We Found the Healthiest and Best-Tasting Organic Peanut Butters

By Aly Walansky
March 9, 2021
peanut butters, different brands
Image credit: Lindsey Engelken for Clean Plates

Peanut butter is an ingredient that we appreciate as much for its remarkable versatility as its flavor. Whether we’re stirring a spoonful of peanut butter into our breakfast oatmeal or enjoying a spoonful on apple slices as an afternoon snack, peanut butter always satisfies — and no matter how old we are, we can’t deny the simple pleasure of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch on a busy day.

Read next: 7 Savory Peanut Butter Recipes That Will Surprise the Heck Out of You

Now that other nut butters have taken the spotlight, peanut butter has gotten a bad reputation for its calorie and fat content — but that’s not necessarily well-earned. The fat provided by peanut butter is actually pretty healthy, and studies have shown that a diet high in peanuts may actually benefit the heart and improve blood lipid profiles. 

As a rule of thumb, when selecting a peanut butter, look for at least two grams of dietary fiber, eight grams of protein, 16 or fewer grams of fat (with three or less coming from saturated fat), and about 190 calories in a two-tablespoon serving.

Aside from nutrient specifics, there are certain ingredients that are important to consider in the peanut butter you select. “It’s important to choose a brand with no added sugar,” says Lisa Richards, CNC, creator of the Candida Diet, noting that added sugar is a large contributor to visceral fat, glucose spikes, inflammation, and fatty liver. 

“Additionally, hydrogenated oils — which are often added to peanut butter during manufacturing to prevent separation — can raise low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.” This is why natural peanut butters often need to be stirred to reincorporate the natural oils. It might seem like a pain to get them stirred up, but ultimately, it’s much better for you. 

Benefits of peanut butter

While you don’t want to go overboard with a highly caloric treat like peanut butter, this ingredient can absolutely be a delicious part of a healthy, balanced diet. “Two servings of peanut butter a day may add 200 to 400 calories to one’s diet, but it can also add an excellent source of plant protein, dietary fiber, iron, vitamin E, B vitamins, and minerals like copper and magnesium,” says Richards.

Peanut butter’s nutrient-profile truly offers a ton of health benefits. It’s full of fiber, which helps keep the gastrointestinal system working efficiently and prevents overeating. For those eating a vegetarian or vegan diet, the extra plant protein found in peanut butter also makes it an ideal protein source. “Vitamin E is an important fat soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant in the body to help prevent and reduce inflammation,” says Richards.

How to choose a peanut butter

When selecting a peanut butter, look for an organic option, then check the ingredients list. The absolute healthiest peanut butters on the market have an incredibly short ingredients list: Just peanuts, or peanuts and salt. That’s it, without any added sugar or oils. However, we know that sometimes you want something with a little more flavor, and you should still be able to opt for a healthier choice. With the help of nutritionists, we found the best of the best in every category.  

“Organic peanut butter is similar in calorie and nutrient content as non-organic varieties, but it’s free of toxins and pesticides, which make it a great trade for traditional peanut butter in your diet,” says registered dietician Trista Best, MPH. 

Best Unsalted Peanut Butter: Once Again Organic, Creamy Peanut Butter 

It’s easy to go overboard on sodium because it is hidden in so many foods — including peanut butter. “The daily value for sodium is less than 2,300 milligrams (or one teaspoon) of table salt per day,” says Kim Rose, RD, dietitian for the food tracking app Lose It! “However, the average American consumes closer to one and a half teaspoons of table salt on a daily basis.” To reduce sodium intake, look for peanut butter that has zero milligrams of sodium. For this, Once Again Organic Creamy Peanut Butter is a great option to keep in mind. It also has the nutty taste and creamy texture we crave — with all the health benefits we are looking for.

Best Salted Peanut Butter: MaraNatha Organic Creamy Peanut Butter

This product is made from just two ingredients: Organic peanuts and sea salt. While sometimes natural peanut butters have a gritty sort of texture, this option is smooth and consistent, with all the creaminess we crave. Part of the secret to this brand is that they roast their peanuts in small batches, which helps create a fresher flavor.

