Taste Test Tuesday: The Best Peanut Butter and Jelly

We tasted 13 different brands of peanut butter and nine different brands of jelly—so you don’t have to. Find out the best possible combination to create America’s favorite and most simple lunch.

It’s a special edition of Taste Test Tuesday, as the staff put their taste buds into high gear and tasted not one but two beloved staples of growing up American: peanut butter and jelly. We figured the timing was right, with school starting in a few weeks—depending on what source you use on the internet, the average American eats somewhere between 1,500 and 2,500 PB&J sandwiches before graduating high school. Don’t you want your kids to have the best tasting PB&J in the lunchroom?

On the peanut butter side of things, the staff blind tested 13 brands (all creamy and salted) and rated them on a scale of 1 (Peanut Butter Hall of Shame) to 5 (Peanut Butter Perfection!) considering factors such as peanut flavor, spread-worthiness, texture, and salt/sweet balance.

For the grape jelly, there were 9 brands put to the test (no preserves or jams, only jelly; read the differences here), also rated from 1 to 5 considering sweetness level, color, texture, and overall flavor.

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So a few packages of white bread and a lot of sticky, purple grape-colored mouths later, we came up with the pantry-worthy peanut butters and jellys.

 

Peanut Butter Results (Creamy, Salted)

 

The Runners-Up (from worst to best)

Field Day Organic ($6.49, 18 oz) Score: 1.6

New Jersey-based Woodstock Farms Manufacturing (in turn owned by publicly traded United Natural Foods) produces this Certified Organic peanut butter that tasted like “burned peanuts” and is “really thin.” 

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Trader Joe’s Organic ($3.49, 16 oz) Score: 1.7

“Awful—so dry” and “weird texture” summed up most tasters thoughts on Trader Joe’s organic brand. 

Santa Cruz ($6.69, 16 oz) Score: 1.8

The main complaint against this Certified Organic peanut butter: it’s “too runny” and “looks like sauce” (and yes we did stir it).  

Trader Joe’s ($2.49, 16 oz) Score: 2.0

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“Tastes like the shell” and a consistency that is “too liquid-y” (“Peanut butter should spread not pour!”) sunk the regular house brand from the California-based chain. 

Smucker’s Natural ($3.49, 16 oz) Score: 2.1

“Drippy,” “oily,” and “salty” represented the majority of testers’ comments.

Whole Foods 365 ($2.79, 18 oz) Score: 2.4

The Whole Foods non-organic peanut butter scored just behind its organic counterpart with comments such as “grainy” and “too soupy.” 

 Whole Foods 365 Organic ($4.99, 18 oz) Score: 2.6

“Not enough peanut flavor” and “not sweet enough” were some of the criticisms of the Whole Foods organic house brand that finished middle-of-the-pack. 

Stop & Shop Peanut Butter ($2.19, 16 oz) Score: 2.9

The house brand for the supermarket chain with more than 375 stores in the Northeast lost points for being “too sticky” and “too hard to spread” but enough tasters liked it for its “pretty good” flavor.  

Peter Pan ($2.79, 16.3 oz) Score: 3.1

A “deep, nutty flavor” with a “good consistency” snagged the fifth place spot for this ConAgra product named after the J.M. Barrie character.   

JIF ($2.99, 18 oz) Score: 3.4

“Creamy, nutty” and with “just the right stickiness” were some of the positive comments for this brand owned by The J.M. Smucker Company and around since 1958.

 

On The Podium

Peanut Butter & Co ($6.49, 16 oz) Score: 3.4

The peanut butter from this Greenwich Village sandwich shop collected many positive comments including “creamy,” “natural tasting,” and “smooth.”  

Smart Balance ($4.79, 18 oz) Score: 3.5

Colorado-based Boulder Brands, a company that touts its products as made with no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (unlike the big-name brands on this list), came in second with a “slightly sweet,” “good peanut taste.” 

 

The Champion 

Skippy ($2.49, 16.3 oz) Score: 4

This Hormel Foods brand peanut butter took first place for its “awesome texture” that “spreads well” and the “creamy,” “nutty”, and “sweet” (sugar is the second ingredient) flavor. The word “classic” came up a number of times—the only peanut butter tested that evoked such a word.


More Taste Test Tuesday: The Best Chocolate Ice Cream Brands


 

Grape Jelly Results 

 

The Runners-Up (from worst to best)

Polaner ($3.19, 10 oz) Score: 2.5

A love it or hate it jelly, it garnered a few 1s (“tastes like medicine,” “doesn’t really taste like grapes”) as well as tasters who commented “my favorite!” and its “nice and sweet with a “fine texture.”   

Trader Joe’s Organic ($2.99, 17 oz) Score: 2.6

“Weak color” and “good spreading consistency” were among the mixed reviews on this jelly. 

Nature’s Promise ($2.99, 10 oz) Score: 2.7

“A pretty” “dark, purple color” and “not too grape-y,” “tart” taste had most tasters calling it “pretty average.”

Cascadian Farm ($3.69, 10 oz) Score: 2.8

“Nice sweetness” level and “tastes natural” (indeed, there are no artificial ingredients) were some positives that were countered by those “wishing it was a little firmer” and “a little sweeter.”   

Smucker’s  ($2.49, 32 oz) Score: 2.9

Some liked the “generically fruity taste” and “nice color,” while others thought it was “too sweet” and “hated the gloppy texture.” 

Welch’s ($2.69, 18 oz) Score: 3.0

“Very sweet” (“tastes like grape juice”), “a nice mouthful,” and a “pretty purple when spread” gave Welch’s a decent score. 

 

On The Podium

Stop & Shop Grape Jelly  ($1.39, 12 oz) Score: 3.2

While a few tasters didn’t like the “Jell-O-like texture,” most were happy with the “nice grape flavor.”   

Crofter’s Premium Spread Organic ($3.89, 16.5 oz) Score: 3.2

Another organic jelly, this one from an Ontario, Canada-based fruit spread company, finished in the second spot for its “good texture for spreading” and “not-in-a-bad-way mild flavor.” 

 

The Champion

Whole Foods Organic 365 ($3.99, 17.5 oz) Score: 3.3

“I can taste the grape!” “good color,” “not too sweet, and an easy spread,” gave Whole Foods organic jelly a narrow first place victory.    

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