Introduction: How to Open a Pesky Pistachio Nut

Picture of How to Open a Pesky Pistachio Nut

I hate it when I'm eating pistachio nuts and I find one that has only opened a tiny bit. This quick technique, taught to me by my friend Lloyd, will open these problematic legumes every time without risking sore fingernails or broken teeth.

When you encounter the pistachio nut that is just barely open, the first instinct is to use your fingernails to pry it open, crunch it with your teeth, or just swallow it whole. But resist those urges and read on to learn this handy trick.

Step 1: Use the Right Tool for the Job

Picture of Use the Right Tool for the Job

You should always use the right tool for the right job, and lucky for you, you already have a whole pile of the right tool already near by when you are eating pistachio nuts.

Grab a discarded 'pistachio nut shell half', and stick the top of the small end into the partially-opened pistachio.

Step 2: Now Twist Like You've Never Twisted Before

Picture of Now Twist Like You've Never Twisted Before

With the shell top inserted into the crack, twist the shell half like you would turn a screwdriver. Clockwise or counterclockwise directions both work equally well. As you twist, the shell will separate with a loud report as if by magic.

Step 3: Eat the Conquered Pistachio Nut Meat and Enjoy Your Victory

Picture of Eat the Conquered Pistachio Nut Meat and Enjoy Your Victory

You did it. Sure, anyone can open a pistachio with a LeatherMan, hammer, or laser cutter. But without using any of those traditional pistachio-opening tools, and without risking injury of your fingernails, teeth, or your pride, you beat the pistachio at its own game. You got to the prize. Now eat it. Savor the morsel that was previously unreachable by humankind.

Next time you're sitting around with friends eating pistachios, show them this trick...and remember that you learned it on Instructables.


Gee10 (author)2012-10-02

I am a pistachio grower. Just for info - they are not legumes!
Also, the shells that don't split on the end or just split on the suture across from the hinge does not mean that they are not ripe. Just means you have to work a little harder to get to the nutty goodness inside. Fingernails, teeth, metal openers, hammers, .45 acp or pistachio shells doesn't matter. Just get it.

murrayh13 (author)Gee102017-10-30

i used a saw once

JohnM1114 (author)Gee102016-11-05

I have 4 trees and I get a lot of unopened nuts, so I found by roasting them it makes some open but I have not found a way that openes most of them. Do you have that problem?

JimN34 (author)2016-05-02

Yay!!!! Works so much better than pliers and so much more convenient.

grannyjones (author)2015-09-13

I will use this when I can't find my baby Vice-Grips.

amwill (author)2015-09-03

how simple is this then???? well done...

briansmylie (author)2015-08-11

Yo. Brilliant!

mcline2 (author)2014-12-11

WOW! Wish I had read this before mangling both thumbnails and assorted fingernails, not to mention sending needle sharp shards everywhere via firecracker!!

christine.h.smiley (author)2014-09-09

PERFECT! Just sitting here eating lunch and had this exact problem. Your solution is perfect. Thanks for sharing.

antony.michel.5 (author)2014-07-29

wow, great! i searched it while struggling with the pistachio! such a wonderful idea! As diamond cuts diamond, pista cuts pista! :)

NonaSuymo (author)2012-07-16

This is a great instructable. :) Although I usually just use a hammer. Kinda messy, since multiple shell pieces get everywhere, but when a nut wants a nut... ;)

melibrarian (author)2012-06-13

I can't believe people are so rude as to take your excellent tip and then to diss you about your fingernails. Folks, have you ever eaten pistachio nuts and then looked at your own fingernails? Please!

coconutstudio (author)2012-04-24

Wow, it saved my fingernails! Thank you. I almost bought a pistachio opener. Now, to enjoy more pistachios...

Hi CoconutStudio...

Please try to find a way to support the pistachio nut opener industry, even though I have taught you this secret. Thousands of Americans in that industry lose their jobs each day.

Won't you help?

mattlscc (author)2012-03-05

Best instructable yet... works great!

jereza (author)2012-02-27

This is really useful. I'm sitting in a hotel room right now and have a whole pile of barely opened pistachios. I knew there was a trick but didn't remember it. Thanks, TechShop Jim!

