While hemp seeds pack a hefty nutritional punch, they are quite expensive. Here are my favourite hemp seed substitutes.
What Are Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds come from industrially grown cannabis plants. The seeds do not contain any of the psychoactive chemicals associated with cannabis grown as a drug.
They’re often touted as a ‘superfood’ because they are low carbs and a complete source of plant based protein. And an excellent source of iron and magnesium.
They are generally sold hulled and have a white and green speckled appearance. They’re mild in flavour with a slightly nutty / green / healthy taste.
The Best Hemp Seeds Substitutes
1. Flax Seeds (Linseeds)
The best substitute is linseeds (also know as flax seeds). Linseeds are slightly larger in size. Unlike hemp seeds, flax are not a complete source of protein.
They lack the amino acid lysine so if you want to use flax as a protein source you will need to include other foods containing lysine. Flax seeds do have the advantage of significantly more fibre and omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Pumpkin Seeds (pepitas)
Aren’t a complete source of protein but do contain a similar amount of total protein so are not a bad choice. Just finely chop your pumpkin seeds or pulse in a food processor if you want the texture to be a closer match.
Flavour-wise pumpkin seeds have a slightly stronger, nuttier slightly pumpkiney flavour.
3. Sesame Seeds
Look similar to hemp seeds without the green flecks. While nutritionally, sesame seeds only contain about half the protein, flavour and texture-wise they are a good match.
4. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are also a complete source of protein. However they contain on a fraction the amount of protein so you’d need to eat a truck load of chia to get the same amount. And given that chia are significantly higher in fiber, it might not be a good idea.
But for small quantities to add crunch or visual interested chia seeds will work as a substitute.
5. Almond Meal (Almond Flour)
If you’re looking for an alternative to hemp seeds to use in baked goods or sweet treats like bliss balls, almond flour can work.
The downside is like most of the substitutes, almond meal doesn’t have as much protein. And it’s not suitable for people wiht nut allergies.
6. Desiccated Coconut
Coconut has a completely different flavour and none of the protein, however it’s fine texture can work in baked good in a similar manner to hemp seeds.
How to Use Hemp Seeds
Sprinkle on dishes just before serving for visual interest and extra nutrition.
I love using hemp seeds as low carb gluten-free substitute for cracked wheat (bulgher wheat) that’s normally used in tabbouleh.
Unlike chia seeds or flax seeds (linseeds), they don’t absorb lots of water so don’t try and use them to thicken jams or other dishes in the way you could use these other seeds.
More Ingredient Substitutes
- The Ultimate Guide to Vegetable Substitutes
- Collard Greens
- Miso Paste
- Oyster Sauce
Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.
Have fun in the kitchen!