Vitamix almond butter is a super-simple recipe (1 ingredient!). However, many people are intimidated or have trouble making it, so I decided it’s worth going over best practices and potential pitfalls. If you follow these guidelines, it takes about the same amount of time as a smoothie. (Blending time and cleanup time are longer, but, if you use pre-roasted nuts, prep time is faster than washing and trimming produce.)
Blending your own nut butter opens up possibilities for customization: add pecans to almond butter, add chocolate, or make something more exotic like pistachio butter. (100% pecan butter is delicious, but too runny to be spreadable like traditional nut butters.)
3 cups roasted almonds (this is for a narrow Vitamix container; see below if you have a wide container)
If you use unsalted nuts, you may want to add salt to taste. (In this batch I used lightly salted roasted almonds.)
Blend on high until smooth, using the tamper to push ingredients into the blades. You will hear the motor noise change to a more consistent low-pitched growl once it is ready (it usually takes about 1 minute). If you want a maximally smooth nut butter, after you hear this noise, you can leave the tamper all the way down in the middle and let the motor run for an extra 5–10 seconds.
I’ve heard that some almonds won’t blend into a smooth nut butter, even if they are roasted. If your almonds are not forming a butter, you can add a few tablespoons of oil, or about half of a cup of roasted high-oil nuts, such as pecans.
(For the model in the video, maximum speed is set with the dial. If you have a high-low switch on the left of your machine, flip it to high after turning up the speed dial.)
Guidelines for Vitamix nut butter success
Make an Appropriate Amount
- S-Series: 2–3 cups nuts
- C-Series: 3–4 cups nuts
- G-Series: 4–5 cups nuts
(1 lb of nuts is about 3¼ cups)
If you blend less than these amounts, the tamper becomes ineffective, because there isn’t a sufficient amount of ingredients to push into the blades. It is possible to blend less, but you will likely have to periodically stop and use a spatula to scrape down the ingredients from the sides of the container.
If you blend more than these amounts, you increase the risk of overheating the motor.
Water will cause your blend to clump up and not blend to a smooth consistency. Make sure the container, lid, and tamper are all dry. Also, do not blend with honey or other ingredients that contain water. You can gently mix in such ingredients once you’ve made the nut butter.
Use Roasted Nuts
Roasting nuts develops their flavor and makes them easier to blend. The easiest thing to do is to get pre-roasted nuts. If you roast your own, make sure they cool before putting into container, because hot nuts can melt the container. (Nuts are really the only ingredient that you have to worry about being too hot, because their lack of water means that they can easily go over 212°F, whereas vegetables or soups won’t go above boiling temperature. The Vitamix container material starts to melt at ~250°F.)
If you really want to use raw nuts, you can, but you will likely need to add oil. If you use roasted nuts, you generally don’t need to add any oil. (Vitamix’s almond butter recipe includes oil, but I’ve never found it necessary with roasted nuts. If you follow these instructions and can’t get a butter to form, you can add a bit of oil.)
Blend at maximum speed and use the tamper to push ingredients into blades. I focus on pushing each corner of the blend down. Don’t be afraid of the loud sounds. You’ll hear a low-pitched growl when the motor is working hard against the thick butter, and a high-pitched whine when the blades form an air pocket and are spinning freely. Both of these sounds are normal. I made a video to show how I use the tamper and so you can hear the sounds for yourself (see above).
Vitamix warns that if you blend thick things like this at lower speeds, you increase the chances of overheating the motor. I’m planning a separate post investigating motor heating, so keep an eye out if you’re interested. [Update: here it is]
The first few times you blend something thick with a new Vitamix you will likely smell something that smells like burning. That is the coating on the motor windings “curing,” and it should go away once the motor gets broken-in. Later you’ll only smell the motor if you get close to overheating it. The motor has a thermal cutoff that will turn it off before it burns out. If you set off the thermal cutoff, you have to wait 30–60 minutes for the motor to cool before you can use it again.
Cleaning out the Container
Use a long, narrow, and rigid silicone spatula to ease scraping out the container. I like this one, because it matches the contour of the bottom of the container (especially for C-Series containers). At the end of the video, you can see how I scrape out the bottom in a counter-clockwise direction. This way the spatula is against the duller side of the blades, so the blades don’t gouge it.) You can also not worry about scraping it all out, and then blend the remnants into a smoothie, nut milk, frappuccino, soup, or ice cream.
To clean the container, blend hot soapy water at maximum speed for longer than you would usually for cleaning the container—about 1 minute. If you rinse and there’s still some stuck under the blades, add more hot soapy water and blend a second time—that’s always been sufficient in my experience. I usually use a soft soapy sponge to wipe down the upper walls of the container, since the violent vortex from the blades usually only fully cleans the bottom half of the container.
About the Dry Blade Container
Even though you make nut butter with dry ingredients, it works better in the “wet blade” containers than the “dry blade” container. This is because the goal in making nut butter is to turn it into a thick liquid that circulates in the vortex formed by the blades. The wet blades are designed to form this vortex, which pulls ingredients down into the blades. The dry blades are designed to push ingredients up away from the blades, and they are primarily for making flours.