Baking with Peanut Butter Alternatives {Peanut Allergies}


With Peanut Butter Love week well underway, I wanted to offer those of you with peanut allergies some alternative options and knew exactly who to enlist for this informative post. Katie Goodman of the gorgeous blog, goodLife {eats} is here today to share her knowledge of peanut allergies and peanut butter alternatives. Katie has become one of my favorite people; she’s smart, adorable, helpful, and takes the most amazing photos you’ll ever lay your eyes on.  Head over to goodLife {eats} and be sure to bring your appetite because she’s sharing everything she finds good in the kitchen and in life.

Is it just me or does it seem like peanut butter is becoming increasingly popular for use in recipes? During my childhood the only peanut butter goodie that I remember eating was a simple peanut butter cookie. But peanut butter isn’t just for cookies and sandwiches anymore.

I’ve seen peanut butter frosting, peanut butter torte, peanut butter cake, peanut butter and jelly bars, and that’s just the sweets. It’s no secret that cooks and bakers are becoming more and more creative with how they use ingredients and all sorts of fun flavor combinations are popping up on the web. Unfortunately, for those suffering from a peanut allergy, this is not good news.

Peanut butter is tasty and something that I think many of us consider an all-American comfort food. When my son Logan was diagnosed with a peanut allergy 5 years ago it meant a big change was in order. Logan allergy is severe enough to induce anaphylactic shock.

Not all Reactions are Equal

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that can happen within moments of exposure to the allergen. During anaphylaxis the body releases histamine, which effects the body in a number of ways, most notably – a swelling of the airways. Other symptoms may include: difficulty breathing and/or swallowing, hives, swollen lips, vomiting, and dizziness.

Nutella Cupcakes | Photo courtesy of goodLife {eats}

Some are lucky enough to have very minimal reactions. Others just avoid peanuts and do not have to worry about cross-contamination. Those like Logan have to avoid peanuts, anything processed on shared equipment or in the same facility as peanuts. And, finally, a select few can’t even be in the same room as peanuts without consequences (though some believe that is debatable).

As you can see, severe peanut allergies are not something to be taken lightly. Additionally, repeated exposures to the allergen will often cause faster and more serious reactions each time.

Food Blogger Peanut Allergy Experiences

“My cousin-in-law was admitted to the hospital after a reaction was caused when the table next to her ordered a Thai dish with peanuts that was cooked tableside.” – Shaina Olmanson

“It would be so nice if I could even eat products that are manufactured in a facility with peanuts and tree-nuts. That alone would make life a lot easier.

“I make a lot of homemade recipes, but when you need something quick, want to eat out, or when a friend offers you a snack…you wouldn’t have to agonize over it. Chocolate is a huge problem for me. So many varieties aren’t safe due to cross-contamination.” – Tracy

In the News

Duke University has produced some promising research on peanut allergy treatments over the past couple of years. Through this research, Duke has been investigating the possibility that a child’s peanut allergy can be desensitized, thus providing peace of mind for parents – treatment like this should only be done under doctor supervision. Do not attempt to treat a peanut allergy like this on your own.

“At the start of the study, these participants couldn’t tolerate one-sixth of a peanut,” Burks said. “Six months into it, they were ingesting 13 to 15 peanuts before they had a reaction.1

“A treatment like this means that some families won’t need to be as concerned about their children taking a bite of something that has peanut in it and could cause a life-threatening reaction,” said Wesley Burks, MD, chief of the Division of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Duke and senior author of the study. “It would really provide them a margin of safety.2

I can only dream about the day that research such as this will become a widely available treatment option, but for now we’ll have to settle for some simple peanut butter alternatives. In the past 5 years since Logan’s diagnosis I have learned a lot about peanut allergies.

Almond Dipping Sauce | Photo Courtesy of goodLife {eats}


5 Peanut Butter Alternatives

Depending on your level of allergy, you still may have multiple alternatives to peanut butter. If you aren’t sure what nuts are safe for you or how strict you need to be, make sure to discuss this with your allergist before eating any of the listed peanut butter alternatives.

1. Soy Nut Butter – I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter doesn’t contain peanuts, tree nuts of any type, sesame, dairy, egg, wheat (gluten), or shellfish making it a perfect product for someone with multiple allergies (unless that includes a soy allergy). Additionally, they manufacture their products in a facility free of those ingredients to eliminate cross contamination.

