homemade walnut butter

I made walnut butter for the first time. It won’t be the last.

Growing up, the only nut butter I ever ate was peanut butter. In fact, I didn’t know there was such a thing as nut butter. Peanut butter was its own entity, a world unto itself. I didn’t know that it was something a person at home could make. Didn’t it just come in a jar?

(Did you have the natural peanut butter when you were a kid, the one that contained a pool of oil on the top, the one you had to stir yourself? I sort of hated that stuff then. Now, it’s the only one I want. Also, what was that abomination that had goopy peanut butter with grape jam mixed into the same jar? Was it actually called Goober? And did we actually eat that?)

My education about nut butters has become far more catholic since then. I’ve come to love almond butter, hazelnut butter, and even sunflower seed butter. (Okay, it’s not a nut. You understand.) Last year, I tasted Marilyn’s Nut Butters, made here in Seattle, and I was hooked. Spicy hot pecan butter with cayenne and chipotle, with just a bit of sweetness. Hazelnut walnut spice with cardamom. Pistachio with fennel. Before I tried her nut butters, it never occurred to  me to mix spices into nut butters to create new flavor combinations. Or to use nut butters in savory dishes. You’ve come a long way from white bread sandwiches, baby.

However, until a couple of weeks ago, I had never made a nut butter from scratch.

Mollie Katzen made me do it.

You know Mollie Katzen, don’t you? Cookbook author, advocate of cooking with your kids, and tireless champion of the joys of being in the kitchen, Mollie Katzen is one of my heroes. One of the first ways I ever learned to cook was by making my way through The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest, back when I was a vegetarian. This woman knows how to write recipes with beautiful clarity. For years I have thought of her as a kind of kitchen goddess.

And now, once in awhile, I can talk to her on Twitter. (The world certainly is different than it was in 1986.)

So, when Mollie put up a recipe for homemade walnut butter on Twitter, I wrote down walnuts on the shopping list by the computer and started making it that night.

I’m so glad I did.

Do you know how much time it took to made homemade walnut butter? Well, there was the soaking — that happened overnight, as I slept. There was the roasting — 15 minutes in the oven while I typed away at something. There was the pulsing in the food processor, then adding of spices. All of 3 minutes.

Active time to make honey-roasted cinnamon walnut butter and cacao nib walnut butter? 7 minutes. And that’s estimating generously.

Make some.

This is the first in a now-ongoing series we’ll be doing here: making things from scratch. Sure, all the meals we create are from scratch. However, I mean we’ll be making the ingredients I once thought magically appeared in a jar. Like our friend Maggy, I learned to make fresh ricotta cheese from our friend Jennifer Perillo, and I can never buy it in a tub from the grocery store again. (Check out Jennie’s other blog, Simple Scratch Cooking, for a real treat.) Like everything else we have made from scratch, it was far easier and more fun than I once thought. Since I went gluten-free, I want to know where my food comes from. I want to feed our daughter simple good food she helped us to make. Making food from scratch is nothing but good.

HONEY-ROASTED CINNAMON WALNUT BUTTER, slightly adapted from Mollie Katzen

Honestly, writing a recipe for this feels a little silly. It’s technique more than anything. Soak, toast, puree, and add some flavor. That’s it. However, since Mollie Katzen’s recipe spurred me onto make this, we’re offering this more precise guide in the hopes you might feed this to your family too.

McCormick Gourmet has a line of roasted spices, which we have come to love. The roasted Saigon cinnamon complements this walnut butter beautifully, amplifying the toasted taste of the walnuts.

Also, once you have made this one, you can play with flavors. We made a cacao nib walnut butter that is addictive and goes great with roast chicken. Cut out the honey for that one.

p.s. If you want to skip the soaking and toasting, you can do this with raw walnuts too. The taste is different — more raw — but still good.

