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

pine nuts

What pine nut etiquette is

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

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve pine nuts to your guests appropriately.

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

What you should know about pine nuts (pinoli)

Pine nuts are tree nuts from the eponymous tree. Between 20 and 30 edible varieties exist.

Most pine nuts in commerce are unshelled and ready for consumption. The kernel is usually delicate and aromatic in flavor, light cream in color, and firm in texture.

rules to eat and serve pine nuts (pinoli)

Etiquette rules to serve and eat pine nuts (pinoli)

1) How to store pine nuts (pinoli)

You can store pine nuts in a cool and dry place, outside of the fridge. Keep them in a sealed container or plastic bag, away from direct light and sources of heat. When properly stored, pine nuts can last up to 3 months. However, it is best to consume them within one month.

In the fridge, pine nuts can last between 3 and 6 months. Store them in a sealed container or plastic bag.

In the freezer, pine nuts can last for 6 to 12 months.

2) How to clean pine nuts (pinoli)

You do not need to clean pine nuts.

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 pine nuts (pinoli)

You can serve pine nuts whole or use them as an ingredient.

Pine nuts can be an ingredient in savory dishes and desserts. You can add them to pasta, salads, fruit salads, vegetables, and meat or fish dishes. They are a popular ingredient for tarts, pies, cakes, and biscotti. Pine nuts are the main ingredient in Italian Pesto sauce.

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

4) How to serve & present pine nuts (pinoli)

You can serve pine nuts as a snack, during a meal as an accompaniment to salads, or at the end of a meal as an accompaniment to dessert. Pine nuts are appropriate for formal and informal meals.

Serve pine nuts at room temperature. Serve them in a ceramic or glass bowl, or on a plate. Present them with a serving teaspoon.

5) Foods & beverages to pair pine nuts with (pinoli)

Pine nuts pair well with many aromas. You can pair them with chocolate, coffee, honey, basil, mint, rosemary, garlic, and olive oil.

You can use pine nuts in meat and fish dishes, such as tuna or swordfish. They go well with many vegetables, like eggplants, bell peppers, onions, potatoes, carrots, and brussels sprouts. They can accompany cheese, such as Feta, goat cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, Ricotta, and Mascarpone.

Pine nuts go well with many fruits, such as apples, pears, peaches, and apricots. Their aroma pairs with most citrus too, such as lemon, lime, and orange.

The aroma of pine nuts pairs well with red wines, such as Merlot, or white wines, like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.

6) How to eat pine nuts (pinoli)

Pine nuts are usually served in a small bowl with a serving teaspoon. Use the teaspoon to put a few pine nuts on your dish or hand. If a serving spoon is not available, take a few pine nuts with your fingers.

Eat 2 or 3 pine nuts at a time. Do not put more than 3 kernels in your mouth at the same time.

Pine nut 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 pine nut etiquette mistakes. 

  • 7/10. Eating more than 3 pine nuts at a time.

Additional information for properly serving pine nuts (pinoli)

How many calories per serving?

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

Pine nuts contain about 673 calories per 100 grams (3.5 oz). One kernel contains between 1 and 2 calories.

How to buy the best pine nuts

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


Pine nuts ripen during the summer, between June and Mid-September. Packaged pine nuts are available all year round.

Choose the best

Good pine nuts are firm, spotless, and with a delicate aroma. Discard kernels that are soft, with dark spots, or with a foul odor.

Alternatives to pine nuts

The most common substitutes for pine nuts are other tree nuts. Such as pistachios or almonds.