Walnut butter and peanut butter are two nut butters that provide important nutrients while also being versatile and flavorful. They have many other characteristics in common, as well as quite a few differences. If you want to know which to use for a particular purpose, the SPICEography Showdown below can help you to choose.
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How does walnut butter differ from peanut butter?
The main ingredients in walnut butter and peanut butter are different. The most common type of walnut butter is made with roasted walnuts and the most common kind of peanut butter is made with roasted peanuts, but there are raw varieties of each. Walnuts are a tree nut in the same family as pecan nuts, while peanuts are a legume related to peas and beans.
The fact that walnut butter and peanut butter are made from different ingredients means that the nutritional profiles are different. Walnut butter is a better source of iron and magnesium than peanut butter. It also has the omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid, which you won’t get in any significant amount from peanut butter. Most natural peanut butter offers more protein and potassium than walnut butter, while also having less fat and fewer calories.
Just as walnuts and peanuts taste different, walnut butter and peanut butter differ in their flavor profiles. Walnut butter has a mild nutty flavor with a slightly bitter aftertaste. Peanut butter is milder and sweeter, but with a more distinctive flavor.
While both walnut butter and peanut butter can be found in well-stocked grocery stores, they are not equally available. Walnut butter is not as common as peanut butter in most parts of the world. When you can find walnut butter, it will usually be more expensive than peanut butter. Peanut butter is one of the most affordable foods in many places.
Can you substitute one for the other?
Walnut butter has a similar consistency to that of natural peanut butter. The fat content is similar enough that it will perform like peanut butter in baked goods recipes. Walnut butter is a little on the bitter side, so it won’t be an exact match for the sweeter caramelized flavor of roasted peanuts. You can lessen the bitterness by sweetening it. You may want to limit its use as a peanut butter substitute to sweet applications.
Peanut butter can work as a walnut butter substitute, but keep in mind that its flavor is distinctive, so your dish will taste like peanuts. The fact that natural peanut butter does have a similar consistency and richness to walnut butter means that it will be a good substitute if those qualities were what walnut butter was supposed to have brought to the dish.
When should you use walnut butter, and when should you use peanut butter?
Walnut butter is a great option as a spread on toast, preferably with honey or another source of sweetness to cut the slightly bitter aftertaste. It is also a good addition to smoothies, where it can help to boost the protein and mineral content. Add it to baked goods and desserts like cookies and cakes.
You can use peanut butter as a spread by itself or with a sweetener. Natural peanut butter is an effective thickener in soups and stews, both with and without meat. It is a classic ingredient in ice creams and cookies. It pairs well with chocolate.