Walnut butter is one of the more exotic nut butters. Made from highly nutritious walnuts, walnut butter is a healthy option that is flavorful too. Because of its cost and gourmet status, not everyone will keep a jar of it in their cupboards. You may have a hard time finding it in many grocery stores so here are a few walnut butter substitutes to try.
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Your best bet: Make your own walnut butter
Like any nut butter, walnut butter is easy to make. You only need two or so cups of walnuts and a good food processor for the most basic version. If you start with raw walnuts, you can roast them in a low oven (about 300 degrees Fahrenheit (148.89 °C)) for about 10 to 15 minutes and then let them cool before grinding them in the food processor. The walnuts will release their oils as the blades break them down. You can enhance the flavor with the addition of salt and a little sugar or spices like cinnamon and allspice.
The only real downside to making walnut butter is that it takes time and ingredients that you may not have on hand.
A decent second choice: Pecan butter
The pecans used to make pecan butter and the walnuts used to make walnut butter come from related plants. They both belong to the Juglandaceae family, which accounts for similarities between the nuts in terms of appearance and flavor. Pecan butter is made from ground pecans and has a similar flavor to that of walnut butter.
Pecan butter’s nutritional value is also a lot like that of walnut butter. Both are good sources of fiber and protein, as well as minerals like calcium and iron. Raw pecan butter is considered particularly healthy as it offers a significant store of antioxidants. Pecan butter has a similar texture and flavor to that of butter made with roasted walnuts. You can use them in the same recipes to get similar results.
The downside of pecan butter is that while it is often less expensive than walnut butter, it might not be easy to find. Pure pecan butter is rare. More common is pecan butter combined with other items to enhance its flavor.
In a pinch: Sunflower butter
You may see sunflower butter also called sunflower seed butter since it consists of roasted and ground sunflower seeds. Because it is made from sunflower seeds and not from nuts, sunflower seed butter is often recommended for people allergic to tree nuts and peanuts. If you need a walnut butter substitute because of a nut allergy, it should be one of your first options. It has the same consistency as nut butters including walnut butter and is one of the more widely available products in the nut/seed butter category. Sunflower butter has a comparable nutritional profile to that of walnut butter.
Something that you should consider before choosing sunflower butter is that its flavor is different from the walnut butter flavor. In many baked goods and other dishes, this won’t be an issue, but it might be if you plan to use it as a spread or eat it by itself.
Another popular alternative nut butter, cashew butter is made from ground roasted cashews. Cashew butter is easy to find and will usually be less expensive than walnut butter. Cashew butter’s flavor is mild, making it a great substitute for most other nut butters. It will work well in any recipe that requires walnut butter.