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Peanut Butter Substitutes – The Complete Guide

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Peanut butter is one of the most popular products in the world. It is used in many countries, cuisines, and cultures and is used in many different ways.

But, due to the recent massive culture-shift regarding food allergies, tons of new products have been released over the past decade as alternatives for people with allergies or intolerances.

So what are some of the best peanut butter substitutes? Some of the best substitutes for peanut butter are other nut butters, such as almond or macadamia nut butter, and nut-free butters, such as soy or coconut butter.

There are surprisingly more than you would think, including both nut and nut-free alternatives!

Today we will discuss different substitutes for peanut butter depending on how it is used as well as discuss what each substitute is. We will also provide a list of nut-free peanut butter substitutes.

The Best Peanut Butter Substitutes

Peanut butter is a spread or paste made from dry-roasted peanuts. It almost always contains other ingredients to adjust the flavor and texture, act as a preservative, and even change the color.

Peanuts are one of the more common food allergies, especially among children. But, it is so tasty, creamy, and smooth – it’s so difficult to cut it out after having had it, or to deny others from having it.

Luckily, over the past decade, there has been a focus-shift on food alternatives for those with intolerances and allergies or just personal preferences. This has produced tons of products that are just as tasty and delicious as peanut butter.

Nut Butter Substitutes

Unsurprisingly, the best substitutes for peanut butter are often a nut-based alternative. Fortunately, these days there’s practically a butter spread out there for every type of nut!

The only caveat here is that you will, of course, need to ensure that other nut allergies are not an issue before choosing a nut butter substitute.

As a positive, however, many of these butters are generally vegan. However, you should always check the ingredients list to be sure a particular brand is actually vegan.

1. Almond Butter

This is an amazing alternative to peanut butter. It is very similar to peanut butter, with a similar consistency and nutty taste.

Almond butter is also considered a bit healthier than peanut butter and contains a ton of nutrients like potassium, iron and magnesium.

This substitute can easily be used in almost every recipe – savory or sweet. It will have the same functions and produce the same results with just a different flavor. Its consistency is almost identical and shouldn’t alter the final product in any way other than taste.

An important thing to note is that almond butter is often produced in factories where peanut butter is also produced. So there is some chance your almond butter will still contain traces of peanut. If you are highly allergic, you will need to check to see if they were produced in the same place.

Almond butter is also not necessarily allergy-free as some people are severely allergic to tree nuts. Make sure you know which nuts you have allergies to before substituting them with a different type of nut.

2. Macadamia Nut Butter

This is another nut butter that has become extremely popular and is also a very healthy alternative to use. As with almond butter, it is one of the best and least fussy substitutes that do not require any adjusting in the recipe.

It is loaded with omega-6 fatty acids, but less than peanut butter. It is still a very healthy substitute with tons of health benefits. Most macadamia butters do not contain any sugars making it even healthier.

3. Pecan Butter

Pecan butter is very high in omega-3 and omega-6. They are very nutritious although they do contain a lot of fat.

Pecan butter also has a very similar consistency to peanut butter, although the texture is sometimes slightly grainy. But if you love pecans, you’re sure to enjoy this alternative to peanut butter.

4. Hazelnut Butter

Hazelnut butter is a very high-protein butter that could be a great substitute. If you like the nutty undertones in Nutella, you will probably like hazelnut butter. (In fact, you may be able to substitute Nutella directly for peanut butter in some sweet recipes.)

It will make a great substitute and its flavor pairs beautifully with chocolate and coffee-flavored dishes and bakes.

5. Pistachio Butter

Pistachio butter is a bit misleading as it often contains almonds as well. This is probably to prevent the green pistachios from becoming grey or mush-brown colored, which might not look as appetizing as it tastes.

However, pistachio butter is a very fibrous and protein-packed butter that will be a great alternative in baked goods. If you love pistachio treats already or enjoy a lighter nutty flavor, pistachio butter won’t disappoint.

6. Walnut Butter

This is a very popular and in-demand nut butter as it contains tons of minerals and vitamins. They are however lower in protein, so don’t depend on walnut butter as a big part of your daily protein count.

7. Cashew Butter

Cashew butter is another very trendy product at the moment. Cashews are very high in nutrients and work exceptionally well in savory meals – especially its spreadable form.

