The Ultimate Ranking Of Peanut Butters

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There's a lot to love about peanut butter. Between its rich flavor and long shelf life, it's the kind of spread that's always good to have on hand. Not only is peanut butter absolutely delicious and packed with protein, but it's also highly versatile. Whether you're spreading it on a toasted English muffin in the morning, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to pack in a lunch for your kids, or using some to whip up a tasty homemade peanut sauce for dishes like salads or stir-fry, peanut butter clearly has a wide range of uses.

That said, not all peanut butter is created equal. There are often vast, discernible differences between products. While some peanut butters can lean toward the saltier side, others can be much sweeter. When it comes to texture, there can be even deeper contrasts. Some are thick and somewhat difficult to stir, while others are thin and runny. At the end of the day, the best peanut butters strike a perfect balance between all of these extremes.

But with so many different peanut butters on the market, how should you know which ones are truly worth it? There's a good chance that you already have a preferred spread — but it's still a good idea to expand your horizons and explore more territory. You might be missing out on some of the best peanut butter you've ever had. Here's the ultimate ranking of peanut butters, leading up to some of our favorites.

17. Reese's

When it comes to peanut butter-flavored sweet treats, there's no doubt that Reese's reigns supreme. For generations, the company has stocked countless grocery store shelves with a wide variety of its chocolate-coated peanut butter products, ranging from classic peanut butter cups to cereal puffs. Admittedly, it makes perfect sense for a company so enmeshed in the world of peanut butter candies to sell jars of actual peanut butter. At the same time, Reese's true talents lie more in the sugary art of confections — and that truth really comes through in its jar of creamy peanut butter.

Don't get us wrong here. We definitely love a Reese's peanut butter cup from time to time. But this ranking isn't about candy — it's about peanut butter. And the reality is that this peanut butter is just a little too sweet. Sure, this stuff will work wonders in all kinds of baked goods like cookies and fudge. But we're judging these peanut butters based on their taste right out of the jar. Peanut butter should definitely have a hint of sweetness, but that sweetness should be balanced with some saltiness along with the roasted taste of peanuts. This peanut butter really just offers one note of flavor, falling short of the kind of complexity we crave. If you like your peanut butter on the sweeter side, then you'll definitely dig this stuff. But if we want something sweet like this, we'd rather just have some Reese's peanut butter cups, cookies, or reach for a full-blown dessert.

16. Smucker's

When most of us think of Smucker's, the first thing that probably comes to mind are sugary jars of jams, jellies, and preserves. After all, the company has made a name for itself by producing a wide variety of different fruity spreads with classic flavors like grape, strawberry, and raspberry. Because the company's spreads are so closely associated with peanut butter and jelly, it's totally logical for Smucker's to take a stab at producing some creamy peanut butter. But there are some issues with this peanut butter that go above and beyond its taste.

First of all, there's something important to know right off the bat: This is the kind of peanut butter that comes with a layer of oil on top, which requires some stirring. Considering this peanut butter is the natural kind, some level of stirring should certainly be expected. But this appears to be a case where no amount of stirring ever seems to produce a truly creamy texture. In fact, customers have reported that this peanut butter has a gritty, chalky texture. We aren't expecting perfection here, but at the very least, we do expect creamy peanut butter to have some level of creaminess. This natural peanut butter from Smucker's doesn't seem to deliver in that department, which is why it's ranked so low.

15. Santa Cruz Organic

Santa Cruz Organic mostly focuses on fruity drinks like lemonade and apple juice. The company's focus on high-quality, organic ingredients is a commendable step to offer consumers some healthier options. Among its lineup of offerings is this jar of organic peanut butter. While we certainly appreciate the fact that this peanut butter doesn't include any hydrogenated oils, artificial ingredients, or added sugar, there's one major misstep here.

Customers have reported that this stuff is seriously hard to mix. Apparently, similar to Smucker's, this peanut butter comes with a deep layer of oil on top that calls for a long stirring session. Although plenty of customers praise the taste of this peanut butter, others lament the fact that the texture isn't very creamy. Flavor is definitely an important part of the equation here, but flavor alone isn't enough to nudge a peanut butter into being exceptional. Texture is equally important, and the texture of Santa Cruz's organic peanut butter leaves much to be desired.

