Why You Should Soak Your Nuts and Seeds

nuts and seeds in a divided wood box

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

High in vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fats, nuts and seeds are little powerhouses of nutrition. However, nuts and seeds also contain phytic acid and large amounts of enzyme inhibitors which protect them from sprouting until they have the rain and sun they need to grow. And unfortunately, these natural chemicals can be quite hard on the stomach.

So, if you’ve ever had tummy trouble after eating nuts and seeds, don’t give up on them yet!

Why Should You Soak Nuts and Seeds?

In nature, a seed or nut normally gets enough moisture from rain to wash off the acids and enzyme inhibitors so it can germinate and produce a plant. By soaking nuts and seeds before you eat them, you imitate nature by neutralizing these growth inhibitors, releasing the natural enzymes and vitality within them.

These enzymes, in turn, increase the vitamin content of your nuts and seeds, especially the B vitamins. Soaking also makes them much easier to digest and enables their many nutrients to be more easily absorbed by your body.

After you soak them, you can do one of two things:

  1. Sprout them for a few days. Like bean sprouts, they will germinate into tiny, nutritious seedlings. This is a modern preparation method that many raw and traditional foodies use. (See note below table.)

    By fully sprouting the nut or seed, it transforms from a unit of storage into a growing green plantlet. This enhances its nutrition, but it also greatly changes its taste and texture, and makes it highly perishable, so you always have to use up sprouted nuts and seeds within a few days.

  2. Dry or toast them. This is a long-lost, traditional method of nut and seed preparation and preservation used worldwide for thousands of years. For example coastal Aztecs (and Central American people today) would soak pumpkin or squash seeds in sea water and then sun-dry them.

    Using sea salt in your soak water helps de-activate the enzyme inhibitors and makes your nuts and seeds extra tasty. Gently drying them at a low temperature locks in the nutrition and enzymes for months of future use, and preserves the buttery flavor and crispy texture we love so much about eating nuts and seeds.

How to Soak Nuts and Seeds

The basic method is to dissolve sea salt in filtered or spring water, pour it over your nuts or seeds, using enough of the brine to cover them. Leave them in a warm location for the specified time, then rinse and drain them in a colander and spread them out on your dehydrator sheets for drying or a wide jelly roll pan for toasting.

To soak and dry your nuts and seeds properly in today’s modern kitchen, you will need a good dehydrator. You will set the dehydrator to 110-115 degrees so the healthy, vitamin-producing enzymes in your soaked nuts remain intact. Heating them above 115 degrees (which is too low for an oven) will destroy the enzymes and some of the vitamins. (I use this dehydrator.)

Dehydrate them at 110-115 degrees F for 12-24 hours (sometimes longer if you soaked them longer), until they are thoroughly dry and crisp. Make sure they are completely dry and crisp. (It’s very hard to over-dry them.) If not, they won’t have that crunchy, yummy texture you expect from nuts and seeds, and they could mold in storage.

I like to soak and dry several pounds of nuts and seeds in a big batch to save time and energy when using my dehydrator. I store my dry, crispy nuts in large mason jars in the fridge to keep them fresh for many months. That way, I always have properly prepared nuts and seeds on hand for snacks, salads and recipes.

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can gently toast your nuts in a low 250-degree oven. Toasting your nuts and seeds is also delicious, but the higher temperatures will destroy some of the nutrition. Oven times will vary by nut or seed, so you’ll need to pay attention and remove them when they turn a slightly darker color, and taste crisp when cool.

The following info (much of it sourced from Nourishing Traditions) will help you sort it out.

