There are hundreds of plant-based butters and spreads on the market today. But they all seem to have popped up out of nowhere! And no one is explaining what they are, what they should be used for, and what their nutritional composition is.
So, let’s compare — sunflower butter vs peanut butter? First of all, the obvious difference is what they are made from, which has a direct effect on the flavor and even dietary restrictions. Furthermore, sunflower butter is generally far less processed, contains fewer ingredients, and is more nutrient-dense than peanut butter.
But there is a lot more to it than that. Today, we will dive deep into every aspect of these ingredients. We’ll look at their physical properties, flavor, nutritional composition, and much more!
So, keep reading to discover exactly when and how you can use these delicious creamy treats.
What Is Sunflower Butter?
Sunflower butter, also commonly referred to as sunflower seed butter, is a popular plant-based creamy butter.
As you may have guessed, it’s made from sunflower seeds!
Now, this butter has a ton of benefits. First of all, most of these products are vegan — they don’t contain any animal-based products or products that use techniques that involve animals.
A great example of a non-vegan product is granulated sugar. It is often processed using bone meal, which is obviously an animal product. For that reason, many vegans don’t use it at all. But don’t worry, there are vegan sugar products!
But, as we’ve mentioned in other articles, most products labeled as “vegan” consider such ingredients.
This product is also completely nut-free. That’s great for anyone with a nut allergy that cannot have peanut, almond, or hazelnut butter or spreads. Keep in mind; some people are allergic to sunflower products, but it is rare.
And finally, sunflower butter is very nutritious. It contains many vitamins and minerals that will give you loads of health benefits.
Ingredients Used To Make Sunflower Butter
Most nut kinds of nut butter are made with a couple of ingredients — sunflower butter is no different.
These add-ins help create a stable, creamy, and luscious texture with a thick, spreadable consistency. It also helps preserve the butter and enhance its flavor!
The oil is what creates a smooth, creamy emulsion, while the honey and salt help enhance the natural flavors and create an overall more balanced product.
Some of these plant-based butters do also contain chemical preservatives. But again, because they are generally more health-focused, it isn’t as common. Always read the label if you do want an all-natural, additive-free product!
Key Characteristics Of Sunflower Butter
We all know what peanut butter tastes like. And while it is delicious, it’s pretty simple in flavor. Sunflower butter, on the other hand, has loads of complex undertones!
Now, sunflower butter does taste like raw sunflower seeds. A way to avoid this particular flavor is buying “roasted sunflower butter” or roasting the seeds yourself before making it.
You will also pick up prominent, earthy flavors. If you buy a roasted product, you’ll also notice a toasty undertone in the flavor profile.
Sunflower butter does come in a variety of consistencies. Generally, it is thick and creamy. But, it’s noticeably softer than most peanut butter products.
When it gets hot, like most butters and spreads, it softens significantly and can even be melted.
Nutritional Breakdown Of Sunflower Butter
As we’ve mentioned, this is a highly nutritious plant-based spread. It is very high in calories because of all the fats and, in many products, sugar too.
One tablespoon of sunflower butter contains about 100 calories, 4.5 grams fat, and 1.3 grams sugar.
However, it contains a lot of nutrients. Sunflower butter features very high amounts of vitamin E, iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.
It also contains a noteworthy amount of protein, manganese, and folate.
And as we have mentioned before, it is an allergy-free (nut-free) product. That in and of itself is a massive nutritional benefit to some people!
What Is Peanut Butter?
Peanut butter was the first plant-based spread that hit the markets decades ago. And even today, it is still the most popular choice amongst consumers.
You don’t need to be vegan or vegetarian to enjoy this option!
Some are lower in fat, lower in sugar, made from organic peanuts or specific varietals, and some are even flavored.
But, the biggest downside of this product is that it has become highly processed. It is more difficult to find unprocessed peanut butter than most other nut butters out there.
And, they are also much more expensive., which is ironic considering peanut butter doesn’t need additives to give it a smooth, creamy, shelf-stable consistency.
So, if you ever look for peanut butter again, try finding an option with only peanuts and salt. Peanut butter doesn’t need oil (which adds more fat and calories), sugars, or preservatives; they’re just commonly used additives.
Ingredients Used To Make Peanut Butter
Then, a crucial add-in is salt. Salt helps to add flavor to peanut butter, but it’s also a preservative.
Now, here is where companies go haywire. For some reason, they add oils, sugars, flavor enhancers, stabilizers, thickeners, colorants, and chemical preservatives to the mix.