14. Teddie

When you take a look at the ingredients on a jar of Teddie's unsalted peanut butter, you'll only find three words: dry roasted peanuts. The fact that Teddie offers unsalted peanut butter is a good thing for anyone who's trying to watch their sodium intake. Once again, though, it seems that the company's approach to the recipe here comes at a cost. Several customers have reported that although this peanut butter has a decent flavor, it's also quite dry.

A big part of the allure of peanut butter is its creaminess. After all, the word "butter" is right there in its name. If we were on board for some level of peanutty dryness, we'd just eat a few handfuls of dry-roasted peanuts instead. But when we buy some creamy peanut butter, we're expecting it to be luscious and spreadable. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case here. Teddie definitely gets some bonus points for keeping the recipe all natural, but the drier texture of this stuff is holding it back from reaching its full potential. This could be a decent option if you're more health-minded, but other than that, there are too many better peanut butters out there to stick with this one.

13. Peter Pan

Peter Pan was among the first mass-produced peanut butters on the market in the United States. We're not exactly sure what a flying boy in green tights and a feathered hat has to do with peanut butter, but the brand has enjoyed some remarkable relevance and longevity. Due to its sheer popularity and long-term dominance on grocery store shelves, plenty of us enjoyed Peter Pan peanut butter in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches throughout childhood. And while there's certainly nothing wrong with a little sentimentality, we can't base our opinion of this peanut butter purely on nostalgia.

The flavor of this peanut butter is definitely satisfying, but it's a little too sweet. We prefer our peanut butter to have a more assertive peanutty flavor. Unlike some of the other competitors on our list so far, the texture of this peanut butter is truly creamy — almost too creamy. While tasting a spoonful of this, the peanut butter quickly melts on the tongue with surprising swiftness. It effortlessly spreads on bread, but it also tends to easily drip over the sides since it's so malleable.

Our favorite peanut butters are a little saltier, a bit thicker, and more flavorful. Peter Pan is a decent choice for peanut butter, but it's not the first jar we reach for when our cravings strike. Simply put, there are far too many superior peanut butters out there to settle for Peter Pan.

12. 365

Whole Foods brand 365 sells everything from salmon filets and extra virgin olive oil to Parmesan cheese and organic blueberries. You can also find jars of creamy peanut butter among the company's impressive portfolio of grocery goods. On the plus side, this peanut butter contains no added sugar, which makes it a good option if you're trying to cut down on the sweets. It also only contains two ingredients: dry roasted peanuts and salt. This is another example of natural-style peanut butter that comes with a layer of oil on top that needs to be stirred. According to some customer complaints, there are some issues with the texture.

While the price point of this 365 peanut butter is nice and affordable, there have been reports of it being too grainy, as well. This seems to be a recurring problem with peanut butters that are more natural, but it's still something to be aware of. If you're hoping this peanut butter will have a fully smooth consistency, you're probably setting yourself up for some disappointment. Like other natural peanut butters that tend to be grainy and oily, trying to mix this stuff up can be a bit troublesome. If you dig gritty peanut butter, then none of these issues will bother you. But if you want a peanut butter that's truly creamy and sumptuous, then it's best to look elsewhere.

11. Adams

Adams sells a handful of peanut butter varieties, including creamy, chunky, and unsalted. Adams' creamy 100% natural peanut butter seems to be a respectable choice among consumers, having a nearly perfect five-star rating after more than 500 reviews on Amazon. That said, there have been some reports about this peanut butter with some minor critiques worth keeping in mind.

While some customers feel that this peanut butter has a great taste, they also admit that it leans a little too much on the salty side. Because this peanut butter needs to be stirred so often, some have suggested that it's best to refrigerate it after stirring so that the peanut butter can solidify. That might make this peanut butter a bit more difficult to spread (since it will be cold), but at least you won't have to constantly stir this stuff up every time you want to use it.

This peanut butter also tends to be dry at the bottom with a pool of oil on top. The good news is that even if you choose to give this a stir for each use, other customers say this peanut butter is fairly easy to mix. All things considered, this peanut butter is definitely adequate, but not exactly drool-worthy.