It is a butter that has been around for a surprisingly long time and can be used in many different cuisines, including some Asian cuisines.

There are tons of nut butters, it is impossible to go through them all, but some other honorable mentions include:

  • Brazil nut butter
  • Acorn butter
  • Chestnut butter
  • Pine nuts

Although we feel that almond, macadamia and hazelnut butters are the best direct substitutes, these other nut butters will also work perfectly and in the end, it comes down to personal preference and taste. 

They can also be substituted directly without changing anything in the recipe. If you are unsure about the substitution, a good rule of thumb is to see if the consistency is the same as peanut butter’s.

If the texture and thickness is about the same, it should make a great substitute.

Some of these nut butters will also be more difficult to source than almond or macadamia butter for example, but if you can find them, you should give them a try! You might discover a new family favorite.

8. Flavored Butter Substitutes

There is a large list of peanut butter alternatives that doesn’t fit into a good category other than “flavored.”

These are butters, spreads or pastes that are made from a combination of ingredients and are not necessarily healthy, easy-accessible or nut-free – they are however delicious and make great substitutes.

As with the nut butter substitutes, check the consistency to ensure that only the flavor will change during baking.

  • Pure maple butter (maple cream) 
  • Cookie dough butter
  • Cardamom rose and pistachio butter
  • Fudge butter
  • Graham cracker butter

There are tons of other examples, but these are our favorites. Each has a very unique flavor, especially if you want to change the old traditional peanut butter cookie.

There are no set rules when it comes to substitutes, so even if you want to make your own Frankenstein spread at home, go for it!

Nut-Free Substitutes

Below is a list of nut-free butter for those with allergies, intolerances, or simple dietary preferences.

These substitutes are often just as healthy (if not healthier) and have the same consistency and texture than peanut butter – you won’t even notice the difference.

Most of these butters are made from seeds and beans. As an added bonus, the majority are also vegan. However, we want to stress again that it’s always worth checking the packaging or ingredients to be safe.

1. Soy Butter

Soy butter is a very popular vegan butter that is made of toasted soybeans. It is very high in protein and omega-3 fats. They have a very similar consistency to peanut butter and can also be easily found in most grocery stores.

Soy is a controversial ingredient, but it has a lot of benefits. If you’re worried, research it from credible sources and, as with anything, try not to consume too much.

2. Pea Butter

This is a relatively new peanut butter alternative. It is made from brown peas and sometimes even green – no, not the fresh whole peas! We are talking about dried split peas.

They are soaked and then worked into a paste-like consistency with some flavoring ingredients.

Most pea butters are gluten-free making them even more versatile. Pea butter can be more expensive and difficult to find, however, they are a must-try. You can alternatively make them at home.

3. Sunflower Seed Butter

This is the perfect vegan butter for those with peanut, tree-nut and soy allergies. It contains much less sugar and more nutrients than other butters and works perfectly as a substitute for both texture and flavor.

4. Tahini

Tahini is a tricky substitute as it can vary in consistency. It is however very healthy and very easily accessible. Some tahinis do have a runny consistency, so make sure you substitute it correctly.

There are also a ton of tahini recipes that you can make at home to meet your dietary needs.

5. Pumpkin Seed Butter

Another amazing nut-free butter that is both healthy and delicious, pumpkin seed butter may be the substitute you’ve been looking for.

And the best part is you can use the pumpkin seeds you usually discard (such as during jack-o’-lantern season) to create this lovely butter, making it sustainable and economic.

6. Coconut Butter

Coconut butter is also sometimes labeled “creamed coconut” and is made using dried coconut flakes that are processed into a paste. It doesn’t contain any cholesterol making it very healthy for diets that focus on that.

It typically has a harder consistency than peanut butter; however, it can easily be softened to create a similar texture and produce similar results.

7. Chickpea Butter

Chickpeas in general are a very versatile ingredient, so it isn’t surprising that there is chickpea butter.

It is made from roasted chickpeas, but where it differs from hummus (which of course would also work as a peanut butter substitute in some savory recipes) is that it usually contains additional seeds and thickeners.

These additions give chickpea butter more of that buttery spread consistency rather than the hummus-like paste texture.

