Why Are Pistachios So Expensive? [Alternatives & Tips]

Pistachios are one of those treats that you never really consider a treat directly. But it’s a good snack to have after working long hours at the office.

Regardless of whether you like to peel the shell of the pistachios yourself or purchase them shell-less.

And you might’ve noticed that whenever you head to the grocery store, they’re more expensive than a jar of cashews. And for a good reason.

Generally speaking, pistachios are about $19.99 per pound which seems expensive because it is. Apart from the baseline ingredients, pistachios require a lot of hands-on labor to harvest. Pistachios are a delicate nut that requires a lot of maintenance

Their trees grow slowly, and they take a long time to mature because of their long growing cycles, are harvested by hand, grown on valuable land, and require special temperatures and conditions.

Why Are Pistachios So Expensive?

There are a variety of factors that cause pistachios to be more expensive than other nuts.

One of the biggest factors is that there is a large amount of hands-on labor that needs to be harvested.

Whether the pistachios are kept in their shells or are shell-less, the trees need to be maintained with such care and delicacy.

While these are estimates, they help to understand the clear difference that lies between shelled pistachios and unshelled pistachios.

Shelled pistachios cost less than unshelled because there is less labor than with unshelled pistachios.

Farmers, regarding unshelled pistachios, must peel them by hand rather than by machine so it makes sense the difference in price.

How To Save Money on It?

Interestingly enough, the cost-effective difference regarding pistachios is whether they’re shelled or not.

After all, unshelled pistachios are cheaper than shelled pistachios.

Even if it’s only by a dollar or two more considering the amount of labor-intensity that comes with unshelled pistachios.


As previously discussed, unshelled pistachios cost more than shelled due to how much farmers must work to remove the shell.

This means more hours, energy, and time spent on finding pistachios with shells that can be removed.

Unshelled Pistachios

And some customers love to have unshelled pistachios by the pound versus just a handful at a time.

It’s no wonder why shelled pistachios cost about $3 to $5 more than shelled pistachios.


Thankfully, shelled pistachios do not cost as much as unshelled pistachios, especially because farmers don’t need to put in so much work removing the shells.

However, understand that they are more expensive than other types of nuts and seeds for the same reasons that unshelled pistachios are.

After all, both shelled and unshelled are rather delectable and are high in demand in current time.

Is It Worth the Cost?

Due to pistachios having a nutritional value, as well as being a low-calorie snack, they are definitely worth the price!

Eating pistachios is associated with a decreased risk of cancer, heart, disease, and respiratory disease.

There are also different types of pistachios as well that can help consumers understand why these delectable snacks are so desired as a tasty side or treat.

Turkish Pistachios$11.79$14.99

Reasons Pistachios Are Expensive

1.Care And Maintenance

Pistachios are expensive because of the amount of time and energy that it takes to care for the trees that produce them.

They are extremely picky about the environment that they grow in and require a lot of attentiveness on the part of farmers to produce high-quality nuts.

After all, no nut is just going to make the cut, if it’s to be sold at the price it will be sold at.

2.Selective Environments

These trees only grow in selective parts of the world and are very picky about the type of care that they do receive.

As we break down the top ten reasons why pistachios are so expensive, you’ll see just how much work and resources are devoted to curating this tasty treat.

And then, you can understand why farmers charge so much for care and maintenance that they give to these trees.

After all, they grow mainly in places such as California, Iran, Syria, China, and Turkey.

And in some of these places, the shells are thinner, and harder to peel than in others, so the unshelled pistachios are going to increase in the price due to the extra work put in to retrieve them for you.

3.Thriving In Difficult Conditions

Areas such as California, Iran, Syria, China, and Turkey grow some of the finest pistachios in the world.

After all, this is one of the many reasons why Turkish pistachios are so expensive!

And because their conditions are so picky and selective, farmers must work with the land to be able to get it to the right conditions just to be able to cultivate these tasty treats.

To get more specific on the type of environment that the trees that produce these nuts – which are actually seeds –need long, hot summers with low humidity so the kernels can ripen more adequately.

4.Lack of Production

There is a general lack of production on the part of the tree when it comes to producing these nuts, thus making them one of the most coveted alongside Macadamia nuts.

Each female pistachio tree will only produce about forty pounds of dry, hulled nuts.

This is even after farmers have worked so hard dedicating their time and efforts to cultivating the right environment.

5.Pistachios Take a Long Time to Bear Fruit

Pistachio trees are alternate bearing, and as a result, they take a long time to produce the much-desired fruit that ends up turning into pistachios.

While alternate bearing has been covered, it’s important to delve deeper into this topic a bit more, to understand why these nuts are priced the way they are.

It takes approximately five years for any pistachio tree to start producing real fruit. Further, as discussed before, it takes about 15-20 years for trees to start having mass production.

6.Alternate Bearing

A lot of trees do not grow year around, and the same applies to pistachio trees.

These types of trees are “alternate bearing” which means that one year they have full production and the next year, they store their nutrition to keep until they are ready again for the year after that.

In other words, they produce every other year, so it’s important to understand that these nuts require

7.Labor Intensive Crop

Of course, the biggest reason why pistachios are so coveted is the amount of time and labor that it takes to cultivate this coveted nut.

