Why Nut-Free Spreads Are All the Rage

Smear these allergy-friendly products onto sandwiches or swirl them into smoothies.

nut free spreads
Design by Mallory Rosten for Thrillist

Everyone deserves to try peanut butter in all its delicious glory. There really is nothing better than cracking open a brand new jar of the nutty spread. But the unfortunate truth is, the number of people with peanut allergies is dramatically increasing, with many schools and childcare centers banning them altogether. Because peanut allergies are so common, many people will go their entire lives without experiencing the joy of dipping apples into the luscious spread or the euphoria that comes with the coalescence of peanut butter with jelly.

Peanut allergies aren’t going anywhere though. Instead of leaving people to fend for themselves, companies have sought out solutions. We now have seemingly endless options when it comes to nut-free spreads. Whether you have a peanut allergy or are just looking for something new, here are some nut-free spreads that are made for toast—or, you know, spooning directly into your mouth.

No one can deny chickpeas have taken over the food scene; they’ve made their way into our bread, macaroni and cheese, and now, they have their very own sweet spread. While it may seem a bit odd, the use of chickpeas allows for more protein and creates a thick, silky texture. The company also utilizes roasted sunflower seeds alongside chickpeas to produce a nutty flavor similar to peanut butter.

Granola butter came onto the scene when founder Ali Bonar was on the hunt for healthy nut-free spreads that tasted good and didn’t irritate her stomach. While her search was unsuccessful, it led her to creating the world’s first oat-based spread. The cinnamon-spiced spread has more of a drizzle-like consistency, making it a perfect topping for oatmeal, ice cream, or simply spooning straight out of the jar. Oat Haus now has a plethora of unique flavors, such as Birthday Cake, Cookie Dough, and Strawberry Shortcake. Plus, it helps that they have such adorable packaging.

Sunflower butter arguably has the closest consistency to peanut butter, and it offers the same varieties as everyone’s favorite spread—think creamy, crunchy, and even chocolate. Sunflower butter fiercely rivals peanut butter not only in texture but nutritionally: the spread has all the protein but a third less saturated fat. It’s so tasty that Ben & Jerry’s uses sunflower butter as the base for their vegan ice creams. And in case you end up falling in love with the spread (you will), SunButter offers it in five pound tubs so you never run out.

Reminiscent of extracting and baking pumpkin seeds after carving a jack-o’-lantern, 88 Acres’s spread is fall in a jar. Slather warm bagels with it, swirl it into a smoothie, or take it one step further and use it to increase the creaminess of homemade salsas and pestos—it really is that versatile. 88 Acres sells an unsweetened version of their pumpkin seed butter, making it accessible for even more groups of people with all types of allergies and sensitivities.

Tahini is the base of many favorite spreads and dips such as hummus, salad dressings, and sauces. Unlike peanut butter, however, tahini veers on the savory side, as it is made out of ground sesame seeds. That’s why Soom has decided to give people the best of both worlds: a sweet and decadent tahini spread that can be used for just about anything, from a dip for fruit to a topping for pancakes.

Flaxseed has been a staple ingredient eons (some refer to it as the “original superfood”). It’s hard to believe such tiny seeds can contain so much fiber and omega-3s. With flax butter, we can now consume these nutrients in a delicious way. The spread contains multitudes; it can work as pre-workout fuel as well as an indulgent snack.

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Kelsey Allen is an editorial assistant at Thrillist.