2 cups walnuts, shelled
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon roasted Saigon cinnamon
2 teaspoons walnut oil (or grapeseed or canola oil, if you don’t have walnut oil)

Soaking the walnuts. Put the walnuts in a large bowl and cover them with water. Soak them overnight. This will remove some of the bitterness that can be in walnuts.

Toasting the walnuts. Preheat the oven to 350°. Drain the water from the walnuts. Spread the walnuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Slide the baking sheet in the oven and toast the walnuts until they are thoroughly dry and a bit toasted, about 15 minutes, turning them halfway throug. Do not let them grow dark! You don’t want burned walnuts. Take the walnut butter out of the oven and allow them to cool entirely.

Making the walnut butter
. Put the toasted walnuts in the food processor. Run the processor until they are broken down and starting to turn sticky. Add the salt, honey, and cinnamon. Pulse. Taste the walnut paste to see if you want more salt, honey, or cinnamon. Trust your instincts. Keep the food processor running and add the oil, drizzling it in slowly. You have walnut butter.

We put our walnut butter into a small jar and have been eating it for nearly 2 weeks. It still tastes great.

Makes about 1 cup walnut butter.


61 comments on “homemade walnut butter

  1. Michelle

    Lovely! I have a stash of Texas pecans in my freezer that I would love to turn into nut butter. Great series to come. I would love to make my own yogurt. I go through lots of tubs and would love to dive in and make my own, cutting down on the waste I produce by buying plastic tubs weekly. (Yes I do recycle I just don’t like the idea of a basket full of containers each month.)

    1. Kokila

      Making yoghurt is quite simple. Boil milk in a microwavable container. Let the milk boil fully and then let it cool to become warm for the touch. Pour about half a cup of store bought youghurt (make sure your yoghurt has live cultures) and stir well. The yoghurt must mix in well with the milk. Leave it overnight and it should set by morning.

  2. Jess

    Thank you! This will be a fun cooking project in between weekend activities. Do you keep the final product in the fridge?

  3. Pamela

    I’ve been wanting to make some nut butter, but I was wondering about storing it. How long will it keep if you just put it in the jar (without “canning” or sealing the jar in some way).

    Can I freeze it?

  4. Jillian

    I love making nut butter at home! I usually do a walnut/sunflower seed combo, sometimes with a handful of hazelnuts for a greater depth of flavour.
    I actually find that the softer nuts don’t need any added oil – just let them process for a while longer. I do add a bit of oil to almond butter, as my food processor just can’t make it smooth enough.

  5. Rosanna Tarsiero

    A suggestion to make it compliant with people who have intolerance to fructose… instead of using honey use raw rice syrup 🙂

  6. Johnna

    Goober Grape! I would beg my mom to buy it, yet she insisted on buying the peanut butter with the oil on top. I never did get to try Goober Grape. Now I’m grateful she made those choices for me. Excited to try this! Of all the nut butters I’ve tried, walnut butter is new to me. So glad I bought two pounds of walnuts last week, thinking I would find a way to use them. And here it is!

    1. Daniell Lara

      I love walnuts too!!!!! I was just eating a couple of walnuts and I realized, is there a such thing as walnut butter? I looked it up on the internet and I found this. Im really glad I did. Seems like a fun thing to make.!!!!!

  7. Ann from Montana

    I’ve made cashew butter and almond butter, but this sounds wonderful and I hadn’t thought of walnuts – thank you!

    I also make a kind of dry, crumbly almond “butter” – and used it as a topping with apple chunks on Perky’s Nutty Rice Cereal – Perky’s is a gluten free rice krispie like cereal but not too sweet and it stays cruncy in milk. The almond “crumblies” add some fiber and protein.

  8. Jean Layton

    Nut butters are a true godsend for a quick snack or meal.
    Holmquist hazelnuts with a bit of lemon peel is my favorite. I even turn it into dinner by melting a bit over pasta with a bit of stock to thin it out. Toss in a baby spinach and done.
    Thanks for reminding me to make some soon.

