Looking for some sunflower seed substitutes ? While you may think they’re unique (they are), they can actually be substituted with a number of common, easily accessible nuts and seeds.
What you need the sunflower seeds for will determine which of these substitutes you’re going to use. Keep in mind that you can use several in combination, it doesn’t have to be just one of these. And some may work better than others, depending on what you’re trying to do.
Sunflower seed substitute
Sunflower seeds are easily substituted with pine nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, or poppy seeds as a last resort. You can also use your favorite nuts, roughly chopped, if you just need the crunch factor.
Depending on what you normally need sunflower seeds for, one or more of these substitutes will work great for you. In the case of smokers trying to quit, sunflower seeds are the most common crutch (we’ve been there). Still, sometimes you may like a little variation and this is where the substitutes come in.
Other substitutes on this list are better for baking, adding to a salad, or simply snacking on.
Read also: 4 Reasons Nuts Are So Expensive
Pine nuts are not cheap, but they provide a somewhat similar flavor to sunflower seeds. They also work amazingly well for salads or as a topping for baked goods. Conversely, if you’re making pesto and you’re ever out of pine nuts, you can just use sunflower seeds.
Using pine nuts in place of sunflower seeds is actually related more to the shape, size, and look of both. They’re fairly similar, and at a glance will substitute each other nicely.
Sesame seeds are possibly the first choice to use in place of sunflower seeds. They’ve got a similar, nutty flavor but they’re not as rich and buttery as sunflower seeds. They also have a slightly bitter end note, which some love and some hate.
Personally we absolutely love sesame seeds, so we think this is a very good substitute. And sesame is fairly cheap, so a bag will be easily accessible and will help you a lot.
Pumpkin seeds have a slightly different flavor than sunflower seeds, but they bring a fun factor. They’re green and much larger, and this can make for a very nice presentation which can be used in several ways.
Pumpkin seeds have less of that nutty flavor but they make up for it in crunch. And since they’re so big, you don’t have to go through as many as you would sunflower seeds.
Flax seeds are another favorite of ours, simply because hey have a surprising crunch and a very nice flavor. You can easily substitute them for sunflower seeds, and they will work fine.
If you’re trying to make a sunflower butter and want to use something else, then flax seeds may not be the best options. These are better as a binding agent, once you grind them down and add a bit of water. They don’t have as much fat as other nuts and seeds, so a butter is very difficult.
These are a little smaller than sunflower seeds, and they taste somewhat similar, with a more herb-like flavor. Hemp seeds aren’t the cheapest either, but you can make a mix if a cheaper seed, like sesame, and hemp seeds, and use them like that.
Poppy seed, as a last resort
If you really can’t find any of these then try poppy seeds. They’re not good for snacking, as they’re too small, but they’re great as a topping or to throw in a salad or use in a smoothie. They’ve got a very small crunch and they’re really easy to find everywhere.
We’re aware poppy seeds are nowhere near the flavor of sunflower seeds, nor the texture, nor the shape. But if all else fails, you could use these as decoration if that was what you’re aiming for.
There’s also a nice poppy seed paste, made with sugar and poppy seeds, that folks in Europe use as a pastry filling.
Chopped nuts for the crunch factor
If you’re looking for something with more crunch, and don’t want to use the above options, or can’t find any of them, then try chopped nuts. It could be any nuts you like or that you’re not allergic to, and they could be raw of roasted, whichever way you prefer.
If you’re going to use them on top of something then we recommend not roasting them beforehand. Otherwise they’d just get burned on the outside of a bun or pastry.
These are just as good in salads or in a sauce that needs a bit of help in terms of texture. The only problem is the price tag. Nuts are expensive, almost always. But he good thing is that once you chop them to smaller pieces you’ll notice you don’t need as many.
Can I use sunflower paste ?
If you can find sunflower paste then yeah, go ahead and use that. After all, it’s the closest thing to actual sunflower seeds so you can get the same flavor.
Read Also: Black VS White Sesame Seeds
How can I make sunflower seeds tastier ?
If your problem is that you’re bored with the regular salt roasted sunflower seeds, there are a few things you can do. You can continue using sunflower seeds, but flavor them a little.
You will need shell-on, raw sunflower seeds that you can roast at home. Some of the best flavorings are spicy ones, that you drizzle with lemon or lime juice before serving.
Or sweeten them a little and then add some chili flakes, to get a sweet n spicy mix. Really there’s all kinds of ways you an roast sunflower seeds, even with herbs or just add a bit of black pepper.