How to crack pecan nuts

Posted by Julie on 8th Oct 2021

Have you recently purchased some fresh pecans in shell and want to learn the best way to go about shelling, cracking, and storing them? Well, you have come to the right place.

When you go online and search for pecans, you will find them in many different forms, including shelled pecans, fresh pecans in shell, pecan pieces, pecan meal, and even oil.

No matter how you plan on eating them, you want to make sure you know the right way to shell them and store them.

Purchase Pecans

The process starts with you purchasing fresh pecans in shell. Fresh pecans should feel heavy in your hand and won’t rattle when they are shaken. You also don’t want to use pecans that have holes or cracks in the shell.

Choose Your Cracking Method

How to crack pecan nuts

Next, you have to choose which cracking method you are most comfortable using. While anyone can smash their pecans on a table with a hammer, many of us would prefer to be a bit more gentle, keeping the pecans intact.

A pecan cracker works great and keeps your shelling process mess-free. You can also use slip-joint pliers or a nutcracker for cracking a hard pecan shell.

Shell Your Pecans

Now, it is time to shell the pecans. In an ideal situation, you will carefully crack open the shell, work your way to the rounded part of the pecan and gently remove the nut without breaking it into many little pieces. You can use your fingers to pull the nut out of the shell. If you try to use your tools, there is a chance you will break them.

You can then use a toothpick or a narrow piece of your pecan shell to make sure you get everything out. Remember, if you leave any shell on the nut, you will find the taste slightly bitter.

Storing Your Pecans

Once you have finished shelling your pecans, it is time to store them for future use. You can refrigerate your shelled pecans in a plastic bag. The bag helps avoid absorbing any odors from other foods in the refrigerator.

When you properly package and store your shelled pecans, they will stay fresh for about six months. However, when you store in-shell pecans, they will last approximately 9 to 12 months.

If you don’t have time to shell your pecans, you can store them at room temperature for a small amount of time. If you have to store them for more than a year, you want to store them cracked, shelled, or still in the shell in the freezer. Frozen in-shell pecans can even last in the freezer for up to two years.

Now that you know how to shell and store pecans, you can purchase your fresh pecans in shell online and get them ready to use for all your favorite holiday recipes.

A pecan is one of the most delicious and versatile nuts. It can be used in more ways than one, such as toppings for salads and for the ever-popular pecan pie, among others. They have thin shells, which are quite easy to crack. Nonetheless, the problem is that the nut inside the shell can be fragile, and hence, many people end up breaking them.

Knowing how to shell pecans is an essential knowledge if you love these nuts. If you want to know how to do it right, I got you covered in the rest of this post. I will also provide you with insights on other important things, such as the right way to pick pecans, as well as their proper cleaning and storage.

How to Pick Pecans

If you are picking fresh pecans from a tree that you have in your yard, you must know when is the right time to do so. The best indication that the pecan is ready for harvest is when the outer shell turns green. At this point, the inner and outer shells will already be separate from each other.

One of the best ways to pick pecan from a tree is to use a fishing pole. Cast a line on the end of the pole, throw it on a branch, and shake the fishing pole vigorously. This will make the nuts fall on their own. Once they are on the ground, you must separate the good nuts from the bad ones.

How to crack pecan nuts

Harvest pecans when the outer shell turns green

In most instances, pecans will drop on the ground when they are already ripe. Do not wait for a long time. Once they fall, pick them up immediately and crack the shells.

How to Shell Pecans

You can either buy pecans in stores or harvest them fresh from a hickory tree in the backyard. Once they are ready, one thing that you can do is to boil the pecans prior to cracking the shell. The boiling process can help to make the shell softer, and thus, it will be easier to remove later on.

Once the pecans have boiled, drain the water in a colander. Allow it to cool down for a few minutes. You do not want to hold the peanuts while they are still hot.

There are many ways to shell pecans, but the one that I can recommend best is the use of a hand-cracker. This is not only easy, but it also usually results in the highest yields. It can be easy, but if you will be cracking a lot of pecans, your hand must be ready to get sore.

If you do not have a nutcracker at home, you can easily improvise with the use of common tools, such as pliers and side cutter.

How to crack pecan nuts

Use a hand-cracker to shell pecans

Using a hammer will also work. Position the nut on a stable and hard surface, such as a wooden chopping board. Hit it with a hammer on one side, rotate, and hit again. This can be quick, but I suggest that you stay away from this process as it can quickly break the pecan.