  9. LaDonna Loehrke

    Thank you for sharing this! I had never thought to add spices to my nut butters, either! I will be trying this this weekend! 🙂
    I always soak and roast the nuts beforehand, as it helps remove phytic acid making them easier to digest.

  10. Charlotte

    Thanks for this recipe! I have started recently making nut butters at home and they are so tasty! I even am making them for my business in order to make sure their is no soy in my products. Now I can not go back to the store bought stuff! I think walnut butter will be next on my list!

  11. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction

    Looks incredible! Just a few minutes ago (before I saw this post), I was looking at the ingredient list on my “natural” peanut butter… Which isn’t nearly as natural as I’d like – go figure! Definitely going to give this a try. I happen to have a pantry full of walnuts as I speak (err type).

  12. Ellie

    This excited me! I’ve been gluten free for about two months now, and as a result have discovered a corn allergy and, gracious, eating has gotten hard! I am a little obsessed with sunflower seed butter on celery. I am going to expand now, thanks to you.

    I was wondering if you could help me with something else? So many good recipes (including that amazing lentil ricotta meatball recipe at Simple Scratch Cooking) include bread crumbs. Do you have suggestions for substitutions? I haven’t advanced to the point where I am making my own gf bread and the white rice bread is just so terrible. Though maybe this would be a good use for it? Any advice?

    1. Courtney Simcox

      How strange, Ellie! I have been gluten free for about 2 months now, and once I cut it out of my diet I discovered corn didn’t agree with me either! On top of that my breastfeeding son can’t have dairy or soy. So i know the ideas can run dry pretty quickly.
      As for the breadcrumbs, I would highly suggest just diving in and making Shauna’s multigrain bread. I have made two loaves of it now and it’s wonderful. If you have a kitchen scale her recipes are virtually foolproof. But if you’re not ready for that, i’d say just make a cracker recipe (I like this one but make it gluten free of course and omit the cinnamon) and then just crunch it all up. It won’t be quite the same as breadcrumbs but it’ll sure get the job done.
      Good luck!

  13. jen @ the baked life

    I feel the same about natural peanut butter! My dad used to buy Adam’s peanut butter when I was younger and it would gross me out the thought of eating it. Now I eat nothing BUT natural peanut butter.

    Walnut butter looks pretty amazing right now. I need this in my life.

  14. Nina

    Yesterday I spilled almonds all over the floor. Things have been nutty lately. Time to make nut butter! The walnut sounds divine. I’m also thinking pumpkin seeds with a little cayenne may work in little tortillas with toppings…

  15. Crazy Radishes

    This looks divine! Can you give a bit more guidance on the cocoa nib variation? How much cocoa nib? Should the cocoa nibs be toasted? And without honey or any other sweetener, doesn’t it taste too bitter?

  16. Maggi

    Oh, nut butters! Mmmmm!

    I started making them when my son was a toddler and I wasn’t happy with the added salt and sugars found in the nut butters in my local stores. I have since bought a better food processor to keep up with our *snort* addiction. We have added all sort of things to ours as well.

    But you are right, once you make your own, you never go back – also, you begin to wonder why Whole Foods sells almond butter at $11 a jar…

  17. Hillary

    I found Marcona Almonds at Whole Foods in tiny little tubs. They had sunflower oil and sea salt over them, and they are wonderful. Now I order them in one pound cans off of Ebay. They would make a great butter, since one of my favorite breakfasts is almond butter and whole fruit jelly on a rice cake.

  18. Melissa Graham

    I love nut butters, thanks so much for sharing this.

    0In our Chicago school programs in February, we made homemade chocolate sunflower seed butter. It was huge hut with the kids (and any adults who happened to be there to try it.)

  19. Anna

    I haven’t tried walnut butter, but I do love the idea of adding spices to nut butters. I also love making things from scratch and have been sharing recipes for basic, from scratch, pantry staples on my blog. It is so fun and satisfying to make these things.