TechShopJim (author)jereza2012-03-01

I'm just glad I could make a difference!

cappie82 (author)2012-01-26

First: OMG!! People, they are just nuts, just use your brain!!! Anyone with even half of one would eventually have found someway to efficiently open them, I'm sure. It's a nice tip of course, but I didn't realize there were that many people in this world that can't open a pistachio.
Second: Yes, nice manicured hands are preferable, but come on, not every guy is a "metro-sexual"..
And Third: To TRIPLEC...Yes, the nut does look like some kind of computer chip...Hmm, Oddness... :)

davecallahan (author)2011-11-27

Buy enough nuts that that one that isn't open won't matter. In the used shell bowl or rubbish barrel. If you buy a pound, you may have a dozen bad nuts worth 1/2 cent.

ladykila (author)2011-11-16

I have found my handy dandy home tool kit helpful. In this case a hammer usually ends up with a bruised thumb, so instead I opted for pliers just gently squeeze the nut. The further back your hand is on the handles the more control you have. Remember to shield the rest of the nut with your other hand or it may have pieces flying.

lancruz (author)2011-08-17

My my! Isn't this clever! I've opted for the fancy tools myself. I'll try this technique and gloat about where I picked this up.

bobcash (author)2011-08-17

Snaps! This is an excellent idea for gals with false nails too. Bravo!

GenAap (author)2011-08-12

I needed this so much. I have a delishous bag of pistacios and this will help me get them ALL open.

kylekosan23 (author)2011-07-21

i insert a butter knife and twist

diesel45645 (author)2011-07-08

ooooh a laser cutter is so traditional these days? Lol :P

Cacophonix (author)2009-08-14

This is a useful instructable :)

chipscolaman (author)Cacophonix2011-06-18

oh yes, indeed.Yes, please wash your hands ;)

oruiz2 (author)chipscolaman2011-06-30


TechShopJim (author)chipscolaman2011-06-27

Yuck, I agree!

I did this Instructable back when I was actually making a LOT of things. My fingers were permanently stained with oil and dirt, like a mechanic's hands.

Now days, I'm unfortunately not making as many things so my fingers are clean all the time and no longer stained.

cr0wseb (author)2009-08-06

Well... But how to get the first shell if you open a nut with a shell ? Do we have to get a shell to get a shell to open a nut ? looool

oruiz2 (author)cr0wseb2011-06-30

haha thats funny but confusing at the same time haha

CHIRPOLO (author)cr0wseb2009-08-06

this is for pesky pistacio nuts.
Emphacis on pesky
Most can be opened with your fingernails, but it is a bit contracitial...

cr0wseb (author)CHIRPOLO2009-08-07

'was just for the joke ;-)

clydicus (author)cr0wseb2009-08-07


CHIRPOLO (author)cr0wseb2009-08-07


bugg- (author)2011-06-27

Excellent Job !!! Thank you very much...!

cubesnail (author)2011-06-17

When in doubt, C4

hoshichii~ (author)2010-04-04


J-Five (author)2010-03-13

I know it wouldn't be the best way but TNT!!!!

J-Five (author)2009-08-05

My way of opening one is a hammer.

ArvindTheNinja (author)J-Five2009-08-05

thats usually how i used to open them but i always hit my finger by accident

J-Five (author)ArvindTheNinja2010-03-04


larsrc (author)J-Five2009-08-06

Yum. Pistachio mush.

twocvbloke (author)2009-12-14

I always use my teeth for stubborn 'stachios, especially the ones that haven't even opened up, I put them between my back teeth with the ponty end up, then bite down until it splits, just try not to put too much pressure on it otherwise you'll end up with shell shards in your gums.... :S

dowd95 (author)2009-10-05

Ha Thanks.

weaponscollector94 (author)2009-08-23

i know you can also use the unopenable pistachios as slingshot ammo when you shoot something hard the shell frags all over the place!it is cool

greybunny (author)2009-08-22

Or you can use a diet coke tab.

awdark (author)2009-08-13

Very creative next time I find one I will have to try this :) When I was little and I had hamsters I used to rinse off the sealed ones and give it to them. I think they soaked it in water or something to soften the shell or something then nibbled it open.

fmcdogg66 (author)2009-08-06

Dude: next time when you take close up pictures, ensure that you WASH YOUR HANDS before taking pictures. otherwise great tip.

yopauly (author)fmcdogg662009-08-06

fmcdogg66, some people's hands never look clean because of their work environment. My bud is a GM certified mechanic and his hand look nasty right after a scrubbing with bleach and soap! When I intensive farmed a acre and a half, my hands looked like I never washed my hands. In reality I washed them 30 times a day!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm the Founder and Chairman of TechShop.
More by TechShopJim:Fix a Mac Mini Loose Power Connector Cable!Foolproof ESP8266-12E Programming and UseHow To Identify Red and Yellow Wires on a K Thermocouple...with a Magnet!
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