vegan • plant-based • dairy-free • gluten-free • low-carb • paleo

Organic seed butter is a great way to get beneficial oils, protein and trace minerals into your diet. Once you start making your own, there’s no going back. Even widely available sorts like tahini tend to be expensive, and there’s nothing like the freshness and flavour of homemade. Seed butter is a little bit messy to make, but it’s quick and simple. The process is also very satisfying to watch!

The best thing about making your own is that you can experiment with your own blends. The most commonly used seeds have different nutritional strengths, so combining them can be beneficial. They also have different flavours and textures, so depending on what you want to use them for, you can custom build your own. They can be mixed with nut butters for even more variety.

Aside from tahini, we generally use seed butter for making superfood snack bars. As it’s so sticky, it’s great for binding ingredients like dried fruit, coconut, roasted nuts or cooked grains. We just roughly chop whatever we fancy in a blender, mix it together with seed or nut butter, then shape the mixture into bars or balls and pop them in the freezer for snack time.


Tahini

Tahini is the most widely known of seed butters. This sesame paste is from the Eastern mediterranean, and is believed to have been in use for the last 4000 years. The name comes from the Arabic tahana – to grind.

Tahini is commonly found in Middle Eastern recipes such as houmous, baba ganoush and halva. It has a bitter, savoury taste, so it’s a great compliment to sour and sweet flavours. As well as using it to make houmous, we often add it to salad dressings, or mix it with olive oil and lemon juice to drizzle on cooked greens.

Sesame seeds are high in calcium, iron and copper.

Roasted sesame seeds
Light tahini


Sunflower seed butter

Also known as sunbutter, this is a very versatile option. The most similar in taste and texture to peanut butter, it’s useful to people with nut allergies and intolerances. It’s also good for varying the diet of those who get a bit too hooked on nut butter (yes, guilty). Its soft, smooth consistency makes it a handy ingredient for baking, or it can be used straight out of the jar as a spread.

Sunflower seeds are high in omega 6, vitamins B5, B6, B9 and E.

Roasted sunflower seeds
Roasted sunflower seed butter


Hemp seed butter

Hemp seed butter is one of the sweeter varieties. Due to the chunky texture, it’s best used as an ingredient rather than a spread, and is often mixed with cocoa for dessert recipes. You could also add it to smoothies.

Hemp seed will give you the most ‘complete’ protein of all seed butters. It’s also high in fibre, omega 6, vitamin B3, magnesium and many trace elements (phosphorus, potassium, zinc, manganese).

Roasted hemp seeds
Roasted hemp seed butter


Pumpkin seed butter

Because of its high oil content, pumpkin seed butter is especially smooth. The colour may be a little unappealing, but the flavour is sweet and nutty. It can be used straight out of the jar as an alternative to nut butter.

Pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) are high in protein, omega 6 and vitamin C.

Roasted pumpkin seeds
Roasted pumpkin seed butter


Flax seed butter

Flax seeds (also know as linseeds) come in brown or golden varieties. Brown is generally used to make flax seed oil, and is easier to source. Though there’s an ongoing debate about the merits of each, the nutritional value is probably about the same. Here we’ve used golden.

Flax seed butter has an earthy, savoury flavour. Being incredibly sticky, it’s not the sort of thing you’d want to spread on your toast, but it’s useful in recipes where you need a binder, or as an addition to salad dressings. You could also add it to a smoothie.

Flax seeds are high in omega 3, fibre and vitamin B1.

Roasted flax seeds
Roasted flax seed butter


Recipe variations

If you want a thinner, more spreadable butter, feel free to add a liquid oil of your choice once the seeds are ground down to a meal. Add a small drizzle at a time, bearing in mind the butter will become slightly more solid when refrigerated. You can also add salt to taste at this stage if you like.

Some people add sweeteners like maple syrup, or spices like vanilla, ginger and cinnamon. Time to follow your taste-buds and let your creativity loose! Just make sure you add flavourings like this at the end – ideally by hand – as some may affect the texture.

Our pictured mixed blend has equal quantities of flax, hemp, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. As detailed above, this offers a wide range of nutrients. Notably the high omega 3 content in flax and hemp complement the high omega 6 in sunflower and pumpkin.

Chia seeds won’t make a butter on their own, due to their relatively low fat content, but you could still add them to a the mix of other seeds. Chia is high in omega 3, fibre, vitamin B3, calcium, copper and iron.


