How To Choose The Right Nut Butter For You

Who knew there were so many different kinds of nut butter out there. From classic peanut butter to pistachio, how do you know which is the right fit for you? Before we tried them, we wondered if some kinds of nut butter were suited for special occasions, and which ones had the best health benefits.

Lucky for you, we've gone ahead and compiled a list of nut butters, and gone into depth on their texture, flavor, accessibility, and health benefits. No matter what butter you choose, they will all inevitably be high in protein — which is why peanut butter is a longtime beloved after-school snack. Even just 2 tablespoons of nut butter can fill you up and give your body that extra boost to get through that midday crash.

Some of these nut butters are also easy to make at home, so we made sure to include recipe links. Listen, if you're a peanut butter fanatic through and through, there's nothing wrong with that. But, if we can get you to leave this rundown even considering one new-to-you nut butter, then we've succeeded.

Peanut butter

This is the original nut butter. The best of the best. Smooth when you want, crunchy when you don't. Peanut butter has long lined our pantries and given our hungry yet tired selves a protein-packed snack — whether paired with jelly, slathered onto celery sticks and decorated with chocolate chips, or baked into cookies. Peanut butter can be naturally sweetened with a little added sea salt for a rounded flavor, or you could go the sweet route and create unapologetically candy-like peanut butter with additional sugar. Peanut butter is endlessly transformative.

Sometimes you don't need to fix what isn't broken. If peanut butter is the nut butter for you, then don't feel pressured into trying something new. Unless, of course, you want to (then read on). Of course, too much of a good thing can be bad, and moderation is key. For the sake of moderation and variety, getting out of the peanut butter comfort zone can be a good thing.

Almond butter

Almond butter was the first alternative nut butter the world really caught on to. Seemingly overnight, it was everywhere. Marketed as the healthier cousin to peanut butter, we all got the sense that a better, cooler option was in town. Almond butter offered the same texture and simplicity as nut butter to folks allergic to peanuts while adding grit and a nuttier flavor. But is it better for you?

According to Healthline, both nut butters are basically the same when it comes to nutrients and caloric makeup. Where things start to differ is in almonds' fat content. While both are high in healthy fats, almond butter has less overall saturated fat. Almond butter is also higher in vitamins and fiber — with an impressive 3.3 grams per two tablespoons. If almond butter sounds delicious to you, you can try making your own recipe to have constant access to this texturally playful treat.

Cashew butter

Cashew butter is the definition of decadence. It is smooth, creamy, and nutty in flavor — though overall unobtrusive. You can add the butter into smoothies for a punch of protein, eat it plain by the spoonful (trust us, you may just want to), or spread some over toast and drizzle with honey. To make cashew butter, you only need two ingredients: cashews and salt. Much like any nut butter, you'll blend the ingredients until the oils release to form a silky, smooth consistency.

Cashews are lower in fats than other nuts. Because of this, so is their butter. That means that folks who are watching the amount of fat in their diet— whether healthy fats or not — might prefer this nut butter over others. And where cashew butter lacks in fats, it makes up for in amino acids and magnesium. According to SF Advanced Health, these nutrients are great for cholesterol control and give your immune system a helpful boost.

Macadamia nut butter

According to Running to the Kitchen, macadamia nut butter is creamy like its cashew butter sister but gets its leg up with a more subtle flavor. Like other nut butters, macadamia is high in protein and healthy fats, but this butter is also high in Vitamin E and magnesium (via Well and Good). For those of us not well-versed in vitamins and what they help with, Vitamin E reduces inflammation that could otherwise lead to acne on the face, while magnesium can help with sleep. All in all, macadamia nut butter is a great addition to any diet deficient in minerals.

Macadamia nut butter is, however, more of a rarity to come across. And the internet isn't exactly buzzing with developments or news on the ingredient. What we can say is that macadamia nut butter tends to be high in fat and potassium, but moderate on the fiber side. A commenter on iHerb writes that most macadamia nut butters are buttery without being thick, like traditional peanut butter — making it easily spreadable.

Walnut butter

We love walnuts. In fact, Harvard Health found that a diet rich in walnuts can lead to lower cholesterol — and urged readers of the study to consider picking walnuts over other nuts, of course, while still indulging in moderation. So it makes sense that the butter made from this nut is no exception when it comes to taste and health benefits. Take, for instance, Gopal's Organic Sprouted Walnut Butter. This creamy, unsalted delicacy is earthy in flavor while remaining sweet. Just imagine the desserts you could make with it.

