Just because you or a loved one suffers from a peanut allergy doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your childhood favorite sandwich. Seed and nut butters are simple swaps for peanut butter, and they’re just as delicious and nutritious.

With so many varieties to choose from, these butters are extremely versatile and can be used in both savory and sweet dishes.

Why Seed and Nut Butters?

About 3 million Americans suffer from a peanut or tree nut allergy. Even if you or your child isn’t allergic, your child’s school may ask you to pack peanut-free lunches and snacks because of a classmate’s allergy.

Symptoms of a peanut allergy can vary, but severe cases can cause anaphylaxis. People with peanut allergies must avoid all contact with peanuts, including inhalation, because even peanut proteins in the air can affect those who are allergic.  

If you can’t consume peanuts but are able to eat other seeds or nuts, you can enjoy alternative protein-rich seed and nut butters.

Understanding Tree Nut Allergies: Symptoms, Treatment, and More

Here are some of the most common alternative seed and nut butters:

  • sunflower seed
  • flax seed
  • chia seed
  • pumpkin seed
  • sesame seed
  • almond
  • cashew
  • hazelnut
  • walnut

Always double-check the labels of store-bought butters to make sure they aren’t manufactured on equipment shared with peanuts.  

Nutritional Benefits

Seed and nut butters can be just as tasty — and even more nutritious — than peanut butter. While peanuts are one of the most protein-rich nuts, containing 7 grams per one-ounce serving, other types of nuts — such as almonds — contain more fiber.

Licensed dietitian and nutritionist Ashvini Mashru says that nut and seed butters contain heart-healthy fats and are rich in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These can decrease LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, lowering the risk of metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Like with anything, you should keep in mind the appropriate serving size when spreading seed and nut butters. According to the USDA, 1 tablespoon of nut butter is a one-ounce serving of protein. In general, adults should consume 5.5 to 6.5 ounces of protein daily, while children aged 4 to 8 years old should consume 4 ounces daily.

Seed and nut butters can be found in the snack and baking aisles of grocery stores. The most nutritious butters are unsalted and contain little or no added sugars or hydrogenated oils.

Recipes

For a fun weekend activity, try making your own seed and nut butters. The only equipment you need is a food processor or a high-power blender.

Check out these four recipes:

Standard Nut and Seed Butter

Here’s a recipe that you can make with any type of nut or seed, or a combination of them. You need 4 cups of nuts or seeds and, if you like, just a small amount of salt. Toast the seeds and nuts, or buy roasted, unsalted nuts and blend in a food processor to your desired smoothness.

The blogger discourages adding liquid or oil to the recipe. That can turn the butter into a sticky texture, rather than smooth and creamy. She also spices up this standard recipe to make a cashew, maple, and turmeric butter.

View the recipe.

Homemade Nut Butter

This blog includes tips for soaking nuts and seeds, which can actually increase their nutritional content and makes them easier to digest. This recipe provides universal instructions for making seed and nut butters, no matter what kind of butter you wish to make. If you want to get creative, you can even add sweeteners, vanilla beans, or herbs.

View the recipe.

Luxurious Homemade Sunflower Seed Butter

For a creamy and delicious sunflower seed butter, try this recipe. It incorporates sunflower seeds, coconut sugar, coconut oil, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla. The butter will keep for 2 months in the refrigerator, but chances are it’ll be gone before then!

View the recipe.

Pumpkin-Sunflower-Flax Seed Butter

Blend three delicious seeds to make a healthy and flavorful nut butter. Flax seeds boost the butter’s nutrition and flavor, while pumpkin and sunflower seeds make for a smooth spread. Simply toast the seeds, grind in a food processor with oil, and sweeten to your taste. Spread it on whole-grain crackers or apple slices for a mid-day snack.

View the recipe.

Tasty, Allergy-Free Options

The wide variety of seed and nut butters available and simple methods for making them at home mean you can enjoy peanut-free spreads that will fill you up and taste great too. Beyond sandwiches, these spreads can be substituted in any recipe that calls for peanut butter, such as breakfast smoothies or sweet desserts.