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.
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.