Two types in particular stand out as the best substitutes for walnut oil:
- Pecan oil
- Peanut oil
There are slight differences when it comes to these two oils. So, here’s when to use each…
Best all-around walnut oil substitute: Pecan oil
The next best thing to walnut oil is pecan oil. Both oils have a similar nutty flavor profile and can serve similar culinary purposes.
Pecan oil will work in most recipes that call for walnut oil, including salad dressings, marinades, drizzling over roasted vegetables, or in baked goods. It’s actually better for cooking in some cases compared to walnut oil due to its slightly higher smoke point (470°F vs 225-320°F for walnut oil).
When substituting pecan oil for walnut oil in a recipe, you can typically use it in a 1:1 ratio. However, it’s a good practice to taste and adjust as needed to ensure the desired flavor in your dish. Keep in mind that the overall flavor profile may vary slightly due to the distinct characteristics of pecans compared to walnuts, but the difference is usually subtle and complementary to many dishes.
Best walnut oil substitute for raw cooking: Pecan oil
Like walnut oil, pecan oil can be used raw, such as salad dressings, marinades, drizzling over vegetables or fruits, and even as a finishing oil for soups or pastas.
I love using raw oils for their nutritional benefits. Pecan oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, similar to walnut oil. It is also a good source of vitamin E and antioxidants, which can provide health benefits when used in moderation.
Best walnut oil substitute for regular cooking: Pecan oil
While it’s often used raw, pecan oil also has a relatively high smoke point, which means it can handle moderate heat when cooking without breaking down or producing harmful compounds. This makes it versatile in both raw and light cooking applications.
So, in recipes where you’d typically use walnut oil for sautéing, roasting, or baking, pecan oil works great!
Best walnut oil substitute for high-heat cooking: Pecan oil
When it’s time to crank up the heat and sear, fry, or deep-fry your ingredients, pecan oil is, again, the best option. Its high smoke point ensures your dishes will be cooked to perfection without developing that burnt taste that can occur with oils that can’t handle the heat.
Closest in flavor to walnut oil: Pecan oil
Pecan oil has a mild, slightly nutty flavor that is somewhat similar to walnut oil. While it may not be an exact match, it can provide a similar nutty undertone to dishes, making it a suitable replacement in many recipes, such as salad dressings, drizzling over vegetables, pasta dishes, fish, or desserts, just to name a few!
Important note: Because these oils are delicate and can become rancid over time, it’s a good idea to store them in a cool, dark place and use them relatively quickly after opening to enjoy their full flavor.
Best neutral flavored walnut oil substitute: Peanut oil
Okay, so, peanut oil isn’t exactly neutral (like how canola oil or vegetable oil is). But it’s certainly more mild than walnut oil or other nut oils.
In my experience, peanut oil is more fragrant than it tastes. It works well in stir fries, deep-frying/pan-frying, and marinades where you don’t want that overpowering nutty flavor profile.
Best budget-friendly walnut oil substitute: Peanut oil
Cooking on a budget? No worries! Peanut oil is generally more affordable than walnut oil. Walnut oil is often considered a specialty oil and tends to be more expensive due to the cost of processing walnuts into oil.
Peanut oil is also widely available in most grocery stores, making it convenient to find as a substitute for walnut oil.
Healthiest walnut oil substitute: Pecan oil
Pecan oil and walnut oil have similar nutritional profiles. They are both rich in monounsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy fats that can help reduce bad cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease.
Pecan oil also contains antioxidants, including vitamin E, which can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. These antioxidants contribute to the oil’s potential health benefits.
While pecan oil is not as rich in omega-3 fatty acids as walnut oil, it still contains some, which can be beneficial for brain health and reducing inflammation.
Always check labels and consider using cold-pressed or unrefined pecan oil to retain its nutritional benefits.
Best walnut oil substitute for keto/paleo/whole30: Pecan oil
Finally, pecan oil aligns with the dietary guidelines of keto, paleo, and Whole30 diets, which emphasize whole, unprocessed foods and healthy fats while avoiding refined carbohydrates, grains, and added sugars.
Pecan oil is virtually carb-free, making it an excellent choice for those following keto and low-carb diets, as it won’t disrupt your carb intake or blood sugar levels.
As I mentioned earlier, pecan oil is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which are a preferred source of fats in these diets. These fats can help maintain a state of ketosis in keto diets and are generally well-suited for paleo and Whole30 eating plans.
The two best oils that closely resemble walnut oil in flavor and versatility are pecan oil and peanut oil. Pecan oil is the top choice for most scenarios due to its balanced flavor profile and high smoke point, while peanut oil is a neutral option that works well when you don’t want the oil’s taste to dominate your dishes.
While olive oil is a versatile and healthy cooking oil, it doesn’t quite replicate the unique nutty flavor of walnut oil. If you’re in a pinch and need a substitute, consider using pecan oil or peanut oil for a closer match in taste and performance.
The choice between almond and walnut oil depends on the specific recipe and your flavor preferences. Almond oil has a milder flavor than walnut oil and can work as a substitute in certain dishes. However, if you want an oil that replicates walnut oil more closely in taste, pecan oil or peanut oil is a better choice.