The most important etiquette rules on how to serve and eat almonds. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.
What almonds etiquette is
Almonds etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve, use, and eat almonds. Such rules help avoid behaviors that may disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.
If you are hosting, follow almonds etiquette to serve them to your guests appropriately.
As a guest, respect almonds etiquette rules to properly eat them at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts.
What you should know about almonds
Almonds are the seeds from the eponymous tree. They are commonly considered tree nuts, but technically they are the seeds of the almond tree’s fruits.
Almonds have a non-edible shell, light brown in color. The seed is edible raw or roasted, sweet or bitter in flavor, and firm in texture. Almonds can be either sweet or bitter and are sold shelled or unshelled.
Sweet almonds have a subtle fragrance that lends itself well to baking and also works well with fish and chicken. Classic almond dishes include trout and almonds, Bakewell tart, Tarta de Santiago, macaroons and frangipane tart as well as a variety of cakes, soups, stews and curries.
Etiquette rules to serve and eat almonds
1) How to store almonds
You can store almonds in a cool and dry pantry, out of the fridge. Keep them in a sealed container or plastic bag, away from direct light and sources of heat. When properly stored, almonds can last up to 12 months.
In the fridge and in the freezer, almonds can last over 12 months. Store them in a sealed container or plastic bag.
If you bought packaged almonds, check their expiration date on the packaging.
2) How to clean almonds
You do not need to clean almonds. Before serving them, you can crack them with a nutcracker and remove the shell.
Before using or serving them, check that the seeds haven’t turned rancid. Discard them if you notice mold, a softer texture, or a foul odor.
3) How to prepare & cook with almonds
You can serve almonds whole or use them as an ingredient.
Before using almonds as an ingredient or for decorating, you should open the shell with a nutcracker. Almonds are a perfect ingredient in salads, muesli, or oatmeal. You can use them as an ingredient in savory dishes, such as fish, meat, stews, and soups. They are a most popular ingredient for pies, cakes, confectionery, macaroons, pastries, and cookies.
Sweet almonds are the main ingredient in Marzipan. Bitter almonds are most commonly used to extract oil or liqueurs like Amaretto.
Tree nuts are among the most common allergens. Thus, even if almonds are not technically a tree nut, some guests may avoid them in their diets. Before hosting a meal and using almonds as an ingredient, it is considerate to ask your guests whether they have some dietary restrictions.
4) How to serve & present almonds
You can serve whole almonds as a snack or at the end of a meal, as an accompaniment to cheese and dessert. Sweet almonds are appropriate for breakfast, after-dinner drinks, and formal and informal meals. Roasted and salted almonds are appropriate for a snack, pre-dinner drinks, or as an appetizer.
Serve whole almonds at room temperature. You can serve them whole in their shells, whole and shelled, or crushed. Serve almonds in a ceramics or glass bowl, or on a plate. Present them with a serving tablespoon or teaspoon.
When serving whole almonds in their shells, provide your guests with a nutcracker and a small plate or bowl to discard the shells.
5) Foods & beverages to pair almonds with
Almonds pair well with many aromas, such as chocolate, coffee, caramel, and honey.
In a fruit salad, almonds pair well with many fruits, such as apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums, and figs. Their aroma goes well with bananas, oranges, and cherry. In Middle Eaterns countries, it is common to eat almonds with dates.
Almonds pair best with sparkling wines. Pair them with Champagne, Franciacorta, or Prosecco. They can go well with dessert wines too, such as Moscato, Brachetto, and sweet Lambrusco. Some white wine can be appropriate too, such as an unoaked Chardonnay. Avoid pairing almonds with red wines, which exalt the bitterness.
6) How to eat almonds
Whole almonds are usually served in a bowl with a serving spoon. Use the spoon to put a few almonds on your dish or hand. If a serving spoon is not available, take a few almonds with your fingers.
The hard shell is not edible. When almonds are served whole in their shell, remove the shell with a nutcracker. Discard the shells in a spare bowl or plate. If a spare bowl or plate is not available, place the shells on a side of your dish or in an ashtray. Avoid discarding them directly on the table.
Eat one almond at a time. Do not put more than one in your mouth at the same time.
Almonds etiquette: the worst mistakes
The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors.
A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.
Avoid the worst almonds etiquette mistakes.
- 7/10. Discarding the shells on the table.
- 7/10. Eating more than one almond at a time.
- 7/10. Pairing almonds with red wine.
Additional information for properly serving almonds
How many calories per serving?
Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.
Almonds contain about 579 calories per 100 grams (3.5 oz). One almond contains about 7 calories.
How to buy the best almonds
A crucial factor in almonds etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.
In the Northern hemisphere, almonds are harvested from August to October.
Choose the best
The United States are the major producer of almonds. The quality largely depends on the single producers.
If you buy packaged almonds, try different brands and find the one that best suits your taste. If you buy loose almonds, check them for mold or rancid odor. Good almonds are firm, spotless, and with a pleasant delicate smell.
Alternatives to almonds
- The Almond Board Of California: almonds.com