Encountering Difficult to Open Pistachios – Opening Hack

One of my favorite snacks to eat while watching movies are pistachios! Pistachios are a healthy choice for a snack and contain the following health benefits:

  • Unsaturated fats (healthy kind) – good for lowering heart disease risk
  • Potassium – good for muscle cramps
  • Fiber – like eating vegetables (good for bowel movements), helps with feeling full (prevents overeating)
  • Protein – good for building muscle, helps with feeling full (prevents overeating)
  • Vitamins/Minerals (Manganese, Copper, Phosphorus, Vitamin B) – good for normal body functions

Although pistachios are quite tasty, they can also be a hassle to break open. They are fairly easy to break but your fingertips can feel a bit worn out when you have been eating them for too long of a period.

What is worse is when you encounter a pistachio that has a small crack in it but is not quite big enough for your fingers to break apart. Although you try your best to open the pistachio, it just doesn’t seem to want to break. So what do you do then? Throw that pistachio away?

My (Initial) Experience with Opening Difficult Pistachios

Throwing that one pistachio away might actually be easier as I am pretty sure the other 80 to 90% of the pistachios in the bag are normal. BUT…I am a pretty stubborn person. When I encounter these “difficult” pistachios, I will find ways to break it open since I find it as a sort of challenge.

My first go to option? To bite it until it breaks or opens! It doesn’t always work out but after a few attempts, my jaw gets tired and my teeth start to feel tender, so this may not be the best option. In addition, when the pistachio does break open, pieces of the shell end up in my mouth so that is not a pleasant experience especially when halfway chewing on a pistachio nut.

My next go to option? To find a hammer or a mallet. This works well with breaking the pistachio shell! But sometimes you also end up crushing the pistachio nut. Other times, the whole pistachio shell will just fly across the room. So maybe still not the best option but perhaps as a last resort.

The Method that Works the Best (and Most Conveniently with Consistency)

One day I just became too lazy to go find other tools to open those difficult pistachios with ESPECIALLY on the days when those tools are misplaced by others. So what did I do? I figured (from taking physics) that to open pistachios, I need to take advantage of the forces of leverage. Levers work by producing a large amount of force (in a small distance) from inputting a small amount of force (over a large distance) when the lever is set at a certain (fulcrum) point. If done correctly, the lever should generate enough power to break the pistachio shells open.

The physics talk can sound confusing so how to put it in simpler terms? Let’s use something to PRY open that stubborn pistachio nut! Instead of grabbing a crow bar (which probably wouldn’t fit the crack on the pistachio nut anyway), I figured I would need something durable that is also thin enough to fit through the crack. What tool would that be? The pistachio shell (half)! It is a pretty durable thing but even if it breaks, you still have double the amount of pistachios that you have already eaten as backup (2 shell halves per nut).

To do this technique, you slide the shell half into the pistachio with a small opening and start prying, if it doesn’t break, then as you pry, slide the shell half deeper and keep prying until the shell breaks. And there you have it, each pistachio practically provides you with the necessary tools to open it.

If you need some pistachios to practice this method on, you can click here.

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What About Pistachios that Do NOT Have a Small Opening?

Just know that there is actually nothing wrong with the pistachios. In fact, this is the form that all pistachios start with. It is through the drying and roasting process that the pistachio starts to split open which gives it that form we are most familiar with. If in the unfortunate case you encounter pistachios WITHOUT an opening, there might not be much else to do. You might have to return back to the original caveman ways of opening pistachios. This means using a hammer or some other heavy-duty tool to hit the pistachio.

Keep in mind that while using a hammer or mallet, the pistachio may fly across the room. This happens because there is no anchorage for the pistachio as you hammer. If you wrap one (or several bunches of) pistachios with a towel, they will have nowhere to go when you hammer it. Just remember not to hit too hard that you end up crushing the edible part too.

If you are lucky, the pistachio shell will break completely without the edible part being crushed. On the other hand, if you manage to create a small crack that is big enough to use another shell to pry it open, then that is also a win for you.


Pistachios are great snacks to have. They are healthy compared to other snacks like candy or chips (although these are good every once in a while too). Unlike regular snacks, there is a little process to open pistachios so that you obtain just the edible portion of it. Not every pistachio is the same but there are some strategies that you can utilize to access the nut. After a while once you get the technique down, eating pistachios can actually be fun. Have fun with eating your pistachios!

Want other hacks like how to pick the best tasting bell peppers or nectarines? Click on the respective links!

Did you enjoy this life hack on how to open those difficult pistachios? Please leave a comment below!

22 thoughts on “Encountering Difficult to Open Pistachios – Opening Hack”

  1. You know, this is certainly an article that I did not expect to run into today haha. I love my random internet surfing sessions because you find great life hacks like these on there. I definitely will use this to open my next batch of pistachios because i freaking love pistachios and I have run into trouble when I try to open them so thank you so much for this

    • Hello Misael! I like to keep the topics spontaneous so that it keeps things interesting and fun. Hopefully this method helps you to be able to eat nearly all pistachios from here on with ease.

  2. Ya know, I think I was meant to see this article today. I’m working on incorporating healthy options as I attempt to move closer to a vegetarian diet. I’ve known that pistachios had many health benefits but the shells have definitely deterred me. So thanks for the hack. I’ll be getting some this week and trying this out!

    • Hello there! It is always good to hear when someone is incorporating healthier options into their lifestyle! Vegetarian diet is a great option too! Just remember to incorporate enough protein so that your body still meets the daily nutritional requirements, but I can see you are already on top of that by considering to eat pistachios! Best of luck to you with the diet and also cracking open pistachios!

