This homemade Sunflower Seed Butter is a healthy, nut-free alternative to peanut butter. If you have a high-powered food processor, it’s easy to make with raw or roasted seeds. Seed butter tastes amazing on toast, with granola, or by the spoonful.
Switch out sunflower butter for peanut butter in 10 Toddler Breakfast Ideas for an allergy-free morning meal for your little one. Or slather it over warm, homemade biscuits with a drizzle of local honey while the coffee percolates. You could even try using sunflower butter in No Bake Peanut Butter Bars for a sweet afternoon treat. For other do-it-yourself ideas, check out my full collection of how-to tutorials.
Move over, almond butter!
Sunflower seed butter is enjoying some much deserved attention, and for good reason. It’s just as creamy and delicious as other nut butters. Yet because it’s made from sunflower seeds—those towering, gorgeous yellow flowers that follow the sun’s rays— it can be enjoyed by anyone with a nut or peanut allergy.
Unfortunately, many brands of store-bought sunflower butter can be a little too sweet, made to appeal to a broader audience. And most importantly, how do you make sure that the commercially made jar sun butter you have is absolutely free from cross-contamination?
The safest solution is to do it yourself. Make sunflower butter at home so you control the ingredients and the level of sweetness you like. You’ll be rewarded with a luxuriously creamy, inexpensive spread that you can use in recipes as a peanut butter substitute, or simply enjoy all by itself.
Homemade Sunflower Butter ingredients:
- Sunflower seeds. Shelled seeds, of course. You definitely wouldn’t want to shell them yourself. Buy bags of raw or roasted seeds at well-stocked grocery stores with bulk departments, or places like Trader Joe’s.
- Oil. A neutral oil, such as grapeseed oil, coconut oil, or a milk olive oil helps raw sunflower seeds along into creamy bliss. You won’t need it if you roast the seeds beforehand.
- Salt. A pinch of good sea salt boost the flavor of the seeds.
- Sweetener. A little sweetener can be a good thing, and can help balance out any bitterness you might taste. Try brown sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, stevia, or monk fruit.
Roasted sunflower seeds or raw?
That’s absolutely up to you! But, here's my recommendation.
Sunflower butter made with raw seeds tends to be pale gray and have a slightly bitter taste. A little sweetener goes a long way to improve the flavor, but you can't fix the unappetizing gray color (I don't love the smell, either). That's just my personal opinion.
Gently roasting the sunflower seeds in the oven can help get their natural oils going, which will make the process a little faster and reduce the need for added oil. Additionally, roasted sunflower seeds makes a nuttier, toastier flavor and aroma, which you may like better.
Store-bought roasted sunflower seeds are often already salted, so you should roast them at home if you’re watching your sodium.
How to roast sunflower seeds:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the raw shelled sunflower seeds across a large, rimmed baking sheet.
- Toast the seeds for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway between the cooking process, until lightly golden brown.
- Once you remove the seeds from the oven, let them cool for several minutes before continuing.
How to make sunflower seed butter:
Hopefully, you have a high-powered blender (like a Vitamix, Nutribullet, or Blendtec machine) or a sturdy food processor that can withstand some blending time. Nut butter is difficult to make at home without one. (Note: processing times can vary, due to the motor speed of individual machines.)
Other than having the right equipment, the most important thing about making nut and seed butters at home is not rushing the process. If you’re tempted to just toss the seeds into the machine and hit the HIGH button, please don’t!
The best sunflower seed butter is made with gradual processing at low speed. It takes longer, but the end result is smooth and luscious. Be patient!
- To begin, add the sunflower seeds into the jar or bowl of a high-powered blender or food processor.
- Then pulse the sunflower seeds until they are finely chopped.
- Next, process on LOW speed for 1 minute. Then stop the machine and scrape down the sides. The sunflower seed mixture should look dry and even gritty. That’s what you want!
- Once more, run the machine on LOW for one more minute. Stop the machine and scrape the sides down again. At this point, the sunflower seeds should start to clump together into a paste. After the second minute, the seed butter should appear thicker. At this stage, if you’re making raw sunflower seed butter, you may need to add a little oil. (Roasted seeds may not need extra oil at all.)
- Again, process the seeds for another minute on LOW. The sunflower seed butter should look thickened. Scrape down the sides of the machine again.
