Nut butter enthusiasts, you’re going to want to read this.

By Sara Tane
March 10, 2021

I vividly remember the first time I made homemade peanut butter. I was probably in middle school and it had somehow been brought to my attention that peanut butter was made solely of peanuts (shocking, I know) and you could make it yourself by essentially mixing peanuts together. Obvious in retrospect, but completely life altering in the moment. So, I set out one afternoon to see for myself if this was really true. I was fully convinced that it wasn't going to work — you're telling me that you just put some peanuts in a food processor, let it blend for a little, and then voila, you've got a bowl of creamy peanut butter? C'mon, that's crazy?!

Well, the lesson that I learned that day is one that I have taken with me for the rest of my life. Making homemade peanut butter works — plus, it's easy, cheap, endlessly customizable, and most importantly, delicious. Listen, there's nothing wrong with store-bought nut butter and I'd be lying if I told you that a majority of my nut butter consumption is homemade. That said, every now and again I like to whip up a homemade batch to remind myself of the wonders of homemade peanut butter. Ready to make a batch of your own? Here's how:

Pick your machine.

The beauty of homemade peanut butter is that an appliance basically does all of the work for you. Because of this, you'll want to make sure that the machine you're using is in great shape — now is not the time to see if your mini food processor that's on its last leg is up for a little challenge. You'll need to use a high-speed, full-size food processor or a high-speed blender (like a Vitamix).

Raw peanuts in skillet
Credit: Sara Tane

Pick your nuts.

Now, I know that my touching anecdote was referencing making homemade peanut butter, but it should also be stated that you can make any nut butter of your choosing (or a combination of multiple different nuts). As long as your nuts are unsalted, shelled (where applicable), and the skins are removed, then you can get as creative as you like with your homemade nut butters. Cashew, walnut, pistachio, almond, and hazelnut are all great options. The method is exactly the same across the board.

Toasted peanuts in skillet
Credit: Sara Tane

Toast your nuts.

The first thing you'll want to do before blending your nut butter is to toast your nuts. As far as how many nuts you toast, 2 cups will yield you about 1 cup of butter, which is a great starting point if you've never made it at home. You can always scale up or down your recipe, just keep in mind that you don't want too many nuts, which can overwhelm your machine.

To toast the nuts, heat a large, dry skillet over medium heat, and spread the nuts in the pan. Toasting nuts not only brings out a deep, nutty flavor, but it helps to extract some of their oils, which is helpful when it comes time to blend 'em up. After about 5 to 8 minutes (stirring regularly), the nuts should be fragrant and take on a golden-brown hue, and they should have a subtle glisten to them. Once they're oily and toasted, go ahead and dump them into your food processor or blender.

Toasted nuts in food processor
Credit: Sara Tane

Process the nuts.

This is the best part. Why? Because you don't have to do anything. Simply let your machine go for 5 minutes or so and watch your nuts transform into a luxurious butter.

Peanut butter forming in food processor
Credit: Sara Tane

They'll turn sandy and crumbly at first, but then you'll start to see them gradually clump together, until they'll finally smooth themselves out into a creamy butter.

Peanut Butter in food processor
Credit: Sara Tane

If it seems like nothing is happening, just be patient. Different machines can vary when it comes to how long this process takes, so just keep the faith until you see a smooth nut butter beginning to form.

Flavor and season.

Now, you could just stop there and have a basic nut butter, which would be great if you plan to use it for savory applications. However, if you want to have some fun with it, there are plenty of tasty ways to dress up your homemade nut butter. You can add your favorite sweetener of choice — honey, agave, maple syrup, or sugar would all be great. Throw in some warm cozy spices, like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, or a pinch of nutmeg.

If you love coffee, sprinkle in a few pinches of espresso powder for a zingy, java flavor. Or if you love chocolate, then a few tablespoons of cocoa powder would be a very welcome addition. A teaspoon of vanilla extract never hurts. Take things up a notch and add a few chiles for a spicy nut butter (it might sound strange, but trust me, it's delicious). There are no wrong answers here — the more creative, the better. If you only add one thing, let it be salt. You'll typically need at least a teaspoon of salt per cup of nuts, so don't be shy.

Flavored peanut butter in food processor
Credit: Sara Tane

The more additions that you add, the more likely it is that your nut butter might lose its creamy consistency and return to that clumping stage. The fix is simple: just add some oil to thin it out. In a perfect world, you'd use the corresponding oil to the nut that you're using. For example, if you're making peanut butter, you'd use peanut oil — and walnut oil for walnut butter. However, if you don't have the corresponding oil, just use one that's neutral and flavorless like peanut, canola, vegetable, or grapeseed. Add your oil, a tablespoon at a time, until your nut butter is smooth and creamy.

Homemade peanut butter on toast
Credit: Sara Tane

Serve it up!

The only thing left to do with your impressive homemade nut butter is to eat it. Spread it on toast, throw it in smoothies or oatmeal, or incorporate it into cookies, granola, and bars. Store it in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 months (but given how delicious this stuff is, I doubt you'll be able to hold onto it for that long). I hope your first go-around with making homemade nut butter is as memorable as mine. Who could forget such a mind blowing realization? It was, quite literally, nuts.


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