  20. Jennifer @ kidoing!

    I just discovered your blog and am enjoying reading through your posts! We love nut and seed butters and I can’t go a day without them on something. I usually use only raw nuts when I make mine, but the idea of adding a spice like cinnamon is very appealing. 🙂 (Oh, and I don’t think the grocery stores where I grew up had natural peanut butter – Jif, Skippy, etc. were all you could buy.)

  21. Elizabeth

    Mmm, I can’t tell you how excited I am for your new Making Things From Scratch series. It’s funny: a frozen pizza takes about 20 minutes to cook, frozen french fries ~15 minutes, a TV dinner takes about 10 minutes… walnut butter? 7 minutes…
    Anyway, I’m starting to wonder what we’re actually saving when we take time away from cooking.

  22. Terry

    Walnuts are good for you too so this is great! I’m excited about your new series as I have recently gotten interested in making things from scratch. My hippie mom always made her own yogurt and I’d like to try that again too. Made some ice cream a few months back–so simple and I knew exactly when it was made and what was in it.

  23. Meagan

    Oh yeah, I’ve def done this before. The addition of a tablespoon or less of molasses really helps to round out the flavor too 🙂

  24. brooke

    I love to make pancakes in the fridge and toast them till there crispy. I bet that butter whould make a great portable safe for me breakfast. YUM
    PS thanks o weight and ratios I use the flours I have in the cupboard and feel confident as a baker.

  25. kris

    What is really tasty is brazil nut butter with honey. To get a smoother product and without using extra oil, I use a Champion juicer to process the nuts. Add the honey, to taste, after grinding the nuts.

  26. Alex@Spoonful of Sugar Free

    Gosh, I love homemade nutbutters! Walnut butter is so nutty and comforting, and I love putting them on some oatmeal raisin cookies 🙂 Have you tried pistachio butter? It takes a while to crack the shells and all, but gosh is it worth it!!!

  27. Brooke@FoodWoolf

    Wait. That beautiful butter only took 3 minutes to make? I love that most of the preparation takes place while you’re sleeping. That’s my kind of recipe. I can’t wait to make this! Thanks for the inspiration and the low impact recipe. xoxox

  28. C

    Ha! I must laugh because during the holidays I experimented with making marshmallows from a recipe by Paula Deen. My husband said, “You can MAKE marshmallows?!” Well, someone does, dear, and it may as well be me! 🙂

  29. Molly

    Mollie Katzen. Is there anything she can’t make taste delicious? I grew up with the natural, oil on top peanut butter, but almond butter is the way to my heart. So so good!

  30. BusyBeeErin

    Looks gorgeous! Would have to soak hazelnuts if subbing them in this recipe? I have a severe allergy to walnuts but love the idea of making a homemade nut butter. I’m also learning to can preserves so, perhaps by the summer, there could be an organic alternative to Goober in the pantry!

  31. Sally

    What do you use to grind the nuts into a paste? My VitaMi does not do a good job as I think the batch is too small to get a god grind.

  32. Ellie


    I know this is kinda old now, but a friend of mine linked me this a while ago. I only just made it and it was so lovely, I’m putting a link to it on my blog. Thought I should let you know. And also, thanks. Because it’s properly boom x.

  33. StevenHB

    Maple would seem a great sweetener to use – maple/walnut is just a classic combination.

  34. Mary@FitandFed

    Walnut butter is what I have on hand right now. Nothing quite as fancy as this one, though I’m sure it’s enhanced by the salt, honey, and cinnamon. I have to admit that I just blend three cups of frozen walnuts in the Vitamix without any soaking, roasting, or other ingredients. It’s still yummy.

  35. Lorraine

    I made some before finding your recipe. I wish I had toasted mine first. You forgot to mention shaking the skins off the meat of the walnuts because this produces a chalkiness in the mouth.

  36. Sia

    I know home made is always better but from where I live it is much cheaper for me to buy store brought nut butters then making it myself. It is a shame. I love the recipe and will try it with almonds as walnuts don’t agree with me, but it will be a luxury.

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