Culinary nuts are dry, edible fruits or seeds, usually, but not always, with a high fat content. Nuts are used in a wide variety of edible roles, including in baking, as snacks (either roasted or raw), and as flavoring. In addition to botanical nuts, fruits and seeds that have a similar appearance and culinary role are also considered to be culinary nuts. Nearly all culinary nuts are from fruit or seeds in one of four categories:
True, or botanical nuts: dry, hard-shelled, uncompartmented fruit that do not split on maturity to release seeds;
Drupes: fleshy fruit surrounding a stone, or pit, containing a seed (e.g. almonds);
Nuts have a rich history as food. For many Native American nations, a wide variety of nuts, including acorns, American beech and others, served as a major source of starch and fat, over thousands of years. Similarly, a wide variety of nuts have served as forage food for Australian aboriginal people for many centuries. Other culinary nuts, though known from ancient times, have seen dramatic increases in use in modern times. The most striking such example is the peanut. Its usage was popularized by the work of George Washington Carver, who discovered and popularized many applications of the peanut after employing peanut plants for soil amelioration in fields used to grow cotton.
Hazelnuts (Corylus spp.), most commercial varieties of which descend from the European hazelnut (Corylus avellana). Hazelnuts are used to make pralines, in the popular Nutella spread, in liqueurs, and in many other foods.
Filbert (Corylus maxima) are commonly used as "filler" in mixed nut combinations.
Several other species are edible, but not commercially cultivated to any significant extent. These include the cold-tolerantSiberian hazelnut (C. heterophylla), C. kweichowensis, which grows in the warmer parts of China, C. sieboldiana, which grows in Japan and China, and other minor Corylus species.
A drupe is a fleshy fruit surrounding a stone, or pit, containing a seed. Some of these seeds are culinary nuts as well.
Almonds (Prunus dulcis) have a long and important history of religious, social and cultural significance as a food. Speculated to have originated as a natural hybrid in Central Asia, almonds spread throughout the Middle East in ancient times and thence to Eurasia. The almond is one of only two nuts mentioned in the Bible.
Betel or areca nuts (Areca catechu) are chewed in many cultures as a psychoactive drug. They are also used in Indian cuisine to make sweet after-dinner treats (mukwa) and breath-fresheners (paan masala).
Canarium nut (Canarium harveyi, Canarium indicum, or Canarium commune) has long been an important food source in Melanesia.
Chinese olive (Canarium album) pits are processed before use as an ingredient in Chinese cooking.
Pili nuts (Canarium ovatum) are native to the Philippines, where they have been cultivated for food from ancient times.
Cashews (Anacardium occidentale) grow as a drupe that is attached to the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree. Native to northeastern Brazil, the cashew was introduced to India and East Africa in the sixteenth century, where they remain a major commercial crop. The nut must be roasted to remove the caustic shell oil before being consumed.
Coconut (Cocos nucifera), used world-wide as a food. The fleshy part of the seed is edible, and used either desiccated or fresh as an ingredient in many foods. The pressed oil from the coconut is used in cooking as well.
Gabon nut (Coula edulis) has a taste comparable to hazelnut or chestnut. It is eaten raw, grilled or boiled.
Black walnut (Juglans nigra), also popular as food for wildlife, with an appealing, distinctive flavor. Native of North America. 
Butternut (Juglans cinerea) (or white walnut) is native to North America. Used extensively, in the past, by Native American tribes as food.
English walnut (Juglans regia) (or Persian walnut) was introduced to California around 1770. California now represents 99% of US walnut growth. It is often combined with salads, vegetables, fruits or desserts because of its distinctive taste.
Heartnut, or Japanese walnut (Juglans aitlanthifolia), native to Japan, with a characteristic cordate shape. Heartnuts are often toasted or baked, and can be used as a substitute for English walnuts.
Nut-like gymnosperm seeds
Pine nuts are edible gymnosperm seeds.
A gymnosperm, from the Greekgymnospermos (γυμνόσπερμος), meaning "naked seed", is a seed that does not have an enclosure. The following gymnosperms are culinary nuts. All but the ginkgo nut are from evergreens.
These culinary nuts are seeds contained within a larger fruit.
Brazil nuts (Bertholletia excelsa) are harvested from an estimated 250,000–400,000 trees per year. Highly valued edible nut used in the confectionery and baking trades. Excellent dietary source of selenium.
Macadamia (Macadamia spp.) are primarily produced in Hawai'i and Australia. Both species are native to Australia. They are a highly valued edible nut. Waste nuts are commonly used to extract an edible oil.
Macadamia nut (Macadamia tetraphylla) has a rough shell, and is the subject of some commercialization.
Peanut, or groundnut (Arachis hypogaea), originally from South America, has grown from a relatively minor crop to one of the most important commercial nut crops, in part due to the work of George Washington Carver at the beginning of the 20th century.
Peanut tree (Sterculia quadrifida) or bush peanut, native to Australia. One of the tastiest native nuts. Requires no preparation.[note 1]
^Santos, GA; Batugal, P.A.; Othman, A.; Baudouin, L.; Labouisse, J.P. (ed.). "Botany of the Coconut Palm". Manual on Standardized Research Techniques in Coconut Breeding. International Plant Genetics Research Institute. Retrieved 2011-11-21.