You all know how much I love my Vitamix. So the other day when I was about to buy a tiny jar of Sunbutter (aka sunflower seed butter) for $6, and spotted a bag of raw sunflower seeds for a third of the price, I thought “I make almond butter, cashew butter, and coconut butter in the Vitamix, why not Sunbutter?” Lo and behold, it was super easy! So I thought I’d show you how to make Sunbutter in the Vitamix too.
Don’t own a Vitamix? Amazon offers a great deal on Vitamix Blenders. Here’s a link to the Vitamix I own, plus it includes the dry container as well (what I use to process all of my nut butters) and the Vitamix cookbook (very comprehensive and a great resource).
One of the questions that I get asked all of the time is “My school doesn’t allow nut butters anymore, what can I send with my kids to keep them full?” It’s a real problem. My daughter’s school continues to outlaw food, limiting choices so much that honestly, it’s a real conundrum as to what to send in. Add to that the fact that she is dairy free, has choosy taste buds, and we’re down to a handful of options (which she then gets tired of….sigh).
Luckily, sunflower seeds haven’t made it to the “naughty” list, taste just as good or better than peanut butter, are inexpensive, and make a really smooth and creamy nut butter that can be substituted for peanut butter in any recipe.
Have trouble digesting nuts and seeds? Maybe it’s the phytic acid…
If you have a leaky gut, an autoimmune condition, or just notice that you are sensitive to nuts and seeds, then you might want to try soaking your sunflower seeds first. This removes most of the phytic acid, or enzyme inhibitors, which can irritate the lining of the gut and make it difficult for the body to absorb the nutrients within the seed. I know personally that when I eat many nuts or seeds straight out of the bag, I get a headache. However, when I soak them, I can eat as many as I want. (Read more about phytic acid and how it inhibits digestion and causes health issues in this informative article.)
There are two ways you can remove the phytic acid:
1. Sprouting. Cover your raw sunflower seeds with non-chlorinated water (something like a Brita filter works well) for 12-18 hours, changing the water twice. You should see a little tail start to sprout from one end of the seed. Once you see that, it’s sprouted and you can put in a dehydrator and dehydrate at a low temperature (the setting for mine would be “living foods”). You’ll then follow the instructions below.
2. Soaking in salt water. Cover your raw sunflower seeds with non-chlorinated SALT water (for every 4 cups of water, you’ll add 2 tablespoons of sea salt) for 12-18 hours. Rinse completely and dehydrate according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Spread sunflower seeds, in a single layer, on rimmed cookie sheets (it will vary depending on the size of cookie sheets. I used two). I recommend lining the cookie sheets with a Silpat, silicone baking mat, or parchment paper for ease of cleanup.
Roast in a 300° F oven until golden brown, stirring frequently. Rotate your pans, and as the outer seeds get toasted, bring them into the middle and spread the uncooked ones out to the edge. Taste frequently, and remove from oven when a slightly toasted flavor has emerged. Mine took about a half hour to roast, however mine had been soaked and dehydrated, but may not have been fully dry. If they are right out of the package, it may take them less time. If you have soaked the sunflower seeds and do not own a dehydrator, then turn the heat up to 350° for the first 15-20 minutes, and then turn down to 300°, otherwise they might have a dark toasted flavor (I prefer a lightly toasted flavor).
They should look like this. Yum! My husband (the photographer) kept eating them and saying “I’ve been missing out my entire life. I had no ideas ROASTED sunflower seeds could be so good!” It’s lucky I’d roasted an entire pound, or I wouldn’t have had any leftover to make the sunbutter with.
Remove from oven and let cool on the cookie sheet(s).
Add between 2 and 4 cups of roasted sunflower seeds to the DRY container of your Vitamix (the wet container works as well, but I always use the dry container as the blade is faster, and I’ve had more consistent results. That being said, Vitamix says the wet container is better. So, use what you have!). Pulse on low (about 2-4) for a few seconds to let the seeds become small and uniform in size. I do this so that I don’t have big chunks at the top, and butter at the bottom.
Turn the Vitamix to HIGH and use the tamper, to sweep the sides. Process until the butter is smooth, but still looks like it has some chunks (picture above). Add the coconut oil and continue to process until the desired smoothness is achieved. Feel free to add as much coconut oil as you feel is necessary. Add salt, and process one final time. If you desire sweetness, add it at this time as well. (I like to add a few drops of liquid stevia)
This is what mine looked like when I was finished. It has a definite toasted flavor, unlike some of the storebought (which isn’t required to be toasted, as commercial operations have more powerful machines and are able to turn the seeds into a butter without the need to bring out the oils through toasting).
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How to make Sunbutter in the Vitamix
Delicious, creamy and smooth. Sunbutter is a school "approved" nut butter that tastes and acts just like peanut butter in most applications. Your kids will love it and so will you!
Recipe type: nut butter
Serves: 1.5 cups
1 lb raw, hulled sunflower seeds (I get mine at Trader Joe's, but you can buy them online, here)
1-2 Tbs. coconut oil
½ tsp. sea salt (I figure about ¼ tsp salt per 2 cups of seeds)
3-5 drops liquid stevia or sweetener of your choice (optional)
Preheat oven to 300°F
Roast sunflower seeds in a single layer on cookie sheets until golden brown, stirring frequently.
Add 2-4 cups* of sunflower seeds to the DRY container of a Vitamix. (Here's the Vitamix that I own and recommend.)
Process on low until the seeds are a uniform large sand sized consistency.
Turn power up to HIGH and blend until smooth, using the tamper to scrape down the corners of the container.
When the seeds start to turn to butter, add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, and continue to blend. Add more coconut oil to achieve desired consistency.
Add salt, and sweetener and blend a final time.
Store in a glass jar in the pantry or fridge.
*Adding less than 2 cups of seeds will make it extremely difficult to get your butter a consistent, and smooth texture. Adding more than 4 cups, generally has the same effect. A pound of sunflower seeds, will likely take two batches of processing and yields about 1.5 cups of sunbutter. Please note that this has a definite "toasted" flavor. If you do not want a toasted flavor, then you can try to barely toast the seeds, and see if they will still turn into butter for you. That being said, it is my experience that most nuts and seeds need to be toasted in order to bring out their natural oils, that allow the Vitamix to process it into a creamy consistency.