A Definitive Ranking of All the Nut Butters Available at Trader Joe’s—and How to Use Them
We tried 17 so you only buy the best.
This story originally appeared on Realsimple.com by Kimberly Holland.
In a store that has fewer square feet than most supermarkets and even some bodegas, Trader Joe's allots four shelves (sometimes five) to all of their nut butters, cookie butters, and other spreadables for sandwiches, toast, and more. That means, it's safe to assume, they have a lot of confidence in their wide assortment of options. We decided to taste each one and find the butters that are worthy of your money.
Peanut butter is most prolific among the nut butter options. TJ's has nine unique kinds—two different lines with salted and unsalted crunchy, and salted and unsalted creamy. A ninth option is a no-stir peanut butter.
One group of four peanut butters is made with Valencia peanuts, a type that is slightly sweeter than runner peanuts, which are grown primarily for the production of peanut butter. These are also the brand's organic options. The second, non-organic group features unblanched peanuts, which is actually a prized commodity among peanut butter devotees. Unblanched peanuts retain the paper-thin skin, which adds deep body and flavor to the spread when they're ground up with the legumes. Mixed in the remaining eight are an assortment of almond butters, one cashew butter, and one "mixed nut butter," which you'll read more about shortly.
We tasted each one after stirring to thoroughly combine the separated oil and solids. We ranked on overall flavor, texture, salt level, and versatility. These were our favorites:
Creamy Almond Butter No Salt
The fact that an almond butter bested nine peanut butters for the best nut butter from Trader Joe's speaks volumes about this spread's flavor. Almond butter can be too "green," or too tart, if the nuts aren't perfectly roasted before grinding. We like a bit of that flavor in the store's Raw Almond Butter options, but the best we had was their no-salt traditional variety.
Why unsalted? Salt typically helps hide any bitter notes from nuts and seeds, but this almond butter was perfectly balanced without it. In fact, we thought the salted version of this very almond butter was too salty.
Best for Sandwiches
Organic Creamy Salted Peanut Butter
Salted nut butters better balance the sweet fruit tang of jams and preserves, and the slightly sweeter peanuts elevate this peanut butter's overall flavor profile. If you're planning to make a few PB&Js, this is the nut butter to grab.
Are you Team Crunchy? The Trader Joe's Organic Crunchy Unsalted Peanut Butter is excellent. The only reason we didn't rate it ahead of the creamy version is because the peanut pieces are a bit chewy, almost waxy. It's still plenty pleasant to eat, but the texture of the creamy kind is superior.
Best for Sauces
Raw Almond Butter Creamy
For Thai curries, satay dips, even hummus, this all-purpose almond butter is the go-to option in our books. Raw almond butter isn't quite as deeply flavored as toasted and processed almond butter, and that comes in handy here. The true essence of the nut shines above any toasty or salty notes so you get the best almond experience possible.
The incredibly smooth texture also makes this nut butter ideal for blending into sauces, spreads, and dips. You won't have to worry about uneven clumps or dried-up specks. Once stirred, this nut butter is silky smooth.
Best for Smoothies
Creamy Salted Cashew Butter
Cashews don't naturally have an intense nuttiness, even when they're roasted. Instead, they're almost delicately sweet with a hint of nut flavor. It makes for quite a delicious snack—and apparently an even nut butter. The Trader Joe's cashew butter would be a chameleon of sorts in smoothies, milk shakes, even peanut butter drizzles for ice cream or frozen yogurt. The delicate flavor wouldn't overpower these treats, bringing balance to the fruit and sweetened frozen desserts.
We could also see this as a spread on a savory sandwich: grilled turkey, carrots, red onion, cucumbers, spinach, a smear of this cashew butter, and a drop or two of sriracha. We wouldn't be unopposed to adding a sprinkle of ground cinnamon to the jar and swirling it up for an oatmeal stir-in delight.
Best for Apple Slices and Eating by the Spoonful
Mixed Nut Butter
If you have ever wondered what combining almost every peanut in the grocery store, save peanuts and pistachios, would taste like, Trader Joe's has the answer: the ultra spoonable, incredibly flavorful Mixed Nut Butter. The first thing to hit the palate when you nibble a bit of this nut butter may be the almonds, then along comes hints of really rich walnuts, Brazil nuts, and pecans. Delicately sweet cashews and hazelnuts round out the mix.
Sweet foods would pair well with this option because it's quite savory. Consider coupling it with fresh berries over yogurt, or stirring it into the top of brownie batter. Very little nutty sweetness comes through, but it's so luxurious that you should have no qualms eating it one spoonful at a time—we certainly don't.
This article originally appeared on Realsimple.com