How to Eat Hickory Nuts

Hickory nuts taste amazing. In my opinion they are the best nut in the world! It’s pretty basic, but I’ve eaten so many nuts that I’m going to give you some tips on how to eat shagbark hickory nuts.

It does take some work to get the delicious nut meat out of the shells, but boy is it worth it.

For shagbark nuts, at a bare minimum all you will need is

Now, Sweet Pignuts and Shellbarks are a different story. They are basically impossible to use a hand cracker or TYNS. You will need a black walnut cracker to do them yourself or have me run them through my industrial cracker.

You can read more about each process below.


Shellbark and Sweet Pignut

Nut Cracker

I put this first because I think it’s going to be the most common way to get to the nuts. I don’t think it’s the best. I think the Texan York Nut Sheller below is the best way to get to the nuts. Take some nuts. Crack them open. You can use almost any nutcracker. They aren’t terribly hard to crack.

Once you have a few cracked now comes the fun part. Getting to the delicious nut.

First thing I like to do is remove the pieces of shell that don’t have any nuts in them. I just get them out of the way so that I don’t have to think about them.

Then I like to go for the low hanging fruit. I pull out the pieces of nut that already came completely out of the shell.

Lastly, get your nut pick and start picking out the pieces of hickory nut meat. Take extra care to remove any pieces of shells. I like to pick out the meat from ten nuts or so and make a big pile of hickory nuts. I just dump that pile right into my mouth. You can also use the nuts in your baking.

When cracking your hickory nuts, be very careful to separate the shells. I have a friend that cracked her tooth in half when a piece of shell drove up between her teeth like a wedge. I bite lightly to locate any shells that I missed while picking the nuts. Then I spit out those shells. After a few nuts you’ll start to get good at seeing the difference between the nuts and the shell. When you use a TYNS this is basically a non-issue.

Texan York Nut Sheller

The Texan York Nut Sheller is by far the best way to eat hickory nuts.  They only work for shagbark hickory nuts. They do not work for Shellbarks and sweet pignuts. They are too hard. They do take some work, so I don’t think they are for everyone. They could be dangerous; keep them away from kids.

Basically you cut the ends off of the nut. Then you cut the sides off. If you’re lucky then you should be able to cut right down the middle of the two halves. You will end up with two perfect halves of hickory meat. I find this to be much superior to cracking them. When you crack them you get all of the shells mixed in and the pieces are much smaller.

Shellbark and Sweet Pignut

You will need a black walnut cracker or any hard shell nut cracker. This is the one I’ve been using for a decade. I like it a lot. Maybe I’ll make a video about it some day.



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