4 Best Nut Butters (and Creative Ways to Use Them!)

by | Updated: December 4th, 2016 | Read time: 3 minutes

Think it doesn’t get better than peanut butter? You’re not alone. Peanut butter is a simple, affordable and versatile food—delicious straight from the jar, between sliced bread (let’s not forget its bestie, jelly!) or in your favorite cookie recipe. The rich, decadent nut butter has been a staple in pantries and school lunchboxes for as long as we can remember.

Ways to Enjoy the Best Nut Butter Varieties

But in recent years (perhaps due, in part, to a rise in peanut allergies) a whole new crop of nut butters has emerged, giving popular PB a run for its money. These nutritious nutty alternatives include almond butter and cashew butter. And although technically a seed, we’d be remiss not to mention extraordinary sunflower seed butter.

Why is everyone going nuts for nut (and seed) butter?
It’s not your imagination. Folks are coming out of their shells to sample butters made from almonds, cashews and sunflower seeds. Creamy (or crunchy, if you prefer), dreamy taste aside, these newer nut butters boast the same big-time nutrients and versatility as tried-and-true PB. They’re a good source of many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, fiber and those healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids) nutritionists rave about. In short, nut butters are a smart, satisfying and energizing addition to many diets.

What you’d butter look for.
Not all nut butters are created equal. When shopping for peanut, almond, cashew or sunflower seed butter, keep an eye out for words like all-natural and organic. This means that you’re getting the freshest product in its simplest state, without additives, preservatives or artificial colors and flavors. Many nut butters are available in “no-stir” varieties, but that’s really a matter of personal preference.

Spread the news! There are many exciting uses for nut butter!
A sandwich is probably the most popular vehicle for enjoying peanut (or almond, cashew or sunflower seed) butter, second only to spreading it on crackers. And there’s nothing wrong with appreciating the classics. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little creative with the stuff on occasion. Here are some inventive—and tasty—ways to add a little nut butter to your life:

  • Take a dip. Dunk apples, carrot sticks, celery sticks and/or pretzels into a tablespoon of your favorite nut butter.
  • Add a dash to dressings. Combine nut butter with oil, orange juice and other ingredients to create a sweet-and-savory salad dressing.
  • Stir it into sauces. Mix milk, salt and pepper with nut butter to make a sauce for poultry, pork and rice.
  • Make it a marinade. Blend nut butter with ginger, garlic and soy sauce and use it as a marinade for tofu or chicken.
  • Soup up your soup. Add nut butter to soup to increase the depth and complexity of flavor.
  • Spoon it into shakes and smoothies. Add two tablespoons of nut butter to shakes and smoothies for a creamier consistency.
  • Mix it into ice cream. Enhance the flavor of your favorite frozen treat with a few spoonfuls of nut butter. You can also combine it with fruit juice to make popsicles!
  • Bake it into cakes. Use nut butter in cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pies, doughnuts, muffins—even pancakes and granola bars!
  • Forget the frosting. Top your cake or cupcakes with a decadent chocolate nut butter spread, like MaraNatha Dark Chocolate Almond Spread, instead!