Best Portable/Travel-Friendly Peanut Butter: Thrive Market Organic Creamy Peanut Butter

This is the winner as far as portability is concerned, so it’s perfect when you are on the go. “The only ingredient is organic peanuts, and it comes in a squeezable pouch,” says Bogden. The squeezable element is great for everything from squeezing into recipes (we love to throw a bit of peanut butter in our sauce for stir fry), or squeezing onto bites of a banana. It’s less messy, less fuss, and has a natural, fresh taste.

Best Crunchy Peanut Butter: Spread The Love Naked Crunch Organic Peanut Butter

There’s a lot to love about the taste of this peanut butter. If you like a blend that has a slight sweetness without added sugar and just enough oily texture to be spreadable — but not greasy — this is the perfect fit for you. “Great taste, small batch, organic, and the only ingredient is peanuts,” says Bogden. “This is a dietitian winner. Tastes so good you don’t even need to add anything.”

Best No-Stir Peanut Butter: 365 Everyday Value Organic Peanut Butter, Unsweetened & No Salt

This is a no-stir peanut butter made without the use of hydrogenated oils — so the result is a totally natural peanut butter that doesn’t require being stirred before you enjoy it. “Being unsweetened adds to 365 Whole Foods Market brand peanut butter’s health qualities in that it contains no added sugars and three grams of dietary fiber,” says Richards. With eight grams of protein, this brand of peanut butter is an excellent source of plant-based protein with healthy unsaturated fats. 

Best Powdered Peanut Butter: PB2 Organic Original Powdered Peanut Butter

While powdered peanut butter options can be useful for shakes and smoothies, they aren’t nutritionally as ideal as traditional peanut butter. “Peanuts and peanut butter contain naturally-occurring fat,” says Bogden. “Fat regulates our blood sugar and keeps us full. When possible, we want peanut butter in its natural state vs. modified where fat is extracted and other flavors and sweeteners are added.” However, powdered peanut butter is lower in calories, which can be a really good option for those on strict diets.

Best Value Peanut Butter: Organic Great Value Peanut Butter

While it often seems getting a serious bargain on price will force us to make some ingredient or nutritional value sacrifices, that’s very much not the case here. “This peanut butter has an impressively low amount of sodium at just 2% of the daily value of this nutrient,” says Best. Smooth and creamy, with a strong, nutty taste, this is easy to stir and tastes delicious on some freshly toasted sprouted grain bread in the morning for a quick, nutritious breakfast.

Best for Packing in the Protein: Woodstock Organic Smooth Peanut Butter

While looking out for ingredients and keeping things organic, also try to aim for a peanut butter that has a high protein content per serving. For instance, Woodstock Organic Smooth Peanut Butter contains nine grams of plant protein. “Plant-based protein has gained a lot of media attention lately and rightly so. Like animal-derived protein, plant protein is needed for our muscles, bones, and overall strength,” says Rose. 

Best Dark Roasted Peanut Butter: Santa Cruz Organic Dark Roasted Creamy Peanut Butter

Everything about the Santa Cruz Organic company is connected to their commitment to do what is best for the environment. “Sustainability, use of renewable energy, and being Zero Waste Certified makes this company one that stands out in quality,” says Jenna Stangland, MS, RDN, co-founder of A4 Health & Team Dietitian for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The quality comes out in the taste of this pure peanut butter — no added oils or sugar, just the roasted organic peanuts with one of the lowest sodium counts of peanut butters out there. “You can tell this peanut butter is packed with nuts and no additives by seeing the 3g of fiber in each serving and then only 55mg sodium,” says Stangland. This peanut butter is also dark roasted, so it’s packed with loads of rich flavor. 

Best Flavored Peanut Butter: NuttZo Peanut Pro 

NuttZo has several unique nut and seed butters ranging from peanut butter to non-peanut seed and nut butters. “I love NuttZo Peanut Pro because it’s 100% organic and a tasty, nutritious blend of seven nuts and seeds that include peanuts, cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and hazelnuts,” says Stangland. “I recommend my clients spread it over toast or on fruit, such as an apple — or even have it my favorite way, right out of the jar for a snack or treat.”  It’s just important to put the lid on it and watch the serving size — Stangland suggests two tablespoons – as it’s easy to overindulge. They also have a chocolate option that adds some extra sugar, but is definitely better for you than most chocolate-nut spreads. 

Read next: 6 Healthy Nut Butters RDs Love

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