Depending on your lifestyle and dietary choices, you may want to take a close look at the ingredients before just grabbing any commercial peanut butter product.
We aren’t saying that products containing these aren’t delicious. But they aren’t necessarily healthy or suited to all people.
Key Characteristics Of Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is super thick and, for the most part, creamy. As we’ve said, you can buy a variety of options, which all have varying textures. For example, chunky peanut butter contains pieces of peanuts, which gives it a crunchy texture.
As peanut butter heats, just like all plant butter, it softens and eventually becomes a thick, runny liquid.
Peanut butter has a very strong peanut flavor with earthy undertones. Sometimes the roasted products can also bring out some savory flavors.
But, the rest is up to the add-ins. Some types of peanut butter are heavily sweetened, which naturally will add a sweet flavor too.
Nutritional Breakdown Of Peanut Butter
In general, peanut butter is not that healthy (even if you take products only made from peanuts and salt).
It is very high in calories (around 110 per tablespoon), fats, and protein — for the fats, each tablespoon contains about 8 grams! It is also significantly higher in sodium (salt).
Peanut butter is also not exactly a nutrient-dense product. It contains a good amount of iron, but that’s about it. It has some vitamins B3, B6, E, magnesium, copper, and manganese.
But, depending on how processed the product is, you may not benefit from any of these.
Sunflower Butter Vs Peanut Butter — Similarities And Differences
So, many people say that comparing these two ingredients is like comparing apples to oranges. We don’t agree — it’s more like comparing apples to apples, like Granny Smith to Golden Delicious.
Both of these are intended to be plant-based alternatives to shortening and milk-based butter. Both are automatically thought of as being healthier alternatives that are more nutrient-dense. And both are used in similar ways.
So, let’s compare them side by side!
First, both are made from plant-based ingredients, but one is from a seed and the other from a nut. So, peanut butter is not suitable for people with peanut or tree nut allergies, whereas sunflower butter is.
Both of these can be sold unprocessed. You only need nuts, a little bit of oil (still optional), and basic flavorings.
Sunflower butter, for the most part, is sold barely processed. Peanut butter on the other hand comes with a bunch of chemical additives.
While sunflower butter is on the more expensive side, finding unprocessed “healthy” peanut butter is even more expensive!
Then, when we look at the nutrition of these, both contain high amounts of fats, protein, and sugar. Peanut butter contains more fat and protein, and sometimes (depending on the product) less sugar.
However, peanut butter contains a lot fewer nutrients. They both have more or less the same nutrient build (contain the same types of nutrients), but sunflower seed butter is considerably more nutritious.
And finally, virtually the only thing they really have in common is their consistency and texture. Both are smooth, creamy, and relatively thick plant-based butters that spread easily.
They both have earthy undertones, even though the main flavors differ.
Sunflower Butter Vs Peanut Butter — Comparison Chart
Here’s a quick breakdown of the similarities and differences between sunflower butter and peanut butter:
|Sunflower Butter||Peanut Butter|
|Key Ingredients||Sunflower seeds, oil, honey, salt||Peanuts, salt|
|Common Additives||Chemical preservatives are rarely added, but it's still possible||Most products contain loads of chemical add-ins like preservatives, stabilizers, flavor enhancers, and colorants|
|Dietary Restrictions||Vegan and vegetarian, nut-free||Vegan and vegetarian (although always check the packaging to make sure), not suitable for nut allergies.|
|Nutrients||Lower in calories (but still contains a lot); contains a high amount of fat, protein, and sugar; nutrient-dense butter||High in calories; contains a high amount of fat, protein, sodium, and sugar; doesn’t contain enough nutrients to benefit from|
|Consistency||Thick, creamy, smooth||Various consistencies and textures (smooth, creamy, thick, crunchy)|
|Flavor||Raw sunflower seeds||Salted peanuts|
Are Sunflower Butter And Peanut Butter Interchangeable?
Luckily, these two plant-based butters are basically completely interchangeable! They have the same consistency, texture, and earthy undertones, as we’ve mentioned. But, there are still some things to consider when doing so.
The first is the price. Peanut butter is generally a lot more affordable than sunflower seed butter, unless you buy organic and unprocessed peanut butter.
So depending on the amount you need, you may want to choose a different alternative (which applies both ways).
Then, you should also consider the nutrition and dietary restrictions each may offer. If you have a nut allergy you should choose a seed-based butter instead of peanut butter.
Other than that, you can pretty much use either of these for any function. They are equally delicious, pair with the same flavors, and will function in the same way in recipes.