All Buttered Up

By Christy Harrison

Photograph by Hulya Kolabas

With the explosion of haute comfort foods in the last decade, coupled with new research on the benefits of unsaturated fats, nut butters have gone high-concept and healthy. Artisanal peanut-butter purveyors have popped up everywhere, crafting sophisticated new flavor combos without a drop of hydrogenated oil or corn syrup. And “alternative” nut butters like almond, cashew, and walnut—often mixed with natural ingredients like chocolate and honey—are no longer the province of hippies and peanut-allergic kids. We tasted nearly three dozen flavors from the major natural and organic brands, and these were by far our favorites. 

Peanut Butter & Co.: All-Natural Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Peanut Butter
This peanut butter, which combines a creamy base with tender raisin chunks and toothsome flecks of cinnamon, is flavorful and addictive enough to eat straight out of the jar. If good manners are called for, it also works well on bread or fruit. And be sure to try the company’s other delicious flavor combinations: Dark Chocolate Dreams, White Chocolate Wonderful, and The Heat Is On.

MaraNatha Nut Butters: Natural Honey-Almond Butter
Sweeter and more honey-flavored than the other honey combos we tried, with a good amount of salt to match (though still just three percent of your daily allowance per serving), this almond butter is another snackable treat. Its pronounced almond flavor makes it a great choice for pairing with fresh fruit or celery.

Justin’s Nut Butters: Heavenly Honey Organic Peanut Butter
Just sweet enough to coax your kids away from Skippy, with a robust peanut flavor and rich texture that make it a hit with grownups, too. There’s only a hint of salt in this one, so it works well for folks who prefer a lower-sodium nut butter (and pairs nicely with a salty cracker for those who don’t).

Futters Nut Butters: Raw Organic Chocolate-Walnut Butter
With its high chunk ratio, this Futters flavor is more like a tapenade than a traditional nut butter. Its complex taste—decidedly cocoa-forward, with a wholesome walnut finish—will please dark-chocolate
lovers. Great on apple slices or warm, salty bread.

Santa Cruz Organic: Dark-Roasted Crunchy Peanut Butter
We love that the company offers light and dark roasts, giving nut-butter aficionados a variety of choices similar to those enjoyed by coffee connoisseurs. But we’re partial to the strong flavor of the dark-roasted crunchy PB, which proclaims its peanuttiness much more clearly than other brands. It even stands up to bacon and bananas in “The Elvis,” our favorite guilty-pleasure sandwich.

Issue 25

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