I’m frequently asked by readers if they can make homemade sunflower seed butter just like homemade peanut butter.
The answer is yes. With a few caveats.
If you’re never tried sunflower seed butter, what are you waiting for?
Make this on a week you have time for extra cardio. You’ll need it. I ate an 8 ounce jar the first day.
Sunflower seed butter has the consistency of almond butter, and is noticeably thinner than peanut butter. While there’s no denying that there’s a sunflower seed taste, sunflower seed butter tastes less like sunflower seeds than peanut butter tastes like peanuts if that makes sense.
When they’ve been ground and pulverized and the natural oils from the seeds are released, they take on a new-and-improved flavor. The flavor of sunflower seed butter is so much better than a handful of sunflower seeds to the point you can’t compare them.
In my version, inspired by my favorite homemade peanut butter, Honey Roasted Butterscotch White Chocolate Peanut Butter, I added white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, vanilla extract, a generous splash of Jim Bean, and butter-flavored olive oil. Heavenly, yes. You can add some, all, or none of those items.
The recipe is inherently gluten-free, and it’s easily kept vegan by omitting the white chocolate and butterscotch, and using semi-sweet chocolate chips instead.
Cook’s Notes, Tips, Tricks, and Caveats
You will need a decent quality food processor that’s up to the task of running for at least 20 minutes. Making sunflower seed butter takes much longer than peanut butter. At least 15 to 20 minutes, and if you’re flavoring it with the white chocolate and butterscotch chips, another 5 to 10 minutes, or more. Make sure your food processor is up to the task. I don’t think this is a job for a mini food processor. Full size, please.
I don’t think this is a job for a Vita-Mix. I love mine dearly, but you need the action of the blades in a food processor rather than the whirring action of a Vita for this job. I fear a Vita would overheat very quickly and you’d end up with a paste that never breaks down and cleanup underneath the blade would be a hot mess. I’m sure some people have done it in a Vita, but I’ll stick with my food processor.
I used roasted, unsalted seeds from Trader Joe’s. I suggest using roasted seeds. Salting is up to you. I am very salt sensitive and prefer to add my own when possible, rather than buy prepackaged with the salt already added. Roasting brings out the flavor and I don’t recommend raw/unroasted seeds because I think they’d be horribly bland. Roast raw seeds in a 400F oven for 10-15 minutes to take that raw edge off.
As I detailed in step-by-step photos when making homemade peanut butter, the seeds go through much of the same transformation, but rather than the stages happening in seconds or minutes, they take much longer.
First they’ll break down into a chunky and coarse paste, then a big softball-sized mass will form and it will travel around the canister of the food proc for about 5 minutes. Gradually, the big ball will smooth out, at which point the mixture becomes less and less like thick paste. Eventually it breaks down into a thinner, runnier liquid known as sunflower seed butter (SFSB). I process for about 5 minutes more after I think it’s as smooth as it will get, just to be sure. No harm in ‘over’-processing. If you don’t want to flavor it, you can dig a spoon into the creamy, rich homemade sunflower seed butter and savor it now.
This is the stage you can flavor it and doctor it up, but in full disclosure, you may potentially ruin your SFSB by adding white chocolate and butterscotch chips. Both of them are notorious for seizing in baking, and they’re no different here. I thought my SFSB was doomed, but after processing for at least 10 minutes, it finally thinned back out again. Whew.
I add my chips whole; if you know how to effectively melt white chocolate and butterscotch without scorching it or having it seize, you may wish to add them in a melted state rather than as whole chips. I add them whole when making peanut butter and never have any issues, but SFSB is much more finicky. Using less chips than I did may solve the problem, but I wanted a full flavor complement and used 1 cup each.
I added a generous splash of both bourbon and vanilla extract. You can’t really taste either per se. It tastes most like butterscotch, then white chocolate, then vanilla, and the bourbon is very faint. Darn.
Because my mixture wasn’t smoothing out after I added the baking chips, with the machine running, I also drizzled in about 3 tablespoons Butter-Flavored Olive Oil from Star Fine Foods. It’s a new product and I love it. Olive oil that’s very buttery tasting is my new best friend. Use any oil you like, if necessary, to help thin out any thick pasty issues.
Neither liquid stevia drops nor honey are not recommended; they are reported to cause seizing issues. I don’t know about maple syrup or agave.
I find the less I stop, start, and scrape down the sides of the canister, the better. Just turn the food proc on and leave it alone.
I store SFSB and all my nut butters at room temp, where I am comfortable keeping them for weeks (if they last that long). In the fridge, I have stored homemade peanut butter for 5 months (got lost in the back of the fridge) and it was fine. There are no preservatives, so use common sense.
