Last month, I stumbled upon this mind-blowing method of making ice cream that completely changed my life. (Do I say that too often, by the way? I feel like I do sometimes.) This month, so far, it’s all about homemade peanut butter. I’m not talking about the dry, grainy, flavorless goop you find at health food stores. I’m talking about peanut butter that you can feel good about eating, but which also holds a very bright candle to the store-bought peanut butters of your youth, but amped way up.
Here’s the problem I have with “natural” peanut butter. It has the texture of Play-Doh, and I’ve eaten enough Play-Doh in my youth to know exactly what I’m talking about here. To me, the natural stuff always had this pasty texture impregnated with little gritty nut pieces that were more distracting than delicious (like dried shards of Play-Doh….trust me, I know my stuff here). Don’t get me wrong, I understand the concept completely. Because nuts are awesome little oily super foods, you can throw them in a blender on their own, turn the thing on high, and if your blender is powerful enough, you’ll have some goopy peanut paste on the bottom that has completely made a mess of your blender blade. Unfortunately, peanut butter made from ground peanuts alone just never cut it for me.
Textural gripes aside, natural peanut butter (or any nut butter, for that matter) without any added flavorings has always tasted bland beyond bland and quite frankly wasn’t worth the calories. I’d rather have a spoonful of Skippy any day. To speak my truth, I needed sweetness. I was raised on the Skippys and Jifs of the supermarket (Actually, were there any other kinds of peanut butter in the supermarket back then?), and even though I know that stuff is terrible for you because of the corn syrup and preservatives that force the poor pulverized peanuts into an emulsion, I can’t deny that my palate still expects sweetness in my peanut butter. So, hoping for a better alternative, I decided to throw some honey into the mix.
To make this homemade honey-roasted peanut butter, I basically tossed some shelled peanuts in honey, roasted them off, and whizzed them in my Vitamix until they were peanut butter. It sounds a heck of a lot simpler than it originally was, let me tell you. When you toss nuts in warm honey and lay them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, that’s all well and good until it’s time to get those same nuts off of that baking sheet after they’ve been roasting for 25 minutes. Now, I don’t say these things to discourage you, because the end result is delicious and totally blows the store-bought stuff out of the water, but this step can be a challenge.
It’s tricky because, as you’re quickly trying to pry off the honey-slicked peanuts, everything is cooling down and turning into stubborn stuck peanuts coated in honey shards. I haven’t figured out a way to get around this, but I ask that you not judge me (or the quality of this recipe) for this challenging step in the process. I’d certainly love to hear suggestions on your own peanut evacuation procedures!
In a nutshell, there are three major reasons I love this peanut butter, and they both have to do with that wonderful glorious honey:
1) The honey gives it a slight sweetness that comforts us Skippy and Jif kids. This peanut butter is really a natural peanut butter for people who don’t like natural peanut butter.
2) Once you scoop this stuff into a container and allow it to settle, the honey makes it so the peanut butter never really separates like the natural stuff does. The honey really makes the texture close to the store-bought stuff, but not so close that you’re forgetting you’re eating delicious homemade peanut butter.
3) Honey enhances peanut butter in a way that sugar or corn syrup just can’t. It adds flavor, not just sweetness, and you’d be surprised how much of a difference that makes.
This 3-ingredient homemade honey-roasted peanut butter is a natural peanut butter for people who don't like natural peanut butter.
- 10 oz. shelled unsalted peanuts
- 1/4 cup of honey, any variety
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Pour the honey into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 20 seconds, until the honey is liquidy and easily pourable.
- Add the nuts into the bowl with the honey and stir, coating the nuts evenly.
- Pour the honey-coated nuts onto the parchment-lined half-sheet pan. Using a rubber spatula, spread the nuts out into an even layer, being sure not to overlap any.
- Put the nuts into the oven on the middle rack and roast. After 5 minutes, pull the nuts out, stir them around (being sure not to overlap them), and return them to the oven. Repeat this process every 5 minutes, for a total of about 25 minutes, until the nuts are lightly toasted, the honey has turned pale in color on the parchment, and you can smell the nuts. Keep a close eye on the nuts, though, as they can burn very quickly.
- When the nuts are finished, let them cool completely on the parchment paper. Once cooled, throw them into a blender canister, along with the salt.
- Blend the nuts on high, using a tamper if your blender came with one, until the nuts form a smooth peanut butter. Blend until you've reached your desired consistency.
SUPER IMPORTANT: I have a very expensive Vitamix blender with a 2-horsepower motor, which made blending the nuts a heck of a lot easier. Please check your blender's instruction manual before trying this recipe to make sure grinding nuts is something that your blender can do without overheating. It takes a lot of energy on the blender's part, and a blender that's not up to the task could either overheat or scorch the nuts/peanut butter. Also, it's VERY IMPORTANT to let the nuts cool completely before blending them. Otherwise, you'll scorch the nuts, resulting in burned peanut butter.
Store the peanut butter in an airtight container at room temperature. Before serving, stir the peanut butter because some of the oils may separate as it sits.
You can easily double the recipe to make more peanut butter. If you do that, be sure to use two half-sheet pans and increase the roasting time as needed. Still be sure, though, to check at 5-minute intervals, as nuts can burn quickly.
This recipe can also be done with any kind of nut to make any kind of nut butter.