Pili nuts are used in candy, chocolate, ice cream, chocolate and Chinese moon cakes.

Native to eastern Asia, grown commercially in the Philippines.

Pine nut Pinus edulis Pinaceae Pine family Twoneedle pinyon tree, Colorado pinyon tree, Pinyon nut tree, Rocky Mountain Piñon tree, Nut Pine tree, Pinyon Pine tree, Rocky Mountain Pinyon Pine tree, Singlelea tree gymnosperms No fruit
  • Raw Pine nuts are delicious with a distinctive resinous flavor.
  • Ground Pine nuts for bread, pine nut butter, stews, cakes etc.
  • Pressed Pine nuts make pine nut oil (aka pine seed oil or cedar nut oil).
  • Roasted or toasted Pine nuts make healthy snacks and cooking ingredients.

Native to the south western states of the USA.

Piñon nut Pinus monophylla Pinaceae Pine family Single Leaf Piñon, Single Leaf Pinyon, Stone Pine, Pine Pinyon gymnosperms No fruit Piñon nuts have an oily almond-like flavor. Can be eaten raw or cooked. Used in used in baked goods and sweetmeats. Lowest in protein and fats and highest in starch of the piñons. Native to the USA and northwest Mexico.
Pistachio Pistacia vera Anacardiaceae Cashew family Pistachio nut tree Angiosperm Drupe
  • Raw Pistachios have a mild pleasant flavor. Often eaten as a snack or added to salads.
  • Roast Pistachios are used in ice cream, butter, baklava, biscotti etc.
  • Pressed Pistachios make Pistachio nut oil but Pistachios are expensive so not commercially viable.

The pistachio tree one of the world’s oldest surviving tree species and is mentioned in the bible. Native to western Asia.

Poppy seed Papaver somniferum Papaveraceae Poppy family Opium Poppy annual plant Angiosperm Porose Capsule
  • Raw Poppy seeds have a nutty flavor and are commonly used as a flavoring in bread, cakes, fruit salads etc.
  • Crushed Poppy seeds are used as a filling in crepes, strudels, pastries etc.
  • Poppy seed oil has a tasty almond flavor. Used on salads and as a dipping oil.

Native from Europe to Asia.

Pumpkin seeds (Pepita) Cucurbita pepo Cucurbitaceae Gourd family Pumpkin annual climbing plant (Ozark melon plant, Texas gourd plant) Angiosperm Berry / Pepo
  • Raw Pumpkin seeds (soak in water overnight to soften) taste great as a snack added to salads, sandwiches etc.
  • Roasted and baked pumpkin seeds are popular snacks.
  • Pumpkin seeds can ground into flour to make bread and mix with cereals.
  • Pumpkin seed oil with a pleasant nutty flavor used as a salad and cooking oil.

Today Pumpkins are grown worldwide but their origin is unclear, probably central America.

Red Bopple nut (Beef nut, Ivory silky oak, Monkey nut, Red nut, Rose nut) Hicksbeachia pinnatifolia Proteaceae Protea family Red Bopple nut tree Angiosperm Nut Red Bopple nuts are edible. Native to the subtropical rain forest in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia
Saba nut Pachira glabra Malvaceae Mallow / Cotton family Saba nut tree Angiosperm Legume Saba nuts can be boiled or roasted like chestnuts and taste similar to groundnuts. Rich in oil. Native to south America.
Sesame seed Sesamum indicum Pedaliaceae Pedalium family Sesame Angiosperm Capsule
  • Raw sesame seeds can be eaten unhulled (with seed coat/natural) or hulled (with seed coat removed). Unhulled sesame seeds taste clean and nutty, hulled sesame seeds have a background bitterness which some prefer.
  • Roasted Sesame seeds can be turned into Sesame seed butter or made into a paste for Tahini (Ardeh) the main ingredient of Hummus and Halva, fermented into Tempeh, sweetened to make Halva candy and confections.
  • Ground Sesame seeds can be powdered and added to bread, vegetables etc.
  • Edible Sesame seed oil can be extracted from sesame seeds and is a healthy alternative to vegetable oils.

Today Sesame seeds are grown worldwide. India, China and Nigeria are leading producers. Their origin is unclear, probably Africa.

Shagbark hickory Carya ovata Juglandaceae Walnut and hickory family Shagbark hickory tree Angiosperm Drupe Equally popular with people and squirrels, can be used as an alternative to Pecans in recipes. Only found in eastern north America. Unsuitable for commercial production.
Souari Nut (Pekea, Butternut of Guiana) Caryocar nuciferum Caryocaraceae Souari Nut tree, Pekea tree, Butternut of Guiana, tree Angiosperm Drupe Souari nuts are large, soft, rich and taste similar to Almonds only sweeter. Can be eaten raw or roasted. Can be pressed for oil.
Sunflower seed Helianthus Asteraceae / Compositae Daisy / Composite family Common sunflower annual plant Angiosperm Achene
  • Raw Sunflower seeds/kernels have a nutty flavor. Sprouting Sunflower seeds can be eaten raw.
  • Roasted Sunflower seeds can be used as a coffee and drinking chocolate substitute.
  • Ground Sunflower seeds can be made into Sunflower butter, Sunflower seed yogurt, mixed with cereal flowers to make bread.
  • Edible Sunflower seed oil can be extracted from Sunflower seeds and used like Olive oil on salads and for cooking.

Native to western north America. Grown commercially worldwide with Russia and the Ukraine producing around half the world total.

ADDucation Lists Related to Edible Nuts and Seeds:

ADDucation Quizzes: Test Your Cooking Knowledge:

Do you speak German? Please find more nuts and seeds on Nüsse, Obst und Früchte


2 responses to “Edible Nuts and Seeds”

  1. Angela Gorman says:

    My Doctor told me that the ‘Pine Nut’ is actually a seed, and therefore until I know results of nut allergy tests I do NOT need to avoid Pine Nuts.

    • JC says:

      Hi Angela, thanks for your comment. Your doctor is correct but actually ALL nuts are seeds – not just pine nuts. Your comment prompted us to give our edible nuts and seeds list a total makeover so now it will hopefully give a better insight into the difference between nuts, drupes, legumes etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *