We Tried 30 Jars of Peanut Butter — These Are the Ones Worth Eating

updated Aug 9, 2023
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overhead shot of peanut butter jars on top of each other with some jars opened showing the inside
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Thomas Hoerup

Peanut butter is the greatest thing to happen to sliced bread. (Just ask Ina.) Beyond the classic PB&J, it adds a rich, savory flavor to sauces and stews, intrigue to oatmeal, and drama to dessert (so many desserts). It converts skeptics into believers with one bite. It’s good to the last drop, and its versatility extends beyond cooking, baking, and, yes, eating straight from the jar.

In 2020, a whopping 299 million Americans consumed peanut butter (331 million people lived in the U.S., at the time.) Perhaps you were one of them? Its prevalence and popularity are two big reasons there are a lot of options for us to choose from, and why we decided to round up as many jars as we could (within reason) to see how they stack up against each other.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Thomas Hoerup

We tested 30 jars of peanut butter across three categories — creamy, crunchy, and no-stir (aka the shelf-stable stuff with additional ingredients, like sugars and oils) — focusing on national and store brands that are widely available throughout the country and reasonably priced. (We’re saving those fancy jars and flavors for a future special occasion.) We also looked at recent sales data and past taste tests to round out the selection. After one long day of tasting and tallying, these are the peanut butters we’d definitely buy again.

The Best Peanut Butters

  • Best Creamy Peanut Butter: Teddie All Natural Smooth Peanut Butter 
  • Best Crunchy Peanut Butter: Smucker’s Organic Chunky Peanut Butter
  • Best No-Stir Peanut Butter: Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Thomas Hoerup

Best Creamy Peanut Butter: Teddie All Natural Smooth Peanut Butter 

It was shocking to learn how just two ingredients — peanuts and salt — could deliver such a range of results. We tried 10 different jars within this category, and six of them received at least two “No, thanks” votes (the lowest score possible) in the flavor department. Yikes! But Teddie All Natural Smooth Peanut Butter was definitely not one of them.

“Everything about the texture, look, and smell, hit the spot for me,” says Justine, our recipe production coordinator. Looks-wise, it reminded our senior lifestyle editor, Mara, of a peanut butter sauce, “like the one you’d get at a Friendly’s.” The All Natural Smooth Peanut Butter had some grittiness, but not too much to turn off the #TeamSmooth tasters, and a “nice nuttiness,” which makes sense; Teddie’s contains 100% peanuts and a pinch of salt, according to its website. Interestingly, some felt it was “too salty,” while others found the level spot-on. So, take that note with a grain of salt and taste for yourself.

What’s So Great

  • The texture! The aroma! The color!

Good to Know

  • Mixed feelings on the salt level.

Buy: Teddie All Natural Smooth Peanut Butter, $3.27 for 16 ounces at Walmart

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Thomas Hoerup

Best Crunchy Peanut Butter: Smucker’s Organic Chunky Peanut Butter

Of the three categories, this had the smallest number of entrants — six total. (Compared to creamy, crunchy peanut butter is in a fraction of households and was also harder for us to find on shelves.) Like its smoother cousin, all of the crunchy peanut butters were made with peanuts and salt, although one jar cautioned: may contain almonds. And once again, the varieties … varied in color (from very light to dark brown), texture (from “too thick to spread” to “needs more crunch!”), and flavor (from “kinda dusty?” to “great peanut flavor”). 

Smucker’s Organic Chunky Peanut Butter stood out on all counts — and then some. Mara was drawn to its “darker hue” and “deep nutty smell.” It had the just-right ratio between size and quantity of chunks to butter and a nutty flavor that only seemed to get better the more people tasted it. A few found it on the sticky side, which prompted memories of that Got Milk? commercial. They imagine it’d be great with bread and a glass of milk or even to cook with, like this tofu and broccoli salad with peanut butter dressing that Justin recommends.

What’s So Great

  • The Goldilocks of chunk.
  • Go-to ingredient for recipes.

Good to Know

  • On the stickier side (consume with milk).
  • Pricier, but worth the splurge.

Buy: Smucker’s Organic Chunky Peanut Butter, $6.69 for 16 ounces at Target

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Thomas Hoerup

Best No-Stir Peanut Butter: Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter

Ninety years after its invention, Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter continues to be a household favorite, beating out 13 other jars to earn the top spot. (Our Recipe Director, Lauren, who did not participate in this tasting, lives in a “Skippy house.”) On-the-ground tasters called out its “classic” look, smooth consistency, and thickness, as well as a “more prominent nuttiness” than other contenders.

In addition to peanuts and salt, it contains sugar and vegetable oil (all the peanut butters in this category listed at least one type of sugar and oil as ingredients; one also included corn starch). It was the only peanut butter — across all categories — to receive straight 5s. It had a “good amount of everything,” explains our associate food editor, Cory: “It was an ‘all around’ PB — not too sweet, not too salty or bitter, [and] not too gritty.” 

What’s So Great

  • Received a perfect score.
  • A favorite of The Kitchn editors.
  • Almost always on sale!

Good to Know

  • N/A

Buy: Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter, $2.49 for 16.3 ounces at Kroger

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe

How We Tested the Peanut Butters

We held a blind taste test of 30 different peanut butters across three categories — Creamy, Crunchy, and No-Stir — and recruited six absolute peanut butter Stans (so you know they’re qualified), who work in our office to participate in this one-day test.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe

Unsurprisingly, tasters had some mixed opinions about what they look for in their peanut butter, particularly around the texture (some grittiness is okay, but pastiness is a nonstarter). To really get into the nutty-gritty of them all, we sampled each peanut butter all on its own (using adorable mini wooden spoons). Creamy and crunchy peanut butters were first stirred to incorporate the oil that separates on top. Then each peanut butter was scooped into generic sample-sized cups by Thomas, our studio producer, and given a number to conceal the brand’s identity. We also had water and milk on hand for palate cleansing.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe

Tasters rated each of the peanut butters on a scale of one to five (1 = No, thanks; 2 = Meh; 3 = Pretty good; 4 = Really like; 5 = Yes, Please!) across four criteria — look, smell, texture, and flavor — and included any specific observations, tasting notes, and general opinions worth mentioning. They were also asked to answer, arguably, the most important question of all: Would you buy this peanut butter?

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe

Why You Should Trust Us

This was a blind taste test, which means tasters had no knowledge of the brands being evaluated ahead of or at the time of the tasting. It was held over one day and tasters were instructed to sample the peanut butters in random order (to stave off palate fatigue and give any one jar an unfair advantage). The group of tasters included a mix of food professionals and peanut butter enthusiasts who work at The Kitchn and/or Apartment Therapy Media (The Kitchn’s parent company). All participated in the taste test voluntarily, and we thank them for being so generous with their time and feedback. 

Speaking of, each taster filled out a score sheet (without discussion or influence) ranking peanut butters across several criteria (listed above). The results were also tabulated without any visibility into the brands. Only after the numbers were finalized did we reveal which brands corresponded to the winners.

Did your favorite jar of peanut butter make the list? Tell us about it in the comments below.