Just a couple of years ago, the only nut butter you could find in stores was made with peanuts, and you probably only knew to use it as sandwich filler and for PB cookies. However, with low-carb diets now being a thing for a while, your nut butter options are now so much more varied.
The nut butters of today come in many forms and flavors. Every nut (and seed) is now turned into spreadable goodness. But with so many kinds of butter to choose from, you’re currently facing a new problem: Which keto-friendly nut butter do I choose?
Below are some of our favorite keto nut butters featured in our recipes, along with explanations on why they’re good.
Almond butter is a famous peanut butter alternative for people with peanut allergies or a dislike of peanut flavor. It’s creamy, mild-tasting, and can be used in sweet and savory recipes. It’s also relatively keto-friendly at only 2.72 g of net carbs in two tablespoons .
While not the lowest carb nut butter out there, almond butter makes up for this with its excellent nutritional profile. Almond butter is namely high in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), protein, B vitamins, and magnesium. All of these nutrients can help maintain good health. MUFAs, for example, reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases, while magnesium is responsible for over 300 enzymatic processes in your body [2, 3].
Macadamia nuts are the most expensive nuts in the world. That makes macadamia nut butter somewhat of a luxury. However, if you don’t mind spending what seems like a fortune on this tasty and nutritious nut butter, go for it! Macadamias are 75% fat and have only 5.2 g of net carbs in a 100-g serving . All of that officially makes it the most keto-friendly nut out there. Besides that, it’s buttery, rich, and loaded with fiber, protein, MUFAs, and thiamin.
Macadamia nut butter can be hard to find in most stores, and it’s often easier to make your own at home. Simply place raw macadamia nuts in a food processor and blitz for a couple of minutes until smooth and creamy. Use it within a couple of days as a spread, dip, or snack topping.
Like creamed coconut, coconut butter is made from ground, dehydrated coconut pulp. Creamed coconut is traditionally used in Asian cooking, while coconut butter is a popular, allergy-friendly ingredient in desserts and sweets. You can find it sold in jars or make your own by finely grinding shredded coconut in a food processor for about 10 minutes.
This keto nut butter is around 65% fat, most saturated, plus some energy-producing medium-chain triglycerides [5, 6]. It is solid at room temperature and becomes liquid at 78° F (25° C), so it’s a good idea to store it in a cool pantry or fridge if your kitchen is warm. As far as its uses go, it’s a great option to add fat to smoothies, keto porridge, toast, and fat bombs.
An oldie but goldie spread, peanut butter deserves a place in your keto pantry. Unsweetened and natural varieties are best, but those with non-nutritive sweeteners can be just as good on keto. If you want to reduce your intake of refined vegetable fats, go for natural varieties since traditional peanut butter has added hydrogenated fats to help keep it solid.
Peanut butter is one of the best low-carb nut butters when you need a protein boost. Just consider that two tablespoons of natural peanut butter provide a whopping 9 g of this nutrient ! Besides that, studies show that its protein has a higher digestibility score than soy . This classic nut butter is also rich in unsaturated fats, fiber, and potassium.
Sunflower Seed Butter
Otherwise known as sunbutter, sunflower seed butter is a popular nut butter substitute for people with tree nut allergies. It is also a great option if you’re frugal, thanks to the exceptionally low cost of sunflower seeds. Besides buying it ready-made in stores, making your own homemade sunbutter for your keto diet is effortless.
There are a couple of downsides that you may need to know about. First, sunflower seed butter is slightly higher in carbs than other popular choices: there are about 5 g of net carbs in two tablespoons . Second, it’s high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats, which some keto-ers try to limit. But other than that, this affordable seed butter is exceptionally rich in vitamins E and B, magnesium, and selenium.
Made by toasting and finely grinding sesame seeds, tahini is a well-known aromatic condiment used in a wide range of savory meals, most notably hummus. However, there’s no reason you can’t use it in keto desserts such as cookies, muffins, and fat bombs. However, it has a much runnier consistency than nut butters, and an astringent feel when eaten alone.
Tahini has about 4.7 g of net carbs in two tablespoons and 5 g of protein . It is a source of lignins such as sesamin, which are antioxidant compounds that studies have linked to improved cardiovascular health . Including a bit of tahini into your keto sweets and snacks can not only help you get enough fats and protein but give you a boost of antioxidant protection as well.
Nut butters are a healthy snack/ingredient that is often also keto-friendly. The above picks have unique benefits and uses that can help make your keto diet interesting and varied. Not to mention they make for super tasty keto desserts.
Making your own at home is also easy. All you need is a powerful food processor and your choice of nuts or seeds. Remember that homemade nut butters have a shorter shelf life than store-bought stuff.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Nuts, almond butter, plain, without salt added. April 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168588/nutrients
- Mashek DG, Wu C. MUFAs. Adv Nutr. 2015;6(3):276-277. Published 2015 May 15. doi:10.3945/an.114.005926
- Schwalfenberg GK, Genuis SJ. The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare. Scientifica (Cairo). 2017;2017:4179326. doi:10.1155/2017/4179326
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Nuts, macadamia nuts, raw. April 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170178/nutrients
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. COCONUT BUTTER. October 2021. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2029362/nutrients
- Hewlings S. Coconuts and Health: Different Chain Lengths of Saturated Fats Require Different Consideration. J Cardiovasc Dev Dis. 2020;7(4):59. Published 2020 Dec 17. doi:10.3390/jcdd7040059
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER. July 2018. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2063208/nutrients
- Arya SS, Salve AR, Chauhan S. Peanuts as functional food: a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2016;53(1):31-41. doi:10.1007/s13197-015-2007-9
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Seeds, sunflower seed butter, without salt. April 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170155/nutrients
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Seeds, sesame butter, tahini, from raw and stone ground kernels. April 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169410/nutrients
- Dalibalta S, Majdalawieh AF, Manjikian H. Health benefits of sesamin on cardiovascular disease and its associated risk factors. Saudi Pharm J. 2020;28(10):1276-1289. doi:10.1016/j.jsps.2020.08.018