With the emergence of nut butter substitutes, traditional peanut butter has been facing some stiff competition. Most of these new spreads claim that they’re more natural and have less sugar; some of them are even organic, raw, or vegan. Almond butter was the precursor of this movement, as the original alternative to peanut butter.
One of the healthiest foods on the planet, almond butter is a tasty, nutrient-dense food that goes well with sweet and salty dishes alike. Despite the health benefits, some 1% of the general population is allergic to tree nuts, which include almonds, the primary component in almond butter.
You might need to substitute almond butter for other ingredients due to such an allergy, or simply prefer a different taste. Rest assured that there are plenty of nutrient-rich alternatives to almond butter, regardless of your reasoning, and the 9 best are listed below.
What is Almond Butter?
Many people enjoy the sweet and salty combination of almond butter. Almond butter is made from roasted almonds, ground to a spreadable consistency. Almonds are the edible seeds of the Prunus Amygdalus var. Dulcis, foraged in the wild as early as 4000 B.C. in West Asia.
One theory submitted to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shares that early humans in the Stone Age settled along the shores of northern Israel, and ate a varied diet of tree nuts including almonds and pistachios, among others.
In a 2018 global tree nut consumption report, almonds were the second most-consumed type of nut, following peanuts (which are actually legumes). Rich in protein and a good source of healthy fat, many have turned to almond butter. Despite its name, it’s completely dairy free and does not contain butter, making it perfect for vegans and those avoiding dairy.
When processed, it may come with or without the skins. Leaving the skin out of the almonds yields a creamier and smoother consistency. Some almond butter contains salt, sweeteners, and flavorings to create a pleasing taste and texture. It has a notably earthy and nutty flavor.
Salt enhances the naturally sweet, earthy flavor of the almonds, while added sweeteners vary from sugars to more natural sweeteners such as agave nectar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, and honey. While some almond butter is flavored, the best ones are natural, unsweetened, organic, and made primarily with almonds and little else. This type of almond butter may need to be given a good stir but the pure almond flavor allows you to reap the maximum health benefits.
Almond butter offers a whole host of benefits. It’s a good source of magnesium, potassium, selenium, and vitamin E. It is rich in dietary fiber, protein, heart-healthy nutrients, and unsaturated fats, which increases satiety. Like most nut butter, it has a low glycemic index, which means that it won’t spike your blood sugar levels and could help lower your risk of developing diabetes.
Apart from being one of the most abundant forms of plant-based protein, they also enhance brain function and promote healthy skin. While it started as a food fad, eating almond butter in moderation provides you with wholesome nutrients. Whether choosing a smooth or chunky almond butter, with sustainably sourced palm oil or not, there are several brands out in the market worth buying.
How to Use Almond Butter
Almond butter is incredibly versatile. You can simply spread it on toast or serve it as a dip for your favorite fruit. You can eat it for breakfast, as a snack, or include it in your cooking or baking.
In cooking and baking, use it in place of frosting or butter, and in practically all recipes that call for peanut butter. Natural, unsweetened almond butter is perfect in savory recipes where you don’t have to offset the sweetness of the butter with more salt. Here are some ways you can add almond butter to your diet:
- Almond Butter & Honey Sandwich
- Banana Almond Butter Smoothie
- Pancakes, Waffles, and French toast topping
- Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookies
- Stirred with Granola
- Fresh Vegetable Spring Rolls with Almond Butter dipping sauce
- Asian Salad Dressing
- Chicken or Vegetable Curries
- Kare-Kare (Ox-tail and tripe stew in almond butter sauce)
- Almond Butter Cups
- Peanut-Free Pad Thai
9 Best Almond Butter Substitutes
While incredibly versatile, there may be times when you will need to substitute almond butter for a different ingredient.
Perhaps due to an almond allergy, lack of availability, or simply not liking the taste of it, we’ve got some great almond butter alternatives for you to choose from. This is aside from making your almond butter – which is the best choice, in our opinion. All of these tree nut butter alternatives are easy and inexpensive to make at home.
We’ve also got you covered if you’re looking for a tree nut-free almond butter alternative. Keep reading to find out the almond butter substitute for your preferences.
The easiest swap for almond butter is probably already in your pantry – peanut butter.
Almond butter and peanut butter have almost the same nutritional value and texture, and similar flavors, so they pretty much have the same uses. This makes it a suitable almond butter substitute in most recipes, at a 1:1 ratio. You can use it in cooking and baking applications, or when eating it for breakfast with toast or fruit.
Homemade Almond Butter
When you’re looking for a substitute for almond butter and you have time to whip out ye olde apron, make your almond butter at home. Here’s a great recipe from The Big Man’s World that only has one ingredient – raw, unsalted almonds. It’s inexpensive and easy to make, and all you need is to source good, organic almonds.
