While a good selection is usually available around the holiday season, it’s fair to say that these tasty treats are becoming increasingly popular as a year-round snack. Healthy, nutritious and delicious, nuts come with ample benefits that make these little nibbles one of the best items to have around at any time of year.
Of course, with the added plethora of nuts now available in almost every supermarket, there comes a further twist – how to gain access to these sumptuous snacks. The days of slamming your nuts against a rock have long since passed (we would hope), and out comes an old staple – the nutcracker. Having also moved on from the traditional soldier lookalike, these now come with a range of special features which make your job all the easier.
Below, we discuss the best nutcracker tool and nutcracker sets on the market, today. Furthermore, we have brought you the ultimate buying guide, so you can be sure that you’re buying the right nutcracker tool for your needs. Read on, to find out everything you could ever want or need to know about these simple but effective tools.
The Best Nutcracker
Coming as a complete set for dinner use or larger gatherings, this lobster and nut cracker set is available at a fantastic price, making it the best option for every user. This pair of nutcrackers come with 8 picks, allowing you to get in to every nook and cranny of your nuts, without the need for direct contact with your foodstuff.
Made with a heavy die-cast zinc alloy, these nut openers are weighty enough to handle tougher shells without any extra effort on your part, while the picks are made with stainless steel for easier cleaning.
10-piece nutcracker set with picks
Heavy, thick cracker for better results
- Weight8 ounces
If you prefer to give everyone at your table their own set of plier-style nutcrackers and a pick for every person, then this is definitely the best nutcracking set for your needs. Available with an extra pick (because it’s Murphy’s law that you’ll lose one at some point), this selection also comes with a presentation bag that helps keep all your items together, when not in use.
Made with zinc alloy and stainless steel, the complete set is both durable, while also being ergonomically designed. As an added bonus, they are all also dishwasher safe, and available with a one-year warranty.
Set of 6 nutcrackers and 7 picks
1-year limited warranty included
- Weight1.54 pounds
If you’re after a simple, single nut and seafood cracker to use as and when you require, then this option from OXO should be your first port of call. Made from solid zinc, the construction and quality of this design means you can make short work of even the hardest nuts.
As an added benefit, each handle uses a soft rubber grip, to make your nutcracking all the more comfortable by absorbing pressure during your squeezing. This, in turn, allows you to work for longer, without worrying about any gentle bruising on your palm or fingers.
Made with solid Zinc and rubber
Rubber grips absorb pressure for more comfortable
86% four-and-five- star reviews
- Weight9.9 ounces
Another 12-piece set that comes with both a 6-piece collection of nutcrackers and 6 picks, this nutcracker set is perfect for larger households and holiday gatherings. Again, made of zinc alloy and stainless steel, this set is both user-friendly, easy to clean and completely safe for use with food.
Sent in a presentation box, this set of nutcrackers would also make the ideal gift for friends, family and loved ones around the holidays season. Ergonomically designed and created to be both durable and easy to use, this set is ideal for almost any buyer.
Comes in presentation box
- Weight1.01 pounds
If you prefer to have a completely unique design to your standard nutcracker creation, or simply prefer a touch of class to be added alongside your sumptuous snacks, then this set of 6 nutcrackers is the perfect choice for you. Made with chrome-plated zinc alloy, you’ll find that these nut openers are surprisingly heavy, especially when you consider their shorter handles.
Despite not having a saw-tooth design for grip, there is a completely inlaid, full handle design here that actually allows you to work with nuts and shellfish of any shape and size. While the grip might be a little weaker overall, since there’s no way to lock the nut in place, this is still a very effective option if you’re looking to work with odd-shaped nuts that wouldn’t fit in the more traditional grip shape of plier-type nutcrackers.
Set of 6 pieces
- BrandNew Star Foodservice
- Weight1.2 pounds
For those who might struggle with their grip, cooks who require a lot more shelling than the standard user or even those who simply want something a little different, this is the nutcracker for you. Working as a single-lever tabletop system, this nutcracker is very heavy-duty yet so easy to use, as the pressure comes from the tabletop itself, leaving you with a simple shelling opportunity and less pressure on your hands.
Made with a nickel-plated stainless-steel construction, this durable, simple and powerful tabletop nutcracker also comes with four picks and uses a wooden base for a nice, aesthetically pleasing touch. It also comes with a two-year warranty, for a little extra peace of mind.
2-year limited warranty
- Weight1.21 pounds
Back with the more common plier style nutcracker now, and this option from Fani is a great choice for those who favor a little comfort over a unique design. Created with a high-hardness aluminum alloy, which is both very strong and resistant to warping and bending, this option also comes with non-slip handles for better overall grip and more comfortable use.
The two different sawtooth grips allow for plenty of range in the size of items you’re looking to shell, although the shorter handles can mean that you’re more likely to require a little extra strength with this option.
