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.
briansmylie18 days ago

Yo. Brilliant!

mcline28 months ago
WOW! Wish I had read this before mangling both thumbnails and assorted fingernails, not to mention sending needle sharp shards everywhere via firecracker!!

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

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

Gee102 years ago
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.
NonaSuymo3 years ago
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... ;)
melibrarian3 years ago
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!
Wow, it saved my fingernails! Thank you. I almost bought a pistachio opener. Now, to enjoy more pistachios...
TechShopJim (author)  coconutstudio3 years ago
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?
mattlscc3 years ago
Best instructable yet... works great!
jereza3 years ago
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)  jereza3 years ago
I'm just glad I could make a difference!
cappie823 years ago
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... :)
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.
ladykila3 years ago
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.
lancruz4 years ago
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.
bobcash4 years ago
Snaps! This is an excellent idea for gals with false nails too. Bravo!
TheGreatS4 years ago
I needed this so much. I have a delishous bag of pistacios and this will help me get them ALL open.
kylekosan234 years ago
i insert a butter knife and twist
diesel456454 years ago
ooooh a laser cutter is so traditional these days? Lol :P
Cacophonix6 years ago
This is a useful instructable :)
oh yes, indeed.Yes, please wash your hands ;)
TechShopJim (author)  chipscolaman4 years ago
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.
cr0wseb6 years ago
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 cr0wseb4 years ago
haha thats funny but confusing at the same time haha
this is for pesky pistacio nuts.
Emphacis on pesky
Most can be opened with your fingernails, but it is a bit contracitial...
'was just for the joke ;-)
bugg-4 years ago
Excellent Job !!! Thank you very much...!
cubesnail4 years ago
When in doubt, C4
hoshichii~5 years ago
J-Five5 years ago
I know it wouldn't be the best way but TNT!!!!
J-Five6 years ago
My way of opening one is a hammer.
thats usually how i used to open them but i always hit my finger by accident


larsrc J-Five6 years ago
Yum. Pistachio mush.
twocvbloke5 years ago
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
dowd955 years ago
Ha Thanks.
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
greybunny6 years ago
Or you can use a diet coke tab.
awdark6 years ago
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.
fmcdogg666 years ago
Dude: next time when you take close up pictures, ensure that you WASH YOUR HANDS before taking pictures. otherwise great tip.
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!
static yopauly6 years ago
So true, I used to work in the oil field, never found anything that would clean off iron sulfide residue. Had to put up with the look until time wore it away.Not long after that to you a job to do that started the process anew.
ulpetie6 years ago
very cool only thing is like deskules said what about the ones that don't even have a crack in them.
cyber_meat7 years ago
what about the fully sealed ones?
Just throw it away, it is not ripe. No need to fuss with it.
If fully sealed it means it didn't ripen. When they're ripe the shell opens up.
Here in Greece we have a lot of pistachios and the island of Aegina is famous for its traditional pistachio-nut trees. Here in Greece (I remember it since when I was a child) we open the difficult pistachios that way! So it's not something new to us! Greetings from Greece!
Its Giggles6 years ago
LOL just kiddin
Its Giggles6 years ago
I use my teeth for the unopened ones, then my pocket knife to get the meat. :P
davebijoux6 years ago
Yes! The hand-washing. And you should have had a crash helmet on and safety glasses. I will assume you WERE wearing a high-vis vest. Nice little instructable!
dsekules6 years ago
It's good as far as it goes...

