Nuts for nuts? You’re not the only one. Though the peanut’s path from nut to butter is perhaps most well-known, there’s no shortage of creamy, crunchy spreads that are chock-full of nuts—and seeds. In fact, lots of so-called nuts by name are, in reality, seeds. And the peanut? It’s actually a legume! Nut nomenclature aside, there’s something about smooth, spreadable (not-so) nut butters that we just can’t get enough of. Read on to discover some of our favorite out-of-the-box butters made from nuts, seeds, and nuts (that may not actually be nuts).
Made from either raw or roasted cashews, cashew butter is incredibly tasty and creamy. The cashew has a lower fat content than most nuts—but it’s not actually a nut. The cashew is, in fact, a seed. Apart from its delicious spreading potential, cashew butter also forms the foundation of vegan cashew “cheese.”
Tahini (Sesame Seed Butter)
A fixture of Middle Eastern food, tahini is another altogether irresistible alternative to the classic peanut butter. Made from ground, toasted sesame seeds, tahini can be eaten on its own, spread, or dipped. It’s also an essential ingredient in hummus, baba ghanoush, and halva. This decadent sesame paste is an easy way to elevate a grain bowl, or to take a plain piece of toast from average to outstanding.
Made either crunchy or smooth, from roasted or raw nuts, almond butter is a perfect alternative for those with peanut allergies. Added bonus: it has way less saturated fat than peanut butter. This wonderfully fiber-full butter is great for so much more than spreading. Add a spoonful to your oatmeal in the morning or pair it with a ripe banana for a satisfying, nourishing afternoon snack.
Brazil Nut Butter
Delicious and lauded for its nut-ricious benefits (see what we did there?), the Brazil nut is perhaps the biggest nut that’s not actually a nut. That’s right—Brazil nuts are actually the seeds of a tree with the same name. But that doesn’t mean Brazil nuts don’t make a mean butter—Brazil nut butter can be made from raw or roasted “nuts” and spread or dipped to your heart’s content. Pair this butter with raw veggies for a standout snack, or think outside the (lunch)box with a BNB&J sandwich.
Sunflower Seed Butter
Another alternative to nut butter, sunflower seed butter (also known as sunbutter) is made from the oil of sunflower seeds. This delicious spread is a go-to for people with peanut allergies. The first sunflower seed butters were introduced to the U.S. in the early 1980s, but these first attempts fell flat because they weren’t similar enough to peanut butter in texture and taste. Then, in 2002, SunButter was born. Made in the Red River Valley, this versatile spread is as delightful as it is nut-free—and it’s paved the way for other creamy, spreadable sunflower seed butters.
Macadamia Nut Butter
Also known as the Queensland nut, bush nut, maroochi nut, and Hawaii nut, the macadamia nut is native to Australia. However, its largest exporter these days is Hawaii—and macadamia nut butter is a favorite in the Big Island. Full of “good fats,” macadamia nut butter is perhaps even more decadent than its peanut counterpart, but just as spreadable. It’s usually made with macadamia nuts, coconut oil, salt, and a bit of honey (if you like your spread on the sweeter side).
These days, coconut oil is practically everywhere (for good reason). Whereas coconut oil is good for cooking—and moisturizing your skin—coconut butter is good for spreading and even blending into your favorite smoothie. Made from puréed, raw coconut meat, coconut butter is rich in taste and velvety in texture. It’s sweeter than regular butter and dairy-free, so it’s a great choice for those with lactose sensitivity.