10. Publix

Publix has its own brand of creamy peanut butter that's definitely worth a try. This peanut butter requires no stirring, so it's ready to eat right out of the jar. The texture of this peanut butter is remarkably smooth and features a light sparkle of darkened specks from the roasted peanuts that it's made with. This peanut butter's consistency is pretty much perfect — smooth enough to easily spread on some bread yet thick enough to stick without being overly dense.

The main critique here is that this peanut butter is just a tad too sweet. The flavor of this peanut butter starts out with the taste of roasted peanuts but quickly fades into sweetness. If the sugar were dialed back a bit and a touch more salt was in the recipe, this peanut butter would rank a lot higher on our list. That said, Publix's peanut butter would work well in a variety of sweet treats like cookies or brownies. And it's still a good choice if you happen to like your peanut butter on the slightly sweeter side.

9. Skippy Natural

Skippy is one of the most well-known peanut butter brands on the market, and for good reason. Unlike other natural-style peanut butters, Skippy's doesn't come with a thick layer of oil on top or require a serious stirring session. This peanut butter has a smooth consistency that honors the promise of its label. While Skippy's Natural isn't our favorite style of peanut butter that the company makes, it's still remarkably flavorful.

Rather than being overly sweet, the dominant flavor of this peanut butter is roasted peanuts with a touch of salt. There is still a hint of sweetness, but the amount of sugar in this peanut butter feels appropriately balanced, rather than assertive. The only issue with this peanut butter is the texture, which is just a little too thick and gummy. Delicious as it is, this is the kind of peanut butter that can cling to your tongue and the back of your throat. Of course, some level of stickage with peanut butter is to be expected. But this stuff is definitely a little thicker and stickier than most, which holds it back from absolute perfection.

8. Spread the Love

Spread the Love is a family-owned business that specializes in different nut butters including chocolate hazelnut, almond cashew, and organic peanut butter. The company's organic peanut butter contains no added salt, sugar, or palm oil. The company also touts its peanut butter's ability to be drizzled, which means that this peanut butter is a bit thin and runny. Depending on your preferences, this feature can be a blessing or a curse.

If you ask us, we tend to prefer peanut butter that doesn't have a saucy consistency right out of the jar. While we definitely appreciate the rich glaze of a good peanut sauce, our favorite peanut butters tend to have more solidity than fluidity. If you typically use peanut butter to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, this isn't the best choice, since you'll be setting yourself up for some messy spillage. That said, the flavor of this peanut butter is truly tasty. If you like to drizzle some peanut butter in your smoothies and on your desserts, or you want to make homemade peanut sauce, scoring a jar of this organic peanut butter makes perfect sense.

7. Crazy Richard's

Like a few other brands featured here, Crazy Richard's creamy peanut butter is all natural. There is no added salt, sugar, or palm oil. It's also made in the United States with only high-quality dry roasted peanuts. This is the type of natural peanut butter that needs a thorough mixing to incorporate its top layer of oil throughout the peanut paste below it to create a creamier consistency.

Once again, this comes down to an issue of texture. Even by natural peanut butter standards, the general consensus seems to be that this peanut butter is way too runny. One customer on Amazon have even described this peanut butter as "pourable." We're willing to deal with a thinner consistency in peanut butter, but if it's more akin to a fluid than a solid, that's a bit overboard. Peanut butter needs to have some level of reasonable density for it to truly reach its full potential.

A good rule of thumb here is that peanut butter should be able to easily make a sandwich. If the peanut butter is so thin that it runs off the bread, that's a red flag; there's a difference between creamy and runny. While the taste of Crazy Richard's peanut butter is on point, the consistency is too aqueous for it to hit a home run.

6. MaraNatha

MaraNatha focuses on making a variety of raw and organic nut butters. Some of the company's offerings include almond butter, coconut butter, and banana peanut butter. MaraNatha's creamy peanut butter is only made with a handful of ingredients, including dry roasted peanuts, organic palm oil, evaporated cane juice, and sea salt. This peanut butter is often praised by customers for its rich flavor and has gathered a nearly perfect rating on Amazon after more than 1,000 reviews. Of course, there are still some disagreements among consumers about this peanut butter's quality.

Some customers have claimed that this peanut butter is practically flavorless, with one reporting that it doesn't taste very peanutty. Another said that this peanut butter is way too thin and runny, even after being stored in the refrigerator. These are all things to keep in mind if you end up giving this peanut butter a try. If you happen to enjoy peanut butter with a thicker consistency, this may not be your best bet.

