Sunflower butter is often marketed as an alternative to peanut butter. The two share many qualities, but they are also different in some important ways. It is important to compare them carefully before choosing one over the other. Let’s take a look at sunflower butter and peanut butter in this SPICEography Showdown.
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How does sunflower butter differ from peanut butter?
Sunflower butter and peanut butter come from different plants. Sunflower butter comes from the seeds of the sunflower plant, which is in the Asteraceae family, making it a relative of sage and dandelions. The peanuts used to make peanut butter are legumes and are related to peas and beans.
Sunflower butter and peanut butter have different flavor profiles. Sunflower butter is mildly flavored with a light nuttiness and a hint of grassy flavor. It can be a little bitter, so sugar is sometimes added to commercial versions to make it more palatable. Peanut butter has the intense and distinctive coffee-like note of roasted peanuts. Natural peanut butter will have no sugar added.
Sunflower butter and peanut butter have different nutritional profiles. Sunflower butter has more magnesium, pantothenic acid and far fewer calories per serving than peanut butter. It also has less saturated fat than the most common form of peanut butter, which has been stabilized with hydrogenated oil to keep it from separating at room temperature. Peanut butter offers more protein, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids than sunflower butter.
While sunflower butter and natural peanut butter both have similar consistencies, sunflower butter has a very different consistency from stabilized peanut butter. Sunflower butter is a thick liquid at room temperature — sunflower oil is often added to the seeds when they are being ground — while stabilized peanut butter is a waxy solid.
Can you substitute one for the other?
Sunflower butter can provide a similar texture to that of natural peanut butter when used on bread. It will also provide the same kind of fat and richness as natural peanut butter. It is very different from stabilized peanut butter, which is much thicker and denser; sunflower butter won’t be a good substitute for stabilized peanut butter if you are planning to use it as a spread because of the texture difference. It will still work just as well in baked goods and other applications. Sunflower butter’s main drawback as a peanut butter substitute is its flavor, which is noticeably different from the distinctive peanut butter flavor.
Natural peanut butter will work in every application that requires sunflower butter. Its flavor is more pronounced and distinctive, which means that you may not want to use it if you don’t want the dish to taste like peanuts.
When should you use sunflower butter, and when should you use peanut butter?
Use sunflower butter if you need an alternative to natural peanut butter or other nut butters. It is a good option if you are trying to avoid allergic reactions or need to supplement the magnesium in your diet. Use it as a spread on bread, in muffins, and cakes, as well as in smoothies.
Peanut butter is the main ingredient in the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Its flavor is perfect for cookies and cakes, and you can use the runnier natural peanut butter as a topping for ice cream.