Cashew butter and peanut butter are two of the easiest nut butters to find in most places. They are often recommended as substitutes for each other and can be used in many of the same ways but are not always perfectly interchangeable. Check out the SPICEography Showdown below for more information on their differences and similarities.
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How does cashew butter differ from peanut butter?
Cashew butter and peanut butter are made from very different main ingredients. Cashew butter is made from the cashew nut, a tree nut native to parts of Brazil and Venezuela. Peanut butter is made from peanuts, which are a legume found throughout South America including Peru, Ecuador, and Paraguay.
Just as cashews and peanuts have different flavor profiles, cashew and peanut butters also have different tastes. Cashew butter is the more mildly flavored of the two but offers the distinctive cashew flavor, which is a coconut-like nuttiness. Cashews do contain less sugar than peanuts, so plain natural cashew butter will typically be less sweet than plain natural peanut butter. Peanut butter’s flavor is dominated by a similar nuttiness as cashew butter, but it has a stronger caramelized flavor with a very mild chocolate note.
Cashew butter and peanut butter have different nutritional profiles. Cashew butter beats peanut butter when it comes to minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and copper. Peanut butter contains all three of those minerals, but lower concentrations of them than cashew butter. Peanut butter is a good source of vitamin E, while cashew butter is not. Peanut butter also provides more protein and dietary fiber per serving than cashew butter.
Cashew butter is not the most expensive or rarest alternative nut butter, but it does typically cost more than peanut butter because cashew nuts cost more than peanuts. It will also be harder to find in many places. Peanut butter — especially in the US — is both commonplace and relatively affordable.
Can you substitute one for the other?
Cashew butter’s consistency is virtually identical to that of peanut butter. While its flavor is milder, it is still close enough to make a decent substitute in pretty much every application that would require peanut butter. The only (slight) drawback is the muted flavor. Cashew butter is sometimes recommended as a peanut butter substitute for people with allergies; however, there is a good chance that you will be allergic to cashews as well if you have a peanut allergy.
Peanut butter is similarly a good cashew butter substitute in terms of flavor and consistency. Its flavor is a little more pronounced than that of cashew butter, but that will be seen as a positive in many applications. The texture of baked goods made with peanut butter will be essentially the same as those made with cashew butter.
When should you use cashew butter, and when should you use peanut butter?
Use cashew butter in dishes where the nut butter’s flavor is less important than its richness or its effects on consistency. Add it to oatmeal or to make vegan smoothies creamier. Use peanut butter in dishes where you want the peanut flavor at the forefront. It can add richness to baked goods just like cashew butter, but it will also make them taste like peanuts. Use it to give a peanut flavor to cookies, ice creams and chicken satays.