Are tiger nuts actually nuts?

Ever heard of tiger nuts? They sound very like nuts but are actually the small dried edible tuber of a kind of sedge which is grown in the ground like potatoes. Also known as cyperus esculentus or chufa sedge, nut grass, yellow nutsedge, tigernut sedge, or earth almond it is found in sub tropical countries and parts of Europe. Today it’s popular in Spain and is used to make a non-alcoholic milky beverage called Horchata de chufa.

To use the tiger nuts, which have a slightly sweet, nutty flavour and are quite hard, you need to soak then in water before you eat them.

They have been used for centuries across Africa and even in Egypt

(From Wiki) “Flour of roasted tigernut is sometimes added to biscuits and other bakery products as well as in making oil, soap, and starch extracts. It is also used for the production of nougat, jam, beer, and as a flavoring agent in ice cream and in the preparation of kunnu (a local beverage in Nigeria). Kunnu is a nonalcoholic beverage prepared mainly from cereals (such as millet or sorghum) by heating and mixing with spices (dandelion, alligator pepper, ginger, licorice) and sugar. To make up for the poor nutritional value of kunnu prepared from cereals, tigernut was found to be a good substitute for cereal grains. Tigernuts oil can be used naturally with salads or for deep frying. It is considered as high quality oil. Tigernut “milk” has been tried as an alternative source of milk in fermented products, such as yogurt production, and other fermented products common in some African countries and can thus be useful replacing milk in the diet of people intolerant to lactose to a certain extent.”

So far my research has shown that tiger nuts are not nuts at all and are actually packed with natural goodness. They are a good source of fibre and are also naturally gluten free.

However I did find a few instances of reported allergies to tiger nuts in Spain.

Horchata Spanish milky drink made with Tiger nuts - available from Plamil

Horchata Spanish milky drink made with Tiger nuts

You can buy Organic Horchata from Plamil.

It is a concentrated organic tigernut drink which you dilute with water, use as a drink mixer or for in cooking. It is made with tigernuts, is a dairy free alternative to milk and is gluten free – suitable for coeliacs.

Each 500ml bottle makes a total of of 2.5 litres of drink when diluted with water.

All this drink is made from is tiger nuts, water, sugar and xanthan gum.

For even more information about tiger nuts, their dietary information and recipes check out the Ancient Foods blog here.

Have you tried Horchata or eaten tiger nuts? Or had you never even heard of them before like me? No doctor has ever mentioned them to me either so next time I visit I’ll ask for an allergy test before I try them, if I can get hold of some. Anyone know where you can buy just tiger nuts in the shops?

And finally, is there anyone out there with a nut allergy who can eat tiger nuts? I would love to hear from you, are they nice? Would you recommend them?

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About RuthS

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She runs a support group for the Anaphylaxis Campaign and also writes regularly for Exchange, The National Eczema Society quarterly magazine.


  1. Helen Jones says:

    I used to eat tiger nuts in Chinese food. I bought them at a Chinese supermarket, would whiz them up with garlic and ginger. I’d then fry the paste and throw in the meat and veg, season to taste.
    It was lovely.

  2. I loved a Spanish horchata da chufa choc flavoured drink when I was a child on hol with my family that was drunk cold from the fridge. I have searched for it here for my children. Thx for info it is excellent. Andie

  3. I used to love eating tiger nuts when I was a boy. Looking like brown wooden currants, they were pretty hard and woody to begin with but were quite juicy and very nutty tasting after a few minutes…they lasted quite a while, and were much more satisfying to chew than chewing gum….I suppose for us kids they were like a dog having a chewy treat.

    The other thing that was similar, in a way, was liquorice twigs….real woody chewy things with a true liquorice taste.

    I haven’t seen either tiger nuts or liquorice sticks around lately….except that tiger nuts are sold as for use as fishing bait. I don’t think they are okay for people to eat, but I don’t know for sure. Maybe someone will know.

    Tiger nuts are definitely worth trying.


    • I haven’t found them anywhere yet so I still don’t know what they’re like. One day Bob I will try some. Keep forgetting to look for them. Liquorice twigs sound nice and very good for you. Where were you living when you ate these?

  4. Hello everyone,
    We are pleased to tell you that you can get the finest Tiger Nuts right here in the US at and we can also supply bulk quantities for making Horchata.

    Thanks, the Nuts at

  5. Heidi Schattschneider says:

    I had an allergic reaction after eating tiger nuts. Broke out into hives with in minutes of consuming. I don’t have any known food allergies but have a diagnosed allergy to tree and grass pollens

    • Hi Heidi, well that is interesting. They must have some cross reaction with pollen but on the other hand, anyone can be allergic to anything, not just the common allergens we all know about. I am trying out some bread at the moment with tiger nut flour so hopefully I won’t react, though i too am allergic to tree and grass pollens – eeek! Thanks for the comment. I guess at least they are fairly easy to avoid. How long did the reaction last?

      • Hello, I have a grass pollen allergy with many cross reactions to fruit and vegetables, tiger nuts included.

        • Now that’s interesting. There are a few of you reacting to tiger nuts. I have pollen allergy and nut allergy but seem to be OK with the bread I bought made with tigernut flour. I used to get quite bad mouth and lip swelling from peaches, apples and carrots when raw but cooked they were fine. As I’ve grown older I seem to have grown out of the pollen cross reaction. For me, it’s tree and plants more than grasses I think but who knows. Sometimes I feel like hay fever season never stops and it’s fast approaching now!

  6. Heidi Schattschneider says:

    Tigernut was an ingredient in some almond date balls I purchased in the health food store. I only ate 2 and broke out into hives, which lasted over an hour. I contacted the manufacture for the complete ingredient list and can eat all the other ingredients without issue so deduce it must be the Tigernnut.

  7. Susan Stewart says:

    I had an allergic reaction today to tiger nut today. I don’t have any food allergies at all so it was a big surprise. Swollen throat about 5 minutes after consumption, followed by plugged ears – hard to swallow for about 1 hour afterwards. Drinking cold water helped. It was the only ingredient in Organic Tiger Nut Laddoo (ayurvedic sweet treats) that was new to me so I am confident that it was the tiger nut. I am definitely allergic to grass pollen and maybe some tree pollens. It sounds similar to some of the other cases posted here so perhaps this will help someone to know about my reaction.

    • Oh Susan, sorry to hear about that. It appears to be nothing to do with nut allergy but clearly, like any food I guess, can be allergenic. I suppose it will be fairly easy to avoid but I’m sorry you had a scary reaction and hope you don’t have another.

  8. You can find tigernuts at and they aren’t nuts they are tubers
    I love them!!

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