Cashew Butter Recipe

Beurre de Cajou

[Cashew Butter]

My jar of old-fashioned chunky peanut butter having mysteriously evaporated somewhere between the store where I bought it and the apartment where I thought I’d brought it back, I had to devise a strategy to assuage the feeling of disappointment and vexation, the kind that makes you bang your fist on the kitchen counter as you mutter a few well-selected swear words through clenched teeth, and try hard to remind yourself that this was just peanut butter after all.

And then I thought: just peanut butter? Yes, just peanuts and salt, ground together at high speed until the oil from the peanuts decides to come out and see what all the ruckus is about, and all of a sudden the mixture stops being just peanuts and salt, and becomes something much, much more interesting: something you can spread on your morning toast, something in which to dip apple slices in the afternoon, something that can be turned into a sauce for steamed veggies at dinnertime.

I had never made nut butter before, and I didn’t have any peanuts on hand, but I did have cashews, unroasted and unsalted. That would do. After a short roasting to revive their flavor, I gave the nuts a little turbo ride in the mini food processor that came with my stick blender, one of the most versatile and most often used appliances in my kitchen. I had my doubts at first — the nuts seemed reluctant to go anywhere beyond the fine powder stage — but I insisted until, miracle of miracles, creaminess appeared at the center of the bowl, and quickly spread to the entire content.

It turns out that cashew butter is a fine thing, its flavor more subtle than that of peanut butter, its shade paler, and its texture a bit drier, more paste-like than oily. Not wanting to waste too many cashews in case the experiment failed, I had only made a small batch, and this was gone in no time at all. A few days later, I applied the same method to pecans, shooting for a chunky consistency this time, and was very pleased with the results too, although I got a bit overenthusiastic with the initial salting, and had to add more nuts to compensate.

And in the meantime, a very kind reader who lives in Paris and shares my passion for all things peanut and chunky was generous enough to part with one of the jars she keeps in her stash, so I now have both chunky pecan butter and chunky peanut butter in the fridge. Life is good.

Beurre de Cajou

– 200 g (2 cups) unsalted, unroasted cashews (pecans work well, too)
– Salt, to taste (I recommend fleur de sel or kosher salt, for the little specks of saltiness they provide)

Makes about a cup. The recipe can be doubled.

The nuts can optionally be roasted. Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F). Spread the cashews on a rimmed cookie sheet, and toast in the oven for 8 minutes or until fragrant, watching them closely and stirring halfway through. Let cool for a minute.

Combine the cashews and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor. If you want the nut butter to be chunky, pulse until reduced to small chunks. Remove 1/4 cup of the chunks, strain them through a medium-mesh sieve set over a bowl to keep only the chunks and not the fine powder. Set the chunks aside and return the fine powder into the food processor.

Process at high speed until powdered and then creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl every once in a while. Taste, add a little more salt if desired, and mix again to incorporate. If you’ve reserved chunks, fold them in by hand. Transfer into a jar, close tightly, and keep in the fridge.

  • Adele

    It’s pretty common to see make-it-yourself peanut butter grinders in grocery stores around here. It looks very similar to a large coffee grinder. There’s nothing better than the smell and taster of warm, freshly ground peanut butter!

  • Victoria

    Sounds fantastic! I have always loved the cashew-white poppy seed paste which is used as a base for various dishes in the North of India. I am already envisioning ways to experiment with cashew butter.

  • BG

    What a coincidence — just recently I was thinking, hmmm, peanut butter, how boring … whay couldn’t I just grind up the nuts myself and make something really unusual? So I went out and bought some pistachios (dry roasted, in the shell). I shelled them, put them in the blender, pushed the button … and got … a pile of pistachio dust! Ooops, what now? Well I had a little can of walnut oil, so I figured, walnuts, pistachios, why not? and dripped in the walnut oil a little at a time. The result was a little too liquid — I wasn’t patient anough — but tasted WONDERFUL. Try it, everyone, and try it with whatever sort of nut you fancy!

  • When I was 18, I spent a month in France on an exchange. (I am Canadian.) Near the end of the month, I was missing peanut butter badly, and expressed this to my hostess. She obliged my craving by digging up a small jar of peanut butter an American had brought to their house a couple of years previous. When I retold this story to my husband years later, he was appalled that asked for PEANUT BUTTER, of all things, when I was in the gastronomique heaven of France. As I got older and my knowledge of good food grew, I wholeheartedly agreed with him!