Raw Nut or Seed
(4 cups)
Sea SaltSoaking TimeDrying Time
Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds
2 Tbsp.8 hours or
12-24 hours
Sesame2 tsp.8 hours or
12-24 hours
Walnuts, Pecans & Brazil Nuts
Pecans can be stored in an airtight container, but walnuts are more likely to go rancid, and should always be stored in the refrigerator.
2 tsp.8 hours or
12-24 hours
Pine nuts, Peanuts & Hazelnuts
Remove skins, if any, before soaking. Store in an airtight container.
1 Tbsp.12 hours or
12-24 hours
Almonds*1 Tbsp.10 hours or
12-24 hours
Macadamias1 Tbsp.8-12 hours12-24 hours
Cashews & Pistachios**
Store in an airtight container.
1 Tbsp.No more than
2 hours, if at
12-24 hours at 200-250 degrees.

One Step Further: How to Sprout Nuts and Seeds

If you want to fully sprout your nuts and seeds, raw-foodie style, you can use the above soak times as a guideline. After soaking, rinse and drain your nuts/seeds, then and leave them out in a covered bowl or tray to sprout, rinsing them with purified or spring water once a day. Do not dehydrate.

Note that pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, macadamias and pasteurized almonds will NOT likely sprout, but they still contain phytates and enzyme inhibitors that should be removed by soaking.

Only make as many fresh, raw sprouted nuts or seeds as you can eat in 2-3 days. Store them in a jar in the refrigerator.

(Remember these are technically sprouts and won’t last long, whereas nuts and seeds that are soaked and then dehydrated will last much longer in the refrigerator.)

Recipes using soaked or sprouted nuts and seeds:


* Truly raw almonds are no longer available commercially in the U.S., though people who live in California can still buy them from the farmer’s market. Since 2007, all U.S. almonds must be “pasteurized,” meaning fumigated with chemicals—or steamed, if organic. To get truly raw almonds with all their enzymes and vitamins intact, you must live in California, get them imported from Spain, or order them online.

** Cashews will become slimy and develop a nasty taste if allowed to soak too long or dry out too slowly. Pistachios will also fall apart into mush if soaked too long. This is because cashews and pistachios are not truly raw, but get heated after harvest to extract them from the inedible fruit and skins in which they grow.

If you do soak them, and plan to eat them whole, dry cashews and pistachios thoroughly in a 200 to 250 degree oven—the enzymes have already been destroyed during initial processing.

Updated September 15, 2020

52 thoughts on “Why You Should Soak Your Nuts and Seeds”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Thank you for this information. I may consider visiting your blog again. My understanding is that soaking requires an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar instead of sea salt. Is sea salt acidic in any way? I am posting Anonymously but will leave an email address if you would like to respond through email.

    1. You do not need an acid for this process. You are simply beginning the seed sprouting process with water and salt; nature does the rest.

  2. Do chestnuts need soaking? I did a quick Google and landed on your page but I don’t see chestnuts mentioned. If they do need soaking – in salt? For how long? I bought some organic chestnuts which are out of their shells.

    Do you have a source for chestnuts that you like?

    Thank you!

    1. Chestnuts are not edible raw and need to be roasted to eliminate the bitter tannins. Using a thin sharp knife, carve an X on the flat side of each chestnut. Put the chestnuts in a large bowl and add enough water to cover them by 1 inch. Soak chestnuts for at least 30 minutes up to 1 hour, then drain them and pat them dry. Spread the chestnuts in a roasting pan and roast in a preheated 400°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the shells are brittle and have curled back somewhat at the X.

  3. I thought that commercial, non-organic almonds from the USA were required to be IRRADIATED, not just pasteurized! That was originally why there was such an uproar over it. Maybe the irradiation requirement has changed, but I’m still afraid of commercial American almonds / almond milk etc anyway! Any industry that would mandate NUKING (like Chernobyl, not like a microwave) food to protect against crop pathogens is downright INSANE and NEVER TO BE TRUSTED!

    1. That is inaccurate. Almonds may be pasteurized using dry roasting, oil roasting, steam processing, blanching, propylene oxide (PPO) gas, or irradiation.

      Propylene oxide gas is classified as a probable carcinogen, and is banned in Europe, but it is, unfortunately, the most common way of pasteurizing non-organic almonds (with the exception of WholeFoods 365 and Trader Joe’s brands being steam pasteurized.)

