Sunflower seed butter is an easy, nut-free alternative to peanut butter and other nut butters. You can make it at home in just minutes, without any added oil or refined sugar.
Why You’ll Love It
It’s nut-free. With tree nut allergies on the rise, sunflower butter is an easy swap for peanut butter. Use it on sandwiches, in energy bites, or in homemade granola bars. For those with nut allergies, be sure to check the packaging of your sunflower seeds, to make sure the they aren’t manufactured in facilities with other tree nuts, to prevent any potential cross-contamination.
It’s nutritious. Sunflower seeds are rich in fiber, protein, and important minerals like folate and copper. They are also a good source of vitamin E.
It’s oil-free. Many store-bought sunflower butters are made with added oil, but it’s not necessary when you make your own. (Be sure to roast the sunflower seeds briefly first, which will help them to release their natural oils.)
It’s easy to make. All you need is a little bit of patience. Roast the seeds briefly to bring out their natural oil, then process in a food processor or blender until smooth. Then you can add any flavorings, to taste!
It’s naturally sweetened. Sunflower seeds are pretty bitter on their own, so unlike homemade almond butter or peanut butter, you may want to add a little sweetness to this recipe. I tend to use coconut sugar (avoid this if dealing with coconut allergies), but any other granulated sugar will work here. You can also leave it unsweetened if you don’t mind the bitter flavor. I do highly recommend adding salt in that case, which also helps distract from the bitter taste.
Note: Using a liquid sweetener, like maple syrup or honey, will cause the sunflower butter texture to seize. This means it will thicken up and become very difficult to spread. Avoid using liquid sweeteners, or any other liquids (like vanilla extract) when possible.
Ingredients You’ll Need
What’s in sunflower seed butter?
- Sunflower seeds
- Sea salt
- Granulated sugar (optional)
Be sure to use sunflower seeds that are unsalted for the best results. Using salted sunflower seeds can create a butter that is overall too salty, and it’s hard to fix that! (Other than adding more sugar to help balance it out.)
I’ve tested this recipe with both raw and dry roasted sunflower seeds, and either option will work. The flavor is slightly more neutral when you use raw seeds, but be sure to toast them in the oven, either way, before getting started.
How to Make Sunflower Seed Butter
1. Roast the seeds.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and pour the sunflower seeds on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread them out into an even layer, and toast the seeds for 8 to 10 minutes, until they smell fragrant and they look slightly oily when you stir them in the pan.
Remove the pan from the oven and let the seeds cool for at least 10 minutes. (If you pour piping hot seeds directly into the bowl of a food processor or blender, it could melt the plastic container!)
Once the seeds are warm, but not piping hot, transfer them to the bowl of a food processor.
Process for 1 to 2 minutes, and if the seeds start to stick to the walls of your machine, pause the process to scrape them down with a spatula.
Continue processing for another 2 minutes or so. The sunflower seeds will eventually stop climbing the sides of the walls, and will start to stick together, like a thick paste.
This is a good sign!
Continue processing until you see a grainy sunflower seed butter starting to form, about 1 to 2 more minutes. You’re almost there.
Process the sunflower seeds until the butter looks drippy in consistency. The texture will still be slightly gritty when you taste it, which is the nature of making an oil-free nut butter.
Tip: For a slightly smoother result, use a high-speed blender instead of a food processor. It will blend the sunflower seeds even faster! You can also add a drizzle of neutral-flavored oil into the mix, which will help the butter become more whipped in texture. Do not use coconut oil, which will harden when chilled in the fridge. (This will make it more difficult to spread later.)
3. Adjust the flavor.
When you taste the finished sunflower seed butter, you’ll probably notice that the flavor is quite bitter. Adding salt will help this tremendously! I typically use 3/4 of a teaspoon salt, in total, but you can start with just a 1/2 teaspoon and add more to taste.
To balance out the bitterness, you can also add a dry sweetener, like granulated sugar. Start with a 1/4 cup and process it in. You can add up to 2 tablespoons more, depending on your preference.
For extra flavor, you can also add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, or any other ground spice that you like.
