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The Best Substitute For Macadamia Nuts

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Macadamia nuts are tiny morsels of pure, edible bliss. Unfortunately, they’re incredibly high in fat so they’re not great food to snack on all day, every day. Thankfully, their exorbitant price tag prevents most people from overindulging.

Many recipes call for Macadamia nuts, however, and sometimes you might want to indulge, but simply not have access to this premium nuts. You need a reliable substitute.

So what is the best substitute for macadamia nuts? The best substitute for Macadamia nuts overall is pecans, especially if they’re toasted, but when you consider the question from a perspective specifically concerned with flavor, nutrition, or for use in baking, the answer might be slightly different.

In this article, we’re going to consider all angles of substituting Macadamia nuts so that, no matter what your need, you will know exactly what the best substitute is.

What You Need To Know About Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia pronunciation is often wrong. Many people will run the “n” from nuts into the first word and ending up with “Macadamian nut,” which is incorrect.

It is a small error, but an important one to understand if you find yourself in conversations about nuts frequently.

Another interesting piece of trivia is where do macadamia nuts come from. Most people will instantly think of Hawaii, as in the US and many other parts of the world, the biggest brands selling these nuts are using Hawaiian grown products.

They originally come from Australia though, and they can also be found in other tropical climates such as Brazil or Costa Rica, generally in areas with rich, volcanic soil.

If you see one in its shell, it almost looks as if it’s coated in chocolate. The shells are incredibly hard, however, and difficult to crack, so most nuts are sold pre-shelled and roasted.

Ways to Use Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts, if not eaten on their own as a decadent snack, are most commonly used in recipes for baked goods. Some of the most popular Macadamia nut recipes include:

  • White chocolate Macadamia nut cookies
  • Macadamia nut cream pie
  • Platinum blondies
  • Chocolate covered Macadamia nuts
  • Coconut Macadamia nut bars

The Best Substitutes for Macadamia Nuts

Compared to other nuts, Macadamia nuts not only have the highest price, but also the highest number of calories and concentration of fat. This extreme profile makes them seem difficult to substitute, but it can be managed surprisingly easily.

There are three main categories to consider when choosing your macadamia nut substitute:

  • Flavor
  • Nutritional Value
  • Baking

How you plan to use your substitute determines which nut you should choose. Take a look at our chart below to see the best substitutes for each use.

When You Need Choose
Macadamia nut flavor Dry Roasted Cashews or Roasted Pecans
Nutritional value of Macadamia nuts Raw Pecans or Brazil Nuts
Macadamia nuts in baking For mixing or topping: Raw Cashews, Pecans, or Walnuts

For flour, paste, mousse, or cream: Raw Pecans or Brazil Nuts

Keep reading to learn more helpful tips and tricks for substituting macadamia nuts.

1. Flavor

Before we can substitute for them, we need to know what do macadamia nuts taste like. If addictive was a flavor, it would describe them well.

Their texture is creamy and often described as buttery, but the flavor is very light and subtly sweet. Roasting them brings out the natural sweetness, and if they’re salted, they definitely have more of an umami savoriness.

Raw cashews are probably the closest in flavor, especially considering texture plays heavily into our experience of flavor.

Toasted pecans are another good substitute for flavor. Pecans have a similar natural sweetness to Macadamia nuts, but the texture is quite different if eaten raw. They’re chewier and rippled, whereas Macadamia nuts are very smooth.

As they roast a little bit, however, the oils soften the nut until they almost melt in your mouth. Walnuts will act very similarly but are more bitter and less sweet than pecans.

Brazil nuts have a similar richness but are much larger and harder, so even if the flavor is similar, the experience of eating the nut is completely different.

2. Nutritional Value

Aside from the fat content, Macadamia nuts health benefits are limited. Most other nuts will replace their nutritional value easily and even more beneficially.

If you’re looking specifically for the fat content, however, pecans, Brazil nuts, and even pine nuts are the closest comparisons.

Macadamia nuts have approximately 22 grams of fat for every 1-ounce serving, whereas pecans and pine nuts are a touch lower at 20 grams and Brazil nuts aren’t far behind at 19 grams of fat.