      Irradiation is not required at all for almonds, but you should know food ionization is not at all related to the nuclear process at Chernobyl or other nuclear plants in any way. In the U.S., unless certified organic, beef, pork, lamb, poultry, fruits, vegetables, wheat, wheat flour, eggs in the shell, herbs, spices, and dried vegetable seasonings can all be irradiated.

      The Almond Board states that the use of PPO is no longer sanctioned by the Almond Board for organic almonds. So you can safely buy organic almonds without any worry about PPO or irradiation.

  4. Hi Dawn,

    I recently soaked pumpkin seeds in water, with a tbsp of salt for about 8 hours. I then let them dry in a pan with parchment paper overnight (12 hours), then brought them to dry in the hot sun for about 30 minutes in the pan this time with aluminum foil (the parchment paper had soaked through). They were dry and crispy to the touch afterwards.

    However, when I ate them, they were quite bitter. Not pleasant to eat. Anything you’d advise for why they became bitter pumpkin seeds after soaking and air drying? I’m not sure why, and I’d like to prevent this from happening again.

    The reason I’m soaking the pumpkin seeds instead of eating them raw is to alleviate digestive pain when I eat them raw.

  5. Hi there, thanks for this information! A couple questions:
    1) Is there a time limit for soaking almonds since they aren’t truly raw?
    I saw somewhere not to soak them for longer than 6 hours because they aren’t truly raw… Why would that be?
    2) Why can you not dehydrate after sprouting? It seems that you are saying to do one or the other, not both… Just curious why that might be?
    Thank you!

    1. 6-8 hours or overnight is fine for almonds. However the point of sprouting is to eat the live sprouted plant. If you dehydrate after sprouting, you are undoing the point of sprouting in the first place. You either want to simply soak the phytic acid off and then dehydrate the nut, leaving it tasting like a nut, or you want to go all the way to sprouting a tiny plant to get the nutritional benefits from that particular process. It will also taste very different if you sprout it as well.

  6. Can I soak them during day? If I must soak them overnight, could you please share the reason why it has to be overnight and not during day?

    1. You can soak them whenever you want, but it takes 8-12 hours so it is usually most convenient for people to do it overnight.

  7. the approved almond pasteurization methods are shown at Almond Board: Pasteurization of Almonds and, aside from the roasting methods, the 2 applied to “raw” almonds are both light surface treatments intended not to denature the internal amino acids (which would include enzymes) and such… (of course whether it really avoids this is a good question)
    so i’m wondering how much of this fuss is justified? where is the evidence or references to show that the enzymes are actually destroyed in the process? your link is to an article about legal battles over organic exemptions, not exactly a model of useful scientific information on the issue of pasteurization, its methods, or effects.
    further, even if enzymes are denatured by either or both processes, why would it not still be valuable to get rid of the enzyme inhibitors (which could still interfere with digestion?) and whatever degree of phytates/phytic acid would get washed away by the soaking process?
    i find the recommendation against soaking strange and not given any justification in the text. in my experience they’ve only gotten soft as described as being normal, not “mush”.
    ultimately i’m left unsure whether or not the described processes would even negate their ability to sprout, and intend to do the obvious thing and try it to see what happens, but will also tend to err on the side of soaking regardless, because really why not? unless there’s some unmentioned reasons beyond “wasting time” and “it might get mushy”.
    aside from all that, thankyou for providing this handy reference for the rationale and technique specifics for soaking nuts.

  8. Thanks for this — I love the chart! I’ve soaked cashews to make a dip, but never tried drying them back out. Good to know that won’t work for some nuts. Will nuts actually sprout, or is that mostly just for smaller seeds? When you say “set them out,” are you just talking about on a paper towel, or are you rinsing and resoaking? I’ve done that with beans and gotten sprouts that way, just changing the water out each day (and putting a little raw apple cider vinegar in there).

  9. Great article indeed. I normally have a smoothie made of almonds and seeds. But did not know about the toxics present when not soaked in salt water overnight. Many thanks for this. However, I have a quick question, can I use the seeds and almonds immediately after soaking i.e. not drying? Also, will this make the smoothie salty?

