17 Healthiest Peanut Butters To Buy, Say Dietitians
Peanut butter is a pantry essential. Packed with protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fats, this "nut" butter (peanuts are technically a legume, not a nut) is an inexpensive plant-based protein source that is incredibly versatile and nutritious. "It can be a great addition to recipes, sandwiches, and fruit if someone is trying to add some protein, healthy fats, and vitamins to their diet," says registered dietitian Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, of Nutrition Now Counseling.
To reap its benefits, healthy peanut butter should have just two ingredients: peanuts (duh) and sometimes a pinch of salt. But today's manufacturers—even the "all-natural" brands advertising themselves as healthy—pack their PBs with additives you simply don't need.
To help you avoid the less stellar jars and find the best peanut butter, we reached out to registered dietitians to find out which brands are worth buying. Here's our definitive list of the healthiest peanut butters.
What are some benefits of peanut butter?
There are many benefits of peanut butter beyond it being the perfect spread for the easiest sandwich: PB&J.
- Peanut butter is a good source of healthy fats. The specific types of fat in peanut butter can support your health beyond just helping you stay full: "Peanut butter is a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids play multiple critical roles in the body, including cellular growth, cellular maintenance (specifically of skin and hair), immune response, and reproduction," says Rachel Fine MS, RD, CSSD, CDN, a registered dietitian, and owner of To The Pointe Nutrition.
- It's nutrient dense. Peanut butter is a good source of healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, protein, fiber, and minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. "Peanut butter also provides some unique nutrients, like selenium and choline, and is a great source of biotin: the vitamin famous for supporting gorgeous hair and healthy nails," adds Manaker.
- It supports heart health and has a minimal effect on blood sugar. "In addition to being satiating, peanut butter with no added sugar is a relatively low-carbohydrate food and does not have a significant impact on blood sugar. Studies show that people who regularly include nuts, including peanut butter, in their diets are less likely to develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes than those who rarely eat nuts," says Elle Penner, MPH, RD, of Modern Minimalism.
How to choose the best healthy peanut butter
When you're shopping for peanut butter, there are a few things you should look out for when you check out the label.
Nutritionists shared the following nutritional criteria they look for when selecting healthy peanut butter brands:
- Short ingredient list: "As a dietitian, I choose peanut butters that contain the fewest ingredients possible. If I can select a peanut butter that contains only peanuts and a touch of salt, that is the best choice in my book," says Manaker.
- Zero or low levels of added oils: "Oils, especially fully- or partially-hydrogenated oils, should not be in your PB. These are often added to extend shelf-life and prevent separation but can have negative impacts on blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increase the risk of heart disease," says Penner.
- Zero or low added sugar: Peanut butter naturally contains sugar, so you'll often see 1-2 grams of sugar on labels even if it isn't listed in the ingredients. It's the added sugar you want to look out for. "Avoid added sugars like molasses, maltodextrin, corn syrup, etc. as these add empty calories," says Penner. While it's best to minimize your added sugar intake, a little bit in your PB is okay, according to Mikka Knapp, RDN, CLT, registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Bright BodyNutrition: "Many brands include added sugar for sweetness. It's not a deal-breaker for me, but I do look for the lowest added sugar brand. I keep it under 2 grams of added sugar per serving. We get more than enough sugar from jelly."
- No emulsifiers: "Emulsifiers are often added to prevent separation and give nut butters body and texture. Some research suggests emulsifiers may cause low-grade inflammation in the gut and have a negative impact on the microbiome," says Penner.
- Skip the low-fat or reduced-fat versions: "Some lower-fat versions of peanut butter contain higher sugar amounts to make up for the missing flavor when fat is removed. Too much sugar is not the best choice either, and the fat found in peanut butter is a healthy addition to one's diet. I do not choose reduced-fat peanut butter," says Manaker.
The 17 best healthy peanut butter brands you can buy.
With those criteria in mind, dietitians gave us their personal recommendations for the best peanut butter you can buy.
