Homemade peanut butter. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

That 30 cases of salmonella have been reported in 18 states is, of course, troubling (HuffPo story here). I buy bottled stuff—mustard, mayo, ketchup, hoisin, etc.—and feed it to my kids. But the salmonella—have they isolated its source?—makes it an an opportune time to encourage people to make their own peanut butter.

Why? It tastes better, it’s easy to make if you have a food processor, and it won’t have nasty bugs that can make your kids sick. And, it’s cheaper by far than buying commercial.

At my local Asian grocery, a five-pound bag of peanuts costs me $9.99. A pound of peanuts ($2) will yield a little more than a pound of peanut butter, less than half what you’ll pay for decent peanut butter (Smucker’s All-Natural costs $4.83 at my local store and a whopping $11.66 from Amazon—but hurry! only 6 left in stock!).

No reason not to make your own. Puree cooked peanuts till they’re creamy, adding a little extra oil to get them moving, a little salt for flavor, and if you like some sweetness, a little honey.

Dropping the peanuts in oil.

Most recipes call for roasting raw peanuts or buying roasted peanuts. I think they taste much better when fried in oil (and the oil, which will take on a nutty flavor, can be reused throughout the week for normal cooking). Here are 4 cups of peanuts in 1½ cups of vegetable oil. Start them in room-temperature oil.

Removing the peanuts.

When they begin to bubble vigorously, stir continuously for even cooking (if you don’t, the ones on the bottom can burn). Fry them just till they’re lightly golden brown, remembering that they’ll continue to cook a little more after they’re out of the oil.

Peanuts are ready to blend.

Allow the peanuts to cool at least till you can handle them. Put them in a food processor and blend away. I added a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of raw honey; it needs the salt, but honey is optional. I also added 2 tablespoons of the cooking oil to facilitate the pureeing (add more if you want it looser). Depending on how much you make and the size of your processor, it may be easier to do it all in two batches. (I’d have asked Donna to photograph this but my processor is so beat up, I’ve jury-rigged it so that I can run it without a top, which isn’t really safe, especially if you’re cooking with kids. This How-To link has good pics of what it looks like in the processor.)
I’ll quote the photographer, licking the bowl after shooting: “Oh! This is soooo good!” How often does store-bought peanut butter get that reaction? Young James, on returning from football practice, gave it a smile and a thumbs-up as well.
I also cook peanuts this way because the peanuts, salted with fine salt immediately out of the oil, are far superior to those greezy Planters cocktail peanuts at the store, and again, 100% cheaper. I eat them as a snack and put them in stir-fries.
And a note to parents with kids who have peanut allergies: the same technique can be used with cashew nuts (a little more expensive, a lot more delicious).

Homemade Peanut Butter

  • 4 cups raw blanched peanuts (about 600 grams)
  • 1½ cups vegetable oil
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  1. Combine the peanuts and the oil in a heavy, high-sided pot over high heat.
  2. When the oil bubbles and froths, begin stirring the peanuts and don’t stop until they’re done (enjoy the beauty of peanuts boiling in oil and think about how good they’re going to taste).
  3. When they’re lightly browned (careful, they can turn on you in an instant), remove them to a bowl lined with paper towels. Allow them to cool enough that you can taste them by hand.
  4. Eat a few peanuts.
  5. Pour the peanuts into a food processor along with the salt and honey (if using) and, with a metal blade, blend continuously for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture becomes spreadable.
  6. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the processor bowl.
  7. Taste and adjust seasoning as you wish. Continue blending until you have the consistency you like.
  8. Store in the fridge, covered, for up to a month.
  9. Pour the oil through a fine-mesh strainer, and reserve it to use for other cooking.

Makes 1 pint of peanut butter (a little more than 600 grams), and a little less than 1½ cups nutty vegetable oil.

Other links you may like:

© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.

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35 Wonderful responses to “Homemade Peanut Butter”

  • chad

    Any tips on storage? Does it need to be refrigerated, or do you just put it in a jar in the pantry?

  • Nina

    What other oils would work? We don’t use “vegetable” oil which is usually primarily GMO soybean oil.

    • Darren

      I make my own peanut butter also. I tend to use Canola oil since it is flavorless, but you could use peanut oil also. If you aren’t frying the peanuts – i.e. you are buying roasted peanuts — you could really use any oil you want. Different oils will give different flavors.

  • E. Nassar

    I’ve not bought PB in years since I figured out how crazy easy it is to make it at home! People are usually shocked when I give them a sample and tell them they can do it at home by just “Puree roasted peanuts till they’re creamy, adding a Tbsp or 2 of oil to get them moving, a little salt for flavor”. That’s it!
    Unfortunately, even if frying adds a lot of flavor, it’s a hassle. Buying roasted good quality peanuts (it makes a difference-I’ve had best luck with Planters roasted unsalted) is the way to go for convenient and delicious homemade PB.

