The most important etiquette rules on how to serve and eat pecans. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.


What pecan etiquette is

Pecan etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve, use, and eat pecan nuts. Such rules help avoid behaviors that may disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow pecan nuts etiquette to serve them to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect pecan nuts etiquette rules to properly eat them at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts.

What you should know about pecans

Pecans are tree nuts from the eponymous tree.

Pecans have a non-edible, hard oval shell, brown-red in color. The kernel is edible raw or roasted, sweet and rich in flavor, light brown in color, and firm in texture with a grooved surface. A thin, brown, edible, and slightly bitter skin covers the kernel.

rules to eat and serve pecans

Etiquette rules to serve and eat pecans

1) How to store pecans

You can store pecans in a cool and dry place, out of the fridge. Keep them in a sealed container or plastic bag, away from direct light and sources of heat. When properly stored, unshelled pecans can last up to 6 months.

In the fridge, unshelled pecans can last up to 9 months. Store them in a sealed container or plastic bag. In the freezer, unshelled pecans can last for over 12 months.

An unopened pack of shelled pecans can last up to 3 months out of the fridge. After opening, keep shelled pecans in the fridge and eat them within 7 days.

2) How to clean pecans

You do not need to clean pecans. Before serving them, you can crack them with a nutcracker and remove the shell.

Before using or serving them, check that the kernels haven’t turned rancid. Discard them if you notice mold, a softer texture, or a foul odor.

3) How to prepare & cook with pecans

You can serve pecans whole or use them as an ingredient.

Pecans can be eaten raw or roasted. You can easily roast them in the oven at medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Before using pecans as an ingredient or for decorating, you should open the shell with a nutcracker and remove the peel. Pecans can be an ingredient in savory dishes and desserts. You can add them to grains, salads, vegetables, and fruit salads. They are a popular ingredient for pies, cakes, confectionery, and cookies.

Tree nuts are among the most common allergens. Thus, some guests may avoid pecans in their diets. Before hosting a meal and using pecans as an ingredient, it is considerate to ask your guests whether they have some dietary restrictions.

4) How to serve & present pecans

You can serve whole pecans for breakfast, as a snack, or at the end of a meal as an accompaniment to cheese and dessert. Pecans are appropriate for after-dinner drinks, and formal and informal meals.

Serve whole pecans at room temperature. You can serve them whole in their shells, shelled and peeled, or crushed. Serve pecans in a ceramics or glass bowl, or on a plate. Present them with a serving tablespoon.

When serving whole pecans in their shells, provide your guests with a nutcracker and a small plate or bowl to discard the shells.

5) Foods & beverages to pair pecans with

Pecans pair well with many aromas, such as chocolate, vanilla, maple syrup, honey, grain mustard, and balsamic vinegar.

You can use them with many vegetables, such as asparagus, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, beets, squash, pumpkin, kale, celery, spinach, broccoli, and mushrooms.

Serve pecans to accompany cheese, such as Brie, Camembert, Gruyère, Emmental, or Cheddar.

Pecans go well with many fruits, such as apples, pears, peaches, cherries, strawberries, and pomegranates.

Fresh pecans are lighter and sweeter in flavor. Thus, they tend to pair well with white wines, such as Chenin Blanc or Riesling. As pecans age, their flavor gets stronger. In such cases, pair pecans with red or fortified wines. Red wines that pair well with pecans are Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. As a fortified wine, choose a Port, Madeira, or Sherry.

6) How to eat pecans

Whole pecans are usually served in a bowl with a serving spoon. Use the spoon to put a few pecans on your dish or hand. If a serving spoon is not available, take a few pecans with your fingers.

The hard shell is not edible, while the peel on the kernel is. When pecans are served whole in their shell, remove the shell with a nutcracker. You can either eat or discard the skin around the kernel. It is most polite to eat the skin.

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 pecan at a time. Do not put more than one kernel in your mouth at the same time.

pecans etiquette mistakes

Pecan nuts 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 pecan nuts etiquette mistakes. 

  • 7/10. Discarding the shells on the table.
  • 7/10. Eating more than one pecan at a time.

Additional information for properly serving pecans

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.

Pecans contain about 690 calories per 100 grams (3.5 oz). One kernel contains about 10 calories.

How to buy the best pecans

A crucial factor in pecans etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.


Pecans are harvested in autumn. However, shelled pecans are available in commerce all year round.

Choose the best

The United States is the major producer of pecans. The quality largely depends on the single producers.

Good quality shelled pecans look smooth and do not rattle when they are shaken.

Alternatives to pecans

The most common substitutes for pecans are other tree nuts. Such as walnuts or hazelnuts.