Toast is certainly having a moment. Avocado toast is popping up on numerous cafe menus around our city, and I've been to a number of spots that serve toast with nut butters "made in-house." And while I love a crusty slice of toasted bread slathered thick with almond butter, I often scoff at the price tag. So lately I've been making my own version at home. It takes half an hour (and much of this is inactive time spent toasting the nuts in the oven), it's cheaper, and you can customize your almond butter to suit your own tastes and preferences.
The recipe below will work with any nut, really, so you can use it as a template or blank canvas and customize away — you could even do half almonds and half pistachios. Or throw some peanuts in there for good measure.
And while you certainly don't need to sweeten this with anything, I love a little honey — just a little. Maple syrup can be really nice, too. And I add a pinch of cinnamon to warm things up a bit. I start very conservatively, so if it's not cinnamon-y enough for you at the end, you can obviously add more until it starts to feel right to you.
I've tested many nut butter recipes at home, and even included one in my cookbook, Whole Grain Mornings, and I've come to rely on a few good tips and tricks:
Tips for Making Homemade Nut Butters
- Don't fear salt. You need a little, really. It helps amp up the flavor of most things, and nut butter is no exception.
- Don't fear oil. You need a little of this, too, to loosen up your almond butter as it's processing. I use a grapeseed oil, but you can use anything as long as it has a nice, neutral flavor.
- Be patient. To get the consistency you want out of your almonds, they're going to take a while to process. Likely longer than you think they should. If your food processor becomes hot, just give it a rest for a moment.
- Like yours chunky? Simply fold in 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped almonds at the very end.
- Avoid silicone spatulas: When scraping down the sides of the food processor, silicone easily gets stuck on the blade, which is frustrating. I prefer a wooden spoon for that reason.
Honeyed Cinnamon Almond Butter
Makes about 1 3/4 cups
2 1/4 cups
neutral oil (like safflower or grapeseed), plus more if necessary
ground cinnamon, plus more to taste
Preheat oven to 325°F and spread almonds out onto a rimmed baking sheet. Toast for 12 to 15 minutes, or until fragrant. Let almonds cool – it’s okay if they’re still a little warm when you grind them, but you don’t want them to be hot.
Pour almonds into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment, and process continuously for 2 minutes. The almonds should look dry and mealy at this point. Add the oil and salt and continue processing for another 6 to 9 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed.
Add the honey and cinnamon, and continue processing for another minute or so. Taste and add more honey, cinnamon, or salt if you’d like. If you prefer your nut butters on the looser side, feel free to add an additional 1 tablespoon of oil, and pulse to combine. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.
If you have a Vitamix or other commercial blender, you can obviously use it to make your almond butter. I have not tested this recipe in a Vitamix, but I have heard that you may need a little more oil and that the timing will obviously differ (should take a shorter amount of time to process in the Vitamix).
I find that, depending on the type and age of the almonds (and even the extent to which I toast them), the processing time differs from batch to batch. One day your recipe may take 8 minutes, while another day it may take 12, so just know that variation is normal.
When I add stir-ins into my nut butter (honey, maple syrup, etc.), it's common for it to seize up a bit and thicken. If you want a very loose almond butter, simply add a bit more oil if this should happen to you.