The Peanut Butter Taste Test: We Tried 7 Brands and Ranked Them

The Peanut Butter Taste Test: We Tried 7 Brands and Ranked Them

5ce2f93c60f220897039a930703dc67bb05f3f07?w=240&h=240&fit=crop
Kelli Foster
May 13, 2015
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Young or old, who can resist peanut butter? When paired with jam and made into a sandwich, this creamy, nutty spread takes us back to our childhood. It has a place baked into cookies, stirred into oatmeal, and blended into smoothies. Not to mention eating it straight from the jar. (It's OK — we do it too!)

We tried seven well-known brands of natural peanut butter and ranked them from our least to most favorite. Want to see how they ranked?

The lineup of peanut butters.
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

How We Selected the 7 Brands

There's a growing number of variations when it comes to peanut butter. To narrow down the field and keep things consistent, I decided to focus just on natural peanut butter. And then, of course, there's the great debate over creamy versus chunky. People have strong opinions in this matter.

Ultimately I went with creamy since it felt like more neutral territory, and it was less likely that anyone would be strongly against it.

For this taste test I wanted to find brands that are well known and the most recognizable. I purchased the peanut butters from Fairway, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods and tried to stay away from any locally-produced brands.

The tasting begins!
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

How We Set up the Blind Taste Test

I purchased seven brands of creamy natural peanut butter. I assigned each peanut butter a letter, then spooned each one into a clear plastic cup, and lined them up on a table. Tasters had a choice of sampling the peanut butter on sliced baguette or using a wooden stick to eat it plain.

I asked everyone in the office to give me their thoughts on all seven spreads and to comment on their favorite, their second favorite, and their least favorite.

Anna from our creative services team makes her way through the lineup.
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

The Taste Test Results

Here are the results, from the least favorite to most favorite peanut butter:

7. Smucker's Natural Creamy Peanut Butter ($.32 per ounce)

This one looked really nutty and natural, which made me really want to like it. I had high hopes, but the nut butter and oil separated a lot and it was tough to blend them together, leaving it with a clumpy consistency.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "This is really, really chunky."
  • "It tastes chalky."
  • "It tastes really natural and nutty, I like it."

6. Justin's Classic Peanut Butter ($.37 per ounce)

I love Justin's almond butter, so I was really surprised that this peanut butter didn't stand up to the others. The consistency was thick and pasty, with a bland flavor. Maybe it would be stronger paired with jam or sliced banana and honey?

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "I can't even talk with this in my mouth."
  • "Really thick and it has no flavor."
  • "Hands down my least favorite — tastes like it's trying to be healthy but ends up just being bland."
  • "I kind of like this one."

5. Brad's Organic Peanut Butter ($.28 per ounce)

This peanut butter gets points for good consistency; it was really soft and wonderfully spreadable. But it had a very plain, mild flavor that didn't win the tasters over. One person commented though that they buy this brand regularly and were happy to see it in the lineup.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "My least favorite. It tastes watery and bland."
  • "This one has a one-tone flavor, and it feels like I'm putting glue in my mouth."
  • "It looks pretty natural."

4. Whole Foods Creamy Peanut Butter ($.17 per ounce)

Overall this peanut butter had a really great, balanced flavor that everyone loved. I agree, and I buy this regularly for the taste and good value. The one thing the group didn't care for was the consistency. It was thin and drippy, which made it hard to spread.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "Way too liquidy."
  • "The consistency is too thin and it's kind of salty, but I still like it."
  • "Not too sweet, but salty — good salty, though."
  • "My favorite, it tastes natural and not processed."
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

3. Trader Joe's Creamy Unsalted Peanut Butter ($.16 per ounce)

I've been buying Trader Joe's peanut butter for years, so I wasn't surprised to see it rank near the top of the list. It has a thinner consistency than the top peanut butters on this list, but a well-balanced, super nutty flavor.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "This one is my favorite — tastes like real nuts."
  • "It tastes kind of sweet."

2. Skippy Natural Peanut Butter ($.21 per ounce)

I don't associate this brand with "natural" products, so I was surprised to see it do so well. But it also was not surprising at the same time since many people in the office commented that this peanut butter reminded them of their childhood. For many people, this is the kind of subtly sweet flavor we're programmed to like.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "This tastes like Jif and it's my favorite."
  • "Definitely my least favorite."
  • "Mmmm, this tastes like my childhood."
  • "It's kind of sweet."
  • "Disgusting."

1. Smart Balance Natural Creamy Peanut Butter ($.19 per ounce)

This peanut butter was neck-and-neck with Skippy, but ultimately edged it out by just a tiny bit for the overall win. It hits all the high notes: very balanced flavor, with a hint of salt so it's not too bland. And great consistency, not too liquidy, and definitely not clumpy.

Taste Tester Quotes

  • "This one is my favorite. It's just a little bit salty and has a good consistency."
  • "I like salt, but this one is too salty for me. I like how roasty it tastes, though."
  • "This is my favorite, good consistency and salt level, and overall good flavor."

Have you ever done a taste test with natural peanut butter? Do you have a favorite that we didn't mention here?

Created with Sketch.