Nut butter: It's one of those miracle foods that tastes fabulous and also can be really healthy. Of course, along with all the great brands and flavors out there, the shelves are also full of jars laden with sugar, hydrogenated oils and other undesirable ingredients. Here's a collection of some of our faves that are delicious and nutritious, too.
MaraNatha Organic No-Stir Peanut Butter ($7 for 16 oz., amazon)
These days, you can pretty much get any kind of nut and seed butter, and that’s great—but sometimes all you want is a nice PB&J, nothing fancy. For those moments, and when you want a good basic peanut butter to add to recipes, look no further than MaraNatha. This no-nonsense peanut butter is organic and contains just peanuts, (ethically sourced) palm oil, a touch of unrefined cane sugar and sea salt. It’s super-creamy, not too sweet and full of roasted peanut flavor.
Barney Butter Smooth Almond Butter ($18 for 10 oz., amazon)
Almond butter tastes great, but if there’s one drawback to it, it’s often kind of gritty. Not so with Barney Butter, which is silky smooth and free of bitterness, thanks to the blanched almonds (that is, the skins are removed). You can feel good about this nut butter in other ways, too: The palm oil is ethically sourced and the ingredients are non-GMO certified, so the butters are good for the planet as well as for you.
Nuttzo Crunchy Seven Nut & Seed Butter ($16.35 for 16 oz., amazon)
Organic cashews, Brazil nuts, almonds, chia, flax, pumpkin seeds—the ingredient label on this crunchy spread reads like a who’s who of the healthy nut and seed world. Why choose among all those little nutrient-rich crunch bombs when you can have 'em all in one jar? If you like your spreads smooth, move along; this one is all crunch, all the time. Its rich flavor makes it fantastic for sandwiches, spread onto apple or banana slices or just licked right off a spoon (not that we would ever do that…).
Sun Butter ($15 for 16 oz., amazon)
For kids (or adults) with a peanut and/or tree nut allergy, welcome to your new favorite spread. Made in a nut-free facility from roasted sunflower seeds, it’s loaded with vitamin E, an antioxidant that boosts immunity and fights inflammation. Use it anywhere you would a nut butter (even in cookies).
Nutiva Organic Coconut Manna ($14 for 15 oz., amazon)
Coconut is certainly having a moment, so it’s no wonder that coconut butter made our list. It isn’t as smooth and spreadable as other nut butters; the texture is grainier, and the oil separates and rises to the top. (It’s easily re-incorporated though; simply warm the whole jar in a small pan of hot water and stir.) But it is rich, slightly sweet, luscious and so satisfying. Use it in desserts, spread it on toast or fruit, or add it to oatmeal or smoothies. (And here are some more ideas for how to incorporate it.)
Soom Tahini ($14 for 2 11-oz. jars, amazon)
If you think of tahini as simply an ingredient in hummus, you’re in for a treat. Try this sesame seed butter just about anywhere you would use peanut or almond butter and watch it take on a whole new life. Spread it on sandwiches or apple slices, whisk it into dressings, even bake it into cookies or cakes. And it’s nut free, so good for people with allergies. We like this particular brand for its smooth texture and pure sesame flavor, free of the bitterness present in some tahinis. (FYI, Soom also makes a chocolate flavor.)
Rawmio Chocolate Hazelnut Spread ($14 for 6 oz., amazon)
Yes, this is pricier than another, more well-known brand of chocolate-hazelnut spread (which will remain nameless here), but worth it when you consider that it’s organic, has far cleaner ingredients (only three, and no emulsifiers or artificial flavors) and 8g sugar per 2 Tbsp. serving compared with 21g in the other brand. Needless to say, it’s also super-delicious and loaded with rich chocolate flavor.
Justin’s Vanilla Almond Butter ($16 for 16 oz., amazon)
Nut butter that tastes like vanilla frosting? Yes, please! This jar has all the goodness (few and all recognizable ingredients, vegan, light on the sugar), but it’s the indulgent flavor that will knock you out. The secret? Along with vanilla, it’s made with organic cocoa butter, the fat that makes chocolate so luscious (but don’t worry, it’s also heart healthy and anti-inflammatory).
Peanut Butter & Co. The Heat Is On ($8.50 for 1 lb., amazon)
With chili powder, cayenne and crushed red pepper, this spicy peanut butter is no joke. It’s awesome on bread, of course, but it really shines in sauces and dressings. Plus, it's made with super-clean, non-GMO-certified ingredients and has 8g protein but only 1g sugar.