Peanut Allergy? Here Are Some Substitutes When Cooking At Home

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Growing up in a household where we ate traditional Cantonese cuisine (not your average Chinese takeout) almost every night, peanuts were a staple. Roasted and salted, they were a simple amuse-bouche at restaurants. They were occasionally boiled in soups and added to sticky rice bundles commonly known as zongzi. And being born and raised in the U.S., it should be no surprise that I was very familiar with the all-American crisscrossed peanut butter cookie.

But as an adult, after being tested for food allergies via a skin-prick test at my allergist’s office, my food options suddenly narrowed. Results showed I’m allergic to peanuts, among a handful of other foods. Since that discovery two decades ago, avoiding peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut oil has remained a challenge. Not every nut mimics the crunch and flavor of peanuts. But it turns out there are some pretty close alternatives.


If you have a newly discovered peanut allergy, or you need to inform family members, friends, roommates, or work colleagues about your allergy, one of the first things to know is that peanuts are not tree nuts. They grow underground and are actually legumes, edible seeds that come in a pod. So why are they even called nuts? Because they’re similar to nuts for culinary and nutritional purposes, according to the Peanut Institute, an industry group.

That’s important to know because it’s possible to have a peanut allergy and not be allergic to tree nuts, and the other way around. So if you are getting tested for food allergies, make sure to get tested for both. Below, we offer some peanut substitute options that are tree nuts, and some that aren’t. Whether they’re tree nuts, legumes, tubers, or seeds, all of them can help you achieve that peanutty texture or flavor you’re looking for.

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