It recently occurred to me that the Spanish nuez can be translated to English as both "walnut" and "pecan." Is the same word really used for both types of nuts? How would you specify which nut you're talking about when the difference is important (say, in a recipe)?

  • 3
    The generic term for nuts is frutos secos at least in Spain, then walnut is nuez and pecan is pacana as you have been told.
    – DeStrangis
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 10:27

9 Answers 9


At least in Colombia one usually would say nuez, generically, if the context doesn't require the specific kind of nut; in the case of a recipe (or in any other context in which the difference matters) we, of course, have (and use) different names:

  • Pacana (pecan):

enter image description here

  • Nuez (walnut):

enter image description here

  • Nuez del Brasil (Brazil nut):

enter image description here

  • Avellana (hazelnut):

enter image description here

And perhaps more that I cannot remember right now.

  • 3
    I believe the proper/full name for a walnut is "nuez de nogal".
    – Flimzy
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 3:48
  • 5
    @Flimzy the proper name changes; in some regions of Spain it is called nuez de Castilla, for example. Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 13:10
  • More or less the same in Argentina.
    – leonbloy
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 20:19
  • In Argentina, Brazil nuts or cashews are known as castañas de Cajú. It's more common to see pecans being just called nueces pecan instead of pacanas, either because of ignorance or because it sounds more fashionable.
    – JMVanPelt
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 4:56

In Mexico

  • nuez china is pecan
  • nuez de Castilla is walnut
  • nuez de la India is cashew
  • nuez moscada is nutmeg

Hope it helps.

  • 1
    In México I've never heard "nuez china" for pecan - just "nuez". Also, walnut is "nuez de Castilla". Cashew is "nuez de la India". Nutmeg is "nuez moscada", no capitalization.
    – arturomp
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 23:58
  • I'm with @amp on all points and made some edits to this effect. I left nuez china as is although I've never heard it either; I think I've heard pecán/pecanes. Commented Aug 22, 2014 at 21:47
  • Iam from Mexico too and I've never thouth that pecans and wallnuts were different, It is obvious that they are different but in my region we only say "nuez" for both, "nuez de la india" for "Brasil nut" and "avellana" for hazelnut and "nuez moscada" for nutmeg but this one is only in Podwer.
    – Jaume
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 0:04
  • 1
    @JaimeCruzTriana Another comment says that Brazil nuts are called "nuez de Brasil." I can't recall ever seeing them (or, more likely, paying attention to them (I mean yuck, worst nut ever!)) here in the DF. Nuez de la India is something else. They're called cashews in English, but, just to keep things confusing, their origin is indeed Brazil. Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 18:31

PECANS: never heard of it as Nuez China, but it could be a regionalism. A friend that has a bakery orders them in Mexico as Nuez Pecana.

WALNUTS: Nuez de Castilla, but I've always referred to them as just "nuez" I just learned that in Peru is called Nuez de Nogal, makes sense since in Mexico we have a dish called Chiles en Nogada, The Nogada is made with walnuts! Makes Perfect Sense!

NUTMEG: Nuez Moscada, in Mexico is really hard to find in it's natural shape, often found in powder in the spice aisle.

CASHEWS: Nuez de la India

ALMONDS: Almendras


HAZELNUT: Avellanas


PEANUTS: Cacahuates/Maníes

MACADAMIAS: Nuez de Macadamia

PINE NUTS: Piñones

BRAZILIAN NUT: (Brace yourself) I knew them as "Talón de negro" which literally means "Black man's heel". Obviously it is very politically incorrect, so I'm guessing we just take the literal translation "Nuez de Brasil".

  • 1
    I would add that in spain cashews are also known as ANACARDOS. And the pecan are sold as NUEZ DE PECAN or NUEZ PECAN
    – xerido
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 11:57
  • 2
    Los nueces pecan... Nunca llegaran al cielo:(
    – Paul
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 1:50

This is a Community Wiki answer meant to keep all regional variants in the same post, as discussed in this Meta thread. This answer belongs to all of us — feel free to edit it to add the term used in your country or region!

Esto es una respuesta Community Wiki hecha para tener todas las variantes regionales en la misma publicación, según se debatió en este hilo de Meta. Esta respuesta es de todos — ¡siéntete libre de editarla para añadir el término usado en tu país o región!

