News flash: Peanut butter isn’t just for your kid’s sandwiches anymore. This chunky, nutty pantry staple is making its way around our recipe books. It’s tucked into pies, swirled into oatmeal and-yep-scooped out of the jar as a 3 p.m. snack. (No judgment!) There’s no arguing that we’re nuts for peanut butter, but which brand is the best?
With this question reeling in my head-I set out on a quest to find the best crunchy peanut butter on the market. How? By inviting a few nuts from the office to taste-test the most popular brands. With no brand names, nutrition facts or eye-catching labels on the table, we had one thing to judge: flavor.
We sought a chunky peanut butter that had that perfect balance of creamy, nutty, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth flavor. Which brands prevailed? Read on to find out.
#6: Santa Cruz Organic Light Roasted Crunchy Peanut Butter
Average rating: 4.1/10
“I guess if you’re going au natural, you could try this one.”
“This would be a lot better with jelly.”
“This one is pure nuts.”
Our lowest-ranking peanut butter was Santa Cruz. The look of this brand was a big turn-off for our tasters. After it was stirred and placed on a plate, the spread had separated into a pool of oily, chunky liquid-like thin peanut butter soup. Santa Cruz didn’t get high scores on flavor, either. It was extremely sticky, dry and gritty (even compared to the other stir-in peanut butters on the table). On the upside, we liked how the butter looked and tasted homemade. You really got a raw-peanut flavor. Consensus? Santa Cruz is probably better for dolloping into your yogurt than eating plain.
#5: Smucker’s Natural Chunky Peanut Butter
Average rating: 6/10
“How does it look SO runny but taste SO dry?”
“I grew up on this kind of peanut butter and wished my mom had bought the classic kind.”
“This is so natural it hurts.”
“Where’s my water?”
In fifth place, Smucker’s was another stir-in that fell short. The texture was incredibly sticky. (I noticed that the room fell silent for a while as we struggled to swallow the spread!) The brand looked oily and liquidy, yet tasted dry in the mouth. Also, it definitely wasn’t as sweet as other brands. The taste testers agreed that this brand was probably one of the healthier kinds because it looked like something you could buy from the farmers market.
#4: Peanut Butter & Co. Crunch Time
Average rating: 6.2/10
“On the bread, it spreads really easily.”
“This one is fine on toast, but I don’t really like it alone.”
“Honestly? This just isn’t peanutty enough for me.”
This natural, no-stir brand just barely outranked Smucker’s. Peanut Butter & Co. tasted more sweet and a smidgen more salty than its natural competitors. However, the peanut butter still tasted quite oily and a bit bland. We noticed that the nuts were chopped much finer than other peanut butters on the table, leaving the taste testers vying for more crunch. The peanut butter was very sticky, too. It might have been a case of peanut butter fatigue, but after this spread a few of our tasters had to take a water break.
#3: Jif Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter
Average Rating: 7/10
“The nuts in here are unpeeled and heavily roasted.”
“This tastes like your typical, processed peanut butter.”
Rounding out the middle of the pack was one of the heavy hitters in the peanut butter industry: Jif. Tasters picked up on this brand’s noticeably thick, sweet and crunchy taste. But one thing stood out: The peanuts in the spread were very heavily roasted. I’m talkin’ some nuts tasted borderline burned. Upon closer examination, the group noticed that many of Jif’s nuts were left unpeeled. My guess? This extra bit of peanut wrapping was the thing that drove our taste buds nuts.
#2: Skippy Super Chunk Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter
Average Rating: 7.6/10
“This one is a lot like the first one [Jif].”
“Out of all of them, this one is definitely the freshest.”
“I’d consider this like your natural Jiffy.“
Skippy received high marks and almost edged its way to our #1 pick. The spread was thick and creamy-just like any classic PB&J-worthy peanut butter should be. A few tasters noted that the chopped nuts tasted a little fresher than the other butters on the table. When it came to flavor, Skippy was unique because it tasted as if there were slight, sweet notes of honey. I took a look back at the label when the tasting was through; there’s no honey, just sugar and hydrogenated oil.
#1: Peter Pan Crunchy Peanut Butter
Average Rating: 8/10
“Scooping it out of the can, it’s pretty. Looks like ice cream.”
“Yup. This is the one. Definitely my favorite.”
We had a clear winner. The creamiest, smoothest and sweetest of the bunch was none other than Peter Pan. It was almost like scooping crunchy, nutty frosting from a jar. You could taste the sugary sweetness in each bite. Peter Pan had a firm texture and fresh nutty taste. Plus, its peanuts were a little darker than the competitors’. This gave the butter a nice roasted taste.
And there you have it, our favorite peanut butters. To summarize our rankings, here they are again, from best to worst: Peter Pan, Skippy, Jif, Peanut Butter & Co., Smucker’s and finally, Santa Cruz.
What You Should Take Away
Brand isn’t everything
After seeing the results from this tiny test, I realized that brand name might be a big factor when it comes to choosing a peanut butter. In a 2016 study, a whopping 112 million people reported they’d eaten Jif when asked which brand of peanut butter they’d had in the last 30 days. (Comparatively, 81 million reported they had Skippy and only 45 million said they ate Peter Pan.) Though Jif seems popular among the masses, it didn’t rank up to our taste tester’s standards. Next time I go to the store, I’ll think twice before grabbing my usual brand.
Price had an almost inverse relation to flavor
When it came to our final tallies, it seemed as though the cheaper the peanut butter was, the better. Santa Cruz was our most expensive pick, sometimes pricing out at as much as $1.06 per ounce (though prices vary a lot depending on your source), while our favorite, Peter Pan, can be purchased for as little as $0.18 per ounce. That’s a huge savings!
Better taste may not be better for your diet
Though the budget-friendly, better-tasting peanut butters ranked higher on our scorecards, it’s worth noting that the most likely reason is that the spreads are filled with some not-so-healthy ingredients. Think: hydrogenated vegetable oils (liquid fats) and extra sugar. But don’t let this scare you off the stuff. As with most delicious things in life, we recommend consuming chunky peanut butter in moderation.
Wondering what happened to the leftovers? We celebrated by rounding up all the sweet ways we could use up this dreamy spread. Check our our best desserts for peanut butter lovers, here.