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Shelled vs Unshelled Nuts: Which are a Better Deal?

Have you ever wondered if it’s a better deal to buy shelled versus unshelled nuts?  Of course it depends on the weight of the shells, and I wasn’t about to figure that out by buying and shelling them.

Then I found this table at  MegaHeart.com:

almonds 1 lb unshelled
1 lb shelled
1 to 1 3/4 cups nutmeats
3 1/2 cups nutmeats
peanuts 1 lb unshelled
1 lb shelled
2 1/4 cups nutmeats
3 cups nutmeats
 pecans 1 lb unshelled
1 lb shelled
2 1/4 cups nutmeats
4 cups
walnuts 1 lb unshelled
1 lb shelled
1 2/3 cups nutmeats
4 cups nutmeats

Using it, I made this price relationship table:  

almonds $1/lb unshelled equals $2 to $3.5/lb shelled
peanuts $1/lb unshelled equals $1.30/lb shelled
pecans $1/lb unshelled equals $1.80/lb shelled
walnuts $1/lb unshelled equals $2.40/lb shelled

For example, yesterday I saw unshelled walnuts for $4/lb, and I know that the shelled ones are $12/lb.  (Note that these are Canadian prices; that’s why they are so high!)

Which is the best deal?  Well, from the table, every dollar of unshelled walnuts equals $2.40 of shelled walnuts, pound for pound.  So to match that $4/lb price on the unshelled nuts, the cost for shelled ones will be 4x$2.40= $9.60/lb.

Thus the unshelled ones were the better deal by far, easily worth the extra hassle of shelling them.   I think I need a copy of this chart in my purse!

For more great tips, see Works For Me Wednesday , Healthy 2Day, Raising Homemakers, Encourage One Another Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, and Frugal Friday.


  1. JoAnn says:

    Wow, when you really want to check something out, you do your homework, don’t you? 🙂 I keep thinking I want to buy more peanuts to make my own peanut butter. A friend of mine does that. She buys shelled peanuts then sits and unshells them while watching a movie. Seems like a bit too much work for me, but maybe someday I’ll try it. 🙂

    1. Annie Kate says:

      🙂 I suppose I did learn something from The Tightwad Gazette and the author’s love of such calculations! LOL

      I’ve never made my own peanut butter. I think it would wreck my little food processor!

      Annie Kate

  2. Annie Kate!! I am impressed that you took the time to do this 🙂 It had never occurred to me to do the math (since I am not really gifted in that area LOL), but you make it pretty easy to understand. My daughter just told me that she thinks this is pretty neat to know! I am always blessed by you contributions. Thank you for taking the time to share these tips on being a frugal (and WISE) homemaker!! Bless you this week!

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Thank you so much!

  3. simply heidi says:

    This is excellent. I’m emailing it to my church group.
    I never thought about doing the math either. Thanks!

    1. Annie Kate says:

      You’re welcome and I hope they enjoy it! 🙂

  4. Very Cool. I didn’t think about that!

  5. Shyla says:

    Don’t seem to save with peanuts.



    Please do a calculation for me. Thanks. It seems you break even pretty much, except extra personal labour is required for de-shelling so seems better to buy de-shelled.

  6. Thank you for giving information about Nuts.Its very helpful for me and I Appreciate it.

  7. Douglas Gray says:

    Also, shelled nuts sit around for a long time, and the oil can become rancid, whereas the unshelled are protected. That is why they taste better.

  8. Alain Bache says:

    I am a personal chef in Florida.
    One of my customers is allergic to soy, and I want to know if there is soy contamination in unshelled nuts ( almonds, walnuts ).
    Thank you for your reply

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Hi Alain,
      I would contact the supplier to see if they have come into contact with soy. If the contact has been minimal, you should be fine, as long as the shells are not broken in any way.

  9. Madhukar says:

    Thank you.
    Actually I was looking for this calculation. Thank you sis that u did it for us. I appreciate your endavour.

  10. Leticia Rico says:

    Thank you for the information. This is AWESOME! I homeschooled my girls a few years and learned so much myself! Great memories.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      You are welcome! Yes, homeschooling is a great way for moms to learn, too, and I already have great memories, even though we are still busy learning together.

  11. Michelle Vasquez says:

    I’ve been buying in shell peanuts for the critters that come to my backyard for treats. At the local grocery the peanuts are $2 for a pound. I realized I was spending $2 each day to feed the wildlife. I set out to find a better deal and found your page. Thank you! I actually found shelled peanuts for critters on Amazon. 50 pounds for roughly $80.

    I am a bit shocked, but this is so much more for my money than at the grocery store. It is for animals, as the product specifies.

    Right now I am paying $100 for 50 pounds of in shell peanuts (for human consumption). These are $80 for 50 pounds and they are shelled. Your chart helped me realize this is a much better deal (nut meat in shell versus shelled).

    Thanks, Michelle

    1. Beverly says:

      Like Michelle, I came looking for a way to figure out how to economically feed the birds. The bluejays, woodpeckers & titmouse don’t seem to have a preference, but I appreciate knowing which is the better bargain!

  12. John says:

    An unshelled nut weighs an average 30.18% of a shelled nut. [ 4.8g : 11g ]
    (multiply cost by 3.31 or 0.3018)

    Yet, I´ve found that stores charge unproportionally more for shelled, e.g. ?60%.
    You´re then paying double for the privilege of shelling them.

    On the other hand, shelled nuts keep fresh for 1 year vs 3 months unshelled, if properly stored.

  13. Donna says:

    I have an old recipe that uses 2 pounds of UNshelled walnuts. That’s a lot of work, so I buy walnut halves already shelled. I can never figure out how much shelled walnuts equals 2 pounds of unshelled walnuts? Can you help? Thanks

  14. Brian says:

    Thanks for the 4-1-1! I’ve been wondering that for a while every time I see a bag of de-shelled peanuts on special for SLIGHTLY more per pound than my usual ‘au natural’ or still fully ‘shelled’ product. Based on your calcs, sticking with my ‘fully shelled’ product is almost always less pricey. I actually like them better too, not to mention the grip and dexterity of my hands being kept up to snuff as i eagerly squeeze those little nuggets like a hungry squirrel! (Just like a squirrel, too, I occasionally resort to my teeth for a particularly tough one.)

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