2. Sunflower Butter – Sun Butter is another great alternative for those who might have tree-nut allergies. Sun Butter products are all processed in a peanut-free and tree-nut free facility, making them an excellent choice for people with peanut and/or tree nut allergies .

3. Barney Butter – Barney Butter is my favorite. Available in creamy or crunchy, it is an almond butter that is processed in a dedicated Almond Only facility. Meaning that with this particular brand, you don’t have to risk cross contamination with peanuts. Hurray!

4. Other Nut Butters – If you don’t suffer from a severe peanut allergy and also don’t suffer from tree-nut allergies, many other widely available nut butters (such as almond, cashew, macadamia) might serve as an acceptable alternative.

5. Nutella – I know this is a different flavor, but I recently learned the Nutella is not processed with peanuts, so it’s safe for even Logan with his severe peanut allergy. My kids really enjoy Nutella sandwiches since peanut butter isn’t an option. Plus, you can substitute Nutella in recipes calling for peanut butter for a different taste while still maintaining a similar consistency.

Popular Peanut Butter Recipes Made with Alternatives

by Katie Goodman

more by Katie »

29 Responses to “Baking with Peanut Butter Alternatives {Peanut Allergies}”

  1. Tracy — March 27, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Wonderful post! I love Katie and her blog – and Jamie, I so appreciate you taking time out from peanut butter week to allow her to address the very serious issues that those of us with severe peanut/nut allergies have to deal with every day. Thank you, thank you, thank you! :-)


  2. I agree, Tracy!! I’ve got an allergy to tree-nuts too, so the sun butter and soy nut butter are wonderful alternatives. It’s amazing how many cooking ingredients are off limits with a nut allergy; so thanks for sharing this post this week.


  3. Jill @ Dulce Dough — March 27, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    What a wonderful post! My sister is allergic to peanuts. Although she no longer has the reactions she did as a child, she still tries to avoid them. It’s great to learn about all the peanut alternatives available!


  4. Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. — March 27, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    awesome post with great information and incredible photos by Katie.


  5. Jennifer @ Loving Bytes — March 27, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Great post! My kids cannot bring snacks to school that are manufactured in a facility that contains peanuts, so I am always searching for ideas. I will share this site with the other mothers at our school- I’m sure it will be really helpful! One thing I wanted to mention, though, is that Nutella has some big drawbacks from a health perspective. It’s one of those sneaky products that is advertised to be healthy, but is loaded with sugar and contains “modified” palm oil (better than in the past when it contained hydrogenated oils, but an added fat). If you are using it as a dessert, it’s probably fine in moderation, but I would hesitate to put it in the same category as the other nut butters as a sandwich spread. For more info, check out the Fooducate site: I hadn’t heard of Barney Butter, but it seems like a great product. I am looking forward to adding it to my shopping list!


    • Katie | GoodLife Eats — March 27, 2011 at 9:45 pm

      I agree as well on the Nutella drawbacks, however we do eat it from time to time in frosting or other desserts or on a bagel. I certainly don’t serve it as a health food, but it is nice that it isn’t processed with peanuts and we enjoy it for that reason.

    • Jennifer @ Loving Bytes — March 28, 2011 at 11:56 am

      Definitely. Plus it’s so yummy!! I let my kids have fluff occasionally, which is a total zero on the nutrition front, but I agree, everything in moderation. I have just been fascinated with Nutella lately, because it seems to pop up on a lot of the food blogs and I think it is marketed as healthier than it is! It’s great that is is safe from a peanut perspective and I hope that more companies and brands will follow suit!

  6. Katja of Skimbaco — March 27, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Thank you so much for such a well thought of post. I don’t have allergy but I don’t really like peanuts, so these tips are awesome!


  7. Amanda — March 27, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Great info!! Happy to see Miss Katie hanging out on one of my fav blogs!! :)


  8. Becca @ Becca's Baked Goods — March 27, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Wow, I feel so bad for people who are allergic to peanuts (let alone any kind of food alergy) because I don’t know how I would cope. I have a peanut butter and jelly sanwich everyday! But this was a great post, I kinda thought that people with peanut allergies would have to stay away from all nuts, but I guess that’s not the case. I learned a lot and some of those recipes look scrumptious! Mmmm


    • Katie | GoodLife Eats — March 27, 2011 at 9:46 pm

      It really depends on the person. We are lucky to only have peanut allergy in our house but some individuals have multiple nut allergies and there are many products that have no relation to nuts that you have to avoid due to cross contamination. Definitely a pain!

