Background IgE-binding of process-modified foods or proteins is the most common method for examination of how food processing affects allergenicity of food allergens. How processing affects sensitization capacity is generally studied by administration of purified food proteins or food extracts and not allergens present in their natural food matrix. Objectives The aim was to investigate if thermal processing increases sensitization potential of whole peanuts via the oral route. In parallel, the effect of heating on sensitization potential of the major peanut allergen Ara h 1 was assessed via the intraperitoneal route. Methods Sensitization potential of processed peanut products and Ara h 1 was examined in Brown Norway (BN) rats by oral administration of blanched or oil-roasted peanuts or peanut butter or by intraperitoneal immunization of purified native (N-), heated (H-) or heat glycated (G-)Ara h 1. Levels of specific IgG and IgE were determined by ELISA and IgE functionality was examined by rat basophilic leukemia (RBL) cell assay. Results In rats dosed orally, roasted peanuts induced significant higher levels of specific IgE to NAra h 1 and 2 than blanched peanuts or peanut butter but with the lowest level of RBL degranulation. However, extract from roasted peanuts was found to be a superior elicitor of RBL degranulation. Process-modified Ara h 1 had similar sensitizing capacity as NAra h 1 but specific IgE reacted more readily with process-modified Ara h 1 than with native. Conclusions Peanut products induce functional specific IgE when dosed orally to BN rats. Roasted peanuts do not have a higher sensitizing capacity than blanched peanuts. In spite of this, extract from roasted peanuts is a superior elicitor of RBL cell degranulation irrespectively of the peanut product used for sensitization. The results also suggest that new epitopes are formed or disclosed by heating Ara h 1 without glucose.