HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


peanut butter substitute

ok, my daughter has a nut allergy - both peanuts and tree nuts. So, we've banned it from the house (she's 2 and gets into everything). Sad day, it was. Anyhow, now the rest of the family is in PB withdrawal. I bought some soy peanut butter and it looked like peanut butter with mustard mixed into it. didn't taste all that much better either.

Is there a good soy-based peanut butter out there? Or maybe another non-nut butter that could fit the bill? Or is this all a pipe dream and I just need to get used to very strange alternatives or just doing without as I've done for the past 6 months...

all help appreciated!

- Adam

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. The best I've found is I.M. Healthy soy nut butters. If you're looking for something that tastes just like peanut butter, I don't think you'll find it in soy nut butters but this is as close as I can find. They also have different flavors, like chocolate soy nut.


      13 Replies
      1. re: chowser

        Forgive me if this is a stupid question--but which nuts are tree nuts? I've seen cashew, almond, macademia, and more rarely, walnut and pecan nut butters at various health food stores.

        Barring that, pumpkin butter or apple butter might be nice, and even hummus often has a slightly peanut-y texture.

        1. re: veganish

          i think this applies to everything except soy beans (because they're, well, beans). peanuts are technically legumes and not tree nuts. so it's possible to be allergic to peanuts and not to tree nuts, or to walnuts and not cashews because they're different species but doctors rule out everything as a precaution in small children. did your doctor do a skin prick test? it's the only way to know for sure (and hey, maybe you guys could have almond butter then!)

          apple butter would be the closest thing. good soy nut butter takes some getting used to but you eventually will (just as my boyfriend got used to soy milk...)

          1. re: kimberlya

            they didn't do a skin prick because it was too risky, since the symptoms were so severe, so they did blood tests. and she's got the wonderful distinction of being allergic to both peanut and tree nuts (so peanuts, as well as almonds, cashews, walnuts, pine nuts, etc.).

            1. re: kimberlya

              As Kimberlya stated almonds and cashews are not tree nuts, also brazil macadamia and pistatios. I'd check with your doctor. But, one of these should work.

              1. re: LuigiOrtega

                I don't know about cashews, but almonds are definitely tree nuts. And Kimberly didn't say almonds and cashews weren't tree nuts -- she was suggesting finding out exactly what nuts the person was allergic to, so those might be an option if it turned out the person wasn't allergic to all tree nuts.

                I think it's very dangerous to take suggestions like this from total strangers on the internet -- there's a lot of misinformation floating around and information about allergens is not something to trust to "someone on the internet."

                1. re: LuigiOrtega

                  All of the above, almonds, cashews, brazils, macadamias, and pine nuts grow on trees. There are some distinctions for exaample the cashew nut grows at the base of the cashew apple. It grows on the Cashew tree. Oh and coconuts. They are all seeds if you want to look at them that way but are generally classified as nuts.

                  There are as Kimberly stated some people who can eat one type but not another. We have a friend who cannot eat, pecans, walnuts (either variety) or butternuts. They all are related. Almonds and pistachios are just fine.

                  Tahini might make a good substitute but I'd be careful. You may just have to give it up for now and hope it is one of the childhood things she'll grow out of.

              2. re: veganish

                I have also started using hummus like peanut butter lately. You can't do hummus & jelly, but you can still use it in all the savory ways you could use peanut butter. Alternatively, tahini can also be used as a spread, though it is definitely an acquired taste.

                1. re: JungMann

                  I think you have to be careful with hummus if you have a peanut and nut allergy, because chickpeas are legumes. I know my 4 year old cousin who has the peanut allergy cant have chick peas.

                  adamclyde, I don't know if you can get it where you are, but I use a "Hemp Seed Butter" by Manitoba Harvest on a regular basis, that I quite like. It should be ok, as long as he's not allergic to seeds.

                  1. re: JungMann

                    You CAN do hummus and jelly. Just make sure the hummus isn't too runny, and use a Mediterranean fruit spread. I've done it with thick fig jam or date butter, but I could see it work with pomegranate molasses.

                    For more of a fusion-y mix, I've made hummus-cranberry sauce sandwiches.

                    1. re: piccola

                      piccola, those combinations sound tremendous!! No nut allergies here, but always enjoy new & different combinations. Thanks for those ideas.

                      1. re: piccola

                        Ergh... I love hummus but I can't imagine it mixed with sweet stuff! Skip the hummus and go straight to the source - tahini and jam or tahini and honey is a great combination, and the sweetness of the spread cuts the slight bitterness of the sesame.

