Sunflower Seed Butter

Learn how to whip up a tasty alternative to peanut butter packed with good-for-you nutrition.

Annual Sunflowers Bloom in Any Soil in Full Sun

Annual Sunflowers Bloom in Any Soil in Full Sun

Helianthus annuus, common sunflower , is a widely branching, stout annual, with coarsely hairy leaves and stems. The terminal flowers heads are large and showy, up to 5 inches across. Grow in full sun and in any soil.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Shift your family to a healthier spread by making your own sunflower seed butter. Also known as sunbutter, this nutrient-dense spread is versatile in the kitchen, tasting great with jam on bread, subbing for heavy cream in pasta sauces or replacing mayo on sandwiches. It also makes a yummy dipping sauce for veggies, apple slices and crackers. Sunflower butter isn’t tricky to make—all you need is a food processor, raw sunflower seeds and simple ingredients you probably have in your pantry. 

Families with young children love sunflower butter because it offers an inexpensive option to peanut butter. It also provides a spread you can safely send to nut-free environments. Sunflower seed butter boasts 30 percent less fat than peanut butter, and 90 percent of the fat it does offer is the good-for-you unsaturated type. One tablespoon of sunflower butter provides 24 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin E, and it’s also rich in magnesium and fiber. 

Start with raw sunflower seeds—unsalted, shelled. You’ll need twice as many seeds as your desired yield. For instance, if you’re aiming for two cups of sunflower seed butter, start with 4 cups of seeds. Don’t buy roasted seeds; they’re too dry to produce a creamy butter (you’ll wind up with a mealy, dry product). Other ingredients you need are salt, a light oil (coconut or olive) and sweetener, such as honey, agave, sugar or whatever your family prefers. 

Roast sunflower seeds by tossing them in a hot skillet on the stovetop for one to two minutes (keep them tossing or they’ll burn). Or oven toast at 325 degrees for 10 minutes or so. Toasting gives the seeds a richer, nuttier flavor. Place toasted seeds in a food processor with ¾ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sweetener. Many home cooks report that a high powered blender can make sunbutter, but it works much harder than a food processor.

Process the seeds until they’re a fine powder. Continue to process, and the seeds will start to release oils. This takes up to 10 minutes or so. What you want is a mixture that looks moist and has a liquid sheen. Some cooks add a teaspoon of sweetener at this point, like honey, maple syrup or liquid stevia, depending on their families’ tastes.

Continue to process the sunflower butter until it resembles peanut butter. Taste the sunflower seed butter to make sure you’re happy with the flavor. Add olive oil to adjust the consistency. Typically cooks add from 1 to 4 tablespoons. Process the sunflower butter until it’s creamy.

Increase the frugal factor of your homemade sunflower seed butter by growing your own sunflower seeds. Choose varieties like Mammoth Russian or Mammoth Gray Stripe. These are the seeds that typically have stripes on them in shades of black, white and/or gray. Sunzilla, Aztec Gold, Jumbo and Paul Bunyan Hybrid are other classic seed producers. These are the giant sunflowers, so you’ll need to give them elbow room in your yard.

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Plant Sunflowers in Decorative Pots

Make sunflowers even more cheery with this step-by-step guide to designing fun pots to plant them in.

Garden Plants and Flowers

Learn how to discover which plants underscore and help define a specific garden design style.

How to Plant Perennial Flowers & Plants

Perennials are the mainstay of the traditional flower garden. When planted correctly, they are long-lived.

When to Plant Garden Mums

Want your garden mums to survive winter? Learn tips for planting fall garden mums to help them return next spring.

How to Plant an Herb Container Garden

Herbs have been grown all over the world for centuries for their flavor and healthful benefits. Learn how to plant an herb container garden.

How to Plant a Cactus Container Garden

Yee-haw! Turn a container into a desert landscape by filling it with prickly cacti and other succulent plants. 

Winterizing Plants

Discover easy techniques for getting plants ready for winter’s chill.

How to Refinish a Dining Room Table

Easily refinish a dated or worn dining room table to give it a fresh look.

Air Plant Care

Add easy-care color to your home with air plants. These foolproof plants are perfect for even the most neglectful gardener.