One thing to note before you head to the grocery store: You shouldn't be afraid of the oil on top of your peanut butter—that's the natural separation that occurs when brands don't add any emulsifiers or extra oils to make peanut butter spreadable. "You can always mix the oils in when you get home and keep your peanut butter in the refrigerator to prevent natural separation," recommends Shira Sussi, MS, RD, CDN of Shira Sussi Nutrition, registered dietitian at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
Let's see which brands passed the test.
MaraNatha Organic Creamy Peanut Butter
Ingredients: Organic Dry Roasted Peanuts, Sea Salt
Although we like this brand because of its low sodium count, we like it more because it has the smoothest texture (thanks to a unique double-grind process) without needing any added oils.
Once Again Organic Creamy No Salt Peanut Butter
Ingredients: Organic Peanuts
Don't be mislead by the two grams of sugar in this jar — any sugar in Once Again's peanut butter is natural, nothing added, hence why it's one of Sussi's favorites. In fact, there's literally nothing added to this jar. Not even salt. So it's a good low-sodium peanut butter option for those looking to watch their salt intake or those who like to cook with peanut butter and season dishes themselves. If you do like salt, One Again also makes a salted version and a lightly sweetened version.
Wild Friends Classic Creamy Peanut Butter
Ingredients: Roasted Peanuts, Sea Salt.
Fine recommends Wild Friends because of its simple ingredient list and solid fiber and protein count.
Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter Creamy
Ingredients: Peanuts, salt
Smucker's Natural Peanut butter came up the most when we asked dietitians for the best peanut butter, particularly because it's economical and it meets the dietitians' requirements of being made of just two ingredients: peanuts and salt. This is one of the best mainstream brand of peanut butter on the market.
Crazy Richard's Creamy Peanut Butter
According to Crazy Richard's, they sneak in 540 peanuts into each jar of peanut butter—and nothing else! "My favorite peanut butter brand only has one ingredient: peanuts," says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club and owner of Nutrition Starring YOU. "Crazy Richard's peanut butter has no added oil, salt or sugar for those looking for the purest product. You can always add a touch of salt if you wish, but for people limiting sodium and sugar due to medical conditions or dietary preferences, Crazy Richard's is a fabulous choice. "
Santa Cruz Organic Creamy Peanut Butter, Dark Roasted
Ingredients: Organic Roasted Peanuts, Salt
For a heartier, richer, roastier flavor with your peanut butter, opt for a jar from Santa Cruz, which is made from dark roasted Spanish peanuts.
Big Spoon Roasters Crunchy Peanut Butter
Ingredients: High Oleic Runner Peanuts, Hubs Virginia Peanuts, Muddy Pond Sorghum Syrup, Jacobsen Sea Salt
Manaker also enjoys the crunch peanut butter from Big Spoon Roasters. "Sweetened with sorghum syrup and slightly salty, this peanut butter leans on two varieties of peanuts to result in a crunchy and satisfying butter that is a perfect topping for your toast," she says. "No fillers, no preservatives, and GMO-free, this peanut butter is high-quality and delicious."
Whole Foods 365 Peanut Butter, Unsweetened and No Salt
Ingredients:Organic Dry Roasted Peanuts.
If you're a fan of Whole Foods, you may want to try their peanut butter next time you need to add it to your list. This one is a favorite of Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and member of our Medical Expert Board, "because it contains just peanuts—no salt, sugar, or anything else."
Teddie Smooth All Natural Smooth Peanut Butter
Ingredients: Dry roasted peanuts, Salt
Penner lists Teddie among her lists of favorite peanut butters, alongside Costco's store brand Kirkland Signature Organic Peanut Butter.
Thrive Market Organic Peanut Butter, Creamy
Ingredients: Organic Peanuts
Few ingredient lists are as simple as Thrive Market's peanut butter. What makes this option really stand out is the fact that it only has one ingredient (peanuts), it's organic, and it comes in at a cheap price. You can thank the low cost to Thrive Market's mission to bring healthier foods to more homes at more affordable prices. All you have to do is sign up for a yearly membership to unlock their discounted prices. An added bonus: this PB comes in a handy squeezable pouch—no need to dirty up a knife!