What about those really pesky ones that aren't even opened a crack? Let's see you get into one of those with anything short of a diamond-tipped drill...
Yes! haha, lucky for me I already knew this, but besides a hammer there's no waay to open the sealed ones
As I noted elsewhere, "I get out my always-handy needlenose pliers and stick the big end of the nut in the round hole for the wire cutter - give it a little squeeze, and Pow! A separated shell." However, Alton Brown noted in an episode of Good Eats: if the shell isn't cracked, the meat isn't ripe.
A guy I know uses Vice Grips to crack nuts. They can be adjusted to stop just inside the diameter of the outer shell so as to prevent mutilating the nut meat.
Be sure to get genuine Vise-Grips®
Sorry, forgot the tradmark stuff.
You could use a tiny band saw.
skidoo dsekules6 years ago
That's clearly a job for your Dremel and a cutoff wheel.
HaTOkaD skidoo6 years ago
i love instructable folk <3 can always count on awesome threads here :)
kevlardude6 years ago
Wow. All these years of using my nail or pliers, and all I needed was just an empty shell? Amazing! Very nice.
qorlis6 years ago
As rmcalist said, I've been doing this for years. Great minds, right? For the unopened nuts, various "traditional" tools still do the trick. I found that, for most nuts with a seam (the ridge around the edges of the 2 halves of the shell), controlled pressure usually keeps them from crushing the nutmeats into dust and shrapnel and the two halves remain mostly intact. By the way, if the nuts are roasted, the unripe or immature nuts still taste good.
I use the can-opener blade on my Victorinox Swiss-Army knife (even the basic Army versions have this) (I push the nut against the blade and if there's even the smallest crack, it will extend the crack. Twist the blade to open the crack), I don't know whether the Wenger version of the Swiss-Army knife can-opener is suitable.
TechShopJim (author) 6 years ago
Uh oh...I may be in violation of a patent with my Instructable!