Peanut Butter Substitutes For General Uses

Peanut butter is a very diverse and flexible product that can be used in an endless amount of ways.

Some include:

  • Smoothies
  • Making snacks 
  • Creating set or frozen desserts like ice cream
  • Making frostings
  • In sauces, dressings or marinades
  • As is for a spread, dip or topping
  • As an ingredient in roasts or stews

What you want to use the peanut butter for, will determine which substitute you need to use.

Here’s a quick chart of substitutions by use for your reference:

Item How to Substitute
Smoothies or drinks Any substitute will work great. Look at the other ingredients in the recipe to choose what will complement each other.
The consistency can be runnier than that of the peanut butter.
Frozen desserts (ice creams) As with drinks and smoothies, the consistency of the substitute doesn’t have to be the same as the peanut butters’ as the item will be frozen.
Again, any substitute that complements the other ingredients will work perfectly.
Marinades, sauces and dressings Choose a substitute that has a similar consistency to the original recipes’ peanut butter as the marinade might have to be used in a certain way (rub not a liquid).
Be sure the flavors are complementary as well.
Stews, roasts or casseroles The consistency will not matter at all as when heat is applied, it will melt and fully incorporate into the dish.
Choose complimentary flavors that go with the other ingredients and components.

Peanut Butter Substitutes in Baking

When using peanut butter in baked goods, over the years people have discovered that it has many more functions than just adding flavor.

  • Peanut butter is a binding ingredient. What that means is that it can be used to substitute eggs or flour to create cookies etc.
  • It is used to thicken the texture of the baked item in many ways. You can create a denser crumb in cakes, cupcakes or muffins or you could adjust the consistency of a batter to create a chewier item such as chewy biscuits.
  • Peanut butter can also be used to add color to the item. The peanut butter itself has a dark color that will be imparted on the products. However, most peanut butter also contains sugars that will caramelize during baking to give an even darker, caramel color.

If we look at the huge list above on different substitutes for peanut butter, how do you choose which one will work best for baked goods?

You can choose a substitute by taking into consideration the consistency. Depending on what consistency the peanut butter should be for the baked item (crunchy, chunky, and grainy or smooth) you can look at substitutes with similar consistencies.

The recipe will remain virtually the same with a change of flavor only.

The next step to further narrow down a substitute is by looking at what the baked item is. If you are making cookies, think about what flavors will make a good cookie – for example, tahini cookies will not be a hit at kids’ birthday parties.

You can also factor in your personal flavor preference to immediately eliminate some options.

If you only have a butter or spread available with a different consistency or want to use a specific one, there are a few things you can do to make a good substitute. 

If the nut butter is very thick, thin it down by heating it in the microwave before incorporating it into the recipe. If it is too thin, you could try using less or add some flour to help bind the product.

Below is a table of what we consider the best substitutes based on consistency and flavor. We will not be taking into consideration “flavored butters” as there are too many and they are not all easily accessible.

Here are our best recommendations for substitutes by type of baked good:

Baked Good Best Substitute
Cookies or biscuits Almond butter, macadamia butter, pecan butter, pumpkin seed butter, coconut butter
Cakes, cupcakes or muffins Virtually any butter that has a similar consistency. It depends on what other flavors are in the product.
Brownies Almond butter, hazelnut butter, brazil nut butter, tahini, sunflower seed butter
Baked granola bars Look at what type of nuts and seeds are in the granola and make a substitute with a similar nut or seed butter.

Substitutes For Peanut Butter in No-Bake Cookies

As with baked goods, you need to compare the consistency of the requested peanut butter to the substitute you want to use. 

This is especially important with no-bake cookies as the peanut butter usually acts alone as the binding ingredient in the recipe. This means that you will not be able to use substitutes that have a thinner or runnier consistency than your peanut butter.

Substitutes that have the closest consistency include other nut butters such as almond, macadamia, pecan or hazelnut butter. These would be your safest bet as they are generally the same.

Other no nut butters that might have a similar consistency would include most seeds butters as well as soy butter and coconut butter. However, the consistency of each of these changes depending on the brand so ensure that you choose one that works.

Up Next: The Best Cocoa Butter Substitutes

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