What’s The Difference Between Peaches and Nectarines?

To the uninitiated, peaches and nectarines can look like a pair of identical twins. While the two are undoubtably similar, there are a few subtle differences that are worth noting. Don’t get caught mistaking one for the other by reviewing them both below.

  • The clearest distinction between the two is literally skin deep. Nectarines have a unique recessive gene that causes them to shed the “fuzz” normally found on peaches, resulting in hairless, smooth skin.
    • Did you know? Nectarines and peaches are so genetically similar that they been known to grow on the same tree!
  • Although they share a similar shape and color, nectarines are typically smaller and firmer that peaches, resulting in a fruit that almost feels like a “concentrated” version of its cousin.
  • Once you get past the peel, both fruits look the same under the hood. Both have varieties with yellow or white fruit and are grown with either freestone or clingstone pits. If you want to get really technical, peaches tend to have a rounder pit in side-by-side comparisons. 
    • Need to brush up on your stone fruit terminology? Freestone pits can be removed with little effort, while clingstone pits “cling” to the flesh itself.
  • In a blind taste test, you may have trouble telling peaches and nectarines apart, but they aren’t an exact match. The latter tends to be a tad bit sweeter and juicer without sacrificing the rich, floral flavors associated with peaches. We’d argue that nectarines are more aromatic too!
  • Even with that in mind, the differences between the two really is quite subtle, so they can be substituted interchangeably in most recipes. When choosing between the two, size and texture should be your main deciding factors. For example, if you’re looking for larger segments, reach for the peach, but if you want a clean peel, nectarines should be your go-to.