I personally taste-tested a variety of peanut 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 substitute, or want a substitute that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
Almond butter or cashew are the best substitutes for peanut butter if you’re not allergic to tree nuts. Sunflower seed butter is a great nut-free option, or you can go for tahini or coconut butter. Try powdered peanut butter for a low-calorie option.
I made a big batch of PB&J sandwiches to put different peanut butter substitutes to the test.
Peanut butter is a creamy spread made from dry-roasted peanuts. It has a robust, nutty flavor and the sweetness can vary depending on how much added sugar there is. The most common place you’ll find peanut butter is spread on toast, but it’s also used in baking (try these peanut butter cookies), sauces (chicken satay anyone?), and even salad dressings (like this one)
Sadly, peanuts are one of the most common food allergens, but luckily there are a lot of alternatives you can try.
If you can have tree nuts, then almond butter is the best substitute for peanut butter. I think the flavor of almond butter is more subtle compared to the flavor of peanut butter, but it was still deliciously nutty and it tasted perfect with the strawberry jelly in my sandwich.
In terms of texture, almond butter tends to be slightly more grainy than peanut butter, but this depends on the brand. It’s also not as sticky as peanut butter. And sadly it was more expensive!
Psst… almond butter has a higher ratio of monounsaturated fats to saturated fats compared to peanut butter, making it a heart-healthy choice.
How to substitute: Replace peanut butter in a 1:1 ratio with almond butter.
Other nut butters
Almond butter is the most popular nut butter after peanut butter, but it’s not the only option. Cashew butter is also a popular option because of its creamy taste and texture. It’s really smooth once blended, so can work well in baked recipes.
Less popular options include:
- Walnut butter: Has a high omega-3 content and rich flavor that’s verging on bitter.
- Pecan butter: Pecan butter is very decadent and has a delicious sweetness.
- Pistachio butter: This has a vibrant green color that’s great for Halloween! Tastes great with a pinch of salt.
- Hazelnut butter: Hazelnut butter is often sold with chocolate flavors added in (but don’t worry, they’re not all laden with as much sugar as Nutella), and is normally used in sweet recipes.
- Macadamia butter: This nut butter is richer than most, but not too sweet. Instead, it has a buttery flavor.
However, you won’t be able to find most of these in regular grocery shops, so you’ll need to make a trip to a health food store or buy them online. Or make them yourself at home.
How to substitute: Replace peanut butter in a 1:1 ratio with another nut butter.
If you need to avoid nuts altogether, sunflower butter is the way to go.
It’s got a similar creamy consistency to peanut butter, but a different flavor profile. Sunflower seed butter isn’t as sweet as peanut butter, and it has a mild earthy flavor. Some people even describe it as vegetal.
If you’ve never tried it before, get a taste test somewhere before buying a whole jar – just to make sure you like it! Like almond butter, sunflower seed butter isn’t cheap.
SunButter is a popular brand to check out if you’re looking to switch.
How to substitute: Replace peanut butter in a 1:1 ratio with sunflower butter.
Homemade peanut butter
If you’re not restricted by allergies and simply want a healthier, natural alternative that won’t break the bank, homemade peanut butter (or any nut butter) is a great option.
My go-to recipe is from Clean and Delicious, which only calls for two ingredients – peanuts and kosher salt.
What I like about this recipe is there are no added oils because the natural oils from the peanuts are all you need to achieve that creamy consistency.
Psst… for a time-saving hack, go for roasted, unsalted peanuts over raw ones.
Now here’s the fun part. With homemade peanut butter, you can play around with the flavors. Want a hint of sweetness? Add honey. Or perhaps, you fancy a warm note? Sprinkle in some cinnamon. And for a bit of crunch, fold in some chopped peanuts to get a chunky texture.
You also don’t have to stick to just peanuts. You can add in any nuts or seeds you have lying around.
How to substitute: Replace store-bought peanut butter in a 1:1 ratio with homemade peanut butter.
Soy nut butter
Despite the confusing name, this spread is 100% nut-free. It’s made with roasted and ground soybeans. Its flavor is less nutty compared to peanut butter but it does have a roasted, earthy quality to it. And if you want it sweeter, you can simply mix in some sugar or honey (some shop-bought soy nut butter might already contain sugar).
An added benefit of soy nut butter? It’s a complete source of protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids your body needs. Peanut butter is also a good source of protein, but it’s not ‘complete’.
How to substitute: Replace peanut butter in a 1:1 ratio with soy nut butter.
If you’ve ever made your own hummus, you’ll have heard of tahini. You may even have a jar hiding at the back of your fridge! And if you do, you’re in luck, because this Middle Eastern condiment makes a decent substitute for peanut butter.
It’s made from sesame seeds so it’s nut-free. And like a few previous substitutes, it’s not as sweet as peanut butter. Instead, it has a slightly bitter edge to it and an undertone of umami.
Tahini also had a runnier consistency than peanut butter, but I was still able to spread a generous amount over my toast. And the runniness means it’s great for drizzling!
How to substitute: Replace peanut butter in a 1:1 ratio with tahini.
Coconut butter is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about peanut butter substitutes, but it’s an excellent alternative if you want to switch things up.
The spread is made from shredded and pureed coconut, so it retains a lot of the rich, coconut flavor (unlike coconut oil, which is fairly neutral). If you’re comparing it to natural peanut butter, it has more natural sweetness. But if you compare it to commercial peanut butter, it’s not as sweet.
