Rich, tannic, and mildly earthy, walnuts add a soft crunch to all sorts of sweet and savory dishes. From herbaceous pestos and fresh salads to gooey cinnamon rolls and fluffy cakes, these are our best walnut recipes.
Start at the basic level—sauces and spreads. Though pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts, try replacing them with walnuts for an unconventional yet delicious variation. For a light, refreshing burger spread, try our walnut pesto with pea shoots and mint. Or make
badrizhani nigvsit, a Georgian dish of fried eggplant served with a pesto-like sauce of walnuts, parsley, basil, cilantro, and fenugreek. A creamy walnut pesto tops our Neapolitan pizza with golden pan-fried zucchini and smoked mozzarella.
With their earthy flavor, walnuts can also lend richness to winter salads. Use whole walnuts to add crunch to an arugula, radicchio, and fennel salad with shaved parmesan, and an escarole salad with duck confit and comté. Or, chop them up and use them as a garnish, like we do on Waldorf-style Brussels sprouts with guanciale.
And just walnuts give richness and crunch to savory foods, they do the same for desserts. Putting them in chewy chocolate brownies is a classic, and our adaptation of an old recipe from actress Katharine Hepburn does just that; you can also layer them atop brownies in our recipe inspired by rocky road ice cream. If you’re looking to stray away from brownies, fold walnuts into carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, or make walnut spice cake—a treat dedicated entirely to the nut.
In the gallery above, find all of these dishes and more in our collection of walnut recipes. Sweet or savory, chopped or whole, walnuts deserve a place on your plate.
Pea Shoot and Mint Pesto
A mix of sautéed mushrooms, toasted walnuts, ricotta, thyme, honey, and pappardelle, this pasta dish needs only a green salad on the side.
Get the recipe for Pappardelle with Mixed Mushrooms, Ricotta, and Walnuts »
Tart apple and cold avocado balance hot, crisp walnut dumplings and creamy chive sauce in this refreshing vegan dish from chef Josita Hartanto of Berlin’s
Lucky Leek. You can make the walnut dumplings a day ahead, but make sure to prepare the tartare within two hours of serving, so the apples and avocados don’t brown. Get the recipe for Avocado and Apple “Tartare” with Fried Walnut Dumplings and Chive Cream »
Pro-tip for this brawny beast: “I like to
toast the inside of the bread to ensure it doesn’t get soggy, even with a spread on it.”— Philip Pretty, . Fundamental LA, Los Angeles, California Get the recipe for Roast Beef Sandwich with Walnut Romesco »
Walnuts and parmesan add richness to this crunchy salad from The Yellow Table’s Anna Watson Carl.
Get the recipe for Arugula, Radicchio, and Fennel Salad »
Roasted Carrot Salad with Burrata
These vibrant, mildly sweet gnocchi were developed by stylist Judy Haubert as a gluten-free option to accompany Portland chef Jenn Louis’ rich Gorgonzola cream sauce.
Get the recipe for Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce »
Yeasty, sticky, moist cinnamon rolls are even more decadent after the addition of cream cheese into the dough.
Get the recipe for Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls »
This dessert can be made with either fresh or frozen huckleberries or blueberries.
Sorghum flour and almond meal give this cake from Gluten-Free Baking (Weldon Owen 2014) a soft, fine crumb; tangy yogurt balances its subtle sweetness. A dense brown sugar and walnut crumble tops the cinnamon-and-vanilla-scented base, making for a satisfying breakfast or snack.
Get the recipe for Gluten-Free Cinnamon Crumb Cake »
Raw cranberries and earthy walnuts are transformed into a tart, fresh condiment for turkey.
Alternating layers of white and brown spiced cake are delicious sandwiched with a rich, chocolate fudge icing.
Creamy walnut sauce is paired with golden pan-fried zucchini and smoked mozzarella on this Neapolitan-style pizza.
Croatian Walnut Swirl Bread (Povitica)
This flavorful punch balances the bite of sherry and corn whiskey with nutty homemade walnut orgeat syrup and fresh citrus juice.
It’s rare that we encounter spaghetti squash
not shredded into its eponymous noodle-like threads. But kept intact, it reveals a beautifully yielding texture and a savory, subtle flavor that’s perfectly offset by a rich walnut-miso glaze.
Tender fried eggplant sandwiches pesto-like walnut sauce in this appetizer recipe.
Get the recipe for Fried Eggplant with Walnut Sauce (Badridzhani Nigvsit) »
This traditional Romanian sweet bread studded with rum-laced candied walnuts, makes a delicious dessert, breakfast bread, or teatime snack.
Romanian Walnut Panettone (Chec Cu Nucă) »
A thick, aromatic walnut sauce adds luscious body and earthy flavor to this spiced chicken dish.
Almost any vegetable can be substituted for spinach in this vegetarian appetizer sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. In Georgia, roasted beet and green bean versions are common.
Browned butter accentuates the flavor of earthy walnuts and a sour cream topping offsets the richness of the filling for a balanced, delectable dessert.
Surprisingly airy and light, this cake could have been a soufflé in a previous life. Naturally gluten-free, the batter gets its lift from egg whites, its rich stability from walnut flour, and its moistness from grated carrot and pineapple.
Get the recipe for Walnut Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting »
Using instant yeast and a bread cloche helps simplify this rustic bread recipe from baker Priscilla Martel. If you don’t have a bread cloche, bake this bread on a pizza stone.
Pomegranate molasses and walnuts bring sweet, sour, and bitter notes to this classic stew.
Sweet, spiced, and dense, with a bright rum glaze, a sophisticated take on classic Christmas fruitcake is a perfect holiday treat for giving as a gift—or for keeping to yourself.
Toasted walnuts, roasted butternut squash, baby kale, and a rich brown butter sauce combine over broad pappardelle noodles for a dish that perfectly captures fall’s best flavors.
Get the recipe for Pappardelle with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, and Baby Kale »
This satisfying pastry layers plum preserves and walnuts for a gooey, crumbly cake.
We got this recipe from Amanda Hesser, cofounder of
Food 52, who says: “This is a pretty common cookie recipe—my mother made them with walnuts, and when she had them, black walnuts, which were insanely good. They last for months and are hard to screw up—the two prerequisites for holiday cookies.”
Raw Brussels sprouts put a unique spin on the classic Waldorf salad.
Winemakers Alice and Olivier de Moor use confit duck gizzards in this simple winter salad, but confit duck legs make a fine substitute.
Get the recipe for Escarole with Confit Duck Gizzards, Comté, and Walnuts »
A version of this recipe accompanied an interview with the actress Katharine Hepburn in the August 1975 issue of The Ladies’ Home Journal. This brownie recipe, which calls for the smallest amount of flour, produces incredibly chewy bars with a full but mellow chocolate flavor.
Get the recipe for Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies »
These cakey brownies are loaded with gooey caramels and marshmallows, crunchy nuts, and melty shards of chocolate.
Get the recipe for Rocky Road Brownies »
Rum and gingersnaps add a spicy, warming flavor to this rich fall dessert.
Get the recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake »
This version of the cake is a potluck and bake sale favorite; the addition of crushed pineapple helps to keep it sweet and moist.
Get the recipe for Classic Carrot Cake »
Our colorful vegetarian take on terrine features smoky roasted vegetables, tangy goat cheese, and a sun-dried tomato pesto.
This sweet-tart cherry, cilantro, and walnut salad is delicious on its own or as a relish for grilled meats or fish.