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Alternatives to Peanut Butter in Baking

Sunflower seed butter

Even though neither Jif nor Skippy, the two largest peanut butter brands in the US, have been included in the recent peanut butter recall (neither sources products from the Peanut Corporation of America), peanut butter is still not at the top of most people’s shopping lists at the moment because of the salmonella scare. One of the upsides to this is that more people are experimenting with alternative nut and seed butters. Peanut butter will retain its number one spot in the long run, but it never hurts to have options. All of these alternative nut butters are very similar in consistency to peanut butter and will work in peanut butter recipes:

  • Sunflower Seed Butter – made from sunflower seeds, this nut butter has a very subtle flavor to it, like a mild peanut butter. It has approximately the same nutritional stats as peanut butter, with 200 cal and 16g fat per2 tbsp serving, although peanut butter is much higher in protein. It is safe for people with peanut or tree nut allergies
  • Soy Nut Butter – made from roasted soy nuts, has a nutty flavor and a consistency that is similar to regular peanut butter. It is comparable to peanut butter in terms of both calories and protein, but it is lower in fat. It is safe for people with peanut or tree nut allergies.
  • Cashew Butter – made from cashews, this nut butter has a very buttery and rich taste to it, although it lacks some of the nuttiness of peanut butter. It comes in with basically the same nutritional stats as peanut butter, but can be quite a bit more expensive.
  • Almond Butter – made from almonds, this is probably the most widely available peanut butter alternative. It has a lighter overall flavor than peanut butter, but still a pleasantly nutty taste. It is slightly higher in fat than peanut butter, but otherwise very similar nutritionally.

You can find these nut and seed butters at many regular grocery stores, and at most specialty grocers  (e.g. Whole Foods). Some stores may carry an even wider array of options, including macadamia nut butter. If you can’t find them or can get a better price on the whole nuts, keep in mind that you can make nut butters yourself quite easily at home.

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  • snooky doodle
    February 15, 2009

    Interesting info. But making your own peanut butter is a better alternative. 🙂

  • Linda
    February 15, 2009

    We love almond butter. A little more expensive, but a nice treat.

  • Laura
    February 15, 2009

    I am so intrigued by this sunflower seed butter! I tend to get something called “mystery butter” at Integral Yoga Institute Grocery Store in New York City…a mixture of several nut butters. Cashew, almond, god knows what else. Delicious!

  • Lucy C.
    February 15, 2009

    Thank you so much for posting this! I didn’t even know there was such a thing as sunflower seed butter! One of my kids has a severe nut allergy – he is allergic to ALL nuts (even coconut!) so I stay away from all the nut butters and it makes me sad when I see such yummy recipes with a pb base. I really never thought to seek out an alternative! This is great, I’ll definetely have to get some asap!

  • Corey
    February 15, 2009

    I have to say that I feel like this post is kind of feeding into the irrational and counterproductive hysteria about peanut butter. I know that you note that the main brands are unaffected by salmonella, but rather than discouraging people from avoiding peanut butter, you endorse it by encouraging the use of alternative nut butters.

    Now, I’m all for sunflower seed butter etc., but why recommend those at a time when the peanut industry is suffering a 25% drop in sales because of consumer hysteria? As Lucy C.’s comment about allergies points out, a peanut butter scare isn’t necessary for alternative nut butters to be a great recommendation for a food blog. But by choosing to make this recommendation now, I fear that you are just confirming people’s judgment that now is a bad time to buy peanut butter.

    Economically, our country is doing bad enough already. For people to start a needless boycott of an entire industry because one company’s negligence and for the media (including blogs) to tacitly endorse this boycott is just absurd. If people continue to avoid peanut butter it will force production to decline, prices to eventually increase, and next thing you know a great recession staple will be grossly price inflated! CHAOS!

    I know, I know… I’m ranting about peanut butter on Baking Bites – a blog that I freaking love. But now is the time for food blogs to fight the good fight and encourage people to accurately inform themselves and avoid the herd mentality of non-food-savvy types who don’t read awesomely informative blogs.

    I ask you, readers and writers of food blogs, where are the defiant peanut butter lovers willing to stand up for informed consumption? Who will stand with me and -uh- make peanut butter cookies?

  • Nicole
    February 15, 2009

    Corey – I’m sorry to hear that you think I’m “feeding into the irrational and counterproductive hysteria about peanut butter.” I really appreciate your commentary, of course, and I do agree that there is a lot of unnecessary “Avoid Peanut Butter!!!” nonsense out there. But also keep in mind that this post will be around long after this “scare” is over (as other scares have come and gone in the past), and will serve to answer questions about nut butters for many future readers, too.

    One thing that influences the content of this site is questions from readers asking me about alternatives to peanut butter in baking. I’ve been getting them for a long time because of allergy questions, and have been getting more now because of concern raised by other media sources. I hope that readers find useful information on Baking Bites, information that answers questions that they might have – including finding alternatives to peanut butter, no matter what their motivation for doing it is or when they’re searching for those alternatives.

    I have recently posted peanut butter recipes and have some for the near future. I certainly hope that readers will continue to make them and not avoid peanut butter at that point – even though I like knowing that they’ll have other options if they want to try the recipes without it!

  • Katrina
    February 15, 2009

    I posted earlier, but don’t see it here.
    I love pb and haven’t stopped eating it or using it in baking. Also love Barney Butter (www.barneybutter.com) It’s the best almond butter I’ve tasted. Right now it’s mostly only found in some East coast stores, but you can buy it online. Just puttin’ in a little plug for Jennifer at Barney Butter. It’s a great product.

  • Scott at Realepicurean
    February 16, 2009

    I’d never heard of it until this article. Definitely worth trying.

  • Cakespy
    February 16, 2009

    I think this is a great idea–and it’s fun to change things up in recipes too. I wonder if through this peanut butter scare one good element might be more creative uses of other nuts / nut butter alternatives. I think I’ve also seen hazelnut butter. It’s pretty pricey but good!

  • Rob
    July 24, 2009


    Thank you for such an informative article; I see no “feeding into the irrational and counterproductive hysteria about peanut butter.” in your article and Corey should stop smoking crack.

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