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.
Pappardelle with Mixed Mushrooms, Ricotta, and Walnuts
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 »
This dessert can be made with either fresh or frozen huckleberries or blueberries.
Raw cranberries and earthy walnuts are transformed into a tart, fresh condiment for turkey.
Walnut Spice Cake
Alternating layers of white and brown spiced cake are delicious sandwiched with a rich, chocolate fudge icing.
This flavorful punch balances the bite of sherry and corn whiskey with nutty homemade walnut orgeat syrup and fresh citrus juice.
Broiled Spaghetti Squash with Walnut-Miso Glaze
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.
Spinach and Walnut Salad (Pkhali)
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.
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.
Orange, Pineapple, and Walnut Fruitcake
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.
This satisfying pastry layers plum preserves and walnuts for a gooey, crumbly cake.
Swedish Heirloom Cookies
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.”
Roasted Vegetable Terrine
Our colorful vegetarian take on terrine features smoky roasted vegetables, tangy goat cheese, and a sun-dried tomato pesto.
Cherry & Herb Salad
This sweet-tart cherry, cilantro, and walnut salad is delicious on its own or as a relish for grilled meats or fish.