If you have a peanut allergy, you’re probably well aware that peanut butter can’t be a part of your life. Thankfully, there are actually a bunch of great alternatives that are equally delicious and completely peanut-free.
Before we get into the options, though, it’s important to note that not all peanut butter alternatives are safe for people with peanut allergies. Peanut allergies can range from extremely severe and life-threatening to pretty mild, Tania Elliott, M.D., an allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Health, tells SELF. In a lot of cases, just the smallest amount of peanut dust can be enough to set off a reaction, she says. Having a peanut allergy doesn’t automatically mean that you’re also allergic to tree nuts like almonds or walnuts—peanuts are technically legumes, not nuts—though 30 percent of people with peanut allergies are also allergic to tree nuts, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. (If you think you might have a food allergy, always see an allergist to get properly diagnosed.)
The problem is that many other nut-based products could be cross-contaminated. So even if you’re only allergic to peanuts, simply avoiding them doesn’t guarantee you’ll be safe, says Elliott. Many packaged foods in general can be dangerous for people with peanut allergies because they’re frequently processed in facilities where peanuts are also processed, so you constantly have to be checking labels to make sure you’re not eating a trace amount. According to the Mayo Clinic, “most people with a peanut allergy need to avoid all products that could contain even trace amounts of peanuts,” but it’s important to speak with your allergist to confirm what is and isn’t safe for you.
So because many alternative nut and seed butters, even if they don’t contain any actual peanuts, are frequently processed in the same facilities, it’s important to always check the labels and if you’re not sure if a product may contain trace amounts of peanuts, it’s best to skip it to be safe.
To help you find some options, we asked people with peanut allergies to share the 100 percent peanut-free spreads they actually eat. Made with a range of ingredients, from watermelon seeds to soy beans, their textures and flavors are similar to peanut butter and delicious in their own unique way. Important note: These nut and seed butters aren’t necessarily free of other allergens, such as soy and tree nuts. Again, if you are not sure what you are allergic to, or if you are allergic to other seeds, nuts, or legumes besides peanuts, always read the labels and speak with your allergist before trying any of the below foods.