You're all set up and ready for your holiday dinner. You've got the main course, you've got the fine wine and the freshly squeezed lemonade, hell you've even got the bread rolls. You're setting out the finger foods, simple things like cheese and nuts, when you suddenly realize, to your horror, that you've forgotten a nutcracker. 

Next time you forget a nutcracker, don't worry. These helpful tips and tricks will teach you how to get three kinds of your favorite savory snacks out of their shells perfectly every time.


nut, walnut, almond, meat, fig
Holly Tishfield

Crack it by hand: I know what you're thinking, "crack it open with my bare hands? You must be nuts (pun intended)," but no, I'm not kidding. It's not too difficult to get these bad boys open by hand once you know how. Take two nuts and find the hardest side of each. Press the two harder sides against one another in the palm of your hand. Use your other hand as a base and apply pressure to the nuts until they crack open.

Crack it with a Hammer: Now, I'm not telling you to go all Norse God with a hammer on these poor walnuts, but using one can help you get the walnut open easily without destroying the nut inside. Get a cloth towel and find a hard surface (such as a kitchen counter), then place the walnut inside. Gently take the hammer and hit the walnut inside the cloth. You may have to tap it a few times, but eventually the shell will open and you can easily get to the actual nuts.

Crack it using a dull knife: Go into your kitchen drawers and pull out a butter knife. Locate the seam at the back of the walnut, where there should be a small lip, and insert the tip of the knife. While firmly holding the nut, use the knife to pry the two pieces of the shell apart until it's open, but be extremely careful not to let the knife slip and hurt yourself.


Holly Tishfield

Crack it by hand: Thankfully, most pistachios are easily opened with your hands. Put a thumb on either side of the already cracked shell and pull until the two halves come apart.

Crack it with another pistachio: If you come across a pistachio nut that's only open a sliver, just grab one of your discarded pistachios shells from the pile that we all know you've accumulated and stick it in the small opening. Then twist the half-shell sideways, as if you were using a screwdriver, and the pesky pistachio should pop open.

Crack it using a book: These days it's common to hear someone say "hit the books," but you can take that statement a bit more literally here. Take any hardcover book, whether that be a textbook or a cookbook, and place the unopened pistachio beneath it on a hard surface. Then apply weight to the hardcover book and the pistachio should crack open. This works best if you're standing, but hey, who says sitting on it wouldn't work too?


vegetable, potato
Holly Tishfield

Crack it by hand: These guys are the OG nuts. The simplest way to open one is to hold the peanut by both ends and bend it in half until it cracks. Or you can twist the two sides in either direction until it breaks.

Crack it by foot: If you're anything like me and you've been around a lot of messy peanut openers, you know that opening one by foot is almost as easy as using your hands. Since a peanut shell is so soft, they crunch easily when stepped on. The key is to step on them lightly so that the shell cracks but you're not entirely crushing the nut or forcing them onto the floor.

Crack it using a spoon: If you're all out of options—you've been struggling to get this peanut open with your hands for five minutes now and you're starting to feel like a fool—you can use a spoon. Place the peanut on a hard surface, then take the spoon press down on the peanut. Since the shell is soft, it should crack open, allowing you to finally get the actual peanuts out. 

During the holiday season, not having a nutcracker is the least of your worries. Especially now that you have a bunch of methods that can be applied to more than just these three types of nuts. Stay calm in the face of danger (meaning the extended family that only visits this time of year), and use these tricks to help yourself when you have 10 minutes until arrival and you realize you bought a pack of unopened walnuts. Good luck out there, nutcrackers.