It’s hard to find a person who doesn’t have strong opinions about peanut butter. I, for one, like keeping it in the refrigerator so it won’t separate again after I’ve done the hard work of mixing the oil and solid parts together. My good friend (and Strategist newsletter editor) Mia Leimkuhler thinks peanut butter is best chunky and spread on toast with a little bit of hot sauce. Meanwhile, my fiancé eats it by the spoonful straight out of the jar. Some of us are loyal to the brand we grew up eating, while others seek out more innovative new options, with added flavors like chocolate, spices, and honey. To cut through all the noise and help you find a new favorite (or confirm that the one you love truly is the best), we asked nine chefs and a nutritionist to weigh in on the best peanut butters available online.
Update: After it was pointed out to us that more than one peanut butter on this list is kosher, we updated the story to reflect that.
Best overall peanut butter
Of all of the delicious recommendations we got, two peanut butters came up more than any others. The first was Santa Cruz, which was recommended by three people, thanks to its short ingredient list, full flavor, and ideal spreadable consistency. In fact, a short list of recognizable ingredients was something that all of our experts called out as important for taste and health reasons. “Most of the peanut butter on the market contains added sugars and oils to change the taste and texture,” says chef Keesha O’Galdez. But Santa Cruz is made using nothing but organic roasted peanuts, giving it a texture and taste that she calls “just like real peanuts.” Sara Kate Gillingham, co-owner of Dynamite Shop, a cooking school for kids, likes using it with her students for the same reason. “As with any food product, we look for what is most pure,” she says. “So we like peanut butter brands that have just one ingredient: peanuts of course.” Santa Cruz is also a favorite of nutritionist Nikki Ostrower, who eats it as a good source of healthy fat almost daily, on toast with bananas, or added to some yogurt, stuffed inside a date, or on a bit of dark chocolate. She buys Santa Cruz because “it’s always fresh, tastes great, spreads beautifully and it has 100 percent organic and non-GMO peanuts. Keeps you satisfied all day long.”
Justin’s peanut butter was also recommended by three of the ten people we interviewed. Chef Tim Hollingsworth, chef Stephanie Nass, and chef Jason Goldstein (a Food Network Star finalist and recipe developer for ChopHappy) all call it their personal favorite. Like Santa Cruz, Justin’s has very few ingredients and uses organic non-GMO peanuts. The one difference is that it includes palm oil, which keeps it from separating in the jar, so there’s no mixing to do before enjoying it. “I really love the consistency. It has a supersmooth and creamy texture. It is also easy to use — with three kids, I don’t want to have to worry about stirring up the peanut butter and spilling oil anywhere,” Hollingsworth says. Nass uses Justin’s to make homemade peanut-butter cups with organic chocolate and Maldon sea salt. “It hits the spot and does not have chemicals, like the generic store-bought ones,” she says. If you also love peanut butter cups but don’t have time to make your own, Justin’s makes some with a relatively short ingredient list.
Best flavored peanut butter
“Fix and Fog is the one brand that I think is superior to all,” says Jake Cohen, whose cookbook Jew-ish just landed on the New York Times best-seller list. He has three favorites from this New Zealand brand. The first is the Everything peanut butter that’s made with hemp seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, almonds, and a dash of New Zealand sea salt. He calls it “the best nut butter on the planet,” because of its unique, super-chunky texture and rich flavor. The second is its spicy peanut butter, which he uses for really simple peanut noodles by mixing it with some honey, sriracha, and sesame seeds. He also uses their coffee peanut butter (which might sound weird but he says is super complex, with a delicious combo of rich, sweet, and bitter) as a spread on toast or in his recipe for peanut-butter rugelach. “Anyone can make decent peanut butter by grinding up a bunch of honey roasted peanuts and that’s good enough. But I think seeing a company start to play around with the norms of what peanut butter can be is really exciting,” he says.
Best small-batch crunchy peanut butter
According to Ria Dolly Barbosa, executive chef at Petite Peso in Los Angeles, Spread the Love peanut butter is the best because it uses organic peanuts, prepares its peanut butter in small batches in California, and doesn’t use palm oil. “I love their Naked Crunch Organic Peanut Butter for its unadulterated flavor. My favorite snack is to put Naked Crunch and a little bit of local wildflower honey on a nice piece of toast with a few flecks of fleur de sel on top,” she says, adding that she also uses Spread the Love’s creamy lightly salted peanut butter for the Kare Kare braised beef dish at Petite Peso.
Best budget organic peanut butter
Because it’s been around for a long time, Teddie Old Fashioned peanut butter is readily available almost anywhere you would also find Skippy or Jif. “It has a great taste and texture with minimal ingredients and it’s not too expensive,” says O’Galdez, who loves that the family-owned business, based in Massachusetts, uses only peanuts and salt in their natural spreads.
Best kosher peanut butter
Chef Glenn Rolnick of Alicart Restaurant Group (Carmine’s and Virgil’s Real BBQ) is a fan of Brad’s Organic for its simple organic ingredients that he says make it taste better. But that’s not the only reason it’s special: Although some of the other peanut butters on this list are also kosher and organic (Santa Cruz, Justin’s, Spread the Love, and Teddie), Rolnick called this one out specifically for that reason. He likes it on Ritz crackers, with strawberry jam on potato bread, and in homemade ice cream.
Best smooth peanut butter (that’s also great for dogs)
Chef Max Zumwalt of Hachi Maki loves Peanut Butter & Co. for its consistent, rich peanut-y flavor and smooth texture. He says it tastes great and it isn’t as sticky as some other major brands. According to him (and his Shiba Inu, Monica) it’s also very dog-friendly. “When she is well-behaved I give her some as a treat, and when she’s being a major pain and drama queen, as most Shiba’s are, I give her even more to occupy her, so that I can get some peace and quiet,” he says. Back when parties were a thing, he used it to make a goma-ae — a sweet-and-savory Japanese salad — with sesame paste. “The peanut butter acts as an emulsifier, which helps the sauce stay thick and not easily slide off the spinach or broccoli I would use,” he says.
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