                        1. re: Kajikit

                          Exactly! But I can't recall ever having a bitter tahini unless it was spoiled. It probably varies from brand to brand. But you do get a "nuttier" flavor by simply using tahini, which is ground (usually roasted) sesame seeds rather than hummus, which is a combination of tahini and other vegetables, garbanzo beans being the most familiar.

                          In fact, tahini is similar to natural peanut butter in that the oil seperates and you have to mix it before use. Should make great peantubutterless and jelly sandwiches!

                  2. re: chowser

                    second the soynut butter. We get it and cannot tell the difference.

                  3. if she's okay with seeds, try pumpkin seed butter, sunflower seed butter, or hemp seed butter...all delicious alternatives. i'm not sure where you live, but if there's a 'whole foods market' nearby, they carry all of them. [btw, the sunflower is by far the least expensive of the three.]

                    oh, and while i like apple butter for what it is, i really don't see how it would be an acceptable replacement for any nut butter. the textures & flavor profiles are way too dissimilar. but veganish's hummus suggestion [or any other bean spread for that matter] was a good idea as a sandwich spread substitute.

                    best of luck!

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      I second that about fruit butters. They're more an accompaniment to a "nut" butter.

                      As one who's allergic to peanuts, I can offer my own opinion about substitutes. Since your daughter can't have tree nuts either (too bad, as one of my faves is roasted cashew butter), I do recommend the Sunflower Butter they carry at Trader Joe's. The taste and texture are very similar to peanut butter.

                      Just watch labels on everything very carefully. Peanuts and byproducts like peanut oil are in a lot of products.

                      1. re: cmvan

                        I recently bought a jar sunflower seed butter as a healthier alternative to peanut butter. It wasn't close enough to fool the primary consumer of peanut butter in the house who, after a few sandwiches, went out and bought his own jar of actual peanut butter, but it has a nutty flavor, I think.

                        It's called "creamy sunbutter" and says"contains no peanuts" right on the label. On the back it says, "made on equipment that processes soybeans. Processed in a peanut free and tree nut free facility." Also, that it's intended to serve as a "direct peanut butter replacement" and that "each batch is tested for trace amounts of peanut protein." The ingredients are sunflower seed, sugar, mono-diglycerides, salt, and natural mixed tocopherols.

                        Ah, here's a url: http://sunbutter.com/

                        Good luck!


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Thanks for the specific recommendation. That it's diligently non peanut is good...

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            That Sunbutter sounds great! Where do you go to buy it? (They don't have Trader Joes in Florida...) does Wholefoods stock it?

                            1. re: Kajikit

                              I buy it up at my local co-op. I think Whole Foods does carry it, actually (I just searched on their site)--but you might just call them to confirm your particular store carries it as I know they don't all carry the same things. If worse comes to worse, you can order it online. Another thing to try is to just call SunButter and ask who, in your area, stocks it.

                              Good luck!


                          2. re: cmvan

                            If there is a concern about cross-contamination, nut butters are pretty easy to make in the food processor. I assume seed butter would be even easier. You can roast the seeds with a little oil if you buy them raw, then process the heck out of them in the food processor. Add a little vegetable oil if it looks like it needs something to help it stick a little. Salt, honey, a little rosemary during processing. You might think you're doing it wrong, but just keep processing. Eventually it will come together.

                        2. There is a product in Canada called Peabutter which is made from some kind of legume (I can't remember which one). I have sampled it at a trade show and it's pretty decent, for what it is. It looks so much like peanut butter that it's been banned from many schools where peanut butter isn't permitted. I don't know if it's a Canadian product or not but I suspect you could google it and see if it's available where you are.

                          1 Reply
                          1. Chickpea/garbanzo butter?

                            1. I am so nut allergic, it isn't funny.

                              However, I find a good, thich tahini (sesame seed paste) is a good and tasty option. You can get it at Whole foods or middle eastern/Glatt/Kosher/Greek markets.

                              Just be sure to check that it's thick. SOme tahini's are really thin.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Diana

                                I love tahini too... just make sure that you stir the jar REALLY WELL so that the oil is mixed through it (otherwise the top of the jar is glop and the bottom is concrete...) It doesn't taste anything like peanut butter but it makes a great sandwich with jelly/honey/raisins/halved grapes for the sweet element. They sell 'raw' tahini too but it's a lot more bitter - the processed kind is much more neutral in flavour.