    • Mantonat

      I’ve recently switched to almond butter; I really enjoy the flavor and they have a natural sweetness. It takes a long time to break them down in the food processor, long enough that you think it’s not going to work. I haven’t tried frying them first.

  • Tags

    Don’t stop at peanuts or cashews. You can use any nut or combination of nuts.

  • Sara Anderson

    What do you think of the bulk peanut-butter-makers found in some grocery stores? I don’t use them because unsalted peanut butter is an abomination. I’ve always stuck with Adams.

  • Sigrid

    Why on earth do you buy mayo?? Wasn’t it you who showed us here how to make it in 10 seconds, using a blender?

    • ruhlman

      I like to put it on fried egg sandwich for a quick easy saturday lunch when I’m running around. nothing wrong with Helmann’s, so long as you recognize that your own homemade mayonnaise is a completely different product, one you can’t but.

  • Phillip

    This post brings me back. My mom made this at home when I was growing up and (also) returning from pop-warner football practice. I was always a tall kid, and my league had weight limits, so I relied on peanut butter sandwiches as a source of protein and basically cabbage soup to fill my bellow in the weeks preceding weigh ins.

  • berti

    excuse me? you FRY your peanuts before making butter? why. there is no need…..

    • Justin Ross

      Why do we do anything in the kitchen? There’s always another way. He specifically said that he thinks they taste better fried. There’s your answer.

  • Scooter

    If I’m looking to make it in significant quantity (or don’t think I’ll go through it in a month), is there any reason I can’t process a mason jar in the usual way and store in the pantry?

  • karen downie makley

    i laughed when i saw the title of this post pop up in my google reader because i thought this might be the world’s shortest blog post, a la:

    1. place nuts in food processor.
    2. turn it on.
    3. add oil to desired consistency.

    i guess i shouldn’t laugh. there’s still lots of people out there who think doing anything must be really HARD and that’s why “they” have to mass-produce it for us. oh, people…it’s so NOT hard!

  • Mary Beth

    I’ve made my own PB for 30 years- just (already) roasted peanuts, pureed in my Cuisinart. A tiny bit of salt if the peanuts are unsalted. Not even any oil, ever. The cool thing is watching the peanuts change from a kind of sandy crumbly mix to a heaving wave of peanut sludge to a slick of peanut butter.

    Although frying peanuts sounds tasty, I would never consider doing this because of the extra bother (not to mention cost of oil). On a weekday morning, if one of us notices the PB is low, s/he throws the peanuts in the food processor, toasts some bread, pours coffee, gets the newspaper, and it’s done.

    We’ve used Spanish peanuts, Planters’ (the 56 oz can from Sam’s Club) cocktail peanuts, and whatever else is a good price when we can find them. Last year when I heard that the peanut harvest was bad and that peanuts were going up in cost, I bought a case of the Planter’s and it has lasted the year. Yeah, we eat a lot of PB- our family favorite being pumpernickel toast with PB for breakfast- or lunch, or a snack.

    BTW, with tahini also becoming very pricey, I sometimes throw sunflower seeds through the same process as making PB. For tahini, it is a nice substitute, sometimes with a few drops of sesame oil added for a little more flavor.

  • Jeff @ Cheeseburger

    I’ve always wondered how to make peanut butter. It’s one of those things that I want to do but I just seem to have a reason no to do it. In this case, I guess it’s that I don’t have a guide or recipe. Now I’m finally gonna get around to doing it.

  • g

    1/2 to 1 tsp of what sort of salt? There’s a big difference between 1tsp of granulated table salt and 1tsp of, say, Maldon sea salt, just because of the shape and size of the crystals.

    • ruhlman

      sorry, I guess it’s too much to expect people to always assume I mean course kosher salt. sigh. I would not use an expensive finishing salt, such as the wonderful Maldon you mention.

  • goober

    Can you use rock salt? How would canola oil do? And what if I don’t have a jar? Can I use a bowl with a lid? My food processor has two speeds. Which one should I use?

    Jeez. I guess making peanut butter is terribly difficult for some people. They seem to try to complicate anything.

  • ruhlman

    don’t you think rock salt would be too big and not stick to the peanut butter? Don’t a jar and a bowl serve pretty much the same function for storing things in fridge. Is it possible to see which speed seems to work best given your particular machine?

    • goober

      Yes, yes, and yes. I was just poking fun at some of the questioners above. Note my second paragraph. Or are you poking back at me by pretending not to get it? Very meta.

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