Let me just say start by saying this: homemade nut butters are amazing. They are amazing because they are easy to make, kid friendly, last a good while in the fridge, contain no refined sugar and no nasties, and are oh so delicious.
Store bought Nutella is not good for you
You know that day when things change. The day when you stop taking things for granted and you start looking at nutritional labels. It’s a sad day in a way but also the start of something new and better. For me, the whole process of eating less sugar started a few years ago but I keep learning something new every day.
I still recall when I realised that my dear friend Nutella was made of mostly sugar and palm oil (gasp!). I was devastated. How can such a tasty snack be so clearly not good for you? Right? It’s just devastating. But have a look for yourself next time you are passing the very enticing Nutella-ladden shelf in your local grocery store – the major ingredients are sugar, palm oil and only 13% of hazelnuts.
But rather than deprive myself and my family of the experience altogether, I was determined to make something nutty and spreadable which would be great for breakfast and random mid afternoon snacks and which wouldn’t send the whole family on a sugar high.
Homemade nut butters rock
Enter homemade nut butters. I have already talked about the health benefits of including nuts in your diet in one of my previous posts but add to that also the absence of refined sugar and the benefits double.
Why should I avoid refined sugar?
Consuming a high sugar diet can cause all sorts of health trouble – obesity, increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, acne, cancer, depression, fatty liver and can age your skin and impact your dental health.
I have also read research which suggested that sugar can change the developing taste buds in young children – and if they eat sugar before the age 2, their taste buds can be irreversibly changed.
Why should I try this recipe?
I may be biased but I think the recipe below is for the best and easiest nut butter. It takes me all of five minutes to make a jar which lasts for a week or two. No pesky toasting of the nuts, no non-essential ingredients. Throw it all into the food processor and let it whiz. I’m all about making things easier, people, not harder.
So much variety!
And as if that didn’t all sound good enough, they are so versatile. Make your nut butter with hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios, macadamias or any combination of the above.
I especially like the combination of macadamias and pecans or walnuts with a bit of cinnamon. It’s delightfully nutty and light, and great on a toast or a crackers by itself or with some homemade berry cherry jam (which you can see in the very last photo in this post – scroll aaaaall the way down). My husband thinks so too, and sneaks spoonfuls of the stuff while no one is looking – straight out of the jar!
You can see some of these varieties in the photo below. Just use your imagination!
And if you add a bit of cacao powder with your hazelnut butter, well, here’s a much healthier chocolate hazelnut spread than Nutella. See the beautiful smooth chocolatiness in the photo below. Yum!
Everything but the kitchen sink
I have even successfully used this recipe to clear out the remains of our nut bowl. Do you have one? We have a snack bowl for raw nuts in our kitchen and I keep topping it up when it gets down to about a half.
Imagine me doing this over and over again, and what you end up with is about half a bowl of perfectly good nuts which are all in very small pieces which no one gets a chance to eat. We are talking almonds, cashews, pistachios, macadamias, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, you name it, if it’s a nut, it’s there.
The other day I just threw it all into my awesome new Kitchen Aid mini chopper – luckily it came down, almost perfectly, to 200g of mixed nuts – and gave it a good whiz. It was sooo delicious! It’s now our new favourite recipe – “The Kitchen Sink nut butter”. I love how these things happen – you couldn’t make it up.
The best and quickest nut butters
- A food processor
- 200 g nuts
- 1-2 tsp macadamia oil or sweet almond oil
- 1.5 – 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 75 ml almond milk
- squirt of vanilla paste (optional)
- pinch of cinnamon (optional)
- Put the nuts into the food processor. Start blitzing on medium speed until you get a crumb-like mixture.
- Slowly add the oil to the nut mixture and keep processing.
- When the mixture starts to ball up, add the maple syrup and blitz a little more.
- Drizzle the milk into the mixture and keep processing. The mixture should look lighter and smoother. Blitz until quite smooth (a couple of minutes).
- If using, add vanilla and/or cinnamon.
- The mixture will be a little warm from the processor but you should be able to eat it straight away, if you like.
- Otherwise, place the mixture into a jar with a lid and store in the fridge for up to two weeks (if it lasts that long!).
Ideas of nuts to use for your butter
- Macadamias / pecans – use 150g macadamias and 100g pecans
- Macadamias / walnuts – use 150g macadamias and 100 walnuts
- A mixture of various nuts as above adding up to 250g total
- Other nuts like Brazil nuts, peanuts (without skin on), pistachios (though I haven’t tried these myself – so you’ll have to let me know how you went!)
Chocolate variation (aka Nutella)
Bear in mind that the following variation won’t give you a deep chocolatey Nutella like mixture (as you can see in the photos above), but it will be more akin to a milk chocolate colour (as you can see in the photo just below). This is because we like the nut butter to be more nutty than chocolatey. I also find that adding loads of cacao powder gives the nut butter a bitter taste so we use cacao to colour the mixture and give it a little bit of a chocolate flavour.
If you do want your “Nutella” mixture to be deeper in colour, by all means, up the amount of cacao powder, slowly and gradually as you’re mixing, until you have the colour you desire.
In this version, I do use roasted nuts, but that’s only because that’s what my local Costco stocks. These would be perfect.
Basically, you use the base recipe set out above and you add some cacao powder and a little bit of extra almond milk and maple syrup, to balance the bitterness and dryness of the cacao powder.
Chocolate nut butter
- Food processor
- all the ingredients for the base recipe (set out above)
- 1 heaped tsp cacao powder
- 1 tbsp almond milk
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Follow the base nut butter recipe (above) until the end of Step 5.
- Stop the processor. Add the cacao powder, fit the lid back onto the processor and blitz until the cacao is incorporated.
- You may need to scrape the cocoa powder off the sides of the food processor bowl as it tends to fly up a bit.
- Add the extra almond milk and maple syrup and blitz until well incorporated and the mixture is smooth (and a little shiny).
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