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Substitutes for Macadamia Nuts – What Can I Use Instead?

Substituting for macadamia nuts is something you could find yourself doing for a multitude of reasons. It could be the case that you normally keep a stock of them but have found yourself caught short in your time of need. Alternatively, it could just as easily be the case that there’s nowhere in your local area that stocks them.

For many, the reason we search for an alternative is the exorbitant cost of macadamia nuts, the most expensive nut in the world. Whatever your reasons for wanting to find an alternative, we’re here to make some suggestions that can sidestep the cost and the rarity of the macadamia. The macadamia nut may be an incredibly tough nut to crack but finding a substitute for it shouldn’t be!

We invite you to review the following questions and answers section for some additional information that just might be of some use to you.

Why are macadamia nuts so expensive?

Due to how difficult it is to successfully cultivate the plant, and the fact that it takes each tree 7 tears to produce a crop, there simply just isn’t enough supply to drive the price down. As recently as 2017, macadamias made the news for a 17% price hike due to these reasons.

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Where do macadamia nuts come from?

Macadamia originates from Australia but is now grown in favourable climates around the world, in Hawaii, Brazil, Indonesia and elsewhere.

Substitutes for Macadamia Nuts

These exotic and luxurious nuts are known the wold over for their rich and buttery taste which is a big hit on dessert menus in more upmarket restaurants. But what if we told you that you could replicate that same opulent flavour at a fraction of the cost at home? Well, the good news is that it’s 100% possible.

Macadamia nuts have a wide range of culinary uses and can also be reimagined in terms of their purposes. Some useful examples of this include: macadamia oil, milk, butter, and flour. Bear in mind that some of the suggestions below won’t be quite so versatile, nor will they have the same nutritional profile. But, they will act as convincing substitutes in a pinch and many may even trick the most refined of palettes. So, without much further ado, here is our rundown of the best substitutes for macadamia nuts:


1. Hazelnuts

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Hazelnuts are a relatively cheap and easily accessible replacement for macadamia and are generally a decent all-rounder when it comes to baking. They make fantastic cookies (some would argue, better than macadamia) and function perfectly as a topping for a variety of dishes both savoury and sweet.

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Though it is true that the texture is slightly more towards the crunchy side of things, there are still quite a few similarities between macadamia and hazelnut – right down to their physical appearance in a chopped state. There are also parallels in their odour and similar tones in their flavour palettes, with a certain buttery-ness being a distinctive feature of both. Naturally, you can find hazelnuts pretty much anywhere you look. However, not all hazelnuts were created equally. One of those that stands head and shoulders above the standard supermarket brands is this:


·         Brilliant in its simplicity

·         An excellent nut for baking, toasting, and transforming into milk

·         Easily available via the already popular Trader Joes


  •    Texturally different to macadamia


2. Walnuts


Walnuts are the perfect substitute for when you are trying to replicate the creaminess that macadamia can bring to a recipe. So, if you intend to make a cream, a paste, or a mousse out of the nut, this may well represent the best choice for you.

But, the hazelnut is not limited to just making an adequate creamy-textured replacement, it also has plenty of other tricks up its sleeve. It also works perfectly when toasted and as a topping for desserts. Likewise, it should also be in your considerations if you intend to make cookies or another similar form of bake. Again, these are readily available pretty much anywhere at the fraction of the cost of macadamia. It’s a win-win all round!


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·         Beautifully earthy and smooth flavour

·         Non-GMO and preservative free

·         Wide range of health benefits


·         Missing quite a bit of the buttery-ness that makes the macadamia so identifiable


3. Cashew Nuts

cashew nuts

Like macadamia nuts, cashews are also renowned for their creamy texture which can make them an excellent substitute when it comes to making sweet treats. In their chopped form they can also bear quite a strong resemblance to macadamia, all the while having a nice rich and buttery flavour.

Cashews also make for an excellent milk too and are relatively easy to come across; not as easy as hazelnuts, yet still comparatively easier than macadamia. As such, we would consider it a reasonably strong contender for the best substitute out there.


·         100% organically produced

·         Not too hard or too soft

·         Creamy, buttery, and versatile; an excellent substitute overall


  •         A bit pricier than our other suggestions


4. Toasted Pecans


Toasted pecans can make a great substitute for macadamia in terms of flavour. They’re quite similar in many regards, with both having a pretty easily identifiable buttery sweet flavour. That being said, the raw pecan doesn’t behave in quite the same manner as its toasted equivalent. A raw pecan will be coarser in texture and therefore quite far removed from the mouth feel of the real deal.

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To remedy this, simply toast the pecan slightly, and as the oils within the nut begin to release, they will soften the texture. This is perfect for when you want to substitute for macadamia in cookies as there will be no real change detectable whatsoever – you may even fool your guests. Pecans are far easier to come across than macadamia and cost a pittance in comparison.


  •         Far cheaper than macadamia
  •         Excellent rich and buttery tones
  •         No preservatives and non-GMO certified


  •         Not a great match in terms of aesthetics




We hope that you found this guide to substituting for macadamia nuts to be a valuable and information source as you embarked on a quest for an alternative option. As you can see, there are several decent substitutes out there – one or more of which may be lurking in your spice rack as you read this!

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