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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