Peanut butter is like cotton balls or that Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap: It’s good for a lot of things. You can smush it between two pieces of bread with jelly (duh), slather it on crackers, and make a delicious sauce with it, too. But I need to be clear: Eating peanut butter directly off a spoon, all by itself, while you’re standing in the kitchen, is completely acceptable. Good peanut butter deserves to be eaten this way. And, as a recent Sporked taste test revealed, there’s a lot of good peanut butter out there.
For this tasting we were joined by Good Mythical Morning writer Meghan Malone. “I absolutely love peanut butter,” she told us. “I had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every single day as a kid to the point that my mom was worried for my health.” Well, now we’re all grown up and we do what we want, including trying more than a dozen peanut butters in one sitting. We went the PB-on-saltines route. Definitely spreads a lot better than Dr. Bronner’s.
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- Trader Joe’s Creamy No-Stir Peanut Butter
Crunchy peanut butter fans are seething! Yep, a creamy boi came in first in our taste test. This offering from TJ’s has everything you could ask for in a peanut butter. It’s smooth, creamy, and has serious peanut flavor (oddly, some PB barely tastes like peanuts). “It has peanut butter staying power,” said Sporked editorial assistant Naajia Shukri. “If I put this in a PB&J, it wouldn’t be masked by jelly.” Meghan was into it, too. “It’s really good,” she said. “It’s not too sugary, not too salty—very easy to spread.” Sporked editor-in-chief Justine Sterling liked the nice, natural peanut flavor of its finish. “I want this in some ice cream,” she said.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Sporked
- Earth Balance Crunchy Peanut + Flaxseed Spread
I don’t think any of us expected to love a peanut butter that comes off as a health food product, but this crunchy peanut butter from Earth Balance is simultaneously super creamy and filled with big, evenly distributed chunks of peanut. “This is perfect to me,” Sporked staff writer Jordan Myrick said. “It’s sweet but not too sweet, it’s nutty—it’s so good.” We couldn’t say for sure whether the flaxseed contributed any flavor (like, seriously, what does a flaxseed taste like on its own?), but this butter’s biggest flavor feat was its perfectly balanced sweetness-to-saltiness ratio.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Instagram
- Tie! Skippy and JIF
I grew up in a Skippy household and I always took umbrage with the “Choosy moms choose JIF” tagline. Don’t act like I have some derelict mother just because she buys a different brand of peanut butter. In fact, I’m proud of my mom for being confronted with that egregious capitalist guilt trip and being like, sorry, not packing my bags for this one. As much as I would have liked Skippy to pull ahead of JIF for that reason, the two mega PB brands were neck and neck in the flavor department. In fact, we really couldn’t tell them apart in a head-to-head taste off. They’re both delicious in precisely that nostalgic peanut-butter-on-squishy-white-bread way. The best we could do was determine that Skippy seemed a little less thick than JIF, but not in a way that made it better or worse than its competitor. Neither is too sweet. Both have big peanut flavor and aroma. Meanwhile, Peter Pan, the third member of the childhood peanut butter triumvirate, didn’t make the cut. Back to Neverland with you.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart
- Great Value Creamy Peanut Butter
Once again, Great Value is coming in hot with a great product that is, in fact, a great value. “This is really smooth, man,” said staff writer Danny Palumbo. He liked that it has a great nutty flavor and isn’t overly sweet. “Uh oh,” said guest taster Meghan. “Do I like Walmart peanut butter? Yeah.” This is the one to buy when you have to make a bunch of sandwiches for a kid’s field trip or some big hiking excursion. People will not be bummed to find this in their otherwise slightly sad sack lunch.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart
- Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter
Prior to our tasting, the only Justin’s product I’d tried was their almond butter—and I am not a fan. But, somehow, the brand is doing something dramatically different and delicious with peanuts. A couple of our tasters thought it was a little on the bland side, but I loved its loose, grainy consistency. I’ve never had homemade peanut butter, but this is what I imagine it’s like. This might not blow kids away if they’re used to sugar-added PB, and it probably doesn’t have the constitution to not make a mess as a snack with celery sticks. That said, it would be incredible on a warm slice of toast with something naturally sweet, like bananas or honey or both, to bring out the peanutty flavor.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Target
- Santa Cruz Organic Dark Roasted Peanut Butter
Some peanut butters are just begging to have apple slices dunked into them, and this is one. (Opt for honeycrisp—I consider myself an expert on apple cultivars, and they are the best in terms of texture and sweetness. I stand by this.) This PB has that oily, chunky sort of consistency Justin’s has and also reminded us of something you’d make with an old-timey gadget with a hand crank. “This one is sweeter than some of the more natural ones we’ve tried,” Justine said, praising the “nice chunks coming through it.” We also tried Santa Cruz’s light roast peanut butter and could barely tell the difference, but the slightly richer flavor of the dark roast edged out its counterpart. This would also be incredible as a base for peanut sauce.
Credit: Ryan Martin / Target
Best of the Best
Best Classic Creamy
Best No Sugar Added
Rhett & Link’s Pick
JIF Creamy Peanut Butter
During a Good Mythical Morning blind taste test, Rhett & Link declared JIF the official peanut butter of GMM, but even they had a tough time distinguishing JIF from Skippy. Link admitted to growing up in a Peter Pan household, but we won’t hold it agaist him.
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