How To Make Peanut Butter

October 3, 2012 2:58 am

Jeanne Fratello writes The Jolly Tomato, a blog with news, information, and recipes geared toward healthy kids’ eating. She has spent the past summer on a “Real Food” project, touring farms and factories to learn more about how commonly used foods are made and processed. You can find her on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.

This is a guest post for October Unprocessed. If this is your first time here, welcome – and it’s not too late to join in! Click here to learn more.

Peanut butter is a tasty, cheap, and easy source of protein for both kids and adults alike. But for a food that’s essentially just pureed peanuts, there can be any number of food products at the supermarket that all call themselves “peanut butter.” The spectrum ranges from the most raw peanut butter (made from peanuts alone) that can be extremely coarse and chunky, to highly processed peanut butter (made with hydrogenated oils and sugar) that spreads like margarine.

Of course, given that this is October Unprocessed, you probably know where this is going. Pure ingredients = Good. Hydrogenated oils = Bad. But even if your palate has been trained to love margarine-smooth processed peanut butter, there’s still hope. It is unbelievably easy to make your own peanut butter at home – even the smooth stuff.

Sure, you might say, but if you’re set on making your own, you can just pour the peanuts into that big machine at the supermarket and grind it there. However, when you use those machines you don’t have any say in the texture or the flavor. If you make it yourself, you can adjust it precisely to your own specifications – smooth, chunky, salty, sweet, or even spicy.

Added bonus: If you make your own, you reduce the risk of salmonella that can come with commercially processed peanut butter. (Here’s how it can get contaminated.)

The ingredient list for a batch of peanut butter is pretty straightforward:

  • 2 cups roasted unsalted peanuts

That’s it! Really! You’ll also want to have on hand:

  • 2 to 4 tsp. peanut oil (if needed)
  • ¼ tsp. salt (if desired)
  • 1 tsp. honey or molasses (if desired)

You’ll also need a reasonably powerful food processor. (Don’t burn out your blender on peanuts unless you’re sure the motor can take it.)

Put the peanuts in the food processor. Process for several minutes. At first it will look like very crumbly.

Within about two minutes the magic will start to happen: As the oil is released, the crumbly pieces will start to stick together, and then the peanut butter will clump together in a large ball as it takes on a paste-like consistency. Depending on how fresh the peanuts are, you may need to add oil to keep it smooth. Remember that a little oil goes a long way, so add just 1 teaspoon at a time.Continue scraping down the sides to make sure that all of the paste gets processed.

Add sweetener and/or salt to taste and continue processing until the peanut butter reaches the desired consistency. All told, the processing should take about 5 minutes.

Yields about 1 ½ cups peanut butter.

Place the peanut butter in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to one month. Keep in mind that the oil tends to separate, so you may need to stir it up before you serve and eat it.

Want to customize it? Easy! Here are some add-ins to consider: Cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, or even red pepper. Stir in extras like raisins or dried cherries, or try it with other nuts like cashews or almonds. The only limit is your imagination – after all; it’s your peanut butter.

October Unprocessed2012

This guest post was part of the October Unprocessed 2012 Challenge, in which more than 6,000 people pledged to eat no processed food for the month. Learn More.

29 Comments on "How To Make Peanut Butter"
  1. Comment left on:
    October 12, 2012 at 8:56 am
    bethany says:

    Has anyone tried this with sunflower seeds or almonds? If any one has has success I would love to know

    • Comment left on:
      September 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm
      Shawn says:

      Made sunflower butter with Honey Roasted seeds in cuisnart with metal blades as pictured add 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil, and 1-2 teaspoons of honey. Blended about 10 minutes over all, If you have a Win Co near you this is a great place to purchase seeds.

  2. Comment left on:
    October 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm
    Tanya says:

    Ms Bethany I did not try with almonds or sunflower seeds but I did try cashews bc the health food store I go to didn’t have any peanuts. WOW!!!!! I cannot tell you how good it is! Thanks Andrew and Jeanne! I am convinced!

  3. Comment left on:
    October 15, 2012 at 1:45 pm
    Pat H. says:

    Awesome post thank you so much!

    @ Bethany. I make almond butter at home and LOVE IT! The process *ha.ha..* is the same, lightly roast your almonds, grind until done. I add a bit of coconut oil to mine to help the smoothness, but you can certainly leave it out.

    I’ve not tried sunflower seeds myself, but I have read and heard it can be done.

  4. Comment left on:
    July 15, 2013 at 11:39 am
    Grace says:

    Hi!
    Can I use a blender instead of a food processer?
    Can I use canola oil instead of peanut oil?
    Thanks!

    • Comment left on:
      July 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm
      Andrew says:

      Hi Grace! A blender should work, at least in theory. It may depend on your blender and if it’s really powerful enough. Canola oil should work fine, as would pretty much any oil (at least in terms of consistency/texture… some oils might taste a bit funky with the peanuts…). Let us know how it goes!

      • Comment left on:
        September 15, 2013 at 2:33 pm
        Grace says:

        Oh okay! Is it okay to grind the peanuts by hand using a wooden spoon? If yes, will it work? Thanks!

  5. Comment left on:
    November 3, 2013 at 10:23 pm
    RAOUF CAPTAN says:

    Dear Jeanne,
    I made my own peanut butter in Sudan,one of the US
    pilot tasted my butter and he was choked by the taste,even though
    he has Diabetes he kept eating until he was fed up,he told me
    Mr. Captan you have a million dollars in your pocket so go to the
    US and introduce it,.
    It is creamy stickless and delicios,so I keep the ingridience to
    myself should you be inerested to try it on the condition you be
    my partner,I will let you know the formola I also have a solution
    to the LOG CABIN Syrup to be also delicous.
    Awaiting your reply. KIND REGARDS
    Raouf Captan

  6. Comment left on:
    May 2, 2014 at 7:05 am
    Connie says:

    I tried to make this at home. The taste was wonderful but I could not get it to reach the creamy stage..did I not process long enough? I added a little butter and honey before it was creamy thinking that would help it become creamy..was that the wrong thing to do? Help! I want to make more but I want it spreadable.

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