Cook's Illustrated


Tasting Crunchy Peanut Butter

Every major brand that makes a creamy peanut butter also manufactures a crunchy version. We wondered if the maker of our favorite creamy peanut butter would also produce our favorite crunchy one. To find out, we tasted nine crunchy peanut butters, priced from $2.69 to $6.91 per jar, plain, in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and in peanut butter cookies.

Crunchy peanut butters come in three styles: those made with hydrogenated vegetable oil and sugar, those that trade hydrogenated oil for palm oil (and are typically labeled “natural” since palm oil is naturally solid at room temperature), and those that are just peanuts and salt. Overall, tasters preferred peanut butters with added oil for their thick, uniform textures.

Tasters also liked extra crunch. When we separated the butter from the peanut chunks in each product, we learned that our favorites had about ¼ cup more peanut pieces per 16-ounce jar than lower-ranked products.

As for flavor, we liked a good balance of salt and sugar. The hydrogenated oil and palm oil

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