Coconut butter has a thick and spreadable consistency at room temperature, much like peanut butter. But it solidifies in the fridge, so you’ll need to give it a quick zap in the microwave before using it.
This made my strawberry jelly sandwich oh-so-tasty, but I would try pairing it with mango or guava jam next time for a more tropical twist.
How to substitute: Replace peanut butter in a 1:1 ratio with coconut butter.
Powdered peanut butter
If your only issue with peanut butter is its high-calorie count, allow me to introduce powdered peanut butter.
It’s made from powdered peanuts that have been pressed, which removes most of their oils and fats. This gives it the same rich, nutty flavor as regular peanut butter, but without all the calories.
To give you an idea, a popular brand like PB2 has just 45 calories per serving. A big difference from the hefty 190 calories you’d get from a similar serving of classic peanut butter.
You can stir it straight into your oatmeal, pancake batter, or protein shake for that classic peanut-ty boost. And if you find yourself missing the creaminess of regular peanut butter, you can rehydrate the powder with some water.
How to substitute: 2 tbsp powdered peanut butter + ½ tbsp water = 1 tbsp peanut butter
Want something sweet and indulgent? Cookie butter is made from crushed Speculoos cookies (a spiced shortbread) and has a warm, caramel-like flavor. It has a very similar consistency to peanut butter, and you can get smooth or crunchy varieties, with the crunchy varieties having bits of crushed cookie running through it.
Cookie butter isn’t the healthiest alternative because it’s high in sugar and fats, but it’s a good option if you fancy a treat. And because of the high sugar content, stick to using cookie butter in sweet recipes.
The cookie butter with my jam was a bit too sweet for me, but my sweet-toothed friend loved it.
How to substitute: Replace peanut butter with 3/4 the amount of cookie butter (so it’s doesn’t get too sweet).
Just when you thought you couldn’t possibly make another kind of butter… you hear about granola butter. Granola butter was actually featured on Shark Tank in season 13 (under the brand name Oat Haus) but didn’t secure any funding.
That didn’t stop Oat Haus though, and they’ve gone from strength to strength since. The spread is made from oats, maple syrup, coconut oil, olive oil, salt, and spices. So it has a few more ingredients than natural peanut butter, but it’s free from the top eight allergens.
And you can now get it in various flavors, including blueberry and a seasonal pumpkin spice.
How to substitute: Replace peanut butter in a 1:1 ratio with granola butter.
These options are a departure from peanut butter and don’t taste or look anything like it, but if you need inspiration for new spreads they’re great options!
Guacamole is tangy and fresh. It didn’t work so well in my sandwich, but pureed avocados are also great for adding healthy fats to smoothies. Cream cheese is good if you want something with a relatively mild flavor – it actually tasted great with my jam! Hummus is another savory option that you can spread on toast or use as a dip, and it’s low-fat.
Mashed bananas are perfect for spreading on toast too, or adding bulk to smoothies. It has a nice sweetness to it without the need for any added sugar.
How to substitute: Replace peanut butter in a 1:1 ratio with your chosen spread.
Mashed black beans (low fat)
Here’s a creative and healthy alternative to peanut butter. Black beans are easy to mash and once pureed will have a similar texture to peanut butter. If you find the paste too thick, you can always mix in a tiny amount of oil or water to thin the mixture out.
And black beans have a lot less fat and calories compared to peanuts, as well as being rich in protein and fiber.
The taste of black beans is obviously pretty different from peanuts – there’s no nuttiness or sweetness. Instead, they’re earthy and savory. But you can easily sweeten them up by adding your favorite sweetener along with something like cocoa powder or vanilla extract.
In fact, sweet bean paste is a favorite filling for mochi!
How to substitute: Replace peanut butter in a 1:1 ratio with pureed black beans.
More substitutes to consider
The suggestions above are my top peanut butter substitutes, but the list doesn’t end there.
Here are more alternatives that are worth a shot:
- Pea butter: You read that right, it’s a spread made from brown peas! The brand I found is called No Nuts, and it’s surprisingly similar to peanut butter. The only downside? You’ll have to order it online.
- Maple butter: This alternative is made from cooked-down maple syrup that has been churned. This results in a sweet, creamy spread you can use in place of peanut butter.
- Pumpkin seed butter: Pumpkin seed butter is mildly earthy and slightly sweet. It also has a dark green color, which makes it a fun alternative.
- Chickpea butter: This is not the same as hummus! It’s made from dry-roasted chickpeas which are then pureed with oil. It tastes nutty with a hint of beaniness.
Substitutes to avoid
There were a LOT of suggestions for peanut butter substitutes, but not all of them are good ideas.
I saw some blogs suggesting you use creamy mayo-based salad dressings to replace peanut butter. But this wasn’t a good option for my sandwich and you wouldn’t be able to use it in baking or smoothies either. You could use salad dressings as a dip, but I think most of the other options I suggested above would be better.
Best Peanut Butter Substitutes + What To Avoid
- 16 ounces roasted peanuts, unsalted
- ¼ to ½ tsp kosher salt
- Add the peanuts into your food processor and close the lid. Turn on the food processor and blitz the peanuts for about 4 minutes. They should turn thick and crumbly before transforming into a thick, smooth paste.
- Remove the lid, add the salt and blend for another 30-60 seconds or until you have a smooth, creamy mixture.
- Transfer into an airtight container and store in the fridge.