Healthy Homemade Nut Butters
Homemade nut butter simply tastes better. It has a more complex flavor and an intoxicating aroma largely because the time between roasting and enjoying is minutes compared to the weeks or months from store-bought. Making it at home allows us to create new flavors, blend a variety of nuts, and control ingredients like sugar and salt. These nut butters taste great on their own or they can be added to your favorite smoothie for added protein and flavor.
Below are a few recipes to get you started – there are flavors ranging from simple cashew butter to a decadent mocha walnut butter.
How To Make Your Own Healthy Nut Butters
When making your own healthy nut butter, it is best to start with raw nuts. Pre-roasted will work, but the flavor might be compromised because there’s no way to tell how long ago the nuts were roasted.
Not all nuts are the same. Cashews and walnuts have the highest natural oil content while almonds have less oil. When processing your roasted nuts you’ll notice that cashews process faster than almonds and your cashew butter will be more runny and spreadable than pure almond butter. Blending a variety of nuts creates both a unique flavor and a more even texture.
You need a food processor or a high-speed blender like a Blendtec or Vitamix. It can take anywhere from 8-10 minutes of processing for nuts to become nut butter, and a standard blender just doesn’t have enough power. When you start to process your nuts it will go through several phases: from crumbly, to clumpy, to smooth. It helps to scrape the sides and the bottom of the blender after the first minute so that the crumbles will incorporate faster.
Let your nuts completely cool before processing. They will heat from friction, and you want to avoid getting your nut butter too hot. Letting them cool first avoids potential damage to your food processor bowl and blade, and it ensures your intended flavor. Also, when you first remove your nuts from the oven they will be somewhat soft. As they cool they will become crisp which aids in processing.
How to Roast the Nuts for your Nut Butter
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Don’t skip the preheat, because it ensures even roasting.
Spread nuts into a single layer on a baking sheet or cake tin. You don’t need to oil the pan or line it with silicone.
Roast: Place pan on middle rack and bake for 5 minutes.
Stir: Remove from oven and stir and move the nuts from the outer edge to the center.
Check: Bake for 3 minutes, stir, and check for doneness. Every nut roasts for a different amount of time and the time between roasted and burnt can be only a minute too long.
Roasted nuts will be a few shades darker than raw. You’ll also smell that they are fragrant, nutty, and some nuts will make a crackling sound.
More time: Return to the oven if needed and check again after another 3 minutes. Every time you check give your nuts a stir. Nuts rarely take longer than 15 minutes to roast. Cashews and peanuts can roast to a golden color at 8 whereas almonds can take as long as 12-15 minutes. The length of roasting is also determined by how much of a roasted flavor you want in your nut butter.
Warning: Nuts will continue to roast even after they are removed from the oven. It is helpful to give them an occasional stir as they cool to avoid burning on the hot pan. An even better strategy is to transfer the hot nuts to a different pan that isn’t hot.
Healthy Homemade Nut Butter Recipes
2 cups raw cashews
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Roast cashews and let them cool completely. Process cashews and salt for 8-10 minutes until it becomes smooth. If using pre-roasted and salted cashews omit the added salt in the recipe.
*Freshly roasted cashews have a lovely flavor on their own. However, if you would like to add a sweetener try one tablespoon of brown sugar or maple syrup.
Ginger Cardamom Almond Cashew Butter
Don’t be scared off by the ginger and cardamom in this recipe. It is enough to give your nut butter complexity of flavor without adding unnecessary heat. Typically almond butter is firm and not creamy; however, the blend of almond and cashews creates a unique flavor and gives it a creamy texture.
1 1/4 cups raw almonds
3/4 cup raw cashew
1/2 cup coconut unsweetened flakes (not desiccated coconut)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Bake cashews and almonds for 12 minutes at 350 F. Add coconut flakes to baking sheet and bake for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from oven, stir and flip using a spatula, and let cool completely.
Add all ingredients to food processor or high powered blender (see tips above) and process for 8-10 minutes until it becomes smooth.
*If using pre-roasted and salted cashews omit the added salt in the recipe.
Mocha Walnut Cashew Butter
The secret to this recipe is the subtle coffee flavor. Make sure to use instant coffee or espresso because standard ground coffee won’t disperse and incorporate which will make your nut butter gritty. The small amount of instant coffee won’t add caffeine, but it will make the chocolate flavor more complex and rich.
2 cups raw cashews
1 cup raw walnut
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso
1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional: 2 tablespoons nut based oil to thin
Add all ingredients to food processor or high powered blender and process until crumbly, scrape sides, and continue to process until smooth.
The cocoa powder and instant coffee addition can make your nut butter thick. If you want it creamy you’ll need to add a neutral oil or a nut based oil. Olive oil has too potent of a flavor and coconut oil turns solid at room temperature unless you are using a liquid version. Never add water unless you are going to be enjoying it immediately, because water will make the nut butter turn rancid.
Chia seeds are a great addition to your nut butter. It adds Omegas and a pleasant crunch.
All content of this blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this blog.
Kelly Sherman, MS, NC, CGP, CPT, is a licensed nutritionist specializing in empowering women to reclaim their health by cutting through misinformation and ditching the diet culture. She has a master’s degree in nutrition and is degreed in exercise science as well as a certified personal trainer. With over 20 years of experience in the field, she combines the best of both nutrition and exercise sciences to best help her clients reach their potential. To nourish is to flourish!