Pecans aren't just a healthy and satisfying snack - they're also are an incredibly versatile (and much-loved) food that make cooking and baking fun and enjoyable. Quality pecans can make the difference in recipes, and many swear quality pecans are the magic secret ingredient to many of their recipes, whether pecans are the star of the show or a supporting role. We're bringing you the best nut and pecan recipes for savory, sweet, and everything-in-between palates and preferences. Whether you have extra pecans on hand to use, or you just want to impress your guests with something extra special, we hope you enjoy our many recipes and ideas below.
Baking and Cooking with Pecans - Tips and Tricks
Hat tip to our wonderful employees, customers and pecan aficionados around the globe and states who have written in with these many wonderful pecan baking and cooking tips and ideas:
- Pecans aren't just great for Thanksgiving dishes and fall - they can be used to spruce up recipes all year. Many of our customers get a large fresh box of pecans right after Harvest, and then freeze for holiday baking and beyond. They last all year and keep their goodness.
- Small pecan pieces are wonderful in banana bread, cookies, German chocolate cake, in salads, sautéed with spinach or asparagus or over trout.
- Professional bakers and chefs around the world agree on one thing - you must start with the freshest pecan product possible. And storing them is just as important. People do not store them correctly, and it really affects the quality of the product. Put your pecans in the freezer, it doesn’t take them long to get to room temperature, and it protects the quality.
- Pecans aren't just great for Thanksgiving dishes and fall - they can be used to spruce up recipes throughout the year.
- Adding spiced, roasted, or sugared pecans on top of a big salad can take it from blah to beautiful.
- Pecan meal (finely ground pecans) is so useful. For my father, using it started as something to try that might not hurt if caught under his dentures, and that did work. However, I use it because it is so versatile. I can substitute it in muffins or cakes to get that nutty flavor and a different texture than adding chopped nuts would be. Toppings are always better with pecan meal, on desserts, fish, meats, and casserole. You name it. Muffins with streusel topping that includes pecan meal are wonderful.
Sweet Pecan Recipe Tips
- If you make a good dessert bread or loaf, they freeze very well for later use. Cut a loaf into slices, and put softened ice cream in the middle and refreeze. Take out a few minutes before serving - this makes a great ice cream dessert!
- Pecan meal is a delicious, healthy way to incorporate more protein and taste in cooking and baking. It’s wonderful in cookies, cakes, and pie crusts. My grandmother got her pecan meal from Sunnyland and taught me how to use it.
- Have any leftover pecans? Dip these gems into leftover homemade chocolate icing - delicious!
- Roasted and ready to throw into salads and cereal or to mix with healthy whole grain crackers and cereals for a snack mix. One slightly decadent use is to take a measuring cup with about 3/4 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips. Melt in the microwave, stopping the cooking when the chips are glossy - a quick stir will turn them to a creamy consistency. Quickly stir in about 1 1/2 cups of toasted almonds (more almonds than you think the chocolate can cover!) and drop them by spoonfuls on a wax paper lined plate or cookie sheet. Chill until firm!
- Using pecans for pumpkin bread or banana bread, or pound cake? Warm leftover bread with a little butter - delicious!
Savory Pecan Recipe Tips
- Pecan meal is fantastic on Alaskan king and sockeye salmon with a tarragon mustard prior to cooking the fish on a charcoal grill.
- Pecan oil is a great flavor profile when used with fried or seared shrimp, scallops and seafood in general.
- "Have leftover pecans or nuts? I freeze a small amount in snack ziploc bags. Makes for a wonderful and healthy snack."
Pecan Recipe FAQs
How should we store pecans and nuts?
We have so much to say on this subject, we wrote out recommendations and instructions with the best methods for keeping nuts and pecans fresh
What are simple recipe ideas for raw pecans?
We partnered with Pastry Chef Kelli Taranto to come up with some easy raw pecan recipes. These are perfect for parties, and even as DIY gifts. Give them a try and let us know how they turn out!
Are pecans healthy?
Pecan nutrition is something we get asked about frequently. Check out our nut and pecan health information.
How can you tell a fresh pecan vs stale pecans?
When it comes to making sure you start with the freshest and best pecans, size and color matter. You want your pecans to be big, light colored, and to smell fresh. Pecans should have a smooth buttery texture and a slightly neutral, nutty smell. You can definitely taste, smell, and feel pecans that are rancid, stale, or have been sitting on a shelf for way too long. For more tips, check out this blog post on how to buy the freshest pecans. We may be a little biased!
I follow a special diet - how can I buy pecans and nuts that are compliant?
Fresh pecans and nuts can be used with so many diets as they have many benefits - check out our Heart Healthy, Gluten Free, Paleo Friendly, Kosher, Diabetes-Friendly, Plant-Based, and Keto ingredients and products.
Where do pecans come from?
Pecans have a rich history, dating back to the Native Americans in North America. They are native to the South, and come from Pecan Trees which can grow up to 100 feet and take an average of 10-15+ years to produce pecans.
What is the best type of pecan to buy for baking?
Most bakers tell us they use small pecan pieces for baking. Junior pecan halves are also great for cooking in pies and breads. If you're undecided which kind of pecans to buy, Sunnyland offers a baking combo to give you the best of both worlds.
When is pecan harvest in Georgia?
The pecan season takes place late September - November, depending on the weather. A great growing season with plenty of rainfall and good Georgia sunshine is important to high-quality yield in the Fall. We share a little more on harvesting pecansharvesting pecans here.