  • Jen

    And I thought I was the only one who experienced the ‘mysteriously’ evaporating peanut butter. When my peanut butter disappears, everyone’s a suspect!

  • dodo

    I once tried something like that but with hazelnuts, it never went past hazel dust stage, i even tried adding a bit of penault oil, but it didnt work out, finally i had to mixed up with some ganache i had left and made some truffles.
    is there a way of making hazel nut paste using a processor?

  • rainey

    When a lived in France, peanut butter was one of the things we bitterly missed and never found. Wish we’d known then that we might have made it. We didn’t have a blender but I bet a mortar and pestle would have done the trick and, maybe, been interesting in the process.

    OTOH, I’ve always thought ratatouille and homemade mayonnaise were *excellent* trade offs and have always been grateful that I could bring them back with me. Now that I’m not a college-age expat anymore, I’d rather have the ratatouille and mayo a million times over. ;>

    Anyway, I’m always grateful to have lovely memories revived.

  • kudzu

    I’m a confirmed fan of peanut butter, and can understand your craving it in a country where it’s not available. I even had it for dinner last night! We’re having triple-digit heat in the San Francisco area and I couldn’t face cooking anything, my refrigerator was almost bare, I was exhausted from the weather — so I made a sandwich of organic peanut butter and blackberry jam on multigrain bread, which saw me through the night beautifully.

    I remember buying a jar in Rome from a very expensive shop, a hostess gift for an ex-pat who missed it (that and good bourbon!).

  • Nanana

    I want to try this with unsweetened coconut shreds with the cashews though I may soak the coconut first.

  • I have to try that, it looks so delicious and different from the simple peanut butter!

  • ladyloo

    I have been trying to track down a jar of cashew butter for ages. How silly that I didn’t even think of trying to make my own! Thanks for the idea.

  • christine

    As an FYI, having been raised in France on peanut butter, I know exactly where to buy it. My mom always bought it in magasins dietetiques (health food stores)and that was decades ago. I still remember the packaging, it came in some sort of a can with the picture of a little blond boy, typically American looking. It was simply called Beurre De Cacahuete. My mom would just spread it on bread with no jam. I still prefer it that way to this day.

  • During my expat college days (4 months in the early 90s) It didn’t take long for me to miss peanut butter. I’m not the fan (addict) that my father is, but I like it fine.
    I also wasn’t as open minded and venturesome about food back then… meal time was fine, I ate what I was offered (and did discover many new favorites) but the times I was left to my own devices, I was at a loss for what to do, whether with what was available in the house at the time, or easily, quickly and cheaply, when there wasn’t a cafe or boulangerie nearby.
    Fortunately for me a friend clued me into the buerre de cachouette pretty early on, and later I also found it as pate d’arachide. This made a fantastic sandwich with nutella – something I was able to trade for (ham and butter sandwiches) with my classmates on our 5 hour bustrip to Paris.

  • Mel

    Almond Butter is also very good. I love it on toast with raspberry jam.

  • Christy

    I’ve got to say I’m a lover of all things nut and all things butter and when the two get together and get their groove on then I’m a lover of that, too! My favorite nut butter (besides the traditional, chunky no-sugar added peanut) is macadamia nut butter. It’s just a little bit of heaven right here on earth. On nice toast in the morning. I have to stop before I become inappropriate.

    I do have an excellent recipe for Macadamia Nut Butter & Dried Cranberry cookies if you’re interested.

  • What a great idea! I always have cashews in the house, but never thought to make cashew butter. I will be giving it a try.

  • rebecca

    this is so simple yet so wonderful! how do you come up with these ideas, cotie? who doesn’t have some nuts in the house that can be blended into a delicious paste? the only part that i don’t understand is the fleur del sel. what is this? i think you may have meant flour? but how much should you use?

  • Once again I’m inspired by your posts enough to have left it up on the computer screen and dashed into the kitchen to check on my supply of cashews. I’ve sadly returned after sampling one of the precious little nuts only to find that they will most likely be too salty to use for butter. Foiled! However, I added “unsalted cashews” to my grocery list for another evening’s pleasure and experimentation. Thanks for the great post!