And with these reasons now brought to the forefront, it’s no wonder why these nuts are so desired around the world.

Farmers work daily to produce the right environment and even then, there’s not a guaranteed return of reward from the harvests reaped.

8.Packed With Vitamin and Nutrients

Pistachios are a low-calorie snack that are packed with nutrients.

Studies often link pistachios with those that have the highest life expectancy and lowest heart disease rates in the world.


Not to mention they’re a nice source of protein. And the best part? You don’t have to eat a lot of pistachios to potentially reap the benefits.

Vitamin B6 promotes healthy blood flow that helps carry oxygen throughout the bloodstream.

Other compounds that act as antioxidants also help with decreasing the chances of developing macular degeneration.

With these benefits, and the low calories that accompany pistachios, it is worth the price in purchasing them!

There are also many uses for pistachios that are not just in relation to eating them as a snack. 

9.High Demand for Pistachios

There is a high demand for pistachios that increases the need for such supply and demand.

When this falls alongside all the other reasons why pistachios are so expensive it makes even that much more sense.

Farmers continue such labor-intensive work because of the amount of demand that customers bring to the table.

All because pistachios are a staple when it comes to baking, other recipes, and other snacks.

10.Shelled and Unshelled

Pistachios that are shelled require a different level of hands-on labor intensiveness than unshelled.

But when it comes to understanding the reasons why pistachios are so expensive, it’s important to break down the differences in both shells.

Farmers still need to deliver these pistachios by hand, as this is the only way to be able to get the pistachios and have them keep their high-quality.

Unshelled pistachios cost more out of the two but only because farmers need to un-shell each one by hand, rather than machine.

The amount of labor intensiveness that pistachios have is outrageous compared to other shells, nuts, or seeds.

Wonderful Pistachios

Wonderful pistachios are a type of pistachio that is very popular throughout grocery stores over the globe.

Customers rave about this product and love the unshelled goodness that’s roasted and slight-y toasty.

Heb considers them a healthy alternative and a treat to patrons all around the world.

Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds curates’ fields of more than 75,000 acres of pistachios and almond orchards.

This region works well with these types of trees because of the warm days and cool nights working in conjunction with the specific weather requirements needed by these trees.

Turkish Pistachios

The taste of Turkish pistachios, according to Osk Pistachio, is because of the taste.

These experts claim that these pistachios have the sweetest, strongest taste among all the various types of pistachios out there in the world.

So, when costumers roast their pistachios, the roasting process brings out these delectable flavors more!

And despite these pistachios having thinner shells that make it a bit harder to open these beauties the taste is worth it.

4 Cheaper Alternatives to Pistachios

If you disagree with the price of pistachios and are not willing to pay that much out of pocket, there are always alternatives to pistachios.

For the purposes of this section, let’s cover the differences per pound when exploring various alternatives.

Pistachios, when shelled, cost about $12.99 per pound while pistachios that are not shelled cost about $17.99 per pound.

Thus, effectively making them one of the most expensive nuts / seeds that there is, today.

Alternatives and The Variation of Cost

Hazel Nuts$6.99 per pound$12.99 per pound
Brazilian Nuts$9.99 per pound$16.99 per pound
Cashews$9.99 per pound$12.99 per pound
Walnuts$5.99 per pound$16.99 per pound

Hazel Nuts

Hazel nuts are also a good alternative when it comes to finding a good substitute for pistachios.

Upon further research, hazelnuts are sweet with characteristic slight notes of must and earthy flavors.

Alongside other nuts such as the ones listed in the table, it also comes with a buttery taste that’s sweet on the tongue.

And one of the reasons why people love it so much! Hazelnuts, after all, are often compared to chocolate even though they taste nothing alike.

Brazilian Nuts

These tasty treats are perfect as a snack on the go or as an ingredient in your next dish.

Brazilian Nuts act as a good substitute because of their smooth, buttery texture and delicious nutty taste.

What other benefits are included in this deluxe package?

Well, they have the richest source of selenium that helps maintain the basic functions of the body and optimizes blood flow.

At just $9.99 per pound shelled and $16.99 per pound un-shelled, you’ll be able to see why these are commonly used as substitutes for pistachios.


Of course, cashews are another common option to be a substitute for pistachios.

They are one of the most popular snacks known for their smooth taste and are similar when it comes to almonds or peanuts.

They are approximately $9.99 per pound without any semblance of being cultivated within a shell.


Walnuts are a pinch milder in taste, although they do make up for it in terms of having a tangy scent and sharp notes.

They are packed with omega-3 healthy nutritious benefits, protein, fiber, and iron. They are often eaten without the shell and are an amazing side snack for a healthy breakfast or snack.

Final Considerations

Pistachios are some of the most expensive nuts in the world, but there are alternatives if the price does not seem worth paying.

Out of all the options, hazel nuts are the cheapest, according to nut.com, and can be substituted for pistachios in recipes.

It’s crazy to know the amount of work that farmers put in daily to maintain the upkeep of pistachio trees, as well as other trees that produce the nuts and seeds that we use on the daily for cooking or just as a snack in general.

But, in the end, it’s worth it as this snack packs a punch in terms of nutritional value and for the reasons mentioned above, it’s one of the most coveted seeds in the world.

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