1984, Techshopjim, I'd be worried. Big brother is watching.
I hope I wasn't the only one who knows that pistachios are not legumes? They are really nuts from trees. Isn't it wonderful that they have a built in opener in the bag? Thanks!
TechShopJim (author)  sceneryinspectors6 years ago
I have to admit I did not look it up when I write that part. The word "legume" just sounded funnier. Point taken!
Isn't a legume of the pea family and a pistacio a nut in a tree/
yopauly6 years ago
Duh! I never thought of doing this. I'd just throw the dang thing away even though I carry a mini visegrip, ratchet multi bit screwdriver and a folding utility knife.
droppocket6 years ago
On the unopened ones I get out my channel locks, they are adjustable and don't crush the nut meat. Just adjust to one size smaller the the shell and then wa-la THERES THE MEAT!!!!
I get out my always-handy needlenose pliers and stick the big end of the nut in the round hole for the wire cutter - give it a little squeeze, and Pow! A separated shell.
That's the idea I was waiting for! Now if I can only figure out how to keep my fingers from turning red...
paulpcc6 years ago
LOL - ive been reading the text you said, and what other said, and the image rollover text... "LeatherMan", "Raw Fingers", "Nut-Meat" LOL just where is this conversation going :o) just kidding, thanks for the advice will give it a go
thecapper6 years ago
Now this is an Instructable I might actually get around to doing! Very well written and clever. Thank you! You have saved many trying minutes of nut-induced angst.
Masterbard6 years ago
Delightfully content-light instructable! I giggled all the way through, not least because I've been opening 'staches this way for years. Lovely example of 'how to write' AND 'how to photograph' an instructable - should be on the FAQ section if you ask me. Bravo!
Seconded! A practical tip for pistachio eaters who never thought of it. Good grammar and clear easy-to-understand photos.
Is there something such as a thirded?If so,I claim it:-)
WoundedEgo6 years ago
I delight in these simple explanations for small but real life issues. Thanks!
ankilosado6 years ago
Nice that someone has the idea of writing down the ideas! My grandfather taught me this usefull trick! Thanks for posting it. By the way, You'd better wash your fingers before posting pictures here. My little daughter is in trouble as we have ever told her to wash her hands before and after eating, and she had pointed at your nail and said: Look, he didn't wash his hands! LOL
arex6 years ago
This is why God invented Vise-Grips.
Great 'ible! I run into this problem all the time! I use a similar technique for extracting the little bit of meat that always seems to get stuck in the tip of the manus (the fixed part) of crab claws- I just use the removed dactyl (the moveable part of the claw) to reach in and dig that meat out. My wife thinks it is especially cruel to use your meal's own body parts to eat more of the meal, but "meat's meat, and a man's gotta eat!" If you really like nuts, try Trader Joe's Thai Lime and Chili seasoned cashews! They are to die for!
jimofoz6 years ago
Cool - never thought of this. I always put the unopened ones in a small pile and open them with a small set of vice-grips when the easy ones are done. I also use the vice-grips during Xmas season when nuts in shells are sold. You can adjust them to fit most any nut in a shell.
error4046 years ago
NIce to see this bit of info getting out there. I have similar one that pertains to Moules Mariniere. Hot cooked mussels in the shell. Use an empty shell as a set of tweasers to get the meat out of all the other mussels. lIke the pistachio instructable, it is SO obvious once you know it.
lidzy6 years ago
This has been driving me nutz for years-so obvious, thanks so much from just another nut nut...
hawkdude616 years ago
lol. I never would have thought of that. I was actually just eating them yesterday and I'd just been wedging my knife in the crack and popping it open, which is always a nervous affair because I've cut myself pretty good using my knife for things like that before.
waterlander6 years ago
good way but it takes to long I just break it with my fingers i don't even have to use nutcrackers i just break them with my bare hands
sushi6 years ago
WHY??? ...had I not thought of this first?
i had that proplem to but then i figuerd out that a hammer works well
ernestoaug6 years ago
jvangurp6 years ago
YAY! Finally a solution! The backyard squirrels will recall this day with great sorrow for many years to come.
Lori Ell6 years ago
great idea and so simple. funny how upon discovering a simple idea one always says to oneself " why didn't i think of that" to homicidal, i work at a dental office and your suggested "manly" way could be a verrrry expensive and maybe painful way if your teeth gave way instead in the end not so prudent (i also find men are not so manly in our chair) :) i would consider this idea as an alternative albeit the "girly" way lol
5kspace6 years ago
5kspace6 years ago
I like it
5kspace6 years ago
NO!!! Just chew the entire thing, and then pick out the shell parts. That way you wont waste any on the salty goodness!
rmcalist6 years ago
I've been doing this for years. Good job with the instructable! And that is a funky looking nut meat :)
jbrecken6 years ago
Does this technique work equally well with the pink ones?
chuCraft6 years ago
Very clever!
Hegpetz6 years ago
You are awesome!!! I will never have raw fingers again! Yay!!
LOVE IT!! So awesome. I feel so stupid. :D
wcgems6 years ago
That's AWESOME..... I never thought of that. Now I can stop throwing away all oif those barely opened nuts.
i had one of those and tried to break it with a nutcracker but the nut cracker broke
howabout the first pistachio? how do you open it then? but my way, aka the 'manly way' (jk) is just to gnaw at it with your teeth. just dont break your teeth.
well a... if its the first nut then just grab one that is open and eat that first. duh. lol
ha ha ha .. epic
TRIPLEC6 years ago
lol looks like some kinda weird computer chip xD lol, i love those things, im gonna go buy some later today
snipir6 years ago
i love you! xD
on nom nom Neat trick c:
crestind8 years ago
lol cool technique! Pistachios are good, but not as an ice cream flavor.
Derin crestind6 years ago
I beg to differ.I like the pistachio flavor.
Also in agreement. In all of my years, why have I never thought about this? I just used my canine and sort of chomp on it. I guess now I will do this. You have any ideas on how to get one open that hasn't yet begun to break? Those are the ones that I have to use the teeth most for.
TechShopJim (author)  furun8 years ago
I don't know if this is true or not, but I have been told that closed pistachio nuts are toxic and should not be eaten.

