One of my favorite foods growing up was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or “PB&J” as it’s more commonly known. In college, PB&J was my favorite comfort food, and I’d often indulge in PB&J sandwiches or PB&J crescent rolls for snacks while studying or after a late night out.
When my eldest child was diagnosed with multiple food allergies, including a severe peanut and tree nut allergy, I was forced to explore a whole new world of peanut and tree nut free alternatives. I wasn’t alone. With the overall rise in nut allergies and school bans on peanuts and tree nuts becoming more common, there’s a growing demand for peanut butter alternatives. Luckily, many creative and delicious options are now available, and there’s no need for anyone to lament the loss of PB&J.
Here’s my top 5 peanut-free, tree nut-free and gluten-free spreads.
1. Toasted Soy Spread (Wowbutter)
Wowbutter is made with toasted soybeans. It’s creamy, slightly sweet and salty, and looks and smells very much like peanut butter with a slight taste of toasted soy. Because its texture is thick and not too oily, and its flavor is not overpowering, it works very well as a peanut butter replacement in baking or cooking. Wowbutter is a popular peanut butter alternative because it is reasonably priced and is easily found at most grocery stores. It also comes with convenient School Safe stickers under the label. Crunchy Wowbutter is also available.
Wowbutter is made of toasted non-GMO soy, soy oil, cane sugar, sea salt and monoglycerides to limit separation. It has no trans fat, no cholesterol and 4g of sugar per 2 tablespoon serving. Wowbutter is an excellent source of protein (8g per 2 tablespoons), iron (8% DV per 2 tablespoons) and calcium (4% DV per 2 tablespoons). It is also a source of Omega 6, Omega 3 and unsaturated fats, as well as other vitamins and minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin B.
2. Peabut Nutter Toasted Pea Butter
Peabut Nutter is a velvety and light spread with a mild and sweet flavor that any child would love. It tastes a lot like peanut butter and is an excellent soy-free option. I’ve never attempted to use it in baking or cooking, but I am reluctant to try because its mild flavor may be overpowered when cooked with other ingredients.
Some other brands of pea butter are No Nuts Golden Pea Butter and Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter, which are both just as delicious.
Peabut Nutter is made of toasted brown peas and canola oil, with icing sugar and salt to enhance the taste and mono and diglycerides to limit separation. It has no trans fat, no cholesterol, 4g of sugar per 2 tablespoon serving and is soy free. It is a good source of protein (4g per 2 tablespoons), iron (4% DV per 2 tablespoons) and Omega 3.
3. Sunbutter Original Sunflower Seed Spread
Sunbutter is thick and oily with a rich, bold, nutty flavor. It tastes like roasted sunflowers and doesn’t try to mimic peanut butter. Sunbutter is excellent as a spread and also for cooking and baking, as its distinct bold flavor is retained in the finished product. Sunbutter is also available in crunchy, unsweetened and organic formats.
Sunbutter is made with roasted sunflower seeds, cane syrup, salt and mixed tocopherols. It has no trans fat, no cholesterol and 3g of sugar per 2 tablespoon serving. It is an excellent source of fiber (4g;16% DV per 2 tablespoons), protein (7g per 2 tablespoons) and iron (8% DV per 2 tablespoons). It is rich in vitamin E (27% RDA) and high in unsaturated fats.
4. Superbutter Premium Seed Butter
Superbutter is appropriately named, as it is truly “super” in its taste and nutritional benefits. It’s a creamy blend of sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and flax seeds, with a touch of cane sugar, palm oil and sea salt. It has a rich, nutty flavor that is slightly sweet with just the perfect hint of saltiness. It’s separates pretty quickly because it is oily, but the wide tub makes stirring the product easy. Superbutter is also available in crunchy, vanilla and chocolate flavors. They also sell convenient take anywhere packs of Superbutter.
Superbutter is free of trans fat and cholesterol with only 2g of sugar per 2 tablespoon serving. It is an excellent source of protein (8g per 2 tablespoons) and dietary fiber (2g, 8% DV per 2 tablespoons) and is also very high in unsaturated fat. It is a source of iron (3% DV per 2 tablespoons) and antioxidants such as Omega 3 and vitamin E.
5. Tahini Sesame butter
Tahini has an earthy taste with a slightly bitter undertone and has thinner consistency than other nut butters. It is unsweetened, made of only sesame, and is typically used as an ingredient in hummus and other dips. Tahini can be used as a peanut butter replacement in baking and cooking. It can also be used as a spread and sweetened with a drizzle of honey, maple syrup or molasses, or topped with strawberry jam or marmalade. Roasted sesame is an acquired taste which I wouldn’t consider kid-friendly. Oil separates naturally and can be difficult to stir once it has settled.
Tahini has no trans fat, no cholesterol and no sugar. It is an excellent source of protein (6g per 2 tablespoons) and dietary fiber (3g;12%DV per 2 tablespoons) and is also very high in unsaturated fat. It is a source of calcium (4% DV per 2 tablespoons), iron (4% DV per 2 tablespoons) and other vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, vitamin B1 and zinc.