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Nut butters are a delicious pantry staple that you can easily make in a matter of minutes. It's quick and easy to make your own and is often cheaper than what you can find in the store. All you need is nuts!
Peanut butter was a staple for me growing up as a picky eater. It was one of the few items on my "yes" list. And it's only been in the last few years that I've learned about the other wonderful options for nut butters. Almond butter, walnut butter, cashew butter, pecan butter, macadamia nut butter.
In case you're wondering, nut butters aren't really a "new" thing. The Aztecs used to grind up nuts into a paste. And you can bet they didn't have a food processor that does the work for them!
Health Benefits of Nuts
Nuts are an excellent source of healthy fats (read more about good/bad fats here). Here's a few benefits of some common nuts:
- Almonds are high in magnesium, vitamin E and fiber.
- Walnuts are a good source of Omega 3s and may improve brain function.
- Peanuts are a good source of magnesium and vitamin E, although technically they're a legume.
- Cashews are high in magnesium, reduce blood pressure, and have antioxidant properties.
Store bought vs. Homemade Nut Butter
Nut butters are creamy (or crunchy, if you like that sort of thing), nutritious, and delicious. And you can make your own nut butter at home in a matter of minutes with just a single ingredient: nuts.
Too often, store bought nut butters are loaded with bad oils (read more about oils here), preservatives, and even sugar. In the United States, peanut butter has to contain at least 90% peanuts. So that's up to 10% of some combination of "fillers". Most likely vegetable oils, processed salts, and sugar.
It's always a good idea to look at the ingredient list when buying anything pre-made from the store. Nut butters are no exception.
When you make nut butter in your own kitchen, you can take control of what you're eating. But you still need to watch out for surprising ingredients in the nuts.
Make sure to get dry roasted or raw, unsalted nuts. If they aren't labeled "dry roasted" or "raw", they likely have been roasted in vegetable oils and covered in processed salt. Not quite what we're going for.
If you like the roasted flavor you can roast the nuts in your 300 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes before blending them up into nut butter.
If you get unsalted nuts you get to decide how much salt to add depending on your salt preference. We usually don't add salt and just add to taste when we use the nut butter in a recipe...brownies, savory sauces, soups, smoothies, oatmeal, and anything else we can think of.
Is it cheaper to make your own nut butter?
Making nut butter yourself will save you money. Here are some price comparisons for nuts and nut butters. Click on the links to see more about the item.
- Raw, unsalted almonds: $6/lb, Almond butter: $8.71/lb
- Raw, unsalted walnuts: $7.46/lb, Walnut butter: $14.78/lb
- Dry roasted, unsalted peanuts: $4.06/lb, Peanut butter: $4.42/lb
- Raw, unsalted cashews: $8/lb, Cashew butter: $17/lb
These price comparisons are for nut butters with at most two ingredients - nuts and salt.
Keep in mind that your local store might have a better price on nuts. I can get peanuts for around $2/lb at my local bulk bin store (much cheaper than on Amazon).
Recipe for Nut Butter
Get out your food processor and put some some nuts in it. If you'd like a nut butter blend, you can put multiple kinds of nuts in at the same time. Or just stick with one type of nut. Totally your call.
It takes about 3-10 minutes, depending on the nut. Peanuts and walnuts are softer and blend into a paste quicker. Almonds take a bit longer.
Pour the nuts in, turn on the food processor. Your nuts will go from whole nuts to chopped nuts to a crumble/ball to nut butter. When it looks creamy, stop the food processor.
At this point you can stir in salt, to taste. If you want a chunky nut butter, now is the time to put a handful of nuts in and pulse the machine a few times.
How to Use Your Nut Butter
Nut butters are a protein-rich nutritious snack that kids love, too. We often have apples or bananas with peanut butter at snack time. Or crackers with peanut butter.
Or just grab a spoon and eat some by the spoonful (yeah, we do that too).
Some people are die-hard chunky nut butter lovers...some swear that creamy is the way to go. Whichever camp you land in, you can make it that way at home.
As always, feel free to experiment and find what you like and what works for you. Let me know how it goes in the comments below!