Lastly, a specialized pecan cracker can also be used. You may want to purchase one if you always shell pecans. It can be a great investment.

How to Clean and Store Pecans

Once the nut is fully-opened, make sure that there are no traces of dirt or shell. You can use a toothpick to get rid of any woody material that might have remained. After cleaning, leave the pecans in a perforated container for at least 24 hours. After a full day, keep in a container with a sealed lid to avoid moisture and heat. Store the nuts in a cool and dry place.

You might also want to heat the pecans in an oven. The heat will be a great way to enhance its flavor, which will add a hint of smokiness. Plus, it is going to make the nuts crunchy. Heating them in an oven will also lessen the chances that mold will form while it is kept in a container with airtight lid.


Thinking of how to shell pecans? As noted in this post, you do not need to do it manually by hand. The best solution is to use a nutcracker. It usually leads to the highest yield while minimizing the tendency that the pecan will be damaged.

The time-honored way of showing love in an Italian family is to offer food. Whether we’re celebrating, mourning, happy, sad–if we’re breathing, there’s a table filled with great things to eat. Life’s too short, so eat what you love and love what you eat.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Spicy and Sweet Pecans (AKA “Crack Nuts”)


Servings: Makes 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 15 Minutes


1/2 cup Confectioners sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups pecans


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners sugar, kosher salt, cayenne pepper and 4 teaspoons of water.

Add the pecans to the sugar mixture and stir until the nuts are evenly coated.

Transfer the pecans to the prepared baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Do your best to make sure the nuts are evenly spread out (if they are clumped together, they won’t cook evenly). Scrape out every last bit of glaze from the bowl and drizzle over the nuts.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the pecans are crusty on top and caramelized and golden on the bottom.

Immediately slide the parchment off of the hot baking sheet and allow the pecans to cool completely on the countertop.

Once cool, remove the pecans from the parchment, breaking apart any clusters if necessary, and store in an airtight container.

NOTE: : Make sure you’re using parchment paper and not wax paper (wax paper is not nonstick). If the nuts are sticky after cooling, that means they are a bit undercooked. Pop them back in the oven for a few minutes and let cool again.
I’ve made candied nuts before and enjoyed them, but these nuts are for grown ups. You might want to make 2 batches, one to eat yourself and one to serve. They aren’t nicknamed “crack nuts” for nothing.

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We crack pecans, including native pecans! With prices ranging from $0.95 per pound to $1.45 per pound, we will crack as few or as many pecans as you have.

How much does it cost to crack pecans?

Shelled Texas Pecans
You will be redirected to our corporate website, GILBERTPECAN.COM
3 pounds – package shelled pecans $32.75 ($10.91 per lb) OUT OF STOCK

How much does it cost to get pecans shelled?

With prices ranging from $0.95 per pound to $1.45 per pound, we will crack as few or as many pecans as you have. The cost varies based on the condition of your pecans as well as the variety. Removing any debris and curing your pecans can reduce your cost.

What is the best way to crack pecans?

Honestly, smashing the shells with a hammer on a solid surface will do the trick, but if you want a cleaner, more efficient job then choose a specially designed pecan cracker. Regular slip joint pliers are good for cracking pecan shells. A nutcracker can also be used to shell pecans.

How much can you sell a pound of pecans for?

According to, hard-shell pecans are selling for $6.99 per pound and paper-shell pecans are $7.49 per pound. Pecans with no shells are $13.99 per pound.

Should pecans be washed before shelling?

Whether you plan to eat them plain or roasted, or use them in your favorite pecan pie recipe, pecans must be shelled and cleaned before use.

Which state has the best pecans?

Georgia is the leading U.S. producer of pecans. Pecan trees, a species of hickory, are the source of the only commercially produced tree nut native to the United States.

How long do pecans last in the shell?

In-shell pecans can remain good for 4 months at 70°F, but can be stored successfully for 18 months at 32°F to 36°F. Storage life of in-shell nuts may extend to 5 years or more when stored at 0°F (table 1).

Can you grow a tree from a pecan?