                              2. *** My 4 year old daughter has been tested for allergies and we have been advised to keep her from peanuts as well as tree nuts. I grew up on Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, what is childhood without that??? - even as an adult it has been a major staple and comfort food for me. I have been on a quest to find a safe alternative for our household ever since her allergies were doctor confirmed.

                                In my experience, Soy nut buter is NASTY!!! and tastes nothing like peanut butter!

                                Apple butter, I think would not be anything near a substitute, but it does taste good with peanut butter and on toast. :)

                                If you do decide to try Hummus, please keep in mind that quite often it is made with peanuts, it is actually amazing how many things that are. We purchased a berry pie from the grocery store a couple weeks ago and since I am in the habit of checking every label, we found out that it had all sorts of nuts in it? Who would have thought.. and where? Maybe in the crust or something?

                                ANYWAY, I went to Trader Joes on my lunch hour today and decided to see if I could find something like Sesame Butter or something.. Well, I found Sunflower Butter!!!!! I bought some (only $2.99) and brought it back to the office for the official taste test. If there isn't a Trader Joes in your area, maybe you can try Whole Foods or New Seasons or Zupan's or some other specialty store, or I can pick some up for you and send it to you.. I am sure it isn't that expensive to send. :)

                                It is wonderful and the closest thing I have found that tastes like peanut butter! I reasearched on the internet to see if there was any closeness to peanuts and just found that lots of people have used it as a safe alternative with no reactions! Yipee!!!

                                It is so wonderful, I think we just might have Sunflower Butter and Jelly Sandwiches for dinner tonight with a great big glass of milk!

                                I hope you decide to try it out! Good luck!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Mischelle

                                  definitely agree with the sunflower butter - my daughter goes to a peanut/tree nut free school and we had to nix the peanut butter right away. it definitely is delicious and relatively close to peanut butter, although one thing to remember is that trader joe's sunflower butter does have sugar (evaporated cane juice) in it, where as natural peanut butter is just peanuts - i don't know if that might necessarily be a problem, but in our house diabetes is an issue and also, it does taste slightly sweeter than peanut butter.

                                  1. re: fudisgud

                                    I forgot about this thread... but co-incidentally I was in Publix today buying groceries and in front of my eyes was a couple of jars of Sunbutter! So I bought a jar of crunchy and I'm sitting here tucking into a crunchy sunbutter and jelly sandwich. It's delicious, but I have to agree with you about the sweetness - since I'm not a five year-old, I'm sure I'd prefer the nut butter without the extra sugar (I always had unsweetened peanut butter too...) The jar says they also make a version with honey - I hate to think how sweet that must be! But for what it is, it's pretty good and now I know I like it I'll make sure to keep a jar on hand. :)

                                2. Trader Joe's has all sorts of good things to use as substitutes. I've never tried the sunflower butter but it sounds like the perfect solution!

                                  What is everyone craving peanut butter on? Celery? If so, try other dips like spinach or ranch dips...

                                  Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches? Honey and banana sandwiches are delicious.

                                  I know these aren't the same, but I'm trying to think of good alternatives! Good luck!


                                  1. How about chinese Sesame Paste? Unlike tahini, which is untoasted sesame seeds and therefore kind of a pale creamy color, the chinese stuff is toasted first so the color is closer to peanut butter. I've never actually tried it plain, but recipes are always suggesting peanut butter as a substitute for sesame paste (in cold noodle dishes or whatnot) that I thought maybe the substitution would work the other way. You probably want to buy your own sesame seeds and toast and grind them yourself for maximum cross contamination control. Also, if you do it yourself you can add salt and sugar which would probably make it taste more like commercial peanut butter.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Jujubee

                                      I also have a food allergy to peanuts and all nuts. Sunbutter, which is made from sunflower seeds has recently become a favorite of mine as a substitute for peanut butter. I have tried soy nut butter before but I think sunbutter tastes better.

                                    2. The best substitute is sunflower butter. It tastes just like peanut butter and has almost the same texture. You do need to refridgerate it and stir before you eat it (it gets a tad oily), but overall it is a good substitute.

                                      I have found it at my local grocery store, Meijer, and WalMart, made by SunButter. Oddly enough the only local organic or health food store I have found it at is Trader Joes..

                                      As someone that misses peanut butter and jelly, sunflower butter has been a life saver!

                                      1. I used to eat sunflower seed butter. Here's a link to one brand http://www.sunbutter.com/products.asp

                                        1. Try SchoolSafe Soybutter, it really tastes like peanut butter. You can find out more on their website, www.schoolsafefood.com.