5. Jif

Along with Skippy and Peter Pan, Jif is one of the most familiar and recognizable peanut butter brands on the market. Jif's creamy peanut butter is made with a blend of ingredients that includes roasted peanuts, sugar, molasses, and salt. The inclusion of molasses is a part of what gives Jif its unique richness.

The taste of roasted peanuts is by far the dominant flavor here, with just a hint of salt and sugar in the background. This peanut butter also has a slightly darker color than some of its competitors, giving it a woodsier hue that makes it look more roasted. This peanut butter is nice and thick yet creamy and spreadable. Whether it's slathered on some slices of bread for sandwiches or used to make peanut butter silk pie, Jif's creamy peanut butter brings its delicious flavor to everything it touches. All in all, there's no doubt that Jif's creamy peanut butter is one of the absolute best peanut butters out there.

4. Skippy creamy

The battle between Jif and Skippy is a timeless one. Wherever you land in this debate, there's a good chance that your allegiance lies to whichever brand you ate the most during your own childhood. The truth is that both of these peanut butters are very similar, with just a few minor differences that set them apart.

Skippy contains just a touch more salt and sugar, which lends it a little more flavor. The saltiness and sweetness are wonderfully balanced — though the salt lingers just a little bit longer than the sugar does. The texture of Skippy is amazingly creamy, almost veering into whipped territory. At the same time, it's still thick enough and dense enough to cling without any drippage. Skippy's creamy peanut butter consistently delivers just about everything we want from peanut butter, with its harmonious blend of salty, peanutty sweetness. Smooth and delicious, this peanut butter is definitely one of our all-time favorites.

3. Justin's

Justin's makes an assortment of different unique nut butter blends, such as maple almond butter, chocolate hazelnut almond butter, and honey peanut butter. The company also offers a wide range of peanut butter cups that feature ingredients like dark chocolate, white chocolate, and cashews. Of course, Justin's also makes a classic peanut butter spread. This peanut butter only contains two simple ingredients: dry roasted peanuts and palm oil.

Unlike many of the other natural-style peanut butters on this list, Justin's peanut butter is easy to mix, which is partly what's nudged it toward the top of our ranking. All it takes is a gentle stir, and you're good to go. Though this peanut butter is mostly creamy, it still has a little texture to it. What's impressive about this is that the texture manages to feel complementary, rather than detracting from the peanut butter's inherent creaminess. What this adds up to is a peanut butter with a little more complexity, which is ironic, considering the ingredients are so simple. If you're looking for a tasty peanut butter that cuts back on the salt and sugar, Justin's is the way to go.

2. Earth Balance

There are a few things about this Earth Balance peanut butter that make it truly exceptional. For starters, it's made with coconut oil. This gives the peanut butter a hint of coconut, which gives its flavor profile a serious boost. The taste of the coconut in this peanut butter isn't overwhelming, but more of a background flavor that provides a surprisingly delicious contrast to the taste of peanuts. The coconut oil also gives this peanut butter a smooth texture that deliciously melts in your mouth.

Earth Balance's peanut butter is sweetened with agave. The inclusion of agave provides this peanut butter a touch of succulent sweetness without the slight graininess that can come with added sugar. While this peanut butter is definitely great right out of the jar or on a sandwich, its coconutty flavor is also ideal for cookies and all kinds of other baked goods. Earth Balance's twist of coconut gives it a tasty edge that helps it beat out almost every other peanut butter on our list.

1. Smooth Operator

Here we are, the crème de la crème of all peanut butters. Smooth Operator peanut butter by Peanut & Co. embodies everything we want out of peanut butter. Made with a simple blend of peanuts, cane sugar, palm oil, and salt, this peanut butter is perfectly balanced. The flavor of salt and sugar evenly alternate back and forth, creating a well-rounded taste that keeps you coming back for more. In fact, one Amazon customer has even called this peanut butter "to die for," admitting that they happily ate the whole jar in one sitting.

The flavor of peanuts is assertive, yet the texture is still remarkably smooth and creamy. Here's the bottom line: If we had to pick a peanut butter to be stranded on a desert island with, this would be it. If you haven't given Peanut Butter & Co.'s Smooth Operator peanut butter a shot yet, take this as a sign that it's time to change that.