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Homemade Sunflower Seed Butter is a delicious, nut-free alternative to peanut butter. It’s easy to make with either raw or roasted seeds. Seed butter tastes amazing on spread on toast, with granola, or by the spoonful.
- Sunflower seeds: Buy bags of raw or roasted (shelled) seeds at well-stocked grocery stores with bulk departments, or places like Trader Joe’s. Gently roasting raw sunflower seeds in the oven at home can help get their natural oils going, which will make the process a little faster and reduce the need for added oil. Additionally, it makes a nuttier, toastier flavor and aroma, which you may like better. I do it myself because pre-roasted seeds are often already salted, which can be too much for my taste.
- Oil: A neutral oil, such as grapeseed oil, coconut oil, or a mild olive oil helps everything along into creamy bliss. You won’t need it if you roast the seeds beforehand.
- Salt: A pinch of good sea salt boosts the flavor.
- 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, soft dates, or monk fruit.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the raw shelled sunflower seeds across a large, rimmed baking sheet.
- Toast the seeds for 5 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.
- Add the sunflower seeds into the jar or bowl of a high-powered blender or food processor.5. Then pulse the sunflower seeds until they are finely chopped.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Process the seeds for another minute on LOW. The sunflower seed butter should look thickened. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
- 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.
Recipe tips and variations:
- Yield: One batch makes approximately 1 ½ cups of seed butter.
- Storage: 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.
- Freezing: You can store sunflower butter in the freezer for up to 4 months.
- Don’t rush: Other than having the right equipment, the most important thing about making nut and seed butter 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.
- Processing times may vary: Due to the motor speed of individual machines, your butter may need more or less time to come together.
- Using raw seeds: Sunflower butter made with raw seeds tends to be pale gray and has 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.
More recipes to spiff up your breakfast routine:
Sunflower Seed Butter
- 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 ¼ 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 ½ cups including ¼ cup brown sugar. Nutrition information shown includes ¼ 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 ¼ to ½ cup melted chocolate during the last blending stage. Add sweetener to taste.
- To roast the sunflower seeds, spread the raw shelled sunflower seeds across a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 5-15 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.
Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.