How to Crack Hickory Nuts (Good Uses of Them)? 

Hickory Nuts are fascinating in terms of structure and taste. From having the hardest covering to the sweetest meat, it is worth taking all the efforts. Some of the nuts are sweet, while some are bitter, but do not keep them from giving the best uses.

So, continue to scroll down to find some fantastic things about hickory nuts. From their types to their uses, everything is just listed down to the best of the knowledge.

What are Hickory Nuts?


Hickory is a type of tree that comprises the genus Carya including 18 different species of deciduous timber and nut-producing trees. Out of 18 species, 15 fall under the natives of eastern North America, and the other 3 falls towards Eastern Asia.

Hickory usually can grow upto 30m tall. They also have a long taproot. The fruit of Hickory is egg-shaped that splits into four woody valves as it matures. Hickory fruits consist of hard-shelled nuts that are surrounded by a woody husk. The nuts are edible. They vary in size and taste. 

Carya illinoinensis (Pecan) and C. laciniosa (Kingut) are the largest and the tastiest nuts. On the contrary, C. cordiformis (Bitternut hickory) and C. glabra (Pignut hickory) do not taste that good.

Best Time to Harvest Hickory Nuts


Autumns are said to be the best time to harvest the Hickory Nuts. Late September through the first week in November is termed as the prime time. But eventually, it also depends on the species of the tree and the location where it is planted.

The perfect time for the hickory nut is when the husks of the nut begin to split.

Types of Hickory Nuts

There are various types of Hickory Nuts. A few of them are mentioned below.

  1. Southern Shagbark Hickory (Carya Caronlinae Septentrionalis)
  2. Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis)
  3. Pignut Hickory (Carya Glabra)
  4. Shellbark Hickory (Carya Laciniosa)
  5. Red Hickory (Carya Ovalis)
  6. Sandnut Hickory (Carya Palida)
  7. Mockernut Hickory (Carya Tomentosa)

Southern Shagbark Hickory (Carya Caronlinae Septentrionalis)

Southern Shagbark Hickory (Carya Caronlinae Septentrionalis)

Southern Shagbark Hickory usually produces nuts that are round and is about 1-2 inches wide. You can have the nuts by toasting them slightly over a campfire and enjoy a crunchier flavor. 

Bitternut Hickory (Carya Cordiformis)

Bitternut Hickory (Carya Cordiformis)

Bitternut Hickory produces small fruits that are around 1-2 inches long or even less. They usually grow in dense and wet forests. As the name suggests, the taste of the fruit is bitter but not poisonous. It serves as a great gift to squirrels and other wild animals.

Pignut Hickory (Carya Glabra)

Pignut Hickory (Carya Glabra)

Pignut Hickory produces light brown nuts. It grows on the ridges. The nut gets its name as pignut due to the structure that it produces. The nuts are round-shaped and stretch an inch wide, resembling a pig’s nose. 

The Hickory nuts can be eaten, but it holds a strong bitter and astringent taste, which makes it hard to consume.

Shellbark Hickory (Carya Laciniosa)

Shellbark Hickory (Carya Laciniosa)

Shellbark Hickory grows in wet forests and is popularly known as Kingnut Hickory. Shellbark produces the largest nut, which spreads to around 1.5 to 2 inches wide. The fruit of the tree is sweet and is covered by a thick dark brown husk.

Red Hickory (Carya Ovalis)

Red Hickory usually grows on slopes and ridges. The nuts produced by them are around 1 inch wide. The nuts are sweet and can be eaten raw. They have thick dark brown husks and are round.

Sandnut Hickory (Carya Palida)

Sandnut Hickory grows in dry areas. It produces the smallest nuts as compared to the other nuts. The size of the nuts measures from ½ to 1 inch long. The nuts are sweet and can be eaten raw.

Mockernut Hickory (Carya Tomentosa)

Mockernut grows well in dry areas, slopes, and ridges. The size of the nuts measures upto 1.5 to 2 inches long. The taste is sweet and has a thick dark brown husk around.

How to Crack Hickory Nuts?

Hickory Nuts are delicious if you consume the right one. Well, I say right one because there are various species of Hickory Nuts out of them. Some taste sweet, while few taste bitter or astringent. So, I am sure we would not jump on anything and play around with our taste buds. So, it is essential to identify the right hickory nut that is sweet and consumed by us.

Once you have found the correct hickory nut, you can consume the meat of the nut. But wait, did we not mention that the hickory nuts have a healthy husk covering around them? Yes, we did. But is that husk removable with average hands and strength? No.

Hickory nuts are covered with concrete husk coverings, which cannot be broken with bare hands. So how do we eat them? Let us continue to scroll down to find in detail.

Hickory nuts can be removed using nutcrackers. But some of them are hard. So, a lot of times, nutcrackers are not a good idea. So, at such times you can use a hammer to get the meat out. But not to forget, you need to hit at proper points of the nuts, or else the meat inside the nut can be damaged by continuous hitting.

Once you see the meat inside the nut using a nut pick to extract the meat out, the nur’s surface is smooth and slippery, so mind you are hitting while extracting the meat from the nut.

You can also keep the nut on the stone and hit the nut to see it split. But always remember to know about the nut that you are about to consume. Check out the video below to see how Hickory Nuts are cracked: – 

Uses of Hickory Nuts

Hickory nuts are of great use as it is rich in oil and calories. One ounce of hickory nut meat is around 193 calories. It is extensively used in major parts of the country. Below given are few uses of Hickory Nuts.

Hickory Nut Oil

The oil extracted from the Hickory Nuts are of great use. But before using it, one should always remember that people who are allergic to nuts should avoid its practice. 

Hickory nut oil helps gain weight, formulates growth and development, strengthens the bone, enhances energy and metabolic functions.

Hickory Nut Butter

Hickory nuts are used to prepare nut butter and are used along with various food items.

Hickory Nut Syrup

Hickory Nut Syrup can be used as topping for pancakes, waffles, hot biscuits, cornbread, and cocktails for a sweet, smoky flavor.


Hickory nuts can be eaten raw as few of them taste sweet. It can also be used as a substitute for walnuts.


As hickory nuts are high in calories, it is also used to make porridge.

Hickory Nut Pie

Hickory nuts are also used to make nut pies.

Substitute for Walnuts

Hickory nuts are often used as a substitute for walnuts.

Used as Food.

Hickory nuts, although few of them are bitter but are used as food by squirrels, deers, and other wild animals.

Check out the video to understand the health benefits of hickory nuts.


Hickory nuts are of great use. Being high in calories, it is used for various reasons. From being eaten raw to serving as a portion of food to different animals, Hickory nuts have a strong mark.

As hickory nuts can be eaten raw, it is highly advisable to know the nut before you eat, as some taste bitter. Knowing about the hickory trees will prevent you from eating any poisonous substance assuming it is a hickory nut.

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