Heavy-duty aluminum alloy construction
- Weight3.2 ounces
An interesting option for those who don’t appreciate the mess that comes with the usual offerings, this spring-loaded nutcracker is the best shape for catching the general shrapnel that occurs when shelling nuts. Made from a diecast, enameled aluminum, this is a heavy-duty option that works brilliantly with your own strength for easy shelling.
Allowing users to work with even the smallest nuts, the bowl is able to fit a surprisingly wide variety of options – although larger nuts will need to be held between the handles as per normal plier style nutcrackers.
Very durable and hard-wearing
2-year limited warranty included
- Weight7.8 ounces
Looking more like a general tool for the average handyman than a traditional nutcracker, the Texan Nut Sheller company have worked hard to change the way we think about standard nutcrackers. While their process remains mostly the same, this option is a great choice for crushing nuts in the standard manner, while also being able to capture the mess made when shelling your food.
The rubberized handle is nice and comfortable, while the jaw design works well to keep your food secure before crushing. You’ll find you won’t need much strength to use this option, although it doesn’t look as sleek and stylish as the more traditional types.
Uses chiseled “jaws” over the traditional sawtooth
Very easy to use
- BrandTexan Nut Sheller
- Weight6.4 ounces
Suitable for multiple uses, as well as being a very effective nutcracker, this item can help to juice lemons as well as shell your nuts and shellfish. The “no mess” design means that shrapnel created from crushing your food is easily caught and can be placed straight into your compost or trash can, too. Finally, it also comes with a very handy moneyback guarantee, for added peace of mind.
“No Mess” design
Can also be used as a juicer
Moneyback guarantee included
- BrandLight ‘n’ Mighty
- Weight4 ounces
Best Nutcracker Buying Guide
What to Look for in the Best Nutcracker
While it’s all well and good to have an item that can do its job, you still won’t want to use that item if it means that you’re going to strain yourself or hurt you, ever time you use it. Instead, look out for any features or benefits of your nutcracker that will allow you to quickly and easily open up even the toughest of nuts, without any fear of harm to you.
Negating any risk of bruising to your hand and palms, while also avoiding the risk of repetitive strain injury (we know how addictive those nuts can be, after all), comfort should be a key factor in your decision-making process.
While having a nice nutcracker to look at can be a pleasant experience, there isn’t much point in buying a nutcracker if it doesn’t have the strength to do its job. The strength of your nutcracker will come from a series of components but the key factors to look out for are length of the arms, material and quality of craftsmanship. These factors are all important as standalone features but together they can make or break the strength of your nutcracker.
The material of the nutcracker makes a difference both in the overall comfort of your item and effectiveness of the nutcracker. Being in contact with food, you should also opt for a material that is safe for working with food, in that it is inert, easy to clean and isn’t likely to absorb any smells or tastes.
For this reason, the once common wooden and character-based nutcrackers are no longer as popular as they once were. Instead, we now have aluminum alloy, zinc, stainless steel and cast-iron options, which are both heavier and more hard-wearing. These materials also have an increased longevity when compared to traditional nutcrackers.
While seemingly not an important factor at all, the weight of your nutcracker set can actually be a huge help in how easy it is to open up those tougher shells, especially in the scissor like plier types. This is like having an extra hand for your squeezing needs, since the added weight increases the pressure on the nut and allows you to access the inside of the shell much easier.
With added length, comes greater leverage, which is the most important factor for easily opening your nuts. While we discuss more about how your nutcrackers works in more detail, below, it is an important factor and one that can make or break a quality nutcracker.
Since your nutcracker is made up of many moving parts, it is not only the material which plays a big factor in how effective your nutcracker is. The quality of workmanship can make the difference between a plier style nutcracker breaking into two under the most light-handed pressure, or a nutcracker set that can handle even the toughest, most raw nuts.
High quality items can also affect the overall longevity of the item, since good materials won’t rust or bend, which can improve the overall value of the nutcracker you purchase. It also provides peace of mind when it comes to being in contact with food.
Since your new nutcracker will be used directly with raw foods that aren’t cooked before being eaten, you will need to be certain that the materials aren’t prone to rusting or carrying dirt and grime, which can seriously harm you when transferred to your food. Quality items will be easy to clean and unlikely to carry any harmful bacteria, improving the overall use of your new nutcracker.
- Budget and Value for Money
Your budget will naturally affect any purchase you make, even if you’re lucky enough to have plenty of disposable income to play around with. In these cases, the value for money takes precedence over buying a pretty item that is near useless but costs a lot.
Instead, consider what use you will be getting from your nutcracker. Are you looking for a nut opener set, so that everyone in your household or every guest at your dinner table can have their own complete collection during their meals? Or would you prefer to spend your money on one nutcracker that comes with a much more comfortable and ergonomic handle, that can take on even the toughest nuts?
