Smooth and Creamy Soaked Vanilla Maple Almond Butter (Vegan)

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If I told you today’s almond butter recipe was the best almond butter I’ve ever eaten in my life, half of you would be skeptical, and the other half probably wouldn’t care.

Actually, I’m projecting. I only know that if I were you, I would be skeptical, or I wouldn’t care. I tend toward the cynical.

A collage of photos showing various steps to making a soaked vanilla maple almond butter.

But in all my analyzing, I’ve found that we who tend towards disbelief are actually the once highly hopeful. It’s just that at some point, we put those high hopes into something (politics, people, friends, projects, ideas), and that something let us down.

Rather than being let down again, we disbelieve. We say, “prove it.” We try to control what can hurt us by being highly choosy about what we let in.

I get it. I do it too.

But the only problem with walling all new things off is that you might miss some legitimately good new things. When you lock up your heart against hurt, you lock it up against love, too. Like C.S. Lewis said, you lose out on hope!

Bringing things back around to this almond butter, the thing is that I actually made it with my own hands and tasted it with my own taste buds, and I would swear to you it was the best almond butter I’ve ever had, even though I know that’s not quite proof (and I’ve eaten a lot of different almond butters).

A collage of two photos showing close ups of crunch almonds and whole vanilla beans.

Whether you choose to believe me or not, I say this almond butter has two key things going for it:

It’s soaked, for easier digestion, and it’s powerfully flavorful, coming at you with its salty, sweet taste in a way that makes you want to eat it all on its own, standing at the counter with a big spoon. (And I have.)

Back to Butter: A Traditional Foods Cookbook (via Amazon)

The method for creating this soaked vanilla maple almond butter comes from the book “Back to Butter: A Traditional Foods Cookbook – Nourishing Recipes Inspired by Our Ancestors,” written by the duo behind Organic Spark, a traditional foods blog. It’s available on Amazon.

Maybe you’ve heard a lot about traditional foods from other sources already. In a more subtle, less didactic way, these are also the kinds of foods you hear me often talking about here.

Shanna Mallon holding the Back to Butter cookbook.

At their most basic, traditional foods are exactly what they sound like – foods that have stood the test of time, not just from my grandma to me, but from ten or maybe even twenty generations ago. They’re historical foods, foods that are naturally rich in nutrients and prepared in ways that can help your body to digest them.

While some of the other resources about traditional foods are lengthy and complicated to read, “Back to Butter” is laid out in a pretty basic, user-friendly, easy-to-understand way, with two main sections, the traditional foods pantry, and traditional foods recipes.

I like this because it feels so approachable, no matter what your level of familiarity with traditional foods might be.

Overhead view of a food process full of soaked vanilla maple almond butter on a dark wooden background.

If you want a fuller understanding of why unrefined fats like coconut oil are so amazing, for example, this book will help. And if you want detailed instructions for making homemade yogurt or soaking grains, this book provides the formulas you’ll need.

As an example, this recipe features the method for soaking nuts that’s recommended in this book. I used raw almonds.

There’s nothing difficult about the process but, like a lot of traditional foods recipes, it does take time – 24 hours to soak, followed by 24 hours to dehydrate.

An impatient person like me (yes, I’m both impatient and cynical!) finds it best to spend the five minutes required for prepping the nuts at each necessary point in the process, and then banish them from my mind for the passive portion, so as to avoid driving myself nuts (ha! get it?).

Top down of a mason jar full of soaked vanilla maple almond butter on a dark wooden background.

After the prep is finished, you can eat the nuts as they are, or puree them in a food processor like I did in this recipe, my favorite almond butter to date. Flavored with whole vanilla beans and a kiss of maple syrup, it is salty, savory, sweet, and addictive.

Slofoodgroup Bourbon Vanilla Beans from Indonesia, 10 Per Pack

P.S. Are you wondering why you need to soak the nuts in the first place? I hear ya!

To reiterate the point about traditional foods, one thing we consistently see in ancient cultures is that they knew to soak their nuts and grains before consuming them, to reap all of the available health benefits.

Soaking breaks down elements in these foods that not only make them harder to digest, but also inhibit the body’s ability to process the nutrients they contain.

A collage of two photos showing a close up of the almond butter and another with celery.

Just as you may have heard me say before that many people who have a hard time digesting store-bought bread and/or gluten may do okay with sourdough and/or soaked ancient grains like einkorn, so too do many people who struggle with feeling weird when they eat nuts do better when they soak them first.

As stated in the book, our ancestors might not have realized why this practice was so helpful, but natural instinct about how they would feel as a result led them to make it a habit.

Crunchy Almonds

Adapted from Back to Butter by Molly Chester and Sandy Schrecengost.

Top view of raw almonds soaking.

Almonds drying on cookie sheets.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large glass bowl, combine nuts, apple cider vinegar, salt, and enough filtered water to cover the nuts by 2 inches (5 centimeters). Stir to dissolve the salt. Cover the bowl with a lid or a plate, and set it in a warm place (i.e., 75°F/24°C) for a full 24 hours.
  2. Turn on your oven or food dehydrator to 150°F/66°C, or use your oven’s lowest setting (in my case, this is 175°F). Rinse the soaked nuts in a colander, discard the soaking water, and spread the nuts in a single layer on two baking sheets. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, to taste (and feel free to taste!).
  3. Dry the almonds in your oven or dehydrator for at least 15 or up to 36 hours. Back to Butter recommends 24 to 36 hours for almonds at 150°F temperature. The nuts are done when they are no longer moist at all, and crunch nicely upon biting. Test several to check for uniform doneness.
  4. Store the nuts in an airtight container in the freezer or refrigerator, or use them in the vanilla maple almond butter described below.
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Overhead view of a food process full of soaked vanilla maple almond butter on a dark wooden background.

