Last week, we were on a mission to find a nut butter with the best overall taste and nutrition. We tested six of the most popular nut butters: peanut, almond, cashew and sunflower seed butters and this is what we found.
Nut Butter Competitors
From left to right: Jif Cashew Butter, Skippy Natural Peanut Butter, Sunbutter Sunflower Seed Butter, Jif Peanut Butter, Trader Joe’s Almond Butter, Trader Joe’s Natural Peanut Butter
The nut butters were evaluated on taste (5 points) and texture (5 points) for a total of 10 possible points.
Nut Butter Blind Tasting
Nut Butter Taste Results
We included two nut butters with hydrogenated oils as a taste comparison to nut butters with no non-hydrogenated oils. Jif Creamy Peanut Butter received higher marks in taste than Cashew Butter, which came in second-to-last place in the competition. Tasters remarked that Jif Creamy Peanut Butter had a more artificial taste than the other nut butters did.
While Jif Creamy Peanut Butter has traditionally been made with hydrogenated oils, Jif also adds hydrogenated oils to its Cashew Butter. These days, manufacturers are using fully hydrogenated oils instead of the usual partially hydrogenated oil. When an oil is fully hydrogenated, it’s no longer a trans fat, but a saturated fat. Still, all hydrogenated oils should be avoided, regardless of their level of saturation.
Low Marks for Sunflower and Almond Butter
Both Trader Joe’s Almond Butter and Sunbutter Sunflower Seed Butter received low scores in taste and texture. Nutritionally, Trader Joe’s Almond Butter has the lowest saturated fat content and the highest amount of protein of all the nut butters. However, its poor performance in taste prevents us from recommending it. Sunbutter Sunflower Seed Butter was surprisingly just as healthy as many other of the nut butters in the comparison.
Sweet and Salty Nut Butters
We were surprised to learn that nut butters don’t contain large amounts of sugar. Every nut butter in this comparison had less than 3 grams of sugar per serving, which is the equivalent of 3/4 teaspoon white table sugar.
Many nut butters are available in both salted and unsalted varieties. Some of the testers remarked that they usually purchase unsalted varieties, in order to watch their sodium intake. Upon closer inspection of salted nut butters, we found that even when salt’s added, it’s usually around 130 mg of sodium per serving. An average serving of nut butter is 200 calories, so 130 mg of sodium clocks in at less than 1 mg per calorie, a very reasonable amount of salt.
Best Tasting and Most Nutritious Peanut Butters
Skippy Natural Peanut Butter was the best tasting nut butter in the competition. Skippy Natural contains no hydrogenated oils, although it does contain the sometimes controversial palm oil. Skippy Natural is a great tasting and healthy option for someone who usually sticks to one serving (2 tbsp) of peanut butter per snack. Skippy Natural clocks in at 190 calories per serving, with 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 7 grams of protein and 3 grams of sugar.
Trader Joe’s Creamy Unsalted Peanut Butter was the less processed nut butter that received comparable marks in taste to Skippy Natural. Trader Joe’s is only made of peanuts and doesn’t include any added sugar or oil. As a result, it’s healthier than Skippy Natural, with 190 calories per serving, 2.5 g saturated fat, 7 grams of protein and 1 gram of sugar.
Trader Joe’s Creamy Unsalted Peanut Butter is a tasty and healthy alternative to traditional peanut butter. While Skippy Natural was the better tasting of the two, we recommend going with the more natural option, with not much sacrifice in taste. In general, the rule of thumb is to choose a nut butter that’s made with nuts only — no added salts, sugars or oils.
Until the next blind-taste test, snack wiser.
Bobby is the community and social media manager at Zipongo. He has a degree in nutrition and dietetics and previously worked as a health educator.