- Finally, run the machine a fourth time for 1 to 2 minutes longer, until creamy and smooth. If you like, you can add salt and honey, maple syrup, or another sweetener to the seed butter at this stage. Process or pulse to mix it in.
In all likelihood, after all that processing, the sunflower seed butter will be hot to the touch. Let it cool down a bit before pouring it into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
How long does sunflower butter last?
Because sunflower seed butter doesn’t have any added hydrogenated oils or preservatives, you should store it in the refrigerator if you’re not going to use it within a few days.
Stored in the refrigerator, sunflower butter should keep for several weeks in a lidded glass jar. You can also store sunflower butter in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Spread Sunflower Seed Butter on:
Is sunflower seed butter healthy?
Those little sunflower seeds are nutrient powerhouses: high in healthy fats, protein, vitamin E and magnesium. A spoonful of sunflower butter keeps you feeling full, longer; it can be a great way to snack without a hunger crash an hour later. Try saying that about a rice krispie treat!
Sunflower seed butter vs. peanut butter
While peanut butter is delicious, many people are extremely allergic to peanuts. So much so that schools, buildings, and airlines may be “peanut-free” to avoid contamination.
Therefore, making a jar of sunflower seed butter for cookies, snacks, or dressings can avoid the tree nut and peanut allergy issue altogether, without any sacrifice in flavor.
Make Trader Joe’s chocolate sunflower cups:
An easy and delicious snack is to make homemade chocolate sunflower butter cups—the kind they sell in a two-pack at TJ’s.
You will need a mini-muffin pan, paper liners, a bag of chocolate chips, and sunflower butter.
- First, melt a package of your favorite chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave on 50% power. Start with one- or two-minute increments, stirring between each.
- Once the chocolate is melted, spoon about a teaspoon into the wells of a mini-muffin pan lined with papers.
- Carefully drop a dollop of sunflower butter into each well and press down gently to flatten it out a bit.
- Next, top the seed butter with more of the melted chocolate, enough to cover the sunflower butter completely.
- Pop the whole muffin tin into the refrigerator and chill until the chocolate is firm to the touch. Then lift them out of the muffin pan and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to several weeks, or in the freezer for several months.
Sunflower Seed Butter variations:
- Chocolate sunbutter. Add a couple tablespoons of good-quality cocoa powder or a few squares of melted chocolate to the blender at the final processing stage.
- Cinnamon. A sprinkle of cinnamon makes seed butter sweet without sugar.
- Flax seeds. Flax or chia seeds add omega-3 fats to the butter, and make it a heart-healthy treat. The high processing will grind them up so you can get maximum nutritional value out of the seeds.
Sunflower Seed Butter Recipe
- 12 ounces sunflower seeds roasted (2 1/4 cups)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar or to taste, optional
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste, optional
- Place sunflower seeds into the jar or bowl of a high-powered blender or food processor, respectively. Pulse the sunflower seeds until they are finely chopped.
- Process or blend on a low speed for 1 minute continuously, then stop the machine and scrape down the sides. The sunflower seed will be dry and gritty.
- Process or blend on a low speed a second time for 1 minute continuously, then stop the machine and scrape down sides. The sunflower seed butter will start to form a clumpy paste. If using raw sunflower seeds, you may need to add 1-2 tablespoons unflavored oil to facilitate the blending.
- Process or blend on a low speed a third time for 1 minute continuously, then stop the machine and scrape down sides. The sunflower seed butter will be thick and grainy at this point. Add more oil, if needed.
- Process or blend on a medium speed fourth time for 1 to 2 minutes longer. The sunflower seed butter should be creamy and smooth at this point. It may be hot to the touch, so allow it to cool before transferring to a jar. If using sugar or salt, add it now and process or blend again to combine (I like 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon salt).
- The sunflower seed butter will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for several months, but can also be kept at room temperature for a couple of weeks.
- Yield: 1 1/2 cups including 1/4 cup brown sugar. Nutrition information shown includes 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Sweetener is optional, but welcome. Sunflower seeds, especially raw ones, can be a little bitter, so some sweetness can balance that out. I like brown sugar but honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, or coconut sugar are all good choices.
- To make a chocolate seed butter, simply add 2-4 tablespoons cocoa powder or 1/4 to 1/2 cup melted chocolate during the last blending stage. Add sweetener to taste.