These are our favorite – and delicious – replacements for peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut oil.
Even when you’re not allergic, it is possible you will have to find alternatives if you’re a parent sending your child to a nut-free school. Since food allergies are a growing concern for many parents, many school are switching to a nut-free policy, meaning that no snacks or meals containing peanuts or other tree nuts are allowed on school grounds due to the risk of allergic reactions.
If peanuts and peanut butter are staples in your household, it can be tough to make the switch at first. But don’t worry, we’re here to help.
Substitutes for peanuts
- As a snack
If you like to eat peanuts as a snack, try sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds instead. They are just as crunchy, and when they’re roasted and seasoned, they will pack a flavorful punch.
Spiced and roasted chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) are another crunchy and protein-filled alternative.
- In recipes
Chopped peanuts are often used as garnish on desserts or ice cream, as well as for pie crusts and chicken coatings.
If other tree nut varieties (e.g., almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc.) are not an option either, try crushed pretzels as a nut-free alternative. But please beware: Most pretzels contain wheat and sometimes sesame, but there are also gluten-free versions available.
If you like to use peanuts as a garnish (for example in stir-fries or salads), try roasted beans instead for a similar taste and texture.
Substitutes for peanut butter
- As a spread
For everyone who is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, sunflower butter is a great alternative to use as a spread in sandwiches. It also works well as a peanut butter substitute in smoothies and overnight oats, for example.
Another popular alternative is soy butter, which is made of toasted soybeans, contains lots of protein and omega-3 fats, and tastes quite similar to peanut butter.
If you like sunflower butter, pumpkin seed butter is another great seed-based alternative to classic peanut butter.
If you can have tree nuts, almond butter has a similar nutty taste and contains a lot of fiber, vitamin E, and calcium. But please beware: Many almond butters are produced in facilities that also make peanut butters, so there is a risk for cross-contamination.
- In recipes
For savory recipes, tahini can be a great replacement for peanut butter. It is a staple in Middle Eastern cooking and made of sesame seeds and is usually sold unsweetened. For baking, try substituting with sunflower butter – we even have a recipe for allergy-free sunflower butter blossom cookies for you! Be aware: while it’s safe to eat, sunflower butter can turn baked goods green, due to a chemical reaction with baking soda or baking powder.
Nut-based option for baking include the creamy and slightly sweet cashew butter, pecan butter (nutty flavor, creamy texture, but not as sweet as peanut butter), or hazelnut butter (mixed with some chocolate and cocoa, this almost tastes like Nutella!).
Substitutes for peanut oil
- In cooking
For cooking, peanut oil can easily be replaced with canola oil (affordable option for grilling meats), sunflower oil (all-purpose option for high-temperature cooking and for adding to sauces and dressings), vegetable oil (blend of oils such as palm, canola, corn, and safflower oil, used for deep-frying and high-temperature cooking), and safflower oil (for deep-frying and sautéing, or as salad dressing or garnish).
If you can tolerate tree nuts, walnut oil (for tossing through pasta and in desserts, can turn bitter when heated) and almond oil (as a finishing oil in sweet dishes, or pan-frying and baking at moderate temperature) are an option as well.