I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of cashew butter substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry swap, or want a substitute that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
Peanut and almond butter are the easiest and most convenient substitutes for cashew butter. But if you’re willing to splurge more, try pistachio or macadamia butter. Staying away from nuts? Try sunflower seed butter or tahini. You can also make your own cashew butter from scratch.
I toasted several slices of bread to put different cashew butter substitutes to the test.
Cashew butter is a spread made from roasted and ground cashews. It’s smooth, creamy, and boasts a mild, nutty flavor with a subtle sweetness. It’s typically served as an accompaniment to toast, but you can also use it for smoothies, milkshakes, baked goods, and sauces.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||Notes on the substitute||Verdict|
|Peanut butter||Cheaper and easy to find||9/10|
|Almond butter||Deeper flavor||9/10|
|Sunflower seed butter||Slight vegetal flavor||8/10|
|Other nut butters||e.g pecan butter||8/10|
|Homemade cashew butter||Easier than you think||10/10|
|Soy nut butter||Similar flavor to peanut butter||7/10|
|Chopped cashews||Works in certain dishes||6/10|
Peanut butter tops our list of substitutes for cashew butter (as long as you’re not allergic). It’s a pretty common household staple, so you might already have some on hand, and if you don’t it will be easy to find. Peanut butter also tends to be less expensive than cashew butter.
You want to go for a natural peanut butter. The commercial brands are often mixed with lots of sugar and hydrogenated oils which gives you a denser, more paste-like texture. The natural peanut butter will be similar in texture to cashew butter.
In terms of flavor, peanut butter is richer and has a deeper nuttiness compared to the mild cashew butter, so I recommend using slightly less in your recipe if possible.
How to substitute: Replace cashew butter with 3/4 the amount of peanut butter, adding more if needed up to a 1:1 ratio.
For another nutty swap, consider almond butter. Again, almond butter has a more intense nutty flavor than cashew butter, but they both have a mild sweetness.
In terms of texture, almond butter matches the creaminess of cashew butter perfectly. And when it comes to nutrition, both are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. I.e the good kind of fats you want to incorporate into your daily diet.
The price of almond butter will be in the same range as cashew butter, so it’s more expensive than standard peanut butter.
How to substitute: replace cashew butter in a 1:1 ratio with almond butter.
Sunflower seed butter
If you have nut allergies but still crave a nutty spread, sunflower seed butter is the way to go. It’s less creamy than cashew butter but boasts an earthy, nuttier flavor that’ll jazz up your regular morning toast.
Not everyone is a fan at first (including me), but it’s one of those ingredients that grows on you the more you eat it. If you’re unsure if you’ll like it, get a small jar at first to taste test it.
Sunflower seed butter is a great source of magnesium and vitamin E. And sunflower seed crops are drought-resistant, which means they don’t need as much water as other crops, making this spread a potentially environmentally friendly choice.
How to substitute: replace cashew butter in a 1:1 ratio with sunflower seed butter.
Other nut butters
Peanut butter and almond butter are the most popular nut butters (along with cashew nut butter), but they’re not the only options. You can find a nut butter for pretty much any nut, as long as you’re willing to look for it.
Pecan and macadamia nuts are known to be rich and buttery, so it’s no surprise their butters have a more decadent flavor than cashew butter. Both are higher in calories than cashew butter, but it’s okay to indulge occasionally, right?
If you’re a fan of Nutella, you’re no stranger to hazelnut butter! It’s the unsweetened base of that popular spread and offers a rich, nutty flavor with a hint of sweetness. You could even use Nutella if you want a chocolatey, sweeter spread.
My personal favorite is pistachio butter. It has a vibrant green color that’s guaranteed to make your bland morning toast Insta-worthy. Pair it with a pinch of salt for best results.
How to substitute: replace cashew butter in a 1:1 ratio with your choice of nut butter.
Homemade cashew butter
Making your own cashew butter is simpler than you might think, and a lot of the process is hands-off! A recipe I swear by comes from Inspired Taste (video below), where you begin with raw unsalted cashews.
