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Homemade Vanilla Peanut Butter

Homemade Vanilla Peanut Butter

Peanut butter. Unless you’re allergic, odds are you have fond memories of growing up with this sweet, salty, scrumptious spread. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut butter cookies, ants on a log; the list goes on and on. Have you ever wondered how this unassuming paste became such an essential part of the American experience? Better yet, have you ever wondered how to make peanut butter yourself? If so, you'll love this homemade vanilla peanut butter recipe. But first, what's the story behind this creamy treat?

There are a few people who could be given credit for the creation of peanut butter, but its history in the United States begins with a familiar name: John Harvey Kellogg, creator of Kellogg’s breakfast cereals, and director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Kellogg’s Sanitas company started selling what may have been the first commercially-produced peanut butter in 1897, and he received a patent for a process of creating peanut butter in 1898. He was a huge proponent of the paste as a good source of protein for those who had difficulty chewing. In fact, he toured the country extolling its virtues everywhere he went.

As with so many things throughout history, the most significant boosts in peanut butter sales were driven by war. During World War I, it became an essential food item for soldiers on the front, as it was a readily available and easy-to-store meat alternative. World War II was largely responsible for the popularity of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The combination of protein and carbohydrates helped soldiers get the energy they needed to sustain them during the fight. The fact that it tasted good didn’t hurt, so many servicemen carried their fondness for the sandwich home with them, helping it become the beloved classic it is now.

Fortunately, making peanut butter at home does not require much of a battle. Homemade peanut butter is a simple process and one that can make for a fun family activity. One of the biggest benefits of homemade peanut butter is that you can control the amount of sugar in it and avoid the additives often found in store-bought varieties. We like to use just a little bit of honey for sweetness and mix in some vanilla to give it a subtle sophistication.

Homemade Vanilla Peanut Butter

Yields 16 ounces


  • 16 ounces roasted shelled and skinless peanuts (preferably not salted)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Madagascar vanilla bean (split and scraped)
  • 1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 3/4 tablespoons peanut oil


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange peanuts in a single layer on a sheet pan, and roast for 5-7 minutes.
Place the peanuts, salt, and honey into the bowl of a food processor. Process for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and vanilla bean scrapings. Place the lid back on and slowly drizzle in the peanut oil while continuing to process until the mixture is smooth, about 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

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