Other options for walnut butter include Old Dog Ranch's Just Walnut Butter or Artisana Organics, which also blends cashews into their butter to make the butter creamier and more spreadable. The added cashews also bring a natural sweetness. So if you want to try walnut butter but are a bit scared of the earthiness, this might be a great alternative!

Pecan butter

Pecans really seem like the perfect nut — sweet when baked in sugar, the perfect extra crunch when added to banana bread or sweet potatoes, and an easy snack on the go. But did you know they also make delicious nut butter?

According to Millican Pecan, since pecans are sweet enough on their own without any added sugars or oils, the best kind of pecan butter keeps the recipe simple. The butter itself won't leave an aftertaste, which some nut butter will do (for better or for worse, that's up to you). Natural pecan butter is also less oily than something comparable like almond butter, which requires a lot of mixing before you can get up and going in the morning.

As for health benefits, I Love Pecans (yes, a real organization from the National Pecan Shellers Association) notes that the select pecans have been designated as "heart-healthy" since 2012.

Hazelnut butter

Hazelnut butter is a great one to make at home since the nut's high level of oil helps the nuts turn into a spreadable butter quickly. The resulting butter is smooth but dense, often with flecks of the hazelnut's skin (which may cause bitterness in taste, says Wise-Geek). This might be why we so often find hazelnuts mixed with chocolate (hello, Nutella). The brand Ghia sells its version and recommends it slathered on crepes.

Hazelnut butter is high in fat, as most nut butters are, but is less shelf-stable because of this factor. So if you're someone who doesn't consistently reach for nut butter, this probably isn't the best option for you. Overall, hazelnuts are a good source of daily fiber and have gone through various small rounds of testing with positive results in lowering cholesterol (via Medical News Today). The nuts are also high in Vitamin E, which is believed to protect against cell damage.

Pistachio butter

Pistachio gelato is the most underrated flavor and we won't be accepting other opinions at this time. Actually, pistachios themselves are quite underrated in Western dishes. That is why discovering pistachio butter was such an exciting development. But what's really fun about pistachio butter is its light green hue, which varies in intensity.

As for flavor, pistachio butter is incredibly rich and nutrient-dense (as can be seen in the Fiasconaro pistachio butter sold at Yummy Bazaar). This product notes that pistachio butter is smooth and aromatic, often used to enhance meals rather than stand on its own. Pistachio butter is creamy with a thick consistency and is both nutty and sweet. Pistachios aren't just delicious, they are also packed full of unsaturated fatty acids, potassium, and antioxidants (via WebMD). Pistachios can lean on the saltier side, so don't be surprised if any pistachio butter you buy is the same way.

Chestnut butter

Chestnut butter is a bit more unusual, and can often be found referred to as "chestnut spread" (if you're interested in purchasing some for yourself after reading this). Despite its rare status in the U.S., it is quite a traditional and beloved spread in France. The most common brand you'll find is by Clement Faugier sold at Yummy Bazaar, and its website is in French, so you know it's legit (though, thank you Google Chrome for the translate feature).

According to Bonne Maman, chestnut spread and/or butter is fresh and earthy, with a flavor reminiscent of gathering around roasted chestnuts during the holiday season. Of all the butters and spreads, chestnut is unique in its intensity of flavor. Chestnut pairs really well with vanilla since the sweetness counteracts the nut's flavor, which is why chestnuts fold so well into desserts. Chestnut spread might not be the ideal everyday butter for you, but it certainly fits into special occasions and holiday planning like a breeze.

Brazil nut butter

Brazil nuts on their own are rich and creamy, so you can only imagine what the texture of their respective butter must be like! For those of you not familiar with Brazil nuts, they are tree nuts encased in a hard shell that you crack open to reveal a large edible seed inside. Yes, seed. Technically speaking, Brazil nuts aren't actually nuts. But when it comes to nut butter, how could we exclude Brazil nut butter?

Brazil nut butter is often dense, like this option from Living Tree Community Foods which is sliced and not ground to preserve all the nut's nutrients. Speaking of which, according to BBC GoodFood, Brazil nuts provide a great source of selenium, which can help boost your mood. Low selenium levels are linked with mood-related disorders like anxiety and depression and eating only 1-to-1½ ounces of Brazil nuts a day has been shown to decrease related symptoms over a few weeks. So a spoonful a day could only do some good.