The type of fat varies, however. Macadamia nuts are primarily monounsaturated, whereas the other nuts are more balanced between mono and polyunsaturated fats.

For fiber, protein, or vitamins and minerals, nearly any other nut or seed can replace the nutritional content of macadamia nuts easily.

If for some reason, you’re searching for a low-protein nut, Macadamia nuts have only 2 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving, and pecans are just above them with 3 grams. 

If fiber is a problem for you, cashews and pine nuts each have only 1 gram of fiber per 1 ounce serving, and Macadamia nuts have 2 grams, as do Brazil nuts, and walnuts.

3. Baking

When you’re using any kind of nuts in baking, substituting one for another needs to be accomplished with a bit of strategy.

If you’re using them as a topping or as an ingredient to mix in, you can generally swap one for another without affecting the recipe too much, however, of course, the flavor and texture will vary.

For example, if you use Macadamia nuts in a cookie, you will have a soft, buttery texture, whereas almonds will leave a definite crunch. The cookie itself, however, will bake relatively the same. 

The creamiest nuts to replace for texture in your baking would be cashews, pecans, and walnuts.

If you’re creating a flour, paste, mousse, or cream out of your nuts, substitution becomes trickier because the fat and oil content will make a difference to how the recipe turns out. 

A good example of this would be in a meringue. Even if you’re not overly concerned with the flavor, when you blend the nuts with castor sugar the oily, fatty content will influence who the meringue shapes and rises.

In these cases, it’s best to go with nuts that have similar fat contents, such as pecans or Brazil nuts.

Other Substitutes for Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts can be substituted in most cases for nearly any other nut there is, though, of course, flavor, texture and fat content will change the experience in some way.

Some nuts that we haven’t covered yet that make a reasonable substitution include hazelnuts, pistachios, and pine nuts.

Technically, Macadamia nuts are seeds, so it makes sense that we also look to seeds for an alternative.

If we’re being technical, cashews, walnuts, pecans, and pine nuts are also seeds.

When we think of seeds, however, we are more likely to consider things like sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, or pumpkin seeds, all of which can substitute well for Macadamia nuts under the right circumstance. 

None of these options are nearly as high in fat, but they have similar textures and the flavor is light, nutty, and slightly sweet for all of them. 

If you’re searching for something to bring richness and creaminess to your baking, you can also substitute with something like chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, or even cocoa butter.

They are entirely different than Macadamia nuts on almost all counts, but they do add that element of buttery decadence that makes a great sweet melt in your mouth.

Related Questions

What’s a good substitute for pistachios?

Pistachios are a very unique nut and finding a good substitute will depend on what you’re using them for.

They have a creamy and buttery texture, similar to Macadamia nuts, but they’re not nearly as high in fat.

Closer alternatives would be hazelnuts, pine nuts, cashews, or raw almonds. If it’s the flavor of the pistachio you’re looking for, however, and you like to use it often, you may want to consider investing in a bottle of pistachio oil.

It will last longer in your cupboard and provide you with the pistachio flavor whenever you have a craving for it.

What is the best way to substitute for nuts in baking?

Nuts add texture, flavor, and fat to baked goods, which is important not just for the edible enjoyment but for the outcome and success of your baking.

To substitute, you need to keep all these factors in mind. Seeds are the best substitute, since they often have nutty flavor and texture with many of the allergens, and they’re also typically high in fat as well.

Rolled oats or hearty grains like buckwheat may also work in some recipes, and for flavor or texture, you can also try using dried fruits or chocolate chips, though it may throw off the ratio of ingredients, depending on your recipe.

Are Macadamia nuts Keto-friendly?

Macadamia nuts are the most Keto-friendly nut you can consume, in terms of fat content alone, they’re one of the most Keto-friendly foods you can find altogether.

They are almost 80% fat, which is even higher than avocados, though they don’t have nearly as much nutrition as many other high-fat options.

They’re still a whole food and plant-based, however, so they beat out fried or packaged foods in terms of nutrition.

Up Next: The Best Sugar-Free Chocolate Chips

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