Flavor Pairings with Walnuts

Surprising Top Flavor Pairings for Walnuts

Learn how different sweet, savory and spicy flavors pair with walnuts.

Walnuts pair well with a variety of foods, so California Walnuts partnered with the Davis Sensory Institute to find out what flavors people like best with them. We tested 15 different sweet, savory and spicy flavors paired with walnuts. The results may
surprise you!

Walnuts Dark Chocolate

Top 5 Pairings

Although people enjoy a mix of sweet and savory flavors with walnuts, a sweet combination is most liked by all: (1) Dark Chocolate, (2) Sesame Cayenne, (3) Vanilla, (4) Sea Salt Caramel, (5) Coffee.

Young Adults Prefer Spicy

Sesame Cayenne was the favorite walnut flavor of young adults (aged 18-25), so it’s not surprising they ranked other spicy flavor pairings like Spicy Barbeque, Sriracha and Wasabi higher than other age groups.

Luckily, many of the top flavors are common household ingredients, making them an easy addition to a walnut recipe to help enhance their flavor.

Fiery Hot Cheddar Walnuts

Recipes That Incorporate Top
Flavor Pairings

california walnuts logo


The flavor research outlined was funded by the California Walnut Board and conducted by the Davis Sensory Institute between June 26 and October 31. In this research, 114 consumers (60 male, 54 female) used a single blind approach to compare and evaluate 15 walnut pairings consisting of sweet, savory and spicy flavors. Participants tasted all samples and were asked to indicate how much they liked each of the flavors using a 7-point hedonic scale. They also provided reasons for their likes and dislikes. All participants were consumers of walnuts or nuts eating them at least once a year and willing to try new walnut- or nut-containing products. People who consume walnuts or nuts once a year or less were not retained in the study.

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