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

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What pistachio etiquette is

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

If you are hosting, follow pistachio etiquette to serve pistachios to your guests appropriately.

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

What you should know about pistachios

Pistachios are a tree nut from the eponymous tree.

Pistachios have a non-edible woody shell, beige in color. The edible kernel is usually green or light brown in color, and firm in texture. Pistachios in commerce can be salted or unsalted.

rules to eat and serve pistachios

Etiquette rules to serve and eat pistachios

1) How to store pistachios

Store pistachios in the 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, pistachios can last between 3 and 6 months.

In the fridge, pistachios can last between 6 and 12 months. However, the humidity in the fridge risks spoiling their texture and flavor. Thus, storing pistachios in the fridge is not recommended.

In the freezer, pistachios can last up to 12 months.

2) How to clean pistachios

You do not need to clean pistachios. Most pistachios in commerce are ready for consumption. Avoid washing them as water risks sapping the kernels.

Before using 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 pistachios

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

Before using pistachios as an ingredient or for seasoning, you should shell and peel them. Pistachios can be an ingredient in savory dishes and desserts. You can add them to salads, fruit salads, pasta, and fish or meat dishes. They are a popular ingredient for pies, ice cream, confectionery, and biscotti.

4) How to serve & present pistachios

You can serve whole pistachios as a snack, an appetizer, or an accompaniment to cheese and dessert. Pistachios are appropriate for pre-dinner drinks, and formal and informal meals.

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

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

5) Foods & beverages to pair pistachios with

Pistachios pair well with many aromas. You can pair them with chocolate, citrus, and cinnamon.

They go well with olive oil, pasta, and black pepper. You can use them for seasoning fish dishes, such as tuna or branzino, or to match cheese, such as ricotta, feta, or goat cheese.

Pistachios pair best with white wines, such as Albarino, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, or Pinot Grigio.

6) How to eat pistachios

Whole pistachios are usually served in a bowl with a serving spoon. Use the spoon to put a few pistachios on your dish or hand. If a serving spoon is not available, take a few pistachios with your fingers. Then, remove the shell and eat the kernel.

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

The woody shell is not edible, while the peel on the kernel is. You can peel pistachios or eat the peel with the kernel. The most appropriate way is to discard the shell and eat the peel.

When pistachios are served as an appetizer before a meal, it is polite to stop eating them as soon as the first course is served. Avoid eating pistachios between courses.

pistachio etiquette mistakes

Pistachio 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 pistachio etiquette mistakes. 

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

Additional information for properly serving pistachios

How many calories per serving?

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

Pistachios contain about 562 calories per 100 grams (3.5 oz). One kernel contains about 4 calories.

How to buy the best pistachios

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


Pistachios are usually available all year round. The season for harvesting pistachios depends on the region. In the United States, pistachios are harvested between late summer and early fall.

Choose the best

The major producers of pistachios are the United States, Turkey, and Iran. The quality largely depends on the single producers.

Some countries have smaller but high-quality production of pistachios. Italy grows two DOP (quality certification) pistachios, which are renowned for their flavor and quality, Pistacchio Verde di Bronte and Pistacchio di Raffadali.

Alternatives to pistachios

The most common substitutes for pistachios are other nuts. Such as peanuts as appetizers or hazelnut for seasoning and desserts.