  • Joan

    ah! Wednesday is our local market day ..beautiful nuts of all kinds to buy..will add cashews to my shopping list and give the butter a go…such a post!!!

  • Many years ago (late 80s), an Estonian friend of mine had relatives visiting from Estonia (in early post-Soviet years). I made some no-bake chocolate cookies that her relatives loved. As I recited the recipe, she commented they wouldn’t be able to make them at home, since there was no peanut butter. I said they could make their own peanut butter from peanuts, and she told me they couldn’t even get peanuts in Estonia. My 22yo self was astonished, although I suspect it is no longer true.

    Pecan butter – now that’s an idea for how to use some of the pounds of pecans my dad sends me! I wonder if my 8yo son (who loves pecans but not peanut butter) would like it? Will taste win over texture? We’ll see!

  • BG and Dodo – Hm. So it doesn’t work too well with pistachios or hazelnuts? I’m guessing they have less fat content? Also, if you used nuts that weren’t blanched, the thin skin might get in the way, although it didn’t in the case of my pecan butter… But using a nut oil sounds like the perfect solution.

    Rainey – Ratatouille and mayonnaise, yes, but can you dip apple slices in them? :)

    Nanana – Adding coconut sounds lovely. Do report back if you try that!

    Christine – I have tried that peanut butter in a can (also labelled “pâte d’arachide”, the brand I know is called Dakatine), and it tastes fine, but it is neither chunky nor all-natural (they add an emulsifier to the peanuts and salt), hence my desire to bring some back from the US!

    Mel – I love almond butter too! Have you ever tried making it yourself?

    Christy – Mmm, macadamia butter, that sounds tempting. Macadamia nuts do cost an arm and a leg here, but I’m sure it would be worth a try. As for the cookie recipe, I would love to see it!

    Rebecca – Fleur de sel is a type of salt that comes in tiny flecks. I like to use it here because it provides little jolts of saltiness in the finished product, but fine sea salt would work just as well.

    Kevin – I’ve found a tip in the latest Cook’s Illustrated about unsalting salted nuts: you rinse them under fresh water to get rid of the salt, then roast them for about 10 minutes in a 180° C (350° F) oven to dry them up. I do prefer starting with unsalted nuts though, because the roasted salted nuts I find at the store usually have stuff (oil, preservatives, etc.) added to them.

    Tricia – The texture of pecan butter is a little grainy, not as smooth as cashew or peanut butter, but I hope your son will like it nonetheless! If not, well, that’s more for you! :)

  • Max

    We have a better, lots of organics food chain store called Trader Joe’s. They are in many states here in the USA. I purchase Almond Butter from them and also a Cashew-Macadamia nut butter. Both are very good. It’s nice not to have to clean up after making nut butter. I do make Marzipan which is blanched almonds, powdered sugar to taste, some drops of rose flower water and a sturdy blender. Mold and decorate if necessary or wrap in plastic then foil and freeze.

  • Max – The mysteriously evaporated jar of peanut butter came from TJ’s…

  • Mel

    Clotilde – I have made my own almond butter, and have had very good results. The method is identical to the one you described for your cashew butter. I do not roast the nuts beforehand — I have read studies that raw nuts are healthier. Perhaps I could roast a few and mix with the raw? I generally grind my own at the health food store and cannot tell a difference between home-ground (except no mess to clean up!).

  • Cat

    Pecan butter is one of my all time favorite foods. I especially love it with a little real butter spread on toast with a little fig jam. It is truly decadent. Man, a Pecan Butter and Fig Jam sammy sounds great right now. Great post.

  • Joey

    wow, wonderful post, wonderful blog, i got so inspired i went home and made some cashew butter and it’s sensational! Thanks!

  • Sarah

    Hazelnuts and pistachios work just fine–just be persistant! Homemade toasted hazelnut butter is one of the most lovely things ever. Pistachios will never get beyond a crumbly paste, but this is still good blended into a custard or into cream cheese as a spread. Really, I haven’t found a single nut that _didn’t_ work.

  • Have you consider using hazelnuts? :)

  • Almond butter is also nice. I also use nut butter in some Asian recipes that call for crushed peanuts because I find that using the butter version helps the flavours blend better.

