Homemade Almond Butter

by mary on March 24, 2012

almond butter in a jar with whole almonds in the background

homemade almond butter

I’ve been a fool. I’ve had a Vitamix for several years without ever making my own nut butter. I set out to remedy that omission recently, making almond butter twice to test the process with a Vitamix. With almonds from Costco, the total cost was $3.26 for a pound of almond butter. I’d recently finished of a jar of raw almond butter from Trader Joe’s, and my batch fit nicely into the cleaned empty jar. Score.

Directions for making homemade almond butter with a food processor can be found at Heather Eats Almond Butter‘s recipe for homemade nut butter. I would hesitate to make this recipe in a low-powered blender or one without a thermal sensor to protect the motor from overheating. This recipe is hard work for any machine and it wouldn’t be worth the risk of burning out your food processor or blender’s motor.

The first time I made almond butter with the Vitamix I left the machine running at a low speed until the nuts were finely chopped, then went to the highest variable speed. That resulted in the machine shutting itself off to protect the motor from overheating, so I had to finish the almond butter an hour later.

The second time I increased the speed quickly to the highest variable setting, then high power. At 30 seconds, I smelled a plastic smell, which may have simply been the almonds heating the container. The almonds themselves got very hot, while the machine base stayed cool. I left the machine off for a few minutes to be cautious, then resumed blending at high speed. The almond butter was done about a minute later, just long enough that my arm got a nice little workout from tamping it.

almond butter in the Vitamix blender jar

almond butter just made in the Vitamix

Update: In the year and a half since I first posted this I’ve changed my technique several times through experimentation and with the feedback of helpful readers like Angela. I start with frozen almonds which helps me avoid overheating the nuts or the machine. I’ve learned that patience makes the difference for getting creamy, oily almond butter without setting off the heat shutoff of the machine. After tamping the nuts a few times (letting the Vitamix’s rotors come up to full speed after each tamping) I actually lift the container off the base with the machine still running. I feel that lets air run freely through the machine and cool it off. I blend the almonds a bit at a time over about five minutes.

If the almond butter still seems too dry or crumbly and the machine and almonds are getting hot, I have learned to put the almond butter (in the blender jar) in the freezer, letting it cool for several hours, and then finish the almond butter later.

I think the hard almonds are at the limit of what the Vitamix can do. I have not had any problems with nut butters I’ve made from softer nuts like pine, macadamia, walnut, or pistachio. I’ve tried this recipe twice with half almonds and half macadamia nuts, which are very soft, and had overheating problems both times. The hard almonds, even half-and-half, make this tricky. Thanks for all your comments so far, it’s been fun to compare notes!

5.0 from 3 reviews
Homemade Almond Butter
 
Prep
Total
 
How to make almond butter using a Vitamix.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 cups frozen raw almonds
Instructions
  1. Place almonds into Vitamix.
  2. Turn Vitamix on the lowest variable setting, quickly increase speed to highest variable setting and then to high power while tamping the almonds.
  3. With the machine at high power, continue to tamp the almonds, letting the machine come up to full speed between each tamping.
  4. Watch the temperature (and smell) of the machine and the nuts and stop it if you suspect you are getting near to overheating the machine.
  5. If it actually does get too hot, the Vitamix has an automatic thermal shutoff to protect the motor. But it will not turn on again until it has cooled off and some time (maybe an hour) has passed. So be aware and use caution.
  6. I sometimes lift the container top and let the empty base run a little bit to run air through the machine.
  7. I'll alternate tamping the almonds, running the machine without load, and taking little breaks for about five minutes. If I'm not satisfied with the result (if the almonds are blended but the resulting nut butter is not oily or creamy) I put the canister into the freezer and come back to the task later in the day. The second time I get the result that I want right away.

 

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris March 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm

I really need to get myself a Vitamix! Our blender is getting a bit dull just from doing green smoothies so I need something a with more oomph. :) Almond butter sounds delicious.
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mary March 28, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Thanks, Chris, the almond butter is really fresh, I find it has a naturally sweet taste that I don’t notice as much in purchased almond butter. I don’t think you’ll regret it if you get yourself a Vitamix, we use ours daily.

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Maria Briel April 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Help! I am trying to use my leftover ground almonds from making almond milk towards making almond butter. It worked the first batch but all my other attempts turned out dusty and clumpy. I tried adding oil, roasting, toasting and different settings, and it just looks like playdoh. I would really like to find a way of reusing those ground almonds towards the butter. Thank You! (I have a vita-mix)

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mary April 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Maria, I think you are ahead of me, I haven’t tried to do what you are doing, and you’ve experimented a lot! I wonder what was different about the first time that it worked? If it had never worked, I would think that something about the soaking process toward almond milk would be the problem. Like some of the natural oil of the almonds being lost. But it did work that one time. Any readers done this successfully?

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Maritza February 20, 2013 at 7:29 pm

I don’t think that will ever work. I dry my leftover almond pulp in the oven and then use it as flour. Works great for all kinds of muffins and crackers.

As far as this recipe goes. I just tried it. I use my vitamix all the time and haven’t made nut butter yet. I used raw almonds but the texture is just so crumbly. I tried adding a tablespoon of coconut oil but it didn’t help. It doesn’t taste anything like what I get out of the machine at my local co-op. Do they roast the nuts first?