  3. Hi Mike

    Let us say you have talked about one of my favourite  topic- food. I also  like pistachios but do not buy them often because they are an expensive nut to buy but the reward pays for the effort in opening them. I use a small set of screwdriver to open mine.  You know those designed for small screws that you often find in many  small electrical devices. It works and as you say let physics work for you.

    If it does not work throw it in the compost bin. Now, you need to come up with a way of opening Brazil nuts, as they are a challenge.



    • Hello there Antonio! I agree, pistachios can be expensive. I tend to get them mainly when they are on sale at the market (the ones where you scoop up). Sometimes I might just see a bag of them at Walmart or Target and after not eating them for some time, I will feel the urge to get it. I have used screwdrivers to open them before and they work great. However, they get misplaced by my family a lot and it also takes some effort to get up to look around for it (after already settling down to eat). Sometimes it just takes me longer to find applicable tools than to just use a readily available pistachio shell to open it. And yes, if the pistachio just refuses to open even with those tools, might just be best to throw away (not worth the effort).

      I actually have not seen Brazil nuts before, perhaps I’ll make a post on it some day when I get to it. I did a quick google search on it and it seems like a difficult nut to crack. I would suggest using either a nut cracking or a seafood cracking device. It might take some trial and error but finding the right angle (line where shells meet should be fairly perpendicular to the tool handles) as well as the right distance (from the fulcrum of the cracking tool) to place the nut (without crushing into the Brazil nut itself) would be ideal. 

      My other idea would be (while using some towels to anchor the Brazil nut in place) to hammer in a chisel into that line where the shells meet (same concept as a wood splitting axe). That tool is thin at the tip of the blade (to get past outer shell) and the blade widens the deeper you get the blade to be which then helps push apart two objects (shells in this case) and eventually splitting it open. I would have to test it out one day but perhaps you can try it first and let me know how it goes. Hope that helps!

  4. Awesome article. I really like how you explained everything clearly, it was a good  experience reading this article and I hope you will provide something interesting and similar in the future as well. I was just rambling the  internet and the stumbled upon your great content. I love marketing and i am just enrolling into the waters of it. You helped me a lot. Keep up and I wish you all the best in your future and business. Really enjoyed reading your article about Pistachios because I really love them.

    • Hello there! Thank you very much for your comment. I am happy to hear that the article was explained clearly and that you enjoyed it. I will definitely try my best to keep providing interesting articles in the future.

  5. I think I’ve had my share of pistachios fly across the room when trying to open them! I’m stubborn, like you are. I love that you are talking about this seemingly taboo subject and sharing your “little known” secrets! Thanks for the fun, Mike. Now I just need to purchase a few pistachios!

    • Hello Marsha! I can already imagine that pistachio flying across the room! That in itself is a fun sight to see (happened to me a couple times). Hopefully your next pistachio eating session will be significantly easier!

  6. Oh I can feel your frustration with the pistachios that are stubborn and won’t open. I have seen a friend break a tooth while trying to bite it open, so that is not a method that I would recommend. I normally try a nut cracker, but that often does not work either. I have put the pistachios that are still completely closed in the oven to roast them more, and sometimes some of them will then crack open. 

    I have not tried to use the pistachio shell half itself so will certainly give it a try next time I have pistachios. 

    • Hello there! Ahh, sorry your friend had to chip a tooth while trying to bite into an unopened pistachio. Hopefully the dentist was able to repair the chipped tooth. Roasting the pistachios some more is actually a very good idea.

  7. You have really great content on your site with interesting posts where you share useful tips.
    I’m also one of those who loves pistachios, despite the fact that some are really hard to open and carve the whole pistachio out of the shell.
    Your article Encountering Difficult to Open Pistachios – Methods to Get Around It was very interesting to read and get some helpful suggestions on how to tackle harder pistachios, thank you!
    Friendly greeting,

  8. Good day, I’m pleased to come across this important information. It’s my first time to know about pistachios, which seem to have essential health benefits. Our practices and diet are very important in terms of keeping our bodies strong and healthy. It’s important to see how you outlined the methods to get around how to open the pistachios. This is a very helpful information.

  9. Hey, Mike,

    Pistachios are a great source of nutrients, but they’re a pain in the neck. I love eating them, but I don’t have the patience to open each one of them. Some are not so hard to open, but that’s not always the case.

    I’ve tried using knives only to cut myself. And I don’t like to use my teeth to open anything as I’ve already had a couple of bad experiences with that.

    I’ll use your tip next time I eat pistachios and will let you know how it went. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hello there, Enrique! I feel the same about how pistachios can be a pain in the neck to eat at times. So much work for one little seed. I usually don’t go out of my way to buy and eat them. It’s only when I see them on sale that I buy. However, the moment I start eating them, it becomes nearly impossible for me to stop.

  10. My technique for opening difficult pistachios is that of a caveman with the hummer. I would never let go single pistachio. But now you have given me an easier alternative by sliding the shell half into the pistachio with a small opening. That was a creative way to solve this problem. Thanks for sharing it!

    • Hi there, Paolo! I used to do that caveman way too, until I got too lazy to look for a hammer. Laziness can be quite helpful in discovering new things at times! Although a hammer may still be needed for those completely closed off pistachios.

  11. What a great idea to use the shell of one pistachio to open another, who would have thunk it? This was a great read and I laughed out loud at the ideas you gave us. I have to admit that I have used the caveman technique once and smashed the whole nut so nothing was edible, not a great idea. Using the towel may have helped as I did end up running around the room as the nuts ricocheted of the picture frames. This is a yummy alternative to bad snacks.

    • Hi there, Lily! I am glad to hear that you enjoyed my article! I definitely enjoyed watching the nut ricochet to various areas of the room. Hopefully opening pistachios will be more enjoyable with less effort now for you!


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