Note: It’s normal for this seed butter to have a slightly grainy texture, especially when you add the granulated sugar. See the tips noted above for using a high-speed blender and added oil, if you want an even smoother result.
Transfer the sunflower seed butter to a jar and secure with a lid. Store sunflower seed butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Be sure to always use a dry utensil when using the seed butter, to help with the shelf life. (Added moisture will make anything spoil faster!)
Ideas for Using Sunflower Butter
Now that you’ve made it, here are some delicious ways to use it.
As a dip. Sunflower butter is delicious as a dip for sliced apples, or drizzled over bananas.
Use it in granola bars. Make nut-free granola bars that are school-safe!
Add it to date balls. The dates will help off-set any bitter flavor from the sunflower seeds.
Spread it on pancakes or waffles. This will make them more filling!
Swap it anywhere you would normally use peanut butter. Basically any recipe that calls for peanut butter can use sunflower butter, instead.
**Note: Sunflower butter can turn baked goods green when baked in recipes with baking soda. This is a safe chemical reaction that is sometimes fun around St. Patrick’s day, but it can be surprising if you aren’t expecting it!
Sunflower Seed Butter
- 12 ounces hulled sunflower seeds (unsalted; raw or dry roasted)
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF and spread the sunflower seeds out into an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the seeds for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they smell fragrant. When you stir the seeds, they should glisten from their natural oils being release. Let the seeds cool for at least 10-15 minutes, so they won't melt the plastic of your food processor or blender container.
- Add the warm (but not piping hot) seeds to the bowl of a food processor or blender and process for 2 minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides of the machine, as needed.
- Continue processing the seeds, until they start to stick together and form a thick paste. This is a good sign! The seeds will need to process for roughly 5 more minutes, until a gritty sunflower seed butter starts to come together.
- Keep processing the seeds for another minute or two, until the sunflower seed butter becomes more runny and drippy in consistency. When it looks relatively smooth, you can add any seasonings you like, such as salt and granulated sugar, if you want to counter-balance the bitter flavor of the seeds. Process briefly to evenly distribute the seasonings, about 60 seconds.
- Transfer the sunflower seed butter to a glass jar, and let it cool completely before securing the top with a lid. (This way the jar won't steam from the heat, which could cause it to spoil faster.) Sunflower seed butter can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.
If you try this homemade sunflower seed butter, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it.
Questions and Reviews
My sister made something very similar to this and had we try it when we were all vacationing together this past week. She made her for her 2 year old who has every allergy under the sun. I was shocked at how delicious it was!!! She spooned me up some and I was such a baby and didn’t want to try it. And it turned out to be really really good. Almost a peanut butter aftertaste. Okay, not Peter Pan Peanut Butter, but still. Or even the Wegmans organic PB, both dessert really. But this recipe is such a great alternative for things I take for granted. Thanks for sharing =)
My boy loves peanut butter but can’t have it for lunch as his school is nut free, so just made this and it’s absolutely amazing! Will let me make his lunchs that he loves again! 🙂 simple to make, I just seen coconut sugar for the first time a week ago and picked it up not knowing what I would use it for, lucky! Any other sweetner you could use? Thank you!
I’m so glad you posted this and made it a point to mention toasting the seeds first! I made a batch of raw sunflower seed butter with raw cacao a couple weeks ago, and while it tastes good…I just could NOT get the consistency I was looking for. It’s quite crumbly, and that’s after about 30 minutes of processing!
I will try toasting them next time, and just adding a little sweetener (no cacao).
How much cacao do you add? What is the consistency and taste?
I can never get that consistency when I have tried to make sunflower seed butter! It usually ends up looking and tasting like paste! I would love to find an alternative to Trader Joe’s though since I am not super crazy about that sugar content! I’ll have to try again!
Ohhh i have never tried sunflower seed butter so am going to give this a try and I agree sunflower seeds do need some sweetness to offset bitterness – especially when baking with them!
Hi! When trying to print this recipe using the “print” link it directly opens a page to a different recipe. Does anyone else run into this? Thx and love the recipe idea!! Jenni
It should open on a different page for printing, but it definitely shouldn’t be a different recipe! What recipe are you seeing when you press the print button?