Justin's Classic Peanut Butter
Ingredients: Dry roasted peanuts, Palm oil
Justin Gold took his PB from farmers' markets to bodegas everywhere, and it's caught on for good reason: It's creamy and addictive, but with a super-low sodium count.
NuttZo Peanut Pro Smooth
Ingredients: Peanuts, Cashews, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Flax Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Hazelnuts, Celtic sea salt
Increasing the diversity in your diet will help to provide your body with more nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs to function at its best. One of the easiest ways to do that is by opting for this nut butter from NuttZo, which includes a blend of six nuts and seeds, including selenium-rich Brazil nuts and fiber-rich flax seeds.
Publix GreenWise Peanut Butter
Ingredients: Organic Dry Roasted Peanuts, Sea Salt.
According to Manaker, Publix's GreenWise Creamy Peanut Butter is a healthy choice because it's "made with organic peanuts and natural ingredients, and this peanut butter is a perfect combination that fits into many different healthy lifestyles."
Noomi Peanut Butter
Ingredients: Organic dry roasted peanuts, Organic Deglet Noor dates, Grapeseed oil, Peanut oil, Atlantic sea salt
Yes, there is such thing as a healthy sweetened peanut butter. "I am loving Noomi peanut butter," says Manaker. "It is made with the best ingredients: organic peanuts, sea salt, peanut oil, grapeseed oil, and dates instead of sugar. No hydrogenated oils or refined sugar!"
Crazy Richard's Peanut Butter Powder
The new wave of powdered peanut butters smashes out the fat calories, making them a favorite of dieters, leaving a dry powder that you reconstitute with water. If you're looking for the purest peanut powder (most brands have sugar), look no further than Crazy Richard's, a favorite of Sussi's.
Earth Balance Creamy Peanut + Flaxseed Spread
Ingredients: Peanuts, Sugar, Flaxseed, Palm Oil, Salt
Yes, this peanut butter has sugar, but that's not a deal-breaker for Sandra Gultry, RDN, LDN, CPT a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified personal trainer, and founder of It's All About Choices. "This is a natural peanut butter with the added bonus of flaxseeds that comes in at less than 1 gram of added sugar. This label is still great!"
Ingredients: Peanuts, Sugar, Palm Oil, Salt, Molasses.
While the Jif brand doesn't meet the requirements for the best peanut butter, that doesn't mean you need to avoid it entirely if it's the only option available in your supermarket. Instead, just make a smart swap. "For clients who are loyal to the classic Jif brand, I recommend they switch from the original to the natural variety. The taste is identical and you avoid harmful trans fats from hydrogenated oils. The added sugars stay within my 2 grams per serving recommendation. Plus, you can't beat the price at $2.28 a jar," says Knapp.
The 5 worst peanut butter brands you can buy.
The unhealthiest peanut butter jars are high in sugar, unnecessary emulsifers like monoglycerides, and hydrogenated oils, while being low in protein.
Peanut Butter & Co. White Chocolatey Wonderful
There may be plenty of great peanut butter options from Peanut Butter & Co., but this isn't one of them. There's only 6 grams of protein vs. the 7 to 8 grams in the options above. Plus, it has almost four times the sugar of the best peanut butter jars on this list, 6 of which are "added" sugar grams, which equates to 12 percent of your daily recommended limit of the nutrient.
SKIPPY Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread
When you read "Reduced Fat," know that it usually means higher-in-sugar. Skippy adds corn syrup solids and sugar to this jar.
Peter Pan Creamy Original Peanut Butter
You can thank the addition of hydrogenated vegetable oils to this peanut butter for its higher-than-average calorie count.
JIF Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread
This famous peanut butter only contains 60% peanuts, so what's other 40%? Turns out it's 14 other ingredients, such as corn syrup solids and fully hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Peter Pan Peanut & Honey Spread, Natural, Honey Roast, Creamy
If you want your peanut butter to have almost as much sugar as your jelly, you can buy this tub. But if you don't want to eat over 30 grams of sugar in your peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it's best that you pass.
A previous version of this story was published on October 20, 2021. It has been updated to include additional copy and proofreading revisions, additional research, and updated contextual links.