Easy Tips to Find Your New Favorite Nut Butter

Peanut butter has long reigned as the go-to nut butter for most people. However, with the rise of peanut allergies, peanut butter is no longer an option for many consumers. This has led to the demand for alternative nut butter products, and now numerous varieties of nut butter are now available. Read our tips for finding a favorite.

Key takeaways:

What is nut butter?

Nut butter is made by grinding or pulverizing nuts into a paste — zero butter is added to the product. Instead, the high-fat content of the nut lends itself to a buttery or creamy texture that makes it spreadable.

In the past, some companies have added ingredients to nut butter to increase flavor, shelf life, aroma, or color. Nowadays, big companies have reduced the number of additives and sugars, and most products have very little added sugars.

Natural nut butter needs to be refrigerated after opening because it doesn't contain preservatives and, thus, is prone to spoilage. For best results, seal the lid tightly and store it upside down to help prevent oil separation.

Also, when working with nut butter, clean utensils should be used to avoid cross-contamination.

Health benefits of nut butter

All nuts are rich in healthy fats, called unsaturated fats. Health research has long shown the benefits of these fats, which are known to be anti-inflammatory.

Although nut butter is ground (considered a healthy type of mechanical food processing), it retains its healthy fats.

A healthy adult can safely enjoy one to two tablespoons of nut butter daily, depending on the individual's energy expenditure. For example, athletes metabolize food much faster and need more calories to perform. Therefore, they could eat more nut butter than the average person without adverse effects.


As well as healthy fats, all nuts are rich in fiber. Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that feeds gut bacteria — called probiotics.

On average, an adult needs between 25g–38g of fiber per day and should seek dietary sources as much as possible to satisfy this requirement. This includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds (including nut butter), and beans.


All types of nut butter have antioxidants, which are compounds that prevent chronic illnesses. Regularly consuming antioxidants is important for maintaining health and reducing harmful inflammation.

Other foods that contain antioxidants include fresh fruits and vegetables, tea, and dark chocolate.

Most people are familiar with peanut butter, so let’s look at the nutritional qualities of other types of nut butter.

Almond butter
  • Almond butter has the highest fiber content per serving (one tablespoon offers approximately 1.3 g of fiber). It also offers a small amount of calcium and magnesium.
  • Almond butter has a nuttier flavor compared to peanut butter and is usually chunky.
Cashew butter
  • Cashew butter has the highest protein content per serving (one tablespoon offers approximately 6 g of protein).
  • Cashew butter tastes mild with sweet undertones.
Sunflower butter
  • Sunflower butter is (technically) made from seeds, not nuts. It is a great source of magnesium and protein and has a more fluid-like texture that blends well into salad dressings and soups.
  • Sunflower butter has an earthy, intense flavor — a little goes a long way.
Walnut butter
  • Walnuts naturally contain a plant version of omega-3 fatty acids. Although it can be more difficult for the body to absorb this type of fat, trace amounts are successfully absorbed. Omega-3s are known to fight inflammation and are considered a healthy dietary fat.
  • Walnut butter has a strong earthy flavor that can be bitter, with tannins that hit the back of the tongue.
Pecan butter
  • Like walnuts, pecans have trace amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and are rich in minerals such as magnesium and zinc.
  • Pecan butter is similar to cashew butter — mild and very creamy.

Crunchy vs. smooth

Crunchy nut butter has texture, and small pieces of nuts are still in it. Smooth nut butter has only one texture — creamy. Both are excellent options, but it depends on preference and how they are being used. For instance, a recipe may call for a smooth nut butter so that it can be fully incorporated into the dish, such as a soup or in baking.

The next time you run out of peanut butter, consider trying a different type of nut butter. Most bulk stores sell a variety of nut butter. Try buying smaller sizes before committing to a larger container. A fun way to enjoy nut butter is by experimenting with new recipes or by adding it to your favorite dishes. Nut butter can be a great addition to salad dressings, stir fries, and meat marinades.

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