The name for each type of nut depends on the country and region. Some are more common than others. Here's a comprehensive list:

  • Nuts (generic):
    nueces (Lat. Am.), frutos secos (Esp.)

enter image description here

  • Pecan:
    pacana (Col.), pecana (Mex., Perú), nuez china (Mex.), nuez (de) pecán (Esp.)

enter image description here

  • Walnut:
    nuez (Col., Esp.), nuez de Castilla (Mex., Esp.), nuez de nogal (Perú)

enter image description here

  • Brazil nut:
    nuez de Brasil (Col., Mex., Esp.), castaña (Perú), talón de negro (Mex.)

enter image description here

  • Hazelnut:
    avellana (seems like everybody liked this name!)

enter image description here

  • Cashew:
    nuez de la India (Mex.), castaña de Cajún or cajú (Arg.), anacardo (Esp.), marañón (?)

enter image description here

  • Nutmeg:
    nuez moscada

enter image description here

  • Almond:

enter image description here

  • Chestnut:

enter image description here

  • Pistachio:

enter image description here

  • Peanut:
    cacahuate (Mex.), cacahuete (Esp.), maní (Lat. Am., Esp.)

enter image description here

  • Macadamia nut:
    nuez de Macadamia

enter image description here

  • Pine nut:

enter image description here


@jrdioko One must differentiate between the general case and the particular cases. @Gonzalo Medina has already pointed you several particular cases, but I'd like to address the general case.

The English word "nut" refers to all oily seeds produced by some wood trees and palm trees. It is the same for the Spanish word "nuez". When you refer to a particular case, you qualify the word making it narrower in meaning. In some cases you have a different word to refer to that particular case, e.g., "hazelnut/avellana". But your original premise is incorrect. "Nuez" does not mean "walnut" nor "pecan" nor it is a synonym of both either.

  • 1
    @jrdioko Never believe anything you read in a random site on the Internet :-). WordReference is particularly bad when it comes to anything different to the English language in my experience. BTW, «fruto seco» is the educated term in peninsular Spanish; don't expect a contemporaneous native speaker from Spain to use that term naturally.
    – palopezv
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 16:50
  • 1
    Well to be fair it's not a "random site on the Internet," it's an online version of the Concise Oxford Spanish Dictionary by Oxford University Press. But still, thanks for the clarification :)
    – jrdioko
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 19:56
  • 1
    @jrdioko I am familiar with the site and the history of that particular dictionary. To make things short, it started as a great project for 7 years, then it was sold off to OUP where all the original linguists and lexicographers were fired and "reshaped by the staff to fit the editorial policy", read butchered, and made into a flop. If you really want to own a great English-Spanish dictionary, I can't praise enough the Appleton-Cuyas'; it is bit long in the tooth and probably out-of-print, but I always find myself coming back to my old copy.
    – palopezv
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 14:18
  • 1
    @jrdioko Here is the story: elmalpensante.com/… BTW, I personally have always found the definitions too off-the-mark. The emphasis on localisms ans rejection of the general consensus makes it almost useless for translation work; they just didn't think using the RAE's as a guideline was necessary.
    – palopezv
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 11:50
  • 2
    If you think the post is wrong about nuts, the correct thing to say is "Nuez verdad" :P
    – deStrangis
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 12:57

Nuez de castilla or nuez de nogal is the best translation for "walnut". Using the generic nuez is very confusing given that nuez is the generic word for "nut".

Cashew is marañón; also used but to a lesser degree is anacardo.

Most used for pecan is either pacana or nuez de pecán.


In Peru, a walnut is known as a Nuez de Nogal and a pecan is known as a Pecana. Brazil nuts are Castañas, peanuts which are originally from there are Maní or Maníes. So your recipe would call for Nogales or Pecanas.


Here in southern NM, local Spanish speakers say "nuez" meaning pecan. We have pecan orchards and folks use "nuez." Sometimes, I'll hear "nogal." Thus there's Nogales, NM. For example, "recogimos la nuez."

  • southern NM means New Mexico?
    – fedorqui
    Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 20:35
  • Same here in Texas. I'd always assumed early Spanish explorers called them nogales because of their resemblance to walnuts. They're native here and prolific. Cabeza de Vaca (c. 1527) describes gathering them when he was captive to the native peoples on the Texas coast, foraging up the river valleys.
    – cuevero
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 0:42

A farmer in rural Costa Rica showed me and a friend his cashew trees, and called them marañones. Rich, delicious juicy fruit grows on the same. I've heard that name for other nuts, too, but can't recall which they were.

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