6 Alternatives to Peanut Butter

Whether you’re sensitive or allergic to peanuts yourself or need to make a peanut-free dish to share, these alternatives to peanut butter can help.

Peanut allergies are incredibly common. Between 1997 and 2008 alone, the number of reported childhood peanut allergies tripled. Chances are, you know at least one kid—or maybe an adult—who is living with a peanut allergy.

Peanut allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe. On the mild end, a person might experience itchiness in their mouth or break out into a rash when exposed to peanuts. A severe reaction can be as serious as anaphylactic shock.

Clearly, it’s important to take peanut allergies seriously, but it can be hard to navigate at first. Careful label-reading is your friend, and finding alternatives to peanut butter that you like can help make life a bit easier, too!

Bleached Walnuts Ready for Processing

This facility is shelling walnuts, but it could have processed peanuts on the same line.

Cross-Contamination

Before we get to the peanut butter alternatives, we need to talk about cross-contamination. Even a small amount of peanut can trigger severe reactions in some people. If that’s the case for you or someone you’re cooking for, you need to avoid not just foods that contain peanuts but foods prepared on shared equipment with peanuts. There are two kinds of cross-contamination: commercial and home contamination.

Commercial contamination should be clearly labeled on product packaging. If a product was made in a facility that processes peanuts or on shared equipment with peanut-containing products, there should be bolded text below the ingredients disclosing that fact. Depending on how severe the peanut allergy is, this may or may not be an issue.

Home contamination can happen if you’re making a peanut-free dish using utensils or other kitchen tools that you’ve used to prepare peanuts. For example, maybe you made a peanut butter smoothie in your blender a week ago. Unless you’ve thoroughly cleaned your blender to remove basically every molecule of peanut, you shouldn’t use it to make a peanut-free dish, because it could be contaminated.

Whether you're sensitive or allergic to peanuts yourself or need to make a peanut-free dish to share, these alternatives to peanut butter can help!

Alternatives to Peanut Butter

Need some alternatives to peanut butter to stock your fridge and pantry? Here are some common ones and how to use them.

1. Sunflower Seed Butter (aka Sunbutter)

Sunflower seed butter has a similar taste and texture to peanut butter, and you can use it anywhere you’d use peanut butter. It does have a bit of a sunflower seed aftertaste, which may or may not appeal to you. In something with a lot of other strong flavors, like a peanut sauce, it’s not as obvious, but in something like a sunflower butter sandwich, you’re definitely going to taste the difference.

2. Soy Nut Butter

To me, this is the most neutral of the peanut butter alternatives. The taste is pretty similar to peanut butter with no weird aftertaste. You can use soy nut anywhere you’d use peanut butter.

3. Pea Butter

Pea butter is starting to pop up on store shelves. The texture is very similar to peanut butter, but I have found that pea butters taste very sweet, almost frosting-level sweet. I haven’t tried every pea butter out there, though, so check the sugar content when you’re shopping. If it seems very high compared to peanut butter, that’s a red flag. Texture-wise, you can use pea butter one-to-one with peanut butter.

4. Pumpkin Seed Butter

Like the other peanut butter alternatives above, pumpkin seed butter works anywhere you’d use peanut butter. But like sunflower seed butter, it does have a bit of a different taste. The flavor is more mild than sunflower seed butter, though, so it’s worth a go, if sunbutter wasn’t your thing.

5. Tahini

If you normally use peanut butter as a base for a sauce recipe or to thicken up a soup or stew, tahini is a great alternative. Made from sesame seeds, tahini does have a slightly bitter flavor, so I wouldn’t use it for sweet recipes or sandwiches. Your tahini sauce obviously won’t taste like peanut sauce, but it will have very similar texture and flavor notes.

6. Other Nut Butters

I’m lumping all other nut butters together, because there are just so many options! Almond butter and cashew butter are probably the easiest to find. If you can do other nuts, these are probably your best bet. To me, they have the best taste and texture. While the flavor may not be 100 percent like peanut butter, I feel like alternative nut butters add to, rather than take away from, the taste of a sauce, dressing, dip or sandwich. Just read the label carefully, because it can be hard to find nut butters that aren’t produced in a facility that also processes peanuts.

Images via Getty

55 comments

Ethan O
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David C
David C7 days ago

thanks, and peanut butter is one of the "foods of the gods" which is my way of saying one of my favorite foods....although I do eat and enjoy some others.....

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pam w
pam w7 days ago

Not sure I could LIVE without peanut butter! Trader Joe's organic....nothing more than peanuts & a little salt. MUCH better than the PALM OIL products!

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Paulo R
Paulo R8 days ago

ty

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Danuta W
Danuta W9 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Mia B
Mia B9 days ago

thank you for sharing

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Danny C
Danny Chan9 days ago

I actually love peanut butter and have it almost every day for breakfast and so I won't be saying no to peanut butter anytime soon. :-) Thank you for sharing.

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hELEN hEARFIELD
hELEN h9 days ago

tyfs

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Ruth S
Ruth S10 days ago

Thanks.

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Ruth S
Ruth S10 days ago

Thanks.

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