Taste Test: Peanut Butter

by in Taste Test, December 8, 2009

peanut butter brands
To us, peanut butter is important stuff. You can use it in so many dishes — with apples, in a sandwich, in baked goods and more. You want to be sure you’re choosing the healthiest brand. I have my favorite (which is included on this list), but we wanted to see how a few of the most popular brands stacked up.

Peanuts and peanut butter contain healthy fats as well as protein, but some packaged butters have extra extra oils and sweeteners added to the mix. For our 1 to 5 rating (5 being the highest), we considered taste, texture (we tested only smooth varieties) and sugar content for a basic two-tablespoon serving. As for price, all the brands tested ranged from $2.79 to $3.19.

Rating: 3
Nutrition Info: 190 calories, 16 grams of fat, 3 grams of sugar
Our Take: I was raised on this stuff, but that was before I learned about added sweeteners and hydrogenated oils! Though it does have a good flavor and creamy consistency, I’m turned off by the added sugar and unhealthy fats.

Rating: 4
Nutrition Info: 180 calories, 16 grams of fat, 1 gram of sugar
Our Take: This natural peanut butter contains peanuts, flaxseeds and salt. It had a nice peanut flavor but a slightly gritty texture. Like most peanut butters made without extra oils, this brand needed to be mixed well initially to stir in some surface oil (if refrigerated after the first mix, it no longer separates). The flax adds some omega-3 fat but also affects the flavor. If you’re a peanut butter purist, it’s better to get your omega-3s elsewhere. (Here’s an article on better choices for omega 3-rich foods.)

Rating: 3
Nutrition Info: 190 calories, 16 grams of fat, 3 grams of sugar
Our Take: This one had almost exactly the same ingredients in Skippy — added sugar and hydrogenated oils — but it did have a more peanutty flavor (my guess is they use a different variety of peanuts).

Trader Joe’s
: 5
Nutrition Info: 190 calories, 16 grams of fat, 1 gram of sugar
Our Take: This is the peanut butter we keep in my house. The only ingredients are peanuts and salt. It has great flavor, a silky smooth texture and won’t separate once refrigerated. I’ve been recommending it to clients for years and have been able to convert even the most loyal brand-name peanut butter lovers.

Smart Balance
Rating: 3
Nutrition Info: 200 calories, 18 grams of fat, 1 gram of sugar
Our Take: I was surprisingly disappointed by this jar. Made with peanuts, flaxseed and palm oil (for texture) it is sweetened with molasses, but has a stale flavor that was, honestly, kind of gross. We also tried the Smart Balance “naturally sweetened” with agave nectar instead of molasses but it had a bitter and unappealing after taste. My husband (a fellow PB lover) asked if we could throw these two jars out pronto).

Tell Us: What’s your favorite peanut butter?

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Comments (304)

  1. Tamara says:

    Take? What take? It's just food with improved DNA. It's not particularly special, since ALL food we eat has been genetically modified over the centuries (example: broccoli, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and kohlrabi are all the exact same plant, but have been artificially speciated to enhance the parts that correspond to each vegetable).

    I never understood the concern over GM foods. It's not remotely like the organic debate, because foreign chemicals (pesticides etc.) are not involved. It's a short-cut to cross breeding, which no one has a problem with. The mere mention of lab coats just throws people into a tizzy.

    • ana says:

      You need to do a bit more research. Traditional breeding be it plant or animal and GMO, are two totally difference processes with two distinct differences in the end.

  2. Flo says:

    You can buy Teddie without the added Flaxseed and there is no gritty texture at all. It is by far my favorite and it is half the price of the others.

  3. adfadfaf says:

    Skippy Natural Super Chunk!

  4. julo says:

    I'm right there with you with preferring the Trader Joe's brand. I originally preferred the Organics brand from Safeway/Vons, but once I tried the Trader Joe's PB made with Valencia peanuts, that's what's been in my pantry ever since. It's delicious in taste and texture, and for whatever reason it's not separated too much when you first open it, so not a lot of stirring is required.

    I made the mistake of trying PB with no added salt once (from Whole Foods, though Trader Joe's carries a variety as well), and…BLECK! Disgusting. PB needs salt.

  5. I will take your smart balance with agave if you're tossing it, haha. It's one of my favorites! I also have a huge peanut butter tooth for flavored companies like PB&Co. and Naturally Nutty

  6. Peanutbutter Lover says:

    There is a brand I found in my foodstore called Crazy Richards. It is an all natural peanut butter with no additives, not even salt. It comes in both crunchy and creamy styles, and once you refridgerate it, it will not seperate.

  7. Car says:

    natural nutty butter toffee…best EVER!!!!

  8. Jess says:

    i'm a big fan of finding peanut butter at the local farmer's market! no added sugar usually and it's absolutely delicious!

  9. Chad says:

    Jif Natural, Creamy. I have to look for Trader Joe's and try it.

  10. kaylee says:

    i think it's called mara eartha or something like that:S it tastes sooooo good and it has a silky smooth texture that is heavenly!

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