Storage

Seed butter will keep in the fridge for up to a month, but to get the most out of nutrients, it’s best used within 2 weeks. It also keeps well in the freezer – just wait until it’s completely cool, and leave a bit of space for expansion at the top of the jar.


A note on quantities

This 400g recipe makes roughly 400ml. We usually store ours in 2 x 200ml jars – one for the fridge and one for the freezer. It’s best not to make significantly less than 400g at a time in a standard-sized blender or mixer, or the seeds will avoid the blade. If you want to make a smaller batch, you could try something like a Nutribullet or a nut blender attachment.


Organic seed butter

Roasted Seed Butter

Yields1 Serving

 400 g seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, hemp or flax)

Roasting the seeds
1

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

2

Lay the seeds out on a tray, preferably lined with baking paper. Make sure they're spread out as evenly as possible, ideally in a single layer.

3

Roast the seeds for 5 minutes at a time, then take them out and give them a good stir. They should be golden but not brown. Small seeds like sesame will roast quickly, so keep an eye on them to make sure they don't burn – they should take about 10 minutes. Pumpkin, sunflower and flax take about 12 minutes. Whole hemp will take around 15 minutes – it's hard to tell when they're done as their appearance doesn't change that much, so take one out and try it once it's cool enough. The thicker the layer of seeds, the longer they'll take to roast. You may need up to 20-25 minutes.

4

Ideally slide the paper on to a cooling rack. Alternatively, let the seeds cool in the pan, but stir them up first so they don't burn.

Making the seed butter
5

Once they've cooled down, tip the seeds into a high-speed blender or a food processor with the S-blade. (This is where the baking paper comes in handy!)

6

Start the mixer at a low-medium speed. In a Vitamix, speed 4 seems to be the sweet spot, but if the mixture starts spraying up the sides, slow down to 3.

7

After a couple of minutes, you should get a fine meal. Soon the oil will start to be released and the mixture will start binding together. Keep going until you get a smooth butter.

8

In a Vitamix the whole process will take 3-4 minutes, and you may want to use a tamper. A mixer should take 7-8 minutes, and you might need to stop and scrape down the sides with a spatula.

9

Scoop into glass storage jars.

Ingredients

 400 g seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, hemp or flax)

Directions

Roasting the seeds
1

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

2

Lay the seeds out on a tray, preferably lined with baking paper. Make sure they're spread out as evenly as possible, ideally in a single layer.

3

Roast the seeds for 5 minutes at a time, then take them out and give them a good stir. They should be golden but not brown. Small seeds like sesame will roast quickly, so keep an eye on them to make sure they don't burn – they should take about 10 minutes. Pumpkin, sunflower and flax take about 12 minutes. Whole hemp will take around 15 minutes – it's hard to tell when they're done as their appearance doesn't change that much, so take one out and try it once it's cool enough. The thicker the layer of seeds, the longer they'll take to roast. You may need up to 20-25 minutes.

4

Ideally slide the paper on to a cooling rack. Alternatively, let the seeds cool in the pan, but stir them up first so they don't burn.

Making the seed butter
5

Once they've cooled down, tip the seeds into a high-speed blender or a food processor with the S-blade. (This is where the baking paper comes in handy!)

6

Start the mixer at a low-medium speed. In a Vitamix, speed 4 seems to be the sweet spot, but if the mixture starts spraying up the sides, slow down to 3.

7

After a couple of minutes, you should get a fine meal. Soon the oil will start to be released and the mixture will start binding together. Keep going until you get a smooth butter.

8

In a Vitamix the whole process will take 3-4 minutes, and you may want to use a tamper. A mixer should take 7-8 minutes, and you might need to stop and scrape down the sides with a spatula.

9

Scoop into glass storage jars.

Roasted Seed Butter


Not ready to make your own seed butter?

If you’re just starting out on a vegan diet and want to dip your toe in the water, lots of ready-made seed butters are available. Meridian offer dark and light versions of organic tahini. They also make organic pumpkin seed and sunflower seed butters. Biona is another popular brand with similar options. Raw Ecstasy make organic activated seed butters – they’re raw, but with reduced antinutrients. These include tahini and mixed seed butter.






Got any tips or questions of your own about seed butter? Leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.

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