Is there anything better then peanut butter? (Apologies to peanut-allergy sufferers!) The beloved spread has become so much more than a childhood sandwich staple — it’s a cultural icon, woven deep within the country’s culinary fabric through our favorite desserts, dishes and mass-produced grocery store items.
But preferences in peanut butter are so nuanced and so particular to individual palates that this taste test is, perhaps, the most daunting one I’ve ever attempted. Some peanut butter eaters prefer it gritty, others prefer it smooth. Some enjoy a touch of salt and sweetness, others would rather taste only the vegetable. And don’t even get me started on oil separation — a deal breaker for those who simply refuse to pour it out or mix it into the jar.
So, in the interest of keeping my ranking as objective as possible, I decided to judge nine mainstream peanut butters on three criteria: taste, texture and ingredient-quality. Sure, the scores are still subjective, but I didn’t want a contender to take top honors simply because it tasted the best.
Here are the nine jars ranked, all of creamy variety and most readily available on Amazon Fresh. And like my vanilla ice cream taste test, peanut butter is absolutely serving of a round two since there are so many other wonderful options. (So stay tuned!)
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This was the list’s biggest disappointment because I’m such a huge fan of the brand’s line of almond butters. Unfortunately, the consistency of the recipe was so runny that it was more like peanut soup than peanut butter, making it entirely too difficult to spread on bread or a bagel. The flavor was also a bit off-putting, tasting more like peanut oil than actual peanuts, so I’ll be OK with never having to eat this one again, thank you very much.
This is a fantastic option for anyone who only wants peanuts in the ingredient list, but it’s also a bit one-noted. I also found the oil a tad difficult to blend into the butter, which made things quite messy and not the best for my neat-freak tendencies. That said, I really appreciated its simplicity and would absolutely use it in most of my peanut butter baked goods (which is practically 90% of all my baking).
What this lacked in flavor, it made up for in silky-smooth texture. It feels great on the tongue — a real lip-smacker that coats practically every surface of your mouth — but pales in comparison to a Skippy or Jif when it comes down to craveability. Sure, one could argue that it’s healthier than the famous duo, but if I’m on the hunt for something creamy and sans oil separation, I’m going all out and splurging.
Laura Scudder may be known as the Potato Chip Queen, but she’s also the Peanut Butter Princess. Like Crazy Richard’s (maybe her cousin), this was a real pain in the butt(er) to stir, but I appreciated the company’s commitment to not incorporating additives like sugar or palm oil. It more than makes up for the unexpected bicep workout.
Aside from Jif, Skippy takes top honors in the nostalgia category. Not only is the pantry classic delicious with your favorite jelly, but it also makes a damn good peanut butter cookie (like the forked ones grandma used to make). The only reason why this doesn’t rank higher is its slightly artificial aftertaste (which I’ve admittedly grown to love). It’s also the sweetest of the bunch and sticks to the roof of your mouth, which can be quite polarizing, but nothing a glass of milk can’t remedy.
I absolutely loathe its watery texture, but its flavor is one of the best of the bunch. Dry-roasted with a touch of salt, this peanut butter has a depth and complexity that makes you appreciate it so much more than its competition. Be sure to stick it directly in the refrigerator so that it bulks up a bit and makes it more spreadable.
I’m probably going to get a lot of heat from peanut-butter purists, but there’s something about this Smart Balance jar with flaxseed oil that is straight-up addictive. Silky-smooth, slightly salty and with the added benefit of omega-3s, it’s a jar that will absolutely find a permanent home in my monthly peanut-butter rotation.
Smucker’s reigned supreme when it came to natural varieties. Even with the oil mixed in, the peanut-only product boasted a wonderfully spreadable texture with a lovely grittiness. It’s also very peanut-forward—like you’ve taken a handful of them and created a thick paste in your mouth. This is how peanut butter should be, frankly, and I won’t be convinced otherwise.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There’s a reason why Jif is America’s most popular peanut butter — it just tastes damn good and has a perfectly whipped consistency. Spread it on a sandwich, mix it into frosting, melt it down to put on a sundae or simply eat it with a spoon. You really can’t go wrong.