These little nuggets are then roasted to bring out their rich, nutty flavor. Next, they’re blitzed in a food processor with a neutral-flavored oil until you have a smooth and creamy paste.
The beauty of making your own cashew butter is the ability to tailor it to your preferences – want it super smooth? Keep blending. Fancy a chunkier spread? Fold in some chopped roasted cashews at the end. I have a friend who swears by adding some chili.
How to substitute: replace cashew butter with the homemade version in a 1:1 ratio.
Soy nut butter
Another alternative for anyone with nut allergies is soy nut butter. Despite the name, it doesn’t contain nuts but is made from whole roasted soybeans and it has a similar flavor to peanut butter, meaning it’s more robust than the milder cashew butter.
During my taste test, I found that soy nut butter had a slightly bean-like aftertaste which may not appeal to everyone. But you can always mix in a little sugar to balance this out. Some brands might already have added sugar.
Or you can save it for smoothies and baked goods, where its flavor won’t be the main focus.
How to substitute: replace cashew butter in a 1:1 ratio with soy nut butter.
Tahini is another solid cashew butter substitute. This Middle Eastern condiment is made from sesame seeds, which gives it a distinct nutty flavor with an undertone of bitterness. Again, the flavor is stronger than cashew butter, but the consistency is very similar.
It’s smooth, creamy, and luscious. And if you have any leftover, you can use it to make hummus or babaganoush.
Pro tip: if you want an even deeper flavor, look for black tahini, which is made from black sesame seeds.
How to substitute: replace cashew butter in a 1:1 ratio with tahini.
If you’re just after the flavor of cashew nuts and you don’t need the creamy texture, you can use chopped cashews in your dish. But be aware of how the textural differences will affect the final dish.
For example, if you swap cashew butter for cashews in a stir fry, you might end up with a thinner sauce. And the flavor of the cashews will be less uniformly spread out. But they would be fine in a smoothie or sprinkled over pancakes.
How to substitute: Replace cashew butter in a 1:1 ratio with chopped cashews.
Other substitutes to consider
The suggestions above are my top suggestions for cashew butter substitutes. But they’re not the only options. Here are some more ideas that are a departure from the nutty flavor of cashew butter, but you can use them in similar ways.
- Coconut butter: This is made from the dehydrated pulp of coconuts. It has nutty notes like cashew butter but with a tropical sweetness. Use it as a substitute in smoothies, oatmeal, and even in your morning toast.
- Apple butter: This is basically cooked-down apple sauce, which gives it a concentrated fruity flavor. It’s a solid alternative to jazz up your baked goods.
- Mashed avocado: This is a healthier alternative to cashew butter because it’s not processed. It still has the rich creaminess but with a grassy flavor. Mashed banana is also an option.
- Cookie butter: If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll love cookie butter. It’s made from speculoos cookies and has a spiced, sweet flavor.
- Pureed black beans: A low-fat option, but you’ll need to add some sweetener to improve the flavor and maybe some water to thin the puree out.
Substitutes to avoid
I came across a lot of suggestions for cashew butter substitutes while I was researching, but not all of them worked out.
Dairy-based options like sour cream, heavy cream, and yogurt were mentioned on some blogs, but I wouldn’t recommend using them. They could work as a base for smoothies, but they’re far creamier than cashew butter and are more tangy than nutty.
Cornstarch was suggested for its thickening properties, but it won’t add flavor like cashew butter and it needs heat to work. Another option I came across was poppyseed paste, but it has a gritty consistency and is much sweeter than cashew butter.
BEST Cashew Butter Substitutes + 5 To Avoid
- 3 cups raw unsalted cashews
- 1 tbsp oil
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- ¼ to ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ to ½ tsp vanilla extract
- honey or maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Add the cashews to a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the nuts for 3 minutes or until the cashews are lightly golden and nutty. Let cool.
- Add the roasted cashews into your food processor. Blitz everything for a minute and scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Add the oil then process for another 2-3 minutes. You should end up with a smooth, creamy mixture.
- Add the salt and other spices (if using). You can also sweeten this with honey or maple syrup.
- Use immediately or store in a sealed container.