Are Peanuts A Good Substitute For Pesto? Here's What Reddit Says

Homemade pesto is a simple and delicious way to liven up pasta, sandwiches, pizza, and salads. All you need is a dollop to transform a bland dish into a memorable one. Even better, you can make fresh pesto in just a handful of minutes. A basic basil pesto sauce recipe calls for only fresh basil leaves, finely grated Parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, and salt — which you can quickly buzz up in a food processor or blender (or grind by hand with a mortar and pestle). Plus, pesto is an adaptable condiment that can very much be made to taste. Some may use extra cheese or spinach in addition to the basil, while others may swap out pine nuts for another nutty alternative — a trick that has become a popular debate on Reddit.

After comparing costs, a Reddit user started a thread asking if unsalted peanuts were a suitable substitute for pine nuts in pesto, as pine nuts are notoriously expensive. Many of the 150+ responses said that peanuts could certainly work, citing their use in chutneys and Thai-style sauces. Others suggested allergy-friendly alternatives, such as sunflower or pumpkin seeds, rolled oats, or even extra Parmesan. However, many users said that when it comes to pesto, there are better-flavored substitutes for pine nuts than peanuts.

Other substitutes can better stand in for pine nuts

One Reddit user pointed out that substituting peanuts for pine nuts could give pesto a peanut butter-like flavor, overwhelming the herbaceous notes. They offered two solutions: "If 'expensive' is the main objection to pine nuts, I'd go with sunflower seeds (kernels) over any of the other choices... They're half (or less) the cost of tree nuts, and the flavor is much more neutral, in line with pine nuts." Those wanting to stay within the tree nut family, on the other hand, could opt for macadamia nuts because they're "the best match in texture/flavor" to pine nuts, they added.

Per Northeast Allergy, hazelnuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, and pine nuts are all types of tree nuts. Peanuts, on the other hand, are considered legumes, while seeds are also outside of the tree nut family. Any of these tree nuts could work for pesto depending on your desired result, but walnuts and cashews were the favorites on Reddit due to their similar taste and consistency to pine nuts — as well as their slightly lower price point. A couple of users recommended toasting your nuts or seeds before adding them to your pesto to bring out their buttery notes. If you go this route, just be sure to let them cool beforehand.