Homemade Nut Butter is So Quick and Easy — and It’s Endlessly Customizable Too!
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I’ve been consuming nut butter of one kind or another nearly all my life. As a kid, I ate countless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but when almond butter became more mainstream, I added it to my toast. Now, you can walk through the nut butter section of any grocery store and find a variety of interesting looking combinations — from cashew butter and sunflower seed butter to nut blends with flax and chia seeds (I’m looking at you, Trader Joe’s). If you happen to google “nut butter,” you’ll suddenly be flooded with targeted ads trying to sell you a jar of pumpkin seed butter or coconut lemon cashew butter for more than you paid for your child’s last pair of shoes. It’s an exciting time to be a nut butter lover, but also an expensive and somewhat overwhelming one.
How to make homemade nut butter
When I discovered this recipe for homemade nut butter on one of my favorite food blogs, I was elated. Even though I’d seen the grocery store nut butter grinders, I’d assumed you needed special equipment to get from nuts to butter — I’d never thought about making it myself. It didn’t hurt that the basic recipe was easy and extremely forgiving. Basically, you add lightly roasted nuts to a good quality food processor and wait until they become butter, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula if needed.
Beyond ease, it’s endlessly customizable. I can make that pumpkin seed butter, or create my own unique blend, or — yes, create something resembling my beloved Nutella, all with ingredients I can pronounce and control.
Immediately, the wheels started turning. I’d fallen in love with macadamia nut butter when it was briefly on the market, but with expense and shelf stability issues, it’s difficult or impossible to find. I loved the idea of creating my own.
Now, my nut butter making has become a ritual, keeping my trusty food processor on its toes. (If you’ve yet to buy one of these, get one that can go in the dishwasher. Game-changer.). Unlike major nut butter brands, I don’t have to worry about cost margins, which is why blends are often heavy on less expensive nuts like peanuts. Instead, I’m trying to figure out how many nuts and seeds I can blend together to maximize my family’s diversity of nutrients. A favorite blend for me is pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts. My unscientific way of measuring is to put roughly equal handfuls of nuts on the cookie sheet I’m using to roast and then sprinkle pumpkin seeds into all the cracks. Sometimes I’ll add in pistachios as well. This is my all-purpose nut butter which I use for toast, but also for savory applications — a nutty satay sauce, for example, or as a base to a soup.
Where to buy nuts at a good price
You can shop around for the best deal, but I’ve found that I can get the best bang for my buck shopping the organic bulk section at my local supermarket. It’s also a great way to try a little of this and a pinch of that without spending a fortune.
Customizing your nut butter
Once you have your base and it’s the consistency you want, you can add in other ingredients to customize further. This is when I taste and then add salt if I feel like it, but it’s also the time to add in flax or chia seeds. Sometimes I scoop in some tahini or drizzle a little maple syrup. If you have a sweet tooth like me, you may also want to add chocolate.
I’ve gotten the best-tasting chocolate nut butter results by mostly using hazelnuts, making sure to toast them a little until they are fragrant (even if they are already roasted, it’s useful to heat them a bit). I’ve read that people try to get off as much of the skins as possible using a towel while they are hot, but I find this fiddly and so do not do it. If you have a powerful enough food processor, you will still get good results.
Once your butter is ready, I recommend adding your chocolate chips or baking chocolate of choice. When it hits the hot nut butter, it melts beautifully and becomes glossy. Left in this condition, it’s pourable into a container. (I highly recommend a glass Pyrex container to make it easier to get every last bit out. No more scrounging at the bottom of jars!) If you do add a liquid sweetener like maple syrup, it will thicken quite a bit, but will still be delicious. You can play around with different sweeteners to get the taste and consistency you like best.
Storing your nut butter
I keep my nut butter in the fridge and it can get somewhat hard. I solve this by putting it in the microwave for 10–30 seconds to make it spreadable, but you might want to try blending in some oil (coconut often does well) to aid with that.
My daughter now starts many of her mornings asking for “chocolate toast.” I like to think of it as “pain au chocolat” toast. Either way, a generous helping of nut butter, topped with black sesame and chia seeds and I’m happy and full until lunch. I love feeling good about what I’m feeding my daughter — at less cost and with great ease and low time commitment. Now that I’ve tried it, I’m never going back to the tiny, expensive jars in the grocery store again.