A viable pecan seed (the nut) is the product of cross pollination (sexual reproduction) between two pecan trees. Of course, you CAN grow a pecan tree from pecan nut. That’s how commercial growers get their rootstocks, and it’s also how new and different pecan varieties are discovered.

What do you do with raw pecans in the shell?

Here are the steps to do so!

  1. Pre-heat the oven to its lowest setting.
  2. Place pecans in a single layer on a parchment lined baking tray.
  3. Bake at 170° for 45 minutes, or until fully dry all the way through.
  4. Allow them to cool completely.
  5. Eat right away, or store in an air tight container for up to a year!

Can you make money selling pecans?

Now when it is harvest time, a pecan tree can produce up to 50 pounds of pecans. The average retail cost for pecans is $3 per pound. After multiplying 50 X 3, we have $150 which is the profit. To calculate the net profit, we deduct $63 (cost of product) from $150 (total profit) which is a net profit of $87.

How do I sell my pecans?

You can create sellers pages on Etsy, Ebay, or even Amazon to sell your pecans all over the world. You can use Craigslist to sell to people in your area. If you really want to get creative, you can build your own website and sell your nuts directly from there.

How much do pecan farmers make?

Now when it is harvest time, a pecan tree can produce up to 50 pounds of pecans. The average retail cost for pecans is $3 per pound. After multiplying 50 X 3, we have $150 which is the profit. To calculate the net profit, we deduct $63 (cost of product) from $150 (total profit) which is a net profit of $87.

If you have harvested pecan nuts prematurely, then it is likely that their moisture content would be high. You’d need to dry the nuts completely so that you can crack them open easily.

Pecan trees thrive abundantly in the South US, especially in the catchment area of the Mississippi River. Pecan tree grow to a height of nearly 80-100 ft and appear striking and magnificent owing to their thick canopy. The trees are cultivated extensively in the Southern US, chiefly because of their seeds or nuts that taste delicious.

Fully dried pecans have a sweet, earthy flavor, and many people savor the nuts as roasted pecans, toasted pecans, and candied pecans. Eating pecans everyday has several benefits from the perspective of health. However, you’ll need to ensure that the nuts are thoroughly dry before shelling them. In case you’ve harvested the nuts before they’re fully ripe, you’ll have to dry them up for about two weeks before you remove them from their kernels.

Harvesting the Nuts

The nuts start maturing from early fall around September through to November, depending on the variety. Mature kernels appear brown and the shucks crack open easily. You know that it is time to harvest the nuts when you are able to separate the hulls from the pecans with ease.

You can also pick some nuts during the fall when the weather is still warm and humidity levels are somewhat high. The green husk keep the pecans from ripening. However, the nuts will not be fully brown indicating that they still have high moisture content. In such an event, you can postpone harvesting till the shells take on a brownish hue.

Natural Drying Process of Pecans

Allowing the nuts to become brown will guarantee thorough kernel development. In order to have a good amount of premium quality nuts, harvest them the moment you see that the kernels are brown and the hulls break easily. Also, make sure you store and preserve the nuts properly to hold on to their pristine quality.

You may not be able to pick the nuts from the trees’ upper sections. Hence prune the trees from year to year so that you can harvest comfortably. Use a long and robust pole or shaft having a clip or hook for knocking the pecan nuts from the treetops. Shake the branches a little vigorously for ensuring that many nuts fall to the ground.

Pick up the nuts after they drop to avoid damage from pests, molds, and birds.

Remove Additional Moisture from Pecans

Harvest the nuts only when you feel they’re ripe. In case you’ve harvested the nuts prematurely due to unavoidable circumstances (trees have started rotting or are aged), do not shell them. Premature or unripe pecans will be replete with moisture, and you’ll have to dry the nuts by spreading out the kernels in a screen or wire gauze sheet. Alternatively, you can put the pecan nuts inside a string bag or net bag and place the bag in a room that is dry and well-ventilated.

Allow the nuts to dry for a couple of weeks or so. Once the nuts are dry enough, you’ll be able to break open the hulls without much effort.

Rounding up, always ensure to pick your pecans during the late fall. After all, you’ll be able to snap the kernels effortlessly only when the nuts ripen. And if you pick the nuts prematurely, you’ll have to put up with the hassle of drying them artificially.

In the Parks

“Tis the Season” to get to Cracking with your Pecans!