It looks like the link is working correctly now. Yesterday when I tried using the “Print” link it opened a page for one of your hummus recipes (a great recipe, but not the one I was looking to print). 🙂
Thanks for the reply!
Do you prefer to use your food processor over your blender for nut butters? I have only ever made them in my food processor, but even though I have a high speed food processor, find they always take longer than recipes say they should. I just bought a Vitamix a few months ago and have been meaning to try nut butter in it.
Yes, I prefer the food processor. The Vitamix has such a narrow base, it seems to be too powerful for certain nut butters. I have used it for making cashew, macadamia, and pecan butter before with success, but with tougher nuts, like almonds, the food processor works better.
Thanks for this recipe & how to! I like the coconut sugar for sunflower seeds & the lack of added oil! I like it with seed crackers & would be glad to hear what other ingredients it complements :0).
How can I subsitute coconut sugar. Cant find it in my country!!
Thanks a lot for you delicious recipes and lessons <3
I used honey and it was delicious. I just have to process it longer. Mine tasted fabulous, but the consistency was not as creamy as the picture above.
Where’s a good place to buy hulled sunflower seeds inexpensively in bulk?
Sprouts, Whole Foods or Erewhon
I found some sunflower seeds at the dollar store. I bought two bags. Made it! Tasty 😋
Trader Joe’s has very inexpensive sunflower seeds!
This was my first attempt at making nut butter! I don’t know if it is because I have an older food processor, but getting to the ball stage took quite awhile. At least 30 minutes. And it never left the ball stage – it stayed crumbly. I added water and then magic…I got to the creamy stage quite quickly. I then added the coconut sugar and salt. Tastes great. I hope that adding water was fine to do. 🙂
I’ve been making my own sunflower butter for a while now, but I haven’t roasted the seeds first – must try that! I find that some seeds whip up quickly (Costco had some that were 5-minute’rs, but of course they stopped carrying them at my store), while other brands can take 15 or 20 minutes to be completely smooth. I substitute sunflower butter in your grain free pumpkin bars so they can be sent to school. The kids love them and think it’s hilarious when they turn green!
Thank you for all your hard work and fabulous recipes 🙂
Can you make it without any added sugar ?
Definitely! It will taste bitter, but you might get used to that flavor.
What can I substitute coconut sugar with?
Any sweetener you like, really. Honey, maple syrup, etc. I wouldn’t recommend agave because they’ve had studies lately saying it’s bad for you.
Bummer, I just tried to get to the ball stage and my good old cuisinart powered out 🙁 I did see the post about using the Vitamix, after all these years I’m surprised they haven’t tried to remedy the narrow base problem (Ive seen the bigger booty jars but I have a friend who has one and it isn’t any better)
My food processor has done that once before when making almond butter. It most likely over-heated and just needs to cool down before you turn it on again.
Hi. I used my Cuisinart and processed it for more than 10 minutes, and although it had oils naturally, it never reached your smooth consistency. Mine is thick and now that’s in the refrigerator, it’s hard when I try to spoon some out.
Yes I have the same problem. Has kind of a dry feeling in the mouth although it has oils.
Would love to know if there is something to do about it.
Hi! I think my food processor will heat up and stop, can I stop the processes, wait a minute then turn on again? Or it need to be on for all the processes to became a butter?
Can I use liquid stevia instead of the coconut sugar? (I can’t get coconut sugar where I live)
I have an allergy to peanuts. Eating peanuts or peanut butter triggers a migraine headache. I started buying Sunbutter a couple of years ago and love it, but it is kind of pricey at $6 – $7 per jar. Of course, I eat it often and can easily go through 2 jars a week. I decided to try to make some and for the first try, it came out pretty well. I will definitely be trying again soon!
I’m not allergic to peanuts, but I prefer Sunbutter. It tastes richer to me and it has a higher iron content (prone to anemia). I go through a tonne too. My favourite quick snack/meal is Sunbutter on Ezekiel Bread (low sodium version) with a banana. That combo must cross my lips at least seven times a week. Now if only I had the patience to bake that expensive bread too. I’d be set. Oh well. At least this recipe will cut costs considerably.