    1. Yes, you can use them right away, just drain them, and maybe give them a quick rinse if you are concerned about the salt.

  10. Thanks for the great information. I have been soaking/dehydrating nuts and seeds for some time, but have not used salt before – I will try using it for my next batch. Are there any studies indicating whether any beneficial water soluble vitamins or minerals are lost in the soaking process?

  11. Does soaking almonds in the seasalt and water and then dehydrating them remove any of the fumigation toxins that are pumped into them?

    1. No. It only removes the anti-nutrients that make almonds hard to digest and assimilate nutrients from. Soaking and drying almonds only works for truly raw, organic almonds. If they have been chemically pasteurized, you should not soak them.

  12. Amanda @Natural Living Mamma

    Very informative post! It assuaged my guilt at not soaking my almonds. 😉 I do need to start buying them raw online. Now off to soak some seeds for breakfast! Thanks for sharing on Natural Living Monday.

  13. Cindy (Vegetarian Mamma)

    Thank you for the information. I bookmarked it! Got to come back to reference the sunflower seeds! 🙂 Got this pinned and tweeted, thanks for linking up at Gluten Free Fridays!

  14. We just recently purchased a dehydrator this past summer and have enjoyed using it. I know I need to be soaking but I’ll confess I frequently forget to do it. Thanks again for linking up to the HomeAcre Hop

  15. Heather @Gluten-Free Cat

    What a wealth of information! Thanks so much for sharing it at Raw Foods Thursdays. I’m going to highlight this article in this week’s post. Have a happy Easter!

  16. good tip!! I love nuts and seeds… especially when eaten with chocolate :o) Thanks for linking up to Tasteful Tuesdays! love it! Really appreciate you stopping by my blog! I’m trying to keep in better touch with my linkers/readers… If you already follow me, please let me know I will find your blog on Bloglovin (I’m transferring my follows there)if you don’t follow in any way, would you consider following via GFC or other method?

  17. I had heard about soaking nuts before, but it seemed like such hard work. Thanks for laying out the options and benefits so clearly. I haven’t got a dehydrator, but as you mention, pistachios and cashews can be dried in the oven. Think I will start there!

  18. Rebecca @ Natural Mothers Network

    I’m appalled to learn that even our nuts have been pasteurised. As usual, you offer us all such valuable information. I really appreciate you linking to Seasonal Celebration Wednesday each week. Rebecca x

    1. If your nuts are from the U.S., indeed they have been pasteurized. European almonds are still truly raw, I believe. Thanks for commenting, Rebecca!

    2. If you buy at a farmers market they are probably not pasteurized. A grower can sell them unpastueurized if he/she makes less than $5,000 per year from their almond crop. In other words, a small grower.

  19. Thank you so very much for sharing! I’ve been trying to eat clean for awhile now and I think that was God’s way of preparing for the discovery of some food allergies and intolerances in our family. This will be of great benefit!

  20. Kristen (Smithspirations)

    This was very informative! I have almonds and walnuts soaking now, but I didn’t realize that all almonds are pasteurized now. The chart was also very helpful. Thanks!

  21. Thanks for this excellent information and the chart is very helpful! I just received a trail mix as a gift with soaked nuts and seeds… Talk about tasty too!!!

  22. I am really new to healthy eating, so I am trying to research whatever I can, and then go with my gut. 😉 I did order Buckwheat Honey (raw) because of all the good things I read about it. It’s different but good. and I think a tsp of the honey with raw minced garlic clove, cured a really bad sore throat overnight for my son, he is an adult..
    I love finding this info about nuts & seeds…

  23. April @ The 21st Century Housewife

    I am lucky to be able to eat nuts and seeds with absolutely no problems, but I found this post very, very interesting. It’s incredibly well researched and contains so much useful information!

