Recipes that use peanut butter as the secret ingredient

As the mother of a kindergartener, even hearing the words "peanut butter" sends a chill down my spine. It wasn't me! I wasn't the seriously incompetent parent who dared to pack lowly peanut butter in the school lunch!

Peanut butter has gotten a bad rap in the last decade with food allergies and concerns about its fat content. Peanut butter and jelly is no longer a safe go-to for kids, so many of us have forgotten how absolutely delicious that forbidden fruit is.

We've collected these decadent and satisfying recipes that have slipped peanut butter in without anyone being the wiser. So go ahead and give them a try. We won't tell. Just don't pack them in your child's lunch…

Chili

Peanut butter is no longer just a topper for toast and bagels. Adding peanut butter to your slow cooker chili adds a rich, creamy texture to your favorite cold weather meal. This vegetarian chili from Serious Eats combines fiery spices like cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes with creamy peanut butter for the perfect balance of flavors.

Amy Green from Peanut Butter & Co. shared her recipe for spicy beef chili using peanut butter. Green recommends trying a smooth peanut butter to balance out the heat.

Fried chicken

Peanut butter powder not only adds some serious dimension to this fried chicken recipe, it cuts the calories, too. Deborah from Taste and Tell used powdered peanut butter to coat her chicken thighs before cooking. The powdered peanut butter provides a thin breading — a nice change for heavy fried chicken. It also gives it a unique flavor that you can only get with peanut butter. When Deborah asked her husband to guess the secret ingredient, he couldn't get it. The best part? A decadent fried chicken dinner for only 355 calories per serving.

Slow cooker pulled pork

Nothing makes me happier than a dump-and-go slow cooker meal. I don't want to have to do anything. No browning the meat, no mincing the vegetables, nothing. Not only does this slow cooker pulled pork recipe fit the bill, but it also gets a salty kick from secret peanut butter. Kate from The Domestic Front waits until the pork is cooked and falling apart before adding in the peanut butter. Dinner is served!

Sweet potato fries

Sweet potato fries are sacred to me. They're the perfect blend of indulging while still fitting in a healthy superfood. I'm a sweet potato fry purist. Just a little olive oil and salt is all I've ever needed. That is, until I found this sweet potato fry recipe from Fake Ginger. Amanda explains that when you coat your raw sweet potato fries in peanut butter, they become even crispier in the oven. Just make sure you buy the right peanut butter. Crunchy peanut butter makes it extra special.

Beef carnitas

Braising meat in Mexican spices for hours until it just falls off the bone sounds like perfection, but even carnitas could use an extra peanut butter punch. Faith Gorsky decided to give her beef carnitas more of a Thai curry flavor by adding creamy peanut butter. Throw in mango salso and top with crushed peanuts and you've got yourself a meal. Serve these carnitas on open-faced sandwiches or warmed tortillas.

Burgers

I've heard about the peanut butter burger trend, but just couldn't get on board. How can you improve upon a little ketchup, lettuce, and tomato? But this burger recipe from Half Baked Harvest may convince me to get on the peanut butter burger train. Here, the cheese is actually replaced with peanut butter. Now I wouldn't go so far as to ditch the bacon and cheese, but peanut butter may be making an appearance at my family's next barbecue.

Barbecue short ribs

If you want a serious peanut butter recipe, go to the experts. The Southern Peanut Growers came up with a recipe for peanut butter barbecue short ribs with their favorite secret ingredient. Next time you're whipping up the sauce for your ribs, whisk in a little creamy peanut butter in, along with ketchup, vinegar, and honey.

S'mores

It's pretty hard to improve upon this perfect campfire treat, but when peanut butter makes an appearance, s'mores get a serious upgrade. You'll be the beach party's hero when you show up with peanut butter s'mores in hand. This s'mores recipe from Radius ups the s'mores game by replacing the chocolate bar with a peanut butter cup candy. Just place your peanut butter cup on your graham cracker, then add the roasted marshmallow. Bam.

Tomato sauce

If you've been feeling bored with spaghetti night in your house, check out this recipe from The Full Helping. Food blogger Gena added creamy peanut butter to her marinara sauce for a creamy, tangy pasta topper. Gena shared with her readers that the sauce "tastes like a typical raw marinara, but with a salty kick." Try serving the sauce over traditional pasta or even on homemade pizza.

Broccoli fritters

Another sneaky way to hide peanut butter in your dishes is using powdered peanut butter. This magical little powder can act as a breading or coating for baking. That's what Faith Gorsky did with these garlicky broccoli fritters. When cooking traditional broccoli fritters, the moisture from the broccoli can leave you with sad, soggy fritters. The powdered peanut butter keeps them crisp while adding a new flavor.

Why add peanut butter?

We've all experienced the undeniable salty flavor of peanut butter, but there are more reasons to fall for jelly's best friend. Peanut butter is loaded with health benefits, like lowering cholesterol. A study from the University of Florida reported that the antioxidants in peanut butter may even prevent some chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes.

Peanut butter could even be your weight loss secret. It's loaded with fiber and protein to keep you full, so you won't need to be snacking all day. And it has a ton of vitamins and minerals that can boost muscle function and immunity.

Bottom line? Adding a little peanut butter is usually a good move.

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