It worked perfectly for me, it just took five minutes longer. I figured it would. My food processor is an ancient, yet reliable beast.
Bummer! I put my seeds toasting and 20 minutes was way too long! Seeds were burned:( watch those sun seeds!!
I love this recipe – but I do only use the seeds and the salt because I actually prefer it without sugar and any other added ingredients. The method here is just “spot on,” too! Each time I make it according to Megan’s directions, it comes out perfectly! I have been avoiding nuts for health issues, and I am very happy to be able to eat this sun butter when I get a craving for peanut butter or almond butter. I especially like it with carrot sticks, bananas and strawberries, and also use it in my smoothie recipes! Thanks, Megan!
I made sunbutter for the first time. Wow, absolutely delish. I found using local honey made it taste perfect however I did add it as it was making its way to the smooth stage. This time I’m going to add flax seeds for added fiber, wish me luck….
Hi!! I liove your blog and your recipies. Today I´ll try this one.
I just would like to know if you activate the seeds first. If you do, do you dry the m before baking them?
I am in the process of making your sunflower seed butter. I made a mistake and added the sugar and salt at the very beginning. It is taking quite a long time – is that because of the sugar and salt – or that my food processor isn’t that powerful and I have to pause quite frequently since I don’t want my motor to burn out. Another thing, when you say to process do you mean on a low, high or pulse setting. Thank you.
Today when I made this I used 2 cups sunflower seeds and 1 cup raw organic pumpkin seeds. I also reduced the coconut sugar and salt amounts to half what is called for. Total time for processing from start to finish was around 17 minutes. So happy with the results. I have made this recipe as listed many times, and often without the sugar and salt, too. Have enjoyed them all.
Thank you for this recipe! I needed something nut free for day care and this butter turned out to be sooo yumi. Hope my 2yo likes it! I used half the amount of sugar and it was delicious. Thank a lot!
Is it okay if I use roasted sunflower seeds? If I use them does that mean I don’t have to put them in the oven?
Can you substitute date syrup/sugar for coconut sugar? If so how much?
I haven’t tested that, but I assume date sugar would be similar to coconut sugar so I’d use the same amount. You can see my substitution recommendations for swapping date paste for various sweeteners here: https://detoxinista.com/make-date-paste-healthy-sugar-substitute/
Wondering if the coconut suger might result in schools considering this to include tree nuts? Thereby disqualifying as an accepted school lunch item.
My school doesn’t allow ANY homemade treats. They believe a home kitchen isn’t safe enough to ensure it’s nut-free, even if the recipe itself is nut-free, so they ban them all together. In general, coconut is a botanical fruit, and therefore shouldn’t be lumped in with nut allergies, but the FDA does lump it in with nuts to be on the extra safe-side, I suppose.
Great butter! I just used roasted sunflower seeds and the results were the same. I didn’t add any sugar or salt. This butter is better than peanut butter to me becausit doesn’t have the overpowering flavor like peanut butter which takes over the flavor of dishes. I can use it in both savory and sweet dishes, or as a spread on sandwhiches, wraps, etc. And even a substitute for cheese(similar to how cashew butter would be used). It is better not to add sugar so that if you want, you have the choice of using the butter for savory, salty recipes as well as sweet ones. It is a much more practical or functional butter than peanut butter and costs the same(unlike other nuts). The sky is the limit for the ways you can use this butter.
thankyou from the bottom of my heart…… i am a coeliac who had to go nut free dairy free nightshade free,egg free, corn free and no meat or chicken as they all make me very sick. I added nutritional yeast to it to so yummy, Very much appreciate you and your recipes.
This has turned out so beautifully in my trusty Vitamix time and again! I even toss in a few other seeds I may have on hand (pepitas, chia, help) and it’s always yummy! A little agave or honey subs for the coconut sugar as well, although I prefer the coconut sugar. Thanks so much!
I’m super eager to try this recipe! I love sunflower seed and I’m trying to find a butter replacement that isn’t processed margarine as I believe it is bad for you. If you research how it’s made you might too.