The answers to these questions will help you decide on what a suitable budget might be for your next purchase, so we recommend giving the overall use a good think. Not to mention that the factors we mentioned above can also play a huge role in how cost-effective your nut opener will be.
We always recommend checking out the reviews for any product. For our Top Picks, this is one of our biggest deciding factors, since these will give you an overall idea of the quality of the item and happiness of buyers. These reviews often mention any recurring issues that come up, which can give you a hint as to which items to steer clear of, before purchasing.
Different Types of Nutcrackers
Also known as a single-lever nutcracker, these are ideal for those who are looking to crack and shell copious amounts of nuts for any reason. They have a very heavy-duty design which allows for ample nutcracking without any risk of repetitive strain injury to yourself or general tedium which can accompany meal prep. They can be used with small, medium and large nuts without concern.
- Plier and Sawtooth
Easily the most common and cost-effective option, plier nutcrackers come with two, long handles that work in a scissor-like motion to crush nuts between the two handles. They are very strong and can handle most sizes of nuts - providing your hands are large enough to reach the gap between the two handles.
They can be very messy to use, as there is no way to capture the shells or debris created from crushing your nuts, with these nutcrackers. Thus, they aren’t ideal for larger quantities of shelling requirements.
More commonly known as a turn-screw nutcracker, these are the best nutcracker for those who may have muscle weakness in their hands, or for kids. While this style of nutcracker isn’t usually strong enough to handle those nuts with thicker shells, they are a great addition for those with additional needs. Just a few turns of a screw and your nut will be shelled and ready to eat.
Commonly known around the holiday season and infamous through the ballet “The Nutcracker”, character nutcrackers are, unfortunately, now an outdated variety. This is due to the fact they are more unhygienic than their modern counterparts, as well as being overall much weaker than modern options, thanks to their wood-based materials. Finally, they are also much more messy than other items and it can be harder to clean a traditional character nutcracker without damaging the paintwork.
How Does a Nutcracker Work?
Being suitable for use against both nuts and shellfish, the main focus of the nutcracker is to create an item that is capable of breaking through tough shells in order to get the meat inside. This is something we have been capable of doing for millennia for both food types, although it’s fair to say that we have come along some, since the need to hit our tasty treats against rocks in order to gain access to the delicious dish available, inside.
Each type has its own method in which the shell is broken and you’re able to get to this, although the majority of types all use the same basic principle. That is, to use pressure and leverage in order to create more pressure along the outside of the shell than the shell is able to provide in response, so as to cause a crack. Once a crack has been created, the integrity of the shell has been compromised and the job of cracking the nut or shellfish is much easier.
For greater understanding of the differences between each type in terms of how they work, consider the following:
- Screw-Turn Nutcrackers
These nutcracker sets will have a small indentation in which the nut will be placed. On one side of this nut, there is a pad which is used to hold the nut in place securely. On the other side is a flat-tipped screw. The pressure is created when the screw is turned, which eventually pushes the nut against the pad, so that the shell of the nut eventually caves under the pressure and the nut is released.
- Character Nutcrackers
The pressure created by character nutcrackers comes from the lever which is based at the back of the character. When the level is brought up, the jaw of the nutcracker opens, where the nut will then be placed. The lever should then be brought back down, and, with enough force, the shell will open from the shock of contact. It can take a few tries to get the method down, with this particular option.
- Plier Nutcrackers
Created with two handles that are joined at the tip by a screw which allows for ample movement, plier-type nutcrackers use two curves within their design to grasp the nutcracker. Each curve has a series of dips to create a sawtooth style grip, so that the nut can be held securely without being released due to pressure.
Once the nut is secure, the two handles are pressed together in order to create increasing pressure against the nut’s shell. Since the food has nowhere to go, and the pressure is focused solely on the shell, a crack is eventually created and the entire structure of the shell falls to pieces.
- Single-Lever Nutcrackers
Working in a very similar manner to plier nutcrackers, but only using one handle, lever nutcrackers are designed to work with a ratchet-style grip. This holds the nut in place while the movable handle pushes the grip against the nut, which is in turn held in place by a stationary handle. This pressure eventually cracks the nut with surprising ease, since the additional pressure comes from a solid surface, meaning less work for the user.
Our Top Pick
We love the Lobster Crackers and Picks Set from Hiware because they are made from high quality materials that allow for great versatility when looking to get into your nuts and shellfish. They are made from heavier materials to ensure that your hands aren’t placed under too much pressure during use and this is backed-up with the ergonomic design of the decent-sized handles.
Being made with zinc alloy and stainless steel, they are completely hygienic and safe for food use, without concerns about rusting or holding pieces of food between uses. They also come with the added benefit of being dishwasher-safe, which means much easier clean-ups – particularly if you’re acting as the host of a party, where this nutcracking set really comes into its own.