Walnut butter and almond butter are seen by many as alternatives to peanut butter. Whether you have an allergy specifically to peanuts or just want a new nut butter, both are worthwhile options to try. In this SPICEography Showdown, we see how they compare to each other.
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How does walnut butter differ from almond butter?
Walnut butter and almond butter are made from different nuts. Walnuts come from plants in the Juglandaceae family, which includes pecan and hickory trees. Almonds come from trees in the Prunus genus. Other members of this family include apricots and plums.
Because their main ingredients are different, walnut butter and almond butter have different nutritional profiles. Walnut butter is known for its low fat content, which makes it the best choice if you are trying to limit fat in your diet. It is one of the few plant sources of alpha-linolenic acid, which is one of the omega-3 fatty acids and is beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels.
In comparison, almond butter is one of the fattiest nut butters and is also a much better source of vitamin E than walnut butter. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that helps to fight free radicals and the serious health problems they can cause.
Walnut butter and almond butter have different flavors. Toasted walnuts have the same mellow nuttiness as the nuts from which they are made. It has notes of coconut and caramel, with a little bitterness. Almond butter tastes like roasted almonds, which are more intensely nutty with a hint of chocolate.
Can you substitute one for the other?
Because it has a relatively mild nutty flavor and a similar fat content, walnut butter can stand in for almond butter in some recipes. For example, it should work in baked goods and other preparations where the almond flavor is not a key element of the dish. If all you need is the consistency and richness of nut butter, it is fine as an almond butter substitute, even though it won’t give you the distinctive almond flavor. Most recipes that benefit from the taste of almonds will be just as good if you replace it with the walnut butter flavor profile. You may want to factor in the fact that walnut butter is generally more expensive and harder to find than almond butter when considering it as a substitute.
Roasted almond butter can work as a walnut butter substitute, but note that it does have a distinctive taste that will give the dish an almond flavor. Raw almond butter may be a better option as a walnut butter substitute since the flavor is milder.
When should you use walnut butter, and when should you use almond butter?
Use walnut butter when your dish will benefit from a low-fat nut butter that is also mildly flavored. Because of its bitterness, you may want to use it in an application where it is paired with something sweet, like honey or fruit. It will work well in desserts. Walnut butter can be used on its own as a spread for bread, but it is best with jam or jelly.
Roasted almond butter is just as useful on its own as it is in sweet and savory preparations. You can use it in baked goods and to supplement protein in oatmeal or smoothies. It is great as a thickener for meat or vegetable stews, and on its own as a spread for bread or crackers.