My question is can you make this recipe without toasting the seeds first? Also, will it work without the sugar? If I want it on toast with some sort of savoury topping I don’t want it sweet.
Yes, you can skip both. Toasting the seeds just warms them up so that the food processor doesn’t have to work as hard– the seeds will take longer to process if you start them at room temperature. It’s pretty bitter without the sugar, but could work for savory things that way!
What food processor do you use?
My favorite food processor is the Breville sous chef! You can check out my favorite tools here: https://detoxinista.com/shop/
I love sunbutter but as I don’t need to be nut free, I make mine by adding some raw cashews and macadamias to the mix. The cashews add natural sweetness and the macadamias are so oily that they help the butter come together quicker. I also add vanilla and cinnamon for extra sweetness so I don’t need any sweeteners. I love this the most with ripe banana coins but it’s also divine lathered thick on sprouted gluten free bread. I also love missing it through the leftover pulp from fresh organise juice with vanilla for an instant “pudding” (I’ll often soak some chopped dates in the orange pulp first too for added fibre and sweetness).
Is there a reason it has to be refrigerated?
Once you open a natural nut or seed butter, it always has to be refrigerated. I don’t have canning equipment, so I just store mine in the fridge for a longer shelf life.
Thank you for sharing your recipe and warming the sunflower seeds first. After attempting to do this two other times for my daughter I was about ready to throw in the towel. But your recipe saved me! Easy, quick and SIMPLE!
I appreciate the helpful hints about the baking soda!
This is such a great find – nut butters and most nuts are quite expensive where I live, whereas sunflower seeds are a lot cheaper. Plus a no oil one is perfect for my plant based eating. Many thanks.
Well my first try and boy did it turn so perfect thanks to this recipe! I am in completely hooked and I am not even thinking about buying it from store ever again, it’s really that great!
Hello! I love making sunflower seed butter. It’s so cheap and tasty. I have a question, I’m using coconut sugar for the first time. Will the sugar dissolve even if it is granulated?
has anyone tried using an emersion blender instead of food processor? would it work the same?
I haven’t tried that, and I imagine that your arm might get tired of holding it during the process, but let me know if you try it!
I had no idea it would go through all these stages. Thanks for the great details! I probably would have given up after about 5 minutes without the pictures! 😋Yummy!!
Hi! I tried this and I couldn’t get it to turn in to butter. The ground seeds went up on the sides of the food processor and when I scraped them down just kept going back up. I had to put the ground seeds in a blender with some warm water. It’s still good but not the same consistancy. I followed your directions. My food processor is a Kitchen Aid brand but not as powerful as some. Could that be the problem?
I hate my Kitchenaid! My ancient Cuisinart made almond butter very easily, but the Kitchenaid would not. So I’m hesitant to try this recipe because I think the same thing will happen that happened to you.
The sunflower butter is easy to digest, and I like its nutrition. Two caveats: (1) some sunflower seeds take too long to “break down” (over 40 minutes, and (2) some food processors can overheat when processing the sunflower seeds.
How about monkfruit sweetener, instead of coconut sugar?
Also, how would this work in keto cookies where the original recipe uses only almond butter, monkfruit sweetener and an egg (or chia seeds for a vegan version)? Thank you.
Hi, do I let the seeds cool off first before putting them in the food processor? Is the end result for the butter runny or thick ?
What if your sunflower seeds are already toasted , sometimes they are. Should you heat them up before processing them. Thanks !
Going to try this recipe, thank you! What is the serving size, 2 tbsp?
Love your recipes! This one I haven’t been able to make work just yet. It seems like oil is needed, but even then, it’s just so so so thick and not creamy or runny at all, and once it sets it’s completely solid-like you could break off a piece! What am I doing wrong?!
So easy! Thanks!
I omitted the sugar.
It’s been difficult for me to find no sugar/oil at the local stores.
I used organic sunflower seeds.
Hi! I love this recipe without the added oil. So many of the commercial Brands add sunflower oil which if it’s processed is supposedly very very unhealthy.. I’m wondering what the serving sizes are in the information listed as far as the calories and fat content. is that a 2 tbsp serving size?
Thanks so much!