  9. Cookbook Queen — March 27, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Such a helpful post!! Thankfully, I don’t suffer from any food allergies, but I feel for those who do. Especially to have to watch your kid suffer through it!!


  10. Sweets by Vicky — March 27, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Really useful information you’ve got here and I’m sure plenty of folks out there would be so pleased they weren’t left out from this scrumptious peanut butter week. :)


  11. Christina — March 27, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    I did enjoy reading about the research associated with the peanut allergy, unfortunately for me, my allergies prohibit me from trying any of the alternatives listed. But I am really thankful for the awareness being spread and thought being given that allergies are very serious and people need to be mindful at all times. There is a lot of ignorance in regards to allergies, people tend to believe that their actions have no consequences to others and it doesn’t matter because they themselves don’t suffer from allergies. Thank you for bringing some attention to this topic.


  12. I’m so glad that Jamie had you guest post, Katie. This is some great information for everyone, even people just looking for some new ingredients to cook with.


  13. Katie (and Jamie, too!),
    Thanks for the wonderfully informative post. As a SunButter blogger, we’re proud we made “the list.” As a mom and fellow baking addict (!), I appreciate the tone and excellent guidance. Thanks for yet another excellent post on your great blog.


  14. mama__b — March 28, 2011 at 9:14 am

    We buy No-Nuts Golden Pea Spread for our peanut allergic 6 year old. To me it tastes like the filling of Pirate Cookies. He likes it well enough, but while it works in cookies, it’s awful in savoury dishes like sate sauce and curry. Haven’t found anything yet that works well in those. We’re hoping he either outgrows this allergy, or gets the treatment you mentioned above, though.


    • Katie | GoodLife Eats — March 28, 2011 at 7:21 pm

      The Barney Butter Almond butter is delicious in savory dishes. I have used it in lieu of peanut butter for asian peanut sauce.

  15. This is really useful. We don’t have any allergies in our family, but a lot of the personal chef inquiries I get are people looking for peanut alternatives.


  16. Jenny & Tracy - Sugar Loco — March 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    YUM! Great post – I don’t have a peanut allergy, but would still consume these anyway!!



  17. Vimitha — March 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    This is great post to all those who have allergy towards peanuts…
    Loved those chunky cookies and cupcakes


  18. Jennifer — March 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    What a great post. As a woman who loves peanut butter but who’s husband is allergic to any and all nuts, it’s nice to see a post on alternatives. I didn’t even know about the sunflower butter. I’ll definitely have to give it a try. THANK YOU!


  19. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — March 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Great tips! I know a lot of people with peanut allergies, and this is great information that I will pass along.


  20. David — March 28, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Amazing photo! Thanks for the great tips.


  21. Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles — March 28, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    This isn’t something our family needs to personally deal with, but plenty of people we know, do. So I’m happy that there are alternatives for our family and friends to still enjoy all the deliciousness of home baked treats. Lots of great info!


  22. Gina @Addicted Baker — March 29, 2011 at 12:46 am

    I actually prefer Sun Butter. I like the texture a lot better, so I definitely recommend it to anyone who would substitute it in a recipe.


  23. megan @ whatmegansmaking — March 29, 2011 at 10:07 am

    great post! I was just wondering about sunflower seed butter for my father in law who had a nut allergy. Good info!


  24. Teresa — July 20, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Hi I am allergic to all nuts, flax and soy too. We purchased the sun nut butter for my peanut butter loving hubby and daughter. I cannot tolerate the smell so I haven’t been able to try it since it to me smells just like pb. So what is there that is healthy to substitute in these recipes? A friend gave me a recipe for her power bars and it has peanut butter in it.


  25. Prerna@The Mom Writes — March 22, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    OMG! Nutella as a peanut butter sub.. THANK YOU! I have been looking and looking for something that I can use in a jiffy when subbing peanut butter and this is the answer.. LOVE!


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