9 Food Substitutes for Peanut Allergy

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Elizabeth Beasley on April 10, 2021
  • Caucasian mother and daughter making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
    Delicious Alternatives to Peanuts
    Peanut allergies are one of the most common food allergies, affecting roughly 4% to 6% of children in the United States. It’s also one of the most serious and potentially fatal food allergies and can cause life-threatening anaphylaxis–an allergic reaction that can cause difficulty breathing, vomiting, rash, and other serious problems. If you, a family member, or a friend has a peanut allergy, it’s helpful to know about tasty peanut alternatives that can make purchasing and preparing meals easier. The secret to peanut allergy safety is reading labels and knowing exactly what’s going into your food. Fortunately, there are some yummy substitutions that make cooking and buying foods for peanut-allergy appropriate meals much easier than it used to be.
  • White kidney beans in a brown pot macro and bread
    1. Beans
    If a recipe calls for whole peanuts, try substituting beans. Roasting them first gives them more of a peanut taste and texture. Roasted soybeans and chickpeas are delicious to eat on their own by the handful or added to a salad. You can make a variety of flavors of roasted chickpea snacks just by varying the spices you use.
  • Little Boy Reaching for a Pretzel
    2. Pretzels
    Pretzels are another great replacement for peanuts in recipes that need some extra crunch. Crush them into pie crusts or use them for coating chicken breasts. You can substitute them anywhere you’d use chopped nuts. Love peanut butter cookies? Try making them with chickpea flour and pretzel bits instead of chopped peanuts.
  • handful of pumpkin seeds
    3. Seeds
    Many people who are allergic to peanuts are also allergic to tree nuts.  If this is the case, use healthy seeds as a nut substitute. Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, work well in homemade granola bars, seed butters, and nut breads. Seeds are also perfect for roasting with spices and packing as a snack for work or school.
  • bowl of tahini sauce next to sesame seeds and scoop
    4. Tahini
    Speaking of seeds, tahini is a nutty, toasty Middle Eastern treat that’s safe for people with peanut allergies. Tahini is a simple spread made with sesame seeds and oil. As a bonus, it doesn’t have any sugar, which makes it delicious when paired with honey or jam on a sandwich. You can find tahini in most grocery stores, but if you’re making tahini from scratch, you can toast your sesame seeds first for a richer flavor. DIY tahini is pretty easy. Simply grind 2 cups of sesame seeds in a food processor and mix in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to a month.
  • dish of sunflower seed butter next to rice cake pile of seeds and spoon
    5. Sunflower Seed Butter
    Let’s transition to the world of “butters.” A butter is technically a creamy food spread made by churning fat globules until they are smooth. The result is a tasty treat that’s great on toast or a sandwich. Sunflower seed butter is an excellent substitute for peanut butter because it has a similar texture and a mild, nutty flavor. Try it with jelly or mix a tablespoon into smoothies.
  • almond-butter-on-bread
    6. Almond Butter
    Almond butter is another spreadable substitute that has a bit more sweetness and crunch than your usual creamy peanut butter. Some even say it has a cherry overtone to its flavor. Almond butter is super healthy with more calcium and fiber than peanuts. The consistency makes it a winner for sandwiches and on celery sticks. You can also use almond butter to make cookies.
  • spoonful of coconut oil on jar
    7. Coconut Butter
    This peanut substitute is probably the least like peanut butter, but it is a flavorful alternative. It’s essentially a paste of shredded coconut that has a rich coconutty flavor. It pairs well with jam or chocolate and makes a great dip for graham crackers or vanilla wafers. You can find coconut butter at health food stores and online.
  • watermelon seeds
    8. Watermelon Seed Butter
    If you’re feeling adventurous, watermelon seed butter is a fun peanut butter alternative to try. Watermelon seeds are rich in nutrients like magnesium, protein, potassium, phosphorus, and iron. They also have high levels of healthy unsaturated fats. The flavor is earthy and sweet, making it perfect for mixing into oatmeal or yogurt. You can purchase watermelon seed butter at your local health food store, as well as online.
  • Caucasian man holding cans of peanut butter in grocery store
    9. Cookie Butter
    For those of you who love peanut butter desserts, but have to skip them because you or someone you’re cooking for has a peanut allergy, here’s a substitute you’ll love: cookie butter! You can buy ready-made cookie butter at the grocery store, though it’s easy to make yourself. Combine 1 cup of sunflower seed butter with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and add 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice. Eat by the spoonful and enjoy! Just be careful–cookie butter is much sweeter than regular peanut butter, so keep that in mind when using it in a recipe.
Peanut Substitute | Peanut Allergy
  1. Food Allergies in Schools. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/foodallergies/index.htm
  2. Food Allergies: Living With. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9196-food-allergies/living-with
  3. Peanut allergy. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peanut-allergy/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20376181
  4. PEANUT ALLERGY. Food Allergy Research & Education. https://www.foodallergy.org/common-allergens/peanut-allergy
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Last Review Date: 2021 Apr 10
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.