  • Sylvie

    I discovered peanut butter long ago during a trip to the Netherlands, where it’s called pinda kaas, if I remember well (peanut cheese, I guess). I was later initiated to the delights of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by an american student, while in college. I have been a convert ever since. and for those who seem to have trouble finding peanut butter in France, well most stores like Carrefour or Auchan have a “foreign food” lane, where you can find north american staples like maple syrup and peanut butter, both smooth and chunky, next to the Tex-Mex, italian and spanish specialties ! Too bad they don’t offer Jello too !!!

  • pastilla

    Did you know that cashew butter/paste is a staple of many vegan dishes? It’s often thinned and used as a substitute for milk.

  • I love the idea of pecan butter. Thanks for sharing the fantastic results of your experiments! I might give it a go myself! I’m a nutaholic and eat peanut butter every day even if just for a little snack. Have you ever had almond butter? That’s a lovely treat as well.

  • I have to try this. I’ll bet it’s more economical, too.

  • Jillian

    Great post!!! Here in Toronto, my roommate and I are obsessed with nut butters… We buy a small label brand called “Nuts to You Nut Butter Inc.” manufactured in Paris, Ontario!!! The ingredients are just nuts, no added sugar or preservatives. I’ve nearly finished the jar of hazelnut butter — I eat it by the spoonful!!! The almond butters are either smooth or chunky, raw or roasted, even organic; they also make sunflower seed, cashew, macademia, pumpkin seed, and of course different varieties of peanut butter!!! We buy a different jar each week, though some only last a day or two, yikes!!!!

  • Oooooooh…!!! Que ce doit être délicieux et gourmand! :-)

  • I tried this – dry roasted cashews, stuck in the food processor until just perfect. Mmmmmmmm. I don’t eat peanut butter (long story), so the chance for a homemade nut butter is one I’m happy to have. Thank you for the idea!

  • I would like to agree with almond butter being a good spread to try, I had it once a long time ago at summer camp and the taste still lingers in my mind…also I am now in love with raspberry peach Champaign jelly…its a must try with your nut butter sandwhich!

  • N

    Clotilde, are you familiar with these French nut butters? They do cost la peau des fesses but I tried the white almond butter and words cannot do it justice.

  • Chris

    I made this recipe this weekend. I bought the cashews several weeks ago and am just now getting around to roasting the nuts – it’s been too hot to run the oven!

    The recipe worked beautifully and the butter is great — very sweet without adding any sugar. However, mine did not get as “oily” as your picture. I left out the salt, might that have made a difference?

    Thanks for another brilliant idea!

  • mike weitfle

    peanut butter is good for blood type A’s

  • ben

    well, i am a huge nut butter fan. anything is cool by me, half peanut butter, half tahini sandwiches are my favorites right now. IM Healthy makes a nice soy nut butter too, tho it has a some additional ingredients that keep it from being all natural. tasty, tho. neverthelss, your writing has inspired me to make my own hazelnut butter, and then maybe walnut butter too, today on my day off. thanks. will report on the walnuts. surprised to see that nobody has mentioned them. arent they like, the best nut???

  • Isabelle

    How long does it keep in a fridge ?

  • Perhaps Hazelnuts? Yummy!

  • Marie

    Well this is an older post that I came across, but I thought I’d contribute. I absolutely love sunflower seed butter and they can be toasted in a frying pan and then blended until a creamy consistency. No additional oil is needed but a tad bit of sugar and salt is good. I find the flavor similar but more delicate than peanut butter. What I love about making homemade butters is that it isn’t necessary to add too many oils or preservatives (or who knows what) to the final product. I even get organic seeds or nuts when they are in season. If I could only keep from burning up my blenders making them!

  • Chloé

    Bonjour les anglo-saxons j’écris en français car je suis certaine qu’en tant qu’amateurs de la cuisine et de la culture française vous saisirez ce que je dis. Je me demandais quel type de recettes on pouvait faire avec du beurre de cacahuetes? Do you know any good recipes with peanut butter? i could give you famous french recipes like éclairs au chocolat or profiteroles au chocolat (mmh chocolat…)bye!

  • “stumbled” on your blog…and boy does that cashew butter look good!

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