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mary mary February 20, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Hi Maritza, thanks for your feedback on using almond pulp and on this almond butter recipe. I haven’t made almond butter with toasted nuts (yet) but many people do, and certainly it tastes different from almond butter made with raw nuts. As far as the crumbliness, try blending the almond butter a little longer, I think that will get it to cohere butter. I used to buy Trader Joe’s raw almond butter, and even though that is made only from raw almonds, I find that it is much oilier than the almond butter I make at home. Some bloggers using food processors run their machine for a very long time to make almond butter and talk about continuing to run it for ten minutes or more after the almond butter has first come together until the almonds release their oil. That makes me think that if I ran the Vitamix longer, the almond butter would get oiler and creamier, but I have not tried that. I like it OK as is even though it is not as liquid and oily as the store kind. I also don’t want to get the almond butter or the machine too hot. But I should do some more experimentation to see what kind of results I get (and perhaps add yet another update to this post!)

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Keri Batchelder Hoffman July 30, 2012 at 9:35 pm

I just made this, froze the almonds for a couple of hours first. No issues with my vitamix but I didn’t process it for very long. If you forget to use the tamper you will for sure over heat. In the end I added a little olive oil because mine was kind of dry. Any idea how long this will keep in the fridge?

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mary July 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Yes, definitely use the tamper! I go through the batch within a few weeks so I haven’t tested how long it will last. I’m thinking it will last quite a while, at least a month and probably longer. Mine does not turn out as oily as store-bought almond butter so I’m not surprised you decided to add a little oil to it. I’m thinking I might experiment with adding a softer, oilier nut or seed (like macadamia nut, or sunflower seed) to see what happens. Thanks for commenting and letting me know how the recipe worked out for you, I love getting feedback from readers.

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Nicki August 4, 2012 at 9:27 am

I will definitely try freezing my almonds next time. I tried making raw almond butter and it melted my container! I didn’t realize what had happened until I was done. So, I got some creamy delicious butter, but am currently having a new container shipped to me. Will try frozen almonds when it arrives. Thanks for the tip.

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mary August 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I had no idea that was possible! Was this with a Vitamix or another high-speed blender?

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HEAB October 1, 2012 at 1:54 am

So trying this with frozen almonds and soon. We have half a bag of Costco almonds that are going in the freezer first thing in the morning! Thanks for the idea and for the shout-out. :)

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mary mary October 1, 2012 at 5:16 am

No problem. I enjoy your blog, have fun with your crew of little ones!
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HEAB October 1, 2012 at 1:55 am

Half a bag that IS going in the freezer – grammar fail ;)
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Priscilla April 19, 2013 at 9:15 pm

I tried this but even with the tamping my machine keeps turning off. Any ideas?

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mary mary April 20, 2013 at 1:57 am

Did you try with frozen almonds? It’s time for me to revisit this recipe and perhaps update the post again. It can be done but the almonds are pretty hard, I think they are at the limit of what the Vitamix machine can do. I’m thinking that it might be easier, in general, to add some of a softer nut such as sunflower or macadamia to the recipe to make it easier to blend. Of course you could add oil but I don’t really want to do that.

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Alan May 2, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Thanks very much for this careful description, Mary: it’s very helpful! I wondered if you could answer a few questions for me:

1) Have you tried using toasted almonds instead (perhaps freezing them after toasting them)? If so, I’d be interested to know how well that worked, and how (if at all) that would change your directions.

2) Is it possible to make more than 3 cups at a time (and if so, what’s the maximum amount)?

3) Your recipe listed a prep time of 2 minutes and a total time of 2 minutes. Does that mean it takes you 4 minutes from start to finish? (That sure beats doing it in a food processor.)

Many thanks!
Alan

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mary mary May 3, 2013 at 5:52 am

Hi Alan. I really to do some more research on various ways to make this and update readers. I haven’t yet tried it with toasted almonds. Given that the machine can still shut itself off sometimes even with these directions I wouldn’t add more than the three cups (less than three cups is not enough quantity to get the nuts to blend together properly in the Vitamix). I have made this recipe a number of times without incident, but just last week I made a batch with two cups of almonds and one cup of macadamias and my Vitamix shut itself off. And a reader reported the same problem in the comments above. So this recipe is not foolproof as far as not shutting the Vitamix off. I have been blending the nuts for about 2 minutes, so yes, 2 minutes start to finish. The resulting almond butter is not as creamy or oily as commercial nut butter.

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mary mary November 2, 2013 at 4:39 am

(Note: I have since revised this recipe to take it slower, with breaks, and therefore the prep time is now five minutes. However, I also sometimes take a long break with the canister in the freezer, so the passive prep time can be quite long, though the active prep time is still not much over five minutes.)

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Angela May 30, 2013 at 8:36 pm

I’m so glad I found this and read your tip about using frozen almonds. I made this for the the first first time this morning with frozen raw organic almonds. It came out perfectly! After a minute it wasn’t as creamy as I wanted and starting to get warm so I just stuck the whole container in the freezer til it cooled down and blended it a little more. I did this twice until more oil was released and I got the consistency I wanted. It was just as creamy and spreadable as store bought. THANKS!

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mary mary June 29, 2013 at 1:32 am

Thank you, Angela, and sorry for the delayed reply I thought I already had? I think your process was a great refinement of this recipe and probably the best way to do it.

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Katherine July 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I’m so glad you found my blog! I love reading any posts about almond butter in case I ever decide to brave that again! I think I should’ve used a more powerful food processor! This is also a bit random, but I love your site design! It’s so simple and fresh! (I love looking at how other people’s sites look, so yes this is a bit odd :) )
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Katherine July 3, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Oh my I forgot to rate this recipe! Woops!
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