Because there are so many variables involved, I won’t be able to help troubleshoot any issues. The most important thing you can do is blend, blend, blend. Mine took 20 minutes before adding the baking chips, and then another 10 minutes after. So 30 minutes total, and my food processor is a mack daddy. The worst that can happen is you’re out $2.99 of sunflower seeds and you have to start again.
The results are definitely worth a half hour of your time.
It’s creamy, rich, smooth, and sweet. It’s nut butter-as-dessert, and it makes me want to grab a spoon and the jar, snuggle up on the couch with my DVR remote, cue up E channel or Bravo or Food Netork, and have a little sunflower butter eating party with mindless TV on in the background.
Because my full attention is on what’s inside this jar.
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Homemade White Chocolate and Butterscotch Sunflower Seed Butter (gluten-free, with vegan option)
- 16 ounces 1 pound unsalted roasted sunflower seeds (or your favorite type)
- 1 cup white chocolate chips, use less, to taste, if desired
- 1 cup butterscotch chips, use less, to taste, if desired
- 3 tablespoons bourbon, optional and to taste
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- pinch of salt, optional and to taste
- about 3 tablespoons butter-flavored olive oil, optional and if necessary
- Add sunflower seeds to the canister of a food processor, process on high power until creamy and smooth, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stop to scrape down the sides of the canister if necessary. However, I find the less scraping and interruptions, the better.
- The seeds will go through stages of: crushed, crushed into a fine powder, a paste, a thicker paste, a big “dough ball”, and then the ball will break down into runnier sunflower seed butter (SFSB). At the point the SFSB is runny, continue processing for about 2 more minutes, just making sure the SFSB is as smooth as possible and as desired.
- Through the feed tube with the processor running, add the white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, optional bourbon, vanilla, and optional salt. Process for 10 minutes, or until smooth and incorporated. I do not melt the chips first and add them in whole. The power of the machine, coupled with the heat the SFSB has taken on after 20 minutes of blending, is enough to incorporate them. If using a weaker or older food processor, sprinkling chips in slowly may prevent your machine from struggling or optionally melt them before adding. Note – You may wish to start with half the amount of baking chips called for and increase to taste. As written, this is a dessert-style SFSB and on the sweeter side.
- If after at least 10 minutes of blending, your SFSB has not smoothed out, slowly drizzle in a bit of oil to help smooth it out. Drizzle in no more than 2 tablespoons at once, and allow that to process for at least 5 minutes before drizzling in more. It takes awhile to incorporate fully.
- After SFSB is as smooth as desired, transfer it into glass jars with lids or other airtight containers.
- Store SFSB in the refrigerator or at room temperature. At room temperature, it firms up some but stays soft and runny. In the refrigerator, because of the baking chips, it hardens and solidifies, but softens up again after 15 minutes at room temperature. It can be stored at room temperature for at least two weeks and in the refrigerator, it will keep for months; let common sense be your guide.
- Recipe is gluten-free provided that the brands of baking chips used are gluten-free; recipe can be kept vegan by replacing white choc and butterscotch chips with semi-sweet chocolate chips, or simply omitting. Always read the labels to make sure products conform to your dietary needs.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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Homemade Peanut Butter (GF, vegan depending on type of peanuts used) The spread that started it all and one of the most pinned and my most popular recipes. Fresh homemade peanut butter is like nothing else, and there’s no comparison to storebought. Even the grind-your-own options at natural-food grocery stores are nothing like making it at home
Five minutes, a bag of nuts, a food processor, and voila
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Cinnamon Chip and White Chocolate Peanut Butter (GF) – If you like cinnamon, this is the spread for you. Sweet with a nice pop of robust cinnamon flavor
Homemade Cookie Butter Peanut Butter – A homemade spin on Cookie Butter or Biscoff Spread, made by blending peanuts with gingersnap cookies and cinnamon, which give the spread a slightly grainy texture, similar to the texture of storebought
Chocolate Peanut Butter Decadent, rich, and perfect for all of us who know that one of the most perfect flavor pairings ever is chocolate + peanut butter
Chocolate Coconut Cashew Butter (vegan, GF) – A cross between coconut butter, cashew butter, and Nutella, this is so creamy, rich, and soothing
Sunflower Seed Butter Balls (no-bake, vegan, GF) – I posted this recipe almost 4 years ago when sunflower seed butter hadn’t caught on quite as much and called them ‘Peanut Butter Balls’, even though I used sunflower seed butter in them. Use any nut butter you enjoy
Sunflower Seed Butter Granola Bars with Chocolate Drizzle – (vegan, GF) – Make these in minutes with your homemade SFSB
Thanks for the entries in the 7″ Kindle Fire HD (16GB) and $20 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!
Have you ever made your own nut or seed butter?
In my cookbook, Peanut Butter Comfort, there are 27 recipes for homemade peanut butter flavors and variations. Plus the 10 or so on my blog. I love making my own and getting creative with the flavors.