You’ll never buy it from the store again. Introducing, your go-to guide for making homemade nut and seed butter.
In as little as 2 minutes, you can turn a few handfuls of nuts or seeds into a creamy, dreamy butter so good it’ll turn toast-making into your favourite pastime.
Why Make Your Own
Besides being far superior in flavour, homemade nut and seed butters are cheaper, healthier, and better quality than prepared brands of butters. I don’t know anybody who isn’t trying to manage their budgets while still living their best lives. And at approximately $20/kg for a bag bulk nuts (from places like Costco), you can make at least 3 jars of nut butter for around 50% of the cost of a standard grocery store jar. If you’re using a more expensive nut like hazelnuts, and want to extend their offering even further, you can often sub up to 40% of the volume of nuts with less expensive nuts or seeds while still maintaining the integrity of the flavour. Hello sunflower seeds.
Making your own butters from scratch is a no-brainer when it comes to creating the healthiest option, even when you’re adding additional fat and sweeteners to it. By knowing what and how much of it going into your butters, conspicuous ingredients like sugar, oil, and salt can be moderated or even eliminated, when you’re making your own at home. But the most important reason of all is that the flavour of freshly-roasted nuts or seeds just doesn’t compare. Homemade butters are fresher and more fragrant than their store-bought counterparts. Moreover, the combinations are customizable. So you can create flavour profiles that you’ll never discover in a jar off the shelf. Like this toasted coconut and almond butter, this dark chocolate coconut almond butter, this strawberry cashew butter, and this vanilla toasted pecan butter, and this old favourite of mine–cinnamon, vanilla sunflower butter.
When to Use It
Aside from enjoying it straight off the spoon, nut and seed butter can be used in a variety of delicious ways. Most commonly, you’ll find them spread onto bread or toast, drizzled onto/into your favourite breakfast foods like waffles, pancakes, oatmeal and yogurt, blended into smoothies, stirred into a creamy sauce for serving with veggies or meat, blended into smoothies, paired with chocolate, or even as a substitution for tahini in hummus. But when it comes to the spirit of BAKED things, nut/seed butter can also be the backbone to some of your favourite treats (whether they be baked or not), as a binder or thickening agent like in either of these granola bars, as an egg substitute for muffins or pancakes, as the main ingredients in raw “cheesecakes”, or used as a highlight ingredient, like in this pistachio butter cake.
To Roast or Not to Roast
There is a belief in particular health communities that raw or sprouted nuts are much more nutrient-rich and, as a result, should never be heated. And certainly, the flavour of raw nut and seed butter is earthier and hardier than its roasted cousin. But I vastly prefer the complex, robust flavour of roasted nut and seed butters. Roasting also causes a nut or seed’s natural oils to “bloom”, making it easier grind into butter form.
Whatever you choose to pulverize, its creamy result will no doubt be a welcome addition to your kitchen. Stay tuned for Thursday’s post where we do something wild with a traditional hazelnut butter.
- 2-3 cups, raw (or sprouted), or plain unsalted nuts, seeds, or unsweetened coconut (or a mix)*
- 1/2 -11/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste (optional but highly recommended). Salt will really bring out the flavour of whatever nuts/seeds and other add-ins you decide to use.
- 1-3 tbsp complimentary or neutral oil (e.g. almond, walnut, coconut, sunflower, grape seed oil, etc.), optional. But it can help to make your nut butter a little smoother and creamier.
- Dried sweetener like maple sugar, coconut sugar, sucanat or wet sweetener like maple syrup, honey, date syrup, or dates.
- Additional spices: Vanilla powder, cinnamon, cardamom, cocoa powder
- Additional seeds: Flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds to create something like this superseed nut butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C). Spread nuts/seeds onto a baking sheet. Roast until fragrant and golden brown, approximately 8-12 minutes.
- Add just warm nuts to a food processor or blender and process until a creamy butter forms. The nuts should go from whole, to meal, to clumps, to creamy nut butter. Depending on the type of nut/seed and the type of equipment being used, this can take anywhere from 1 minute to 20 minutes*.
- If your butter is thick and doesn’t seem to be budging for awhile, scrape down the sides and add a tablespoon or two of oil to the mix.
- Once it’s reached a creamy consistency, add in the salt and any other add-ins you’re using, to taste. If you like yours crunchy, fold in 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped nuts or seeds at this point.
- Transfer to a clean, covered jar. For best results in having your butters last, keep in the refrigerator and bring back to room temperature before using. But, to be honest, I go through it so quickly that I tend to keep mine in a cupboard or pantry. It’s kept well for at least several weeks in this way.
- Sprouted nuts will need less time to roast, so keep an eye on them.
- To remove the skins of hazelnuts, roast until golden brown and fragrant, then transfer the warm nuts to a clean dish towel and gently rub the nuts against one another and the towel. The paper-like skins will fall off and the nuts can be easily picked out.
* For example, nuts like pecans and macadamias, that are particularly high in unsaturated fat, tend to produce looser, runnier butters. Moreover, a high speed blender can pulverize certain nut/seed butters in a matter of seconds. If working with a food processor, it can take much longer so patience is in order. Depending on how long it takes for your particular blend, I also recommend 1-2 5-minute breaks during the blending process to allow your food processor to cool down. Otherwise, just have faith and perseverance, and continue scrape down the sides as needed.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 168 Total Fat: 15g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 2mg Sodium: 429mg Carbohydrates: 7g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 2g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 5g