How to wow with festive walnut delights this holiday season

(BPT) – Do you have favorite recipes or family traditions that you enjoy during the holiday season? Whether it’s toasting warm drinks, savoring satisfying sweet breads or baking delicious desserts, there’s a good chance some of those traditions feature California walnuts.

A powerhouse of important nutrients and highly versatile, walnuts are the perfect ingredient to add an extra touch of holiday cheer to your culinary creations — from appetizers to main courses, and everything in between. Walnuts are an appealing and adaptable ingredient, and their versatility can make them the unsung holiday hero of the kitchen.

Walnuts are well known for their buttery richness and pleasing texture, elevating many traditional dishes and baked goods that you enjoy during the holiday season. Add a bag of walnuts to your holiday shopping list and unlock endless possibilities to incorporate them into seasonal dishes, allowing you to experiment with a variety of scrumptious flavors.

Festive walnut recipe inspiration

Looking for something new to try that features some classic cool-season flavors? In partnership with California Walnuts, this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen features walnuts, warm spices and sweet butternut squash in a loaf that is ideal for the chillier months. Topped with a decadent walnut streusel, this treat will become a favorite for all ages. Enjoy it for brunch, as a snack, or while entertaining guests throughout the holiday season.

Maple Walnut Butternut Squash Bread with Cinnamon Walnut Streusel


For the butternut squash:

1 small to medium butternut squash
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or melted butter
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar or coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Wet ingredients:

1/2 cup salted butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup whole milk or plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Dry ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour or white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup oat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


1/3 cup chopped walnuts

For the streusel:

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped walnut pieces
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons salted butter, melted


Step 1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Step 2. Prep the butternut squash: Use a sharp knife to cut both ends off the butternut squash. You’ll cut about 1/2 inch off each end so that there is no stem or root. You’ll be left with butternut squash that is flat on both sides so that it’s easier to prop up. Next, place the butternut squash upright or vertically with the larger side down on a wooden cutting board that’s very secured to your counter. Cut the butternut squash vertically down the middle with a sharp chef’s knife. Then use a spoon to scoop out the seed of the cut butternut squash. Set aside to roast for later or discard them.

Step 3. Roast the squash: Place the squash on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar and rub into the squash. Flip the squash over so that it’s skin side up and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour until squash is very fork tender. Allow squash to cool for at least 10 minutes before handling.

Step 4. Reduce temperature in the oven to 350 F. Line an 8-1/2 by 4-1/2 inch loaf pan with parchment paper and grease with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Step 5. Make your streusel topping while squash cooks or while it is cooling: In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add in the melted butter and stir together with a fork until it begins to form into crumbles and resembles clumps of wet sand. You may need to use your hands/fingers to form into nice thick crumbs. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until ready to use.

Step 6. Brown your butter: Place a medium pan over medium heat and add in 1/2 cup butter. The butter will begin to melt, crackle and then eventually foam. Make sure you stir constantly during this process. After about 5 minutes, the butter will begin to brown and turn a nice golden amber color on the bottom of the saucepan; this usually happens right when it foams. Continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Set aside until cool enough to touch, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 7. Mix wet ingredients: Scoop about half of the cooled roasted butternut squash out onto a plate or into a large bowl and mash it with a fork (reserve the other half of squash for enjoying or freeze in an ice cream tray and mix into smoothies later). This should measure about 1 heaping cup mashed butternut squash. In the same bowl with the mashed butternut squash, add the pure maple syrup, eggs, yogurt and vanilla extract. Whisk together until smooth and well combined.

Step 8. Add in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients: flour, oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and salt. Mix until just combined, then add in the cooled brown butter and stir again until butter is well-incorporated into the batter. Finally, gently fold the walnuts into the batter.

Step 9. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top of the batter.

Step 10. Bake the bread for 50-65 minutes or until the tester comes out clean. Allow bread to cool for at least an hour before removing from the pan and slicing into. Consider serving with honey butter or butter and sea salt.

Have leftover walnuts?

For optimal freshness, keep California walnuts in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer instead of the pantry. The deli drawer right next to your cheese is a great option. Then they are fresh and ready for your next snack, charcuterie board or recipe.

For even more holiday inspiration with California walnuts, visit You can easily sort by course, dietary consideration, main ingredient, cooking method and more to find the right recipe to tantalize your taste buds. Enjoy all the flavors of the season using your favorite ingredients!