How to Make Homemade Cashew Butter

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How to Make Homemade Cashew Butter - Holistic Squid

Why Make Your Own Nut Butter?

Among the classic American comfort foods of childhood, a PB&J sandwich ranks pretty high. Sadly, conventional peanut butter is not a health food, but probably not for the reasons you may think. Some folks avoid peanut butter because it is ‘fattening,’ and in recent decades there has been an curious increase in peanut allergies in children. Personally, I avoid conventional peanut butter because it usually contains a bunch of toxic ingredients including hydrogenated vegetable oils, refined sugar and salt, and preservatives.

And then there’s the aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are a toxin produced by strains of mold that grow on nuts, grains and legumes that are stored in a humid environment. Aflatoxins can be extremely toxic to the liver, and peanuts in particular have gotten a bad rap for being associated with this toxin. Apparently Valencia peanuts are resistant to aflatoxins, so when it comes to choosing your nut butter, go with Valencia peanuts or, better yet, experiment with other nuts.

Growing up on Jif peanut butter, I’ve never considered almond butter to be a fair substitute–nice in its own right, but nothing like its peanut-y cousin. But cashew butter comes close, especially when it’s made from scratch in my kitchen. And smeared onto a chunk of dark chocolate!

Soaking and Drying Nuts

Nuts contain plenty of good nutrition, but they also contain anti-nutrition in the forms of phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors which make the nuts difficult to digest and block the absorption of minerals.  Phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors can be neutralized by first soaking and then drying nuts before eating them or using them to make butters or flours. Unfortunately even organic nut butters – regardless of whether they are roasted or raw – are typically not soaked and dried before they are made into butter.

If you want to save time, you can find properly prepared nuts to purchase…or you can easily do this all yourself. Luckily, the process is simple, requires only a bit of hands on time, and just takes a bit of planning ahead.

How to Properly Prepare Nuts

  • Pour raw nuts into a glass or ceramic bowl.
  • Cover the nuts with filtered water.
  • Allow to soak overnight – with the exception of cashews (which should only soak for a 2-3 hours, and macadamia nuts which cannot be soaked lest they disintegrate into mush).
  • After soaking, drain and rinse nuts well.
  • Spread onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets and dry in the oven on the lowest setting overnight or until dried and crunchy. Alternatively, spread onto dehydrator sheets and dry at the setting recommended for nuts for the same amount of time.
  • Now your nuts are ready to be made into butter, ground into flour, or eaten by the handful.

Homemade cashew butter - Holistic Squid


Ingredients and Supplies for Making Homemade Cashew Butter

I know I’m destined for some complaints about this, but I am not including measurements intentionally here, because so much depends on the type of nuts you use, how dry the nuts are, and your preference for texture. The only way you can mess this up is to add oil, honey, or salt too quickly, so simply go slowly. You will need:


Easy Steps for Making Homemade Cashew Butter 

  1. If  solid, melt coconut oil to liquid in a saucepan on the stove. You will need about 1 tablespoon of oil for every two cups of nuts.
  2. Add a handful or two of cashews to your food processor, turn on, and slowly add melted coconut oil until you have a very smooth and liquid nut butter.
  3. Add more nuts to thicken the butter, and then alternately add oil and nuts to achieve a uniform, desired consistency.
  4. Add a drizzle of honey and pinch of sea salt to taste.
  5. When your butter is the perfect thickness and balance of salt and sweet, scoop into glass jars.
  6. If refrigerated, the coconut oil will cause the butter to harden, so I usually keep one jar in the cupboard, and back up jars wait in the fridge.
  7. Enjoy!
How to Make Homemade Cashew Butter - Holistic Squid

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  1. says

    Sarah – The nut butters at Wilderness Family Naturals are about $15 for an 8 oz jar – soaked and dried before making into butter. That is the only brand I know of that prepared the nuts properly first. I buy my nuts at Trader Joe’s – about $8 for a pound of cashews which makes about a pint (16oz) of nut butter. Even factoring in the coconut oil, honey and salt, this is a big savings. You can certainly find some nut butters that are cheaper, but the nuts are never soaked and dried first to neutralize the phytic acid and other anti-nutrients so the nut butter is less digestible.

  2. Julianna says

    Thanks for the suggestion Emily. I have always tried to stay away from palm oil, nutritionally and environmentally. My digestive tract has a hard time with heavy saturated fats. Though, nuts themselves don’t seem to give me a problem as long as I don’t too many. I’m wondering if one of the lighter oils would work in this case. I used to make my own peanut butter and that worked great with just peanuts. Not so lucky with almonds. It looks like cashews need some additional oil as well. I’m still learning!

  3. kelly says

    Hi Just wondering if its necessary to dry the cashews after soaking, meaning, can I make the nut butter from the soaking stage? (am guessing it might be a mold issue to dry them?)

    • says

      Kelly, It seemed like an extra step to me too, but I think not drying the nuts would yield a watery product. And if it didn’t taste weird, it would probably mold fast.

    • says

      Good question, Nancee. Mine never lasts long enough to go bad. But what I usually do is keep the jar on the go in the pantry, and any backups stay in the fridge until I need them.

    • says

      Hi JE… I find that the cashews don’t release oil like peanuts do, even when you process them for up to 10 minutes. Plus the addition of coconut oil adds extra nutrition, so I don’t mind.

    • LNMB says

      I actually add unsweetened coconut to my cashew butter (and a little vanilla bean, too), but yes, you can just make raw cashews into butter. I’ve never done it in a food processor, though, so I’m not sure how well that works.

  4. Sonya says

    I soaked my cashews for over 5 hours! Set the alarm but I got distracted and went over :/ I went ahead and dried overnight but are they still good?? Why should you only soak for 2-3 hours?

  5. says

    Hi Sonya, thanks for the question. If they taste ok they’re probably fine. Cashews can get mushy/slimy if you soak them for too long.

  6. Shannon says

    Does the phytic acid/ enzyme inhibitor thing apply only to tree nuts, or does that include peanuts as well? Thank you in advance for the clarification. :)

  7. Ginger says

    A “greener” and easier way to dry soaked nuts is to put them in front of a heat vent in winter. This saves energy (also money) and humidifies your air at the same time. I put my tray of soaked nuts inside a large cardboard box to trap the heat from the toe kick vent in my kitchen. In summer, you can dehydrate nuts or herbs, etc. in a hot car.

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