How to Crack Open Black Walnuts


Black walnuts are some of the best tasting, flavorful nuts, but they can be quite a pain to open. If you have a black walnut tree in your backyard, then finding ripe walnuts shouldn't be difficult. Once the husk is off and the walnuts have cured and dried, the next big task is cracking open the walnuts. You'll need a few supplies and some strength.

Step 1

Fill a bucket with walnuts, cover them in hot water and allow to soak for a day.

Step 2

Pour out the old water the following day and refill the bucket with fresh hot water. Allow the walnuts soak for an additional two hours.

Step 3

Dampen two cloths with hot water. Spread out one of them on flat surface. Drain the walnuts and place them on the damp cloth. Cover the walnuts with the second cloth to keep them moist.

Step 4

Wear safety goggles and place your now-empty bucket below a vise. Set one walnut in the vise so the seam of the walnut is parallel with the jaws of the tool.

Step 5

Turn the handle of the vise to clamp down on the walnut until it cracks. Slowly open the vise and allow the shells, shell pieces and meat of the walnut to fall into the bucket.

Step 6

Sort through the broken walnut and place the nut meat in the medium bowl. Dump the shell pieces in the bucket. Shake the walnut shell pieces to release any meat that might be remaining.

Step 7

Crack one nut at a time until they are all open.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wearing safety goggles is strongly advised. The shells and shell pieces have potential to damage the eyes as they fly from the impact of a vise or hammer.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Hot water
  • Dried walnuts
  • Two cloths
  • Safety goggles
  • Vise
  • Large bowl
  • Medium bowl


  • University of Minnesota: Harvesting black walnuts
  • Mother Earth News: The Black Walnut: A Tough Nut to Crack
Keywords: how to crack open black walnuts, cracking open black walnuts, how to open black walnuts

About this Author

Margaret Telsch-Williams is a freelance, fiction, and poetry writer from the Blue Ridge mountains. When not writing articles for Demand Studios, she works for as a contributor and podcast co-host.