I'm not sure if it is because of the Apergillus flavus AF36 they spray on pistachios to reduce aflatoxin-producing Aspergillus flavus, or other post harvest agricultural practices, such as treatment with phosphine. I got this from herehere.
They're not toxic, they're just not "ready." Pistachios pop open naturally when they're ripe. But it won't harm you to eat it.
thepelton6 years ago
A friend of mine discovered that a pair of Vice-Grips, set to stop closing at just within a nut's diameter, will open a lot of nuts with very little damage.
SecondSun7 years ago
Very useful in stressful situations.
But what about the pistachios that don't even have the crack...? I would suggest putting it in between the hinge or a door and opening to squeeze it until it cracks...
hmm i gotta try that...
My dominance over food grows day by delicious day...
what if you're on the last nut and have no more pistachios???
You'd just use one of the discarded shells from a previously eaten nut. Or grab a slotted/flathead/non-phillips, non-robertson, non-torx, plain old screwdriver.
Oh, I didn't think of that.
m13a88 years ago
Nice technique! I wish I had heard of this before lol. In the past I've used pliers or a hammer, but recently I've been using the cork screw on my swiss army knife.
PikesPeak8 years ago
Very good idea. And if that doesnt work go get the BFH.
Ducky Boy8 years ago
O.O Thats...wow, amazing! If only I knew of this dozens of...incidents before. I am so going to buy a bag of pistachios just to try it out...
I do believe this is the most ingenious thing I've heard all day...but I will suggest that you wash your hands (how'd they get so dirty??).
TechShopJim (author)  KnittingFreak8 years ago
I work at TechShop making stuff day and night...of course my hands are dirty! ;) If the germs don't kill me, they only make me stronger.
I agree. That is most certainly true...what kind of stuff do you make? (Just curious. I love hearing about peoples' jobs when they make things for a living.)
TechShopJim (author)  KnittingFreak8 years ago
Actually, I made TechShop so other people so they can make things...projects they have always wanted to do. I also get to work on my own projects, and that's how my hands end up so dirty all the time. You can Google "techshop" if you are curious about TechShop...I'll save the light branding and any associated URLs for the actual TechShop Instructables. ;)
Kinda funny how the simplest things in instructables can be the most useful... Thank you!
Ohm8 years ago
Cool trick and the naritive was fun as well. As trebuchet mentioned, what kind of lense did you use?
TechShopJim (author)  Ohm8 years ago
Thanks to everyone for the nice words. This Instructable was my first just to see how the system works. I got to meet Saul and Eric at SquidLabs and Instructables this week in Alameda, and they are really doing some good work for the world! I'm thinking about using Instructables for all of our class notes at TechShop so even if you don't take our classes, you'll still be able to see the lessons. Please see my answer above about the camera...I posted after your question, but basically a $970 Nikon D40x digital SLR from Costco.
Wait... did you show up wearing a Tech Shop shirt? Because I do remember seeing someone wearing one not too long ago :p In any case, I personally would appreciate posting your class stuff on instructables :)
TechShopJim (author)  trebuchet038 years ago
I was at SquidLabs / Instructibles on Tuesday around 4PM, and yeah, Hung and I both had TechShop shirts on. If you were at the Maker Faire, you probably saw hundreds of people wearing TechShop shirts. As far as posting our class notes, I was concerned about the commercial aspects...but the guidelines basically say not to post commercials unless they contain actual how-to instructions. So I guess it would be OK to post them here even with some light branding. Thanks!
Considering I like your business so much, and think it's a good thing for the world, branding isn't going to be a problem. As long as there's instruction, it's an Instructable.
TechShopJim (author)  ewilhelm8 years ago
Thanks for your support, Eric. I'll keep the branding toned down. ;)
sweet nice job but i dont think it would be called "the nut meat" just the "nut" the outside is the shell + fav
tiuk8 years ago
Heh, I see I'm not the only one who uses this method. Too bad there is no easy way to open the ones that are sealed completely.
trebuchet038 years ago
Awesome pictures! Out of curiosity, what type of camera (lens?) did you use?
TechShopJim (author)  trebuchet038 years ago
I used a Nikon D40x digital SLR camera that I bought for our members to use here at TechShop in Menlo Park, CA, and it came with two lenses. For the Instructible photos, I used the normal lens, which is a Nikor 18-55mm and has amazing clarity. I got the camera kit at Costco for $970 complete with the body, two lenses, battery, charger, 1Gb SD card and nice bag. The camera is 10.3 megapixels, and produces JPEG images that are 3872 pixels wide by 2592 high, and about 4Mb in filesize. I am very happy with the camera, and our members seem to like it a lot too.