  24. Volarte' Ziurella


    Do steam pasteurized almonds need to be soaked (I know you say don’t) ? Are the enzyme inhibitors already destroyed? Thanks, Volarte’

    1. It is not clear whether or not pasteurization destroys all the enzyme inhibitors in almonds. Probably not, since they are not sprouted. However, you simply can’t soak pasteurized almonds (unless you’re making almond milk) because they usually turn to mush.

    2. Tiffany Burnette

      I read it was possible and I did my own experiment. I was happy to learn even my steam pasteurized organic almonds bought from the local store sprouted beautifully. And the skins slipped off nicely after being soaked. I was not happy with my regular almonds that were apparently killed to the core from pasteurization. They molded easily while being soaked. The skins did not come off and they did not sprout. So according to my research, organic almonds, even if they are not raw, will soak just fine.

  25. Great article. I have soaked pasteurized almonds, however, and they never got mushy on me. I only do it for 7 hours, though.

    Also, Nourishing Traditions (or at least my version) doesn’t say how to soak Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, or pistachios. Where did you get the information for these nuts from? Did it come from an updated edition? Thanks for any info.

    One more thing–the destruction of enzymes begins at 118 degrees for wet heat and 150 degrees for dry heat (according to Nourishing Traditions). So, it’s OK to dehydrate nuts at temperatures of up to 150 degrees. Actually, Sally Fallon has even said that it’s probably all right to dehydrate nuts on the lowest setting of an oven, which is usually 180 degrees. She said that a few enzymes might end up getting destroyed, but probably not many.

  26. Judee @Gluten Free A-Z

    Very informative post. I truly never understood why nuts need to be soaked. I know the Ayrvedic soak almonds overnight before eating them and it is very digestible.

  27. If we don’t have a dehydrator – will soaking them in water overnight help? Or is there another stop or trick I’m missing?


    1. Soaking and sprouting is what does the trick. But then you have soggy nuts. If you want them crispy and crunchy again, you have to dehydrate. You could roast them in the oven to get them crunchy again too, but you lose a lot of nutrients and change the flavor. For some recipes, like nut milk, soggy nuts are fine, just discard the soak water.

      Best to you!

  28. Since the almonds I buy are labeled “raw” but from California, I know they are in fact pasteurized. Thus not truly raw. I know there are several methods of pasteurization. Do you have any idea how nuts are done?
    If they are pasteurized is there really any reason to eat them? And if so, do you still recommend soaking them? Thank you.

    1. If they are organic almonds, then they have been steam pasteurized. If they are chemically-farmed almonds, they will have been treated with any one of a handful of approved fumigation chemicals. (Ew!) Pasteurized almonds still retain their protein, fats, carbohydrate and minerals, so organic, steam-pasteurized almonds are still a good food choice—they just aren’t “turbo-charged” by soaking and sprouting. If you live in California (or have friends or family here), you can still get real raw almonds at many farmer’s markets. The pasteurization law does not apply to small farms doing direct-to-consumer sales. You can also find them online at http://livingnutz.com/.

      Pasteurized almonds may not be able to sprout, but you can soak them if you want to soften them for making almond milk. Soaking will also remove some of the tannins in any almonds as well as help the indigestible skins to come off more easily, but otherwise there is no other value to soaking pasteurized almonds.

  29. Is it still true that raw almonds in the U.S. are “pasteurized”? If so, your link to buy direct from a farmer did not work.
    Thank you!
    Janet K

    1. Yes, the U.S. almond industry has been pulverized by the pasteurization requirement. Unless you can get truly raw almonds directly from a farmer who does not pasteurize them, you have to import them. The link for where this ridiculous law stands is updated now…



50 Ways to Love Your Mother contains 50 simple steps you can take today that will not only go easy on the planet, but your wallet, too.


Get it FREE when you sign up for the Seasonal Harvest newsletter!

50 Ways to Love Your Mother - Simple Steps for a Greener, Healthier Planet


Get refreshing new ideas to save money and live greener and healthier every day.
Join Small Footprint Family on your favorite social network!