Smooth and Creamy Soaked Vanilla Maple Almond Butter


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 2 mintues
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x

Description

Beyond the digestive benefits of this almond butter, it’s also delicious, as in, the most delicious almond butter I’ve ever had! Nutty and salty but also sweet, kissed by vanilla and maple syrup, it’s as good on sticks of raw celery as it is eaten on its own, by the spoonful.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups (273 g) crunchy almonds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 vanilla beans

Instructions

  1. Place almonds, coconut oil, and maple syrup in a food processor.
  2. Slice the vanilla beans down the center vertically and use a spoon to scrape out the insides. Add the paste to the food processor. The beans can be reserved for use in other recipes, or discarded.
  3. Turn on the motor and process the mixture. After a few minutes it will turn into a rough ball, but let it keep mixing. It will separate and stick to the sides of the bowl and eventually become smooth, in about five minutes total.
  4. Taste and adjust as you like, adding a bit of salt or a little more maple syrup as needed.
  5. Serve on toast, with celery, or however you like your almond butter. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate. Note that it hardens slightly when cold.
  • Category: Nut Butters
  • Method: Blending
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Keywords: almond, almond butter, soaked nuts

What’s your favorite way to enjoy this recipe? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to give it a five-star rating if you loved it.

Looking for more homemade spreads and nut butters to try next? Consider these:

Photos by Shanna Mallon, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on March 12th, 2014. Last updated on December 2, 2021.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

Most of the staff at Foodal are not medical professionals and this article should not be construed as medical advice. Foodal and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.

About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

25 thoughts on “Smooth and Creamy Soaked Vanilla Maple Almond Butter (Vegan)”

  1. I’e not come across the practice of soaking nuts before but it makes total sense. And combined with vanilla and maple syrup? Yes!

    Reply
    • I know, right? I want to be more disciplined to do this regularly. It’s not hard, but it takes a little planning… like a lot of things with traditional foods.

      Reply
  2. What a lovely thought: ‘when you lock up your heart to hurt, you lock it up to love also’.
    And this almond butter really does look pretty damn good…

    Reply
  3. oh man! i really need to try this soon! it looks delicious…and thanks for the reminder about soaking nuts. i’ve been avoiding them all together due to digestive upset, and have been missing them and meaning to try them again after soaking, but it hasn’t been on the top of my priority list. i just need to think of it like you, prep and forget, or else i’ll get too impatient. 😉

    Reply
  4. Shanna! I’m still too lazy to soak nuts – i mean, 24 hours to soak and another 24 to dehydrate sounds soooooo long! That’s 2 whole days just to eat nuts! I’ve read about the benefits of soaking, but right now, I haven’t gotten the patience to do that yet. But i will, one day. Btw, I loved your deduction of CS Lewis’ quote. Locking our hearts against hurt, and hence locking our hearts against love. Good point to ponder upon..

    love,
    F.

    Reply
    • Ha! I’m sure most of the world would agree with you. ; ) Like I said in the post though, it’s totally a fix-it-and-forget-it kind of thing.

      Reply
  5. I definitely want to try the “Smooth and Creamy Soaked Vanilla Maple Almond Butter.” I have only made almond butter almonds and salt and haven’t thought about making it another way. This peeked my interest.

    Reply
  6. After all I’ve read about soaking, I am never quite prepared enough and then too anxious to have said grain or legume to do it. I need to! This looks so simple and awesome. I go through so much nut butter, it’s time. Always love a good CS Lewis quote 🙂 Ps thanks for your comment today about what whole foods are. I am so sensitive to those sorts of comments because I know everyone has their own definition of what is healthy, and I don’t want to subscribe to any particular side of that coin. I agree, cheese and butter aren’t pumped full of unrecognizable things! They ARE real foods! Anyway. End of rant and thank you 🙂

    Reply
    • Sara, Haha! That commenter blew me away! Like, is whole food synonymous with vegan all of a sudden? What! I love your very whole-foods-focused site and the way it celebrates real foods that aren’t made of things we cannot pronounce or recognize, and I’m always so thankful to read about the latest thing you’re making, not to mention what’s going on with you guys. Thanks for stopping by to comment here!

      Reply
  7. I’m in the habit of making my own nut butters, but I’ve never thought to soak the nuts first. Going to give this a shot- it would be great to have on hand for some friends who feel a bit off after eating nuts. Interested to see if it helps! Now I’ll just have to plan a day to not use my oven for anything else… 😉

    Reply
    • Nicole, Yes! That is exactly the thing! I will say though that we pulled out the nuts for an hour or two to bake something we needed, then returned the oven to the low temp and put them back inside. Everything still worked, so there’s that. : )

      Reply
  8. oh my goodness. I am over the moon excited for this! It sounds delicious, and I plan on spreading it on everything 🙂 Thanks for the wonderful recipe!!

    Reply

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