Simply roast and blitz your almonds with the desired amount of salt. The beauty of making your own is that you know exactly what goes into your nut butter, and can adjust the taste and consistency according to your preferences. If you like it sweet, add a natural sweetener like maple syrup or honey. You can make it coarser or smoother, depending on how long you pulse it and any extra oil you may add.
You can use this in any of your recipes that call for almond butter in a 1:1 ratio. If you keep your almonds raw, this will make it best for savory applications, because roasting them is thought to bring out the sweetness.
Cashew butter has a surprisingly mild, sweet, nutty flavor; it’s usually made from roasted cashews. Some cashew butter will have a similar texture as your favorite almond butter, depending on the brand you choose.
You may also purchase a bag of unsalted cashews that you roast and process into homemade cashew butter. Cashews are an excellent snack on their own, as well, and boast healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, essential amino acids, and magnesium.
Swap cashew butter for almond butter at a 1:1 ratio in most recipes that call for almond butter. It may be added to baked goods, used as a spread, a flavoring for smoothies or smoothie bowls, or as a fruit topping.
Like almond butter, hazelnut butter is made from roasted hazelnuts. It’s notoriously paired with sugar & chocolate flavoring to create the widely popular Nutella spread. This swap should be reserved for desserts and other sweeter recipes.
Feel free to even make this healthy nut butter yourself. Roast, process, and flavor the hazelnut butter according to your own tastes and preferences. Hazelnut butter should be used in a 1:1 ratio in baking or as a snack.
If you’re looking for a nut-free option, tahini is a great alternative to almond butter. It’s safe for people with nut allergies, as tahini is a Middle Eastern condiment made from hulled, roasted sesame seeds. It’s traditionally ground to a paste-like consistency, similar to nut butter spreads.
Sesame seeds also contain antioxidants and nutrients similar in profile to almonds, so you’re not missing out on the good stuff here. Tahini is a required ingredient for making hummus, so it’s a particularly suitable stand-in for almond butter in savory applications such as sauces, soups, dressings, or stews.
When used on its own, tahini tastes like smoky peanut butter, so many people offset it with sweeteners or toppings, like in my tahini brussels sprouts. Tahini isn’t the best choice for baked goods, because its strong flavor may overwhelm the finished product. If you need a swap for almond butter in baking, consider choosing another substitute. Use this in a 1:1 ratio for almond butter.
Like the other tree nut butter on this list, walnut butter is a good source of heart-healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants. Walnuts are the oldest tree food known to mankind, dating back to as early as 7,000 B.C. They are particularly favored for their fairly mild, earthy flavor with a tangy undertone.
These flavors lend themselves to walnut butter, making it a good alternative to almond butter for toast, as fruit toppings, or in smoothies. Use this almond butter alternative in a 1:1 ratio.
Sunflower Seed Butter
Sunflower butter also known as sunflower seed butter or sun butter is a tree nut-free substitute for almond butter. Similar to tahini, this product is a seed paste made from roasted, ground sunflower seeds. This is an excellent almond butter substitute for people with a nut allergy; however, people with a mugwort pollen allergy should avoid it.
A tablespoon of this seed butter supplies the body with just under half the daily requirement for vitamin E and is a great source of protein, healthy fats, and magnesium. Sunflower seed butter makes a good almond butter substitute for savory dishes like dressings and sauces, spread on toast, or added to smoothies in a 1:1 ratio.
Coconut butter is a divine spread made from grinding raw coconut meat into a smooth consistency. This creamy vegan butter is another nut-free alternative to almond butter.
Its distinct taste comes from the coconut fruit which is a bit sweet and slightly nutty. It also has a gritty consistency that becomes runny when warmed, and solid when cool. Coconut butter’s nutritional profile and consistency are similar to those of almond butter; however, if you’re not a fan of coconuts, this alternative may not be for you.
Like almond butter, you can add coconut butter to baked goods, smoothies, sandwiches, and fruits in a 1:1 swap.
Powdered Peanut Butter
Powdered peanut butter is made from roasted peanuts that have been pressed to remove most of the fat. The remaining solids are then ground into a fine powder. With most of the fat removed, this makes for a fantastic low-fat, low-calorie (about 75% fewer calories than peanut butter) alternative to nut butter.
Peanut butter in powder form is a good source of protein and fiber, minus heart-healthy fats. It can replace almond butter in recipes where you’re just looking for a nutty flavor, but make sure to check whether you have sweetened or unsweetened peanut butter powder. Use this in smoothies, sauces, or baking in a 1:1 ratio.