How to crack pecan nuts

Ok… What season do people “fudge” on their diets; Children get caught “pecan” at their presents; Kids and adults expect to receive “sweet” gifts; Friends and family enjoy jokes, and old stories are “candied” about; School choirs are “pudding” on joyful performances; Old and new stories are “bread”; People “mousse” out on sleeping in; There are always traffic “jams”; and where the simple addition of a certain nut can make even the most basic dessert taste like a buttery, nutty heaven to your taste buds…? PECAN SEASON! And boy does Central Texas have pecans this year!

They’re everywhere! On sidewalks, in the lawn, bouncing off your roof in the middle of the night…what can you do with all of them? Take them to the Lamar Senior Activity Center and get ‘em cracked!

How to crack pecan nuts

In a building setup specifically for the task of cracking nuts, Charles Davenport (a volunteer nut cracker at the Lamar Senior Activity Center) feeds grocery bags full of nuts into the tops of three pecan-cracking machines. These machines have chain-link-type metal ledges that pick up the pecans and carry them on a circular metal conveyer belt into the waiting black hole. Eventually the nuts will travel into the “cracking box” where they are squashed between two heavy metal plates with nubs. Warning thought…the cracking box sounds like a cross between an out of alignment washing machine on the spin cycle and a dryer with tennis shoes in it (the noise is very loud), but the anticipation of people dropping off their bags of nuts and pecans outweighs any noise they may have to deal with. Davenport said that in a typical year he usually does more than 150,000 – 200,000 pounds of pecans in a 6 -8 week period, but that this year he expects to outdo that amount because last year’s cold weather and rain seem to have increased production of pecans by the trees.

How to crack pecan nutsOne customer, Helen Miller (who is also a volunteer at the Lamar Senior Activity Center), was standing in a small line. She had dropped off 300 pounds of nuts the prior week and had come to pick them up and drop off another 200-300 pounds of pecans to be cracked. She said that her five pecan trees have really outdone themselves this year and that she uses the nuts in baking and giving as gifts during the holiday season.

The low cost of cracking your nuts at the Lamar Senior Center is also a huge incentive… only 50 cents per pound! Though you still have to take them home and finish taking the shells off, it is well worth the time, effort and 50 cents per pound… and you get great conversation with some really interesting and fun volunteers! As Miller loves to say, “I love what I do at the Senior Center and keep telling them to please don’t cut my pay!” She makes that statement with a mischievous smile and twinkling eyes, knowing that as a volunteer she doesn’t get paid in monetary form, but rather she gets to do what she loves and gets to help others out and make a difference at the Lamar Senior Center.

Pecan Cracking at the Lamar Senior Activity Center is currently underway on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am – 3pm. Last day for drop off: Wednesday, January 21, 2015. Last day for pick up: Friday, January 30, 2015. Bring your pecans in bags that you can write your name and phone number on – paper bags work best. You can also call them at 512-474-5921 with any questions.

The pecans on the top tend to dry out. It’s the nuts at the bottom and the middle that stays wet and get moldy. Once wet pecans start molding the mold will spread even to dry nuts and can quickly ruin the whole bag. The pecan will be moldy when cracked if there is mold on the outside of the shell. Occasionally you might be able to find a nut that hasn’t gone bad when cracked if the mold on the outside hasn’t had time to find its way to the inside.

Pecans can be dried out several different ways. The wet nuts can be spread out on newspaper to dry. The nuts should be flipped every now and then to insure that both sides get dry.

Get a mesh bag that has holes in it and put the pecans in there. The holes will help the pecans to dry out. Shake the bag every now and then to distribute air between the nuts.

Leave the nuts in a bag or box piled on top of each other and stir the nuts several times in the day and evening hours with your hand so that air can get in between the pecans to dry them out. You might have to stir them up more frequently if they don’t seem to be drying out fast enough.

Spread the nuts on a pan and put them in the oven to dry them. Turn the nuts over to dry the other side and don’t leave them in too long if you don’t want to have roasted nuts. If you prefer you can use a microwave.

Use a hair dryer on the pecans. You can leave the nuts in a bag or box and aim the heat at them. You will begin to see the pecan shells shed their damp color and lighten up to their original shade of light to medium brown. Take your hand and dip it into the bag bringing new layers of wet nuts to the surface. Reach down to the bottom of the bag so that you won’t be drying the top and middle layers only.