Cashew Fruit Classification: Are Cashews a Fruit or Nut?

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Cashew Fruit Classification: Are Cashews a Fruit or a Nut?

Cashews are a pretty complicated food. If you don’t know much about them, you’d probably just assume they’re a nut.

But when you learn more about cashews, you realize they come from a fruit. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that the part most people eat is a nut, right?

This probably leaves you wondering a bit more about how cashew fruits are classified and whether cashews are a fruit or nut.

We’ve unearthed the answer for you, and we’ll be discussing the classification of cashew fruits in more detail.

Quick Answer: Are Cashews a Fruit or Nut?

In short, cashews are a fruit, but they’re a specific type of fruit called a drupe. The nut that most people eat is actually classified as a seed.

What is a Drupe?

You’ve probably never heard the word “drupe” before. It’s not a very common word, so it’s reasonable to ask what it means.

Put briefly, a drupe is a type of fruit. They’re also known as “stone fruits,” and if we gave you a moment, you could probably imagine why.

We’ll explain, though. An example of a drupe would be a plum or an apricot. They’re fruits with a fleshy exterior surrounding a hard pit.

The way they reproduce has something to do with their classification, too. As fruits, they must come from the ovaries of flowers.

The Difference Between Classifications

Whenever we talk about classification for food, we think it’s important to mention that there are actually two common points of view for classification.

We’ll quickly go over them and what they mean below.


When we say “botanical,” we’re referring to the scientific classification for plants. For instance, this is what would call a tomato a fruit instead of a vegetable.

Similarly, this is where a cashew fruit is thought of as a fruit rather than as a nut. This is not, however, the same point of view shared by the average person.


Now the culinary classification system is what the average person would use to define their food with. This is also the method used by professional chefs.

How does it work? Well, it works exactly the way you think it would. Instead of looking at biological factors like how it grows or its structure, the culinary definition system looks at how the food tastes and what it’s used for.

Within this lens, the fruit of the cashew would also be considered a fruit. However, the nut would still be classified as a nut.

Wrap Up

"These classifications aren’t necessarily what matters – it’s the taste and your preferences that matter."

Cashew plants are tricky. The typical person only knows about the mild-tasting nut you can find in every grocery store across the country.

The truth is so much more complicated. Instead of being a nut, cashews are truthfully a type of fruit called a drupe.

This doesn’t have to change the way you enjoy cashews, though. These classifications aren’t necessarily what matters – it’s the taste and your preferences that matter.