15 interesting ways you never thought to use peanut butter

If it's wrong to wake up with peanut butter caked on the pillow, then we don't want to be right. There's just so much to love about the peanut. Delicious, filling, chock-full of vitamins, and rich in all the healthy fats — you can certainly go on for hours reading about the benefits of this humble little legume. But we'd like to let you in on some clever ways you can incorporate this nutty treat into all sorts of different dishes, making it an even larger part of your life. Doesn't that sound splendid?

Pad Thai rich in peanut flavor

Pad Thai is an ubiquitous menu item at Thai eateries all around the world, and we cannot deny its universal appeal. Traditionally made with stir-fried rice noodles, veggies, chili pepper, lime juice, and peanuts, this beloved dish is glorious. Take your homemade noods to the next level when you incorporate creamy peanut butter into the mix, creating a thick, saucy coating for every strand.

TV personality Rachael Ray has the right idea, with this peanut butter-forward take on classic pad Thai. Whereas pad Thai customarily uses chopped peanuts as a garnish, this version takes it further by using both creamy peanut butter and peanuts together. Plus, the peanut butter serves double duty, giving the noodles a savory flavor boost while also thickening the sauce. This recipe also skips the fish sauce (a pungent and sometimes polarizing seasoning made of liquid extracted from fermented fish) without skimping on the overall bright and vibrant flavors this dish is known for.

A dollop of peanut butter into your smoothie

Whether you're starting your day or leaving a workout session, nothing beats a cold, refreshing smoothie. With its easy nourishment and restorative powers, a smoothie that blends in peanut butter brings an extra dose of protein for long-lasting energy. Here, courtesy of Blendtec, is a list of smoothie ideas to get you excited about taking out the blender. For a smoothie base that leaves you plenty of room to experiment, we love the "basic" peanut butter smoothie. Chances are, you already have everything you need in your pantry.

If you're looking for a more filling option to serve as meal replacer, look no further than the "ultimate." With its hit of protein powder, sweet banana, and leafy spinach, this smoothie is a heavyweight. Quick and easy to make, smoothies are a great way to sneak in your daily allowance of fruits and vegetables. Adding peanut butter to the mix just makes the experience more delicious.

Creamy peanut butter in your brownie batter

Allow yourself some everyday decadence when you whip up thick, chocolatey brownie batter, but wait! Before you pop the pan into the oven, add a spoonful of lush peanut butter and swirl it around, with the tip of a knife for a marbled effect. Trust us, you won't be able to resist the alluring marriage of chocolate and peanut butter.

We hear Martha Stewart knows her stuff, so why not try her recipe for marbled peanut butter brownies? These are made with not one, but two kinds of chocolate, for results that are both soft and fudgy. Instead of the oil called for in many brownie mixes, Martha opts for pure butter because it's way richer and #YOLO. Here, the streaks of peanut butter throughout provide just the right nutty balance. We love how marbling brownies make them look insanely fancy, yet they're still a cinch to make.

A creamy, impossibly savory salad dressing

Make a big bowl of your favorite salad greens and veggies, then toss everything with an impossibly creamy sauce full of umami flavor. That magic sauce, obviously, is peanut butter, which brings unexpected nutty depth to crunchy vegetables.

This one from Once Upon A Chef delivers the goods. Inspired by the flavors of Thai cuisine, you can think of this salad as pad Thai minus the carby noods. It's definitely a salad-for-dinner situation that you'd want to get involved in. With its layers upon layers of different textures and flavors at play, this dish shines with the peanut butter-based dressing on top. Crisp veggies, fragrant cilantro, and warm honey complement the richness of the pb, making this a dinner you'll want to add to your regular routine.

Smear peanut butter on your grilled burger

We highly recommend taking periodic breaks from ketchup and mustard on your burger, to get to know secret condiments, like your old friend peanut butter. It's a fantastic idea to drizzle some warm peanut butter onto a juicy burger and top it with bacon. Trust us.

This burger recipe from Half-Baked Harvest should provide adequate inspiration. It might seem strange, initially, to put peanut butter on your burger, but this bad boy should change your mind. And apparently, the "peanut-burger" is a regional favorite in Cleveland, Ohio. It originated at Bearden, an old-timey 1940s eatery that serves other diner staples like milkshakes and onion rings. In this burger, the creamy peanut butter replaces traditional cheese and transforms it into a rich comfort food that you'll want again and again. This one's a keeper, for sure.

Chocolate peanut butter banana bread

Subtlety is overrated sometimes, especially when it comes to dessert concoctions. Turn your beloved banana bread into magic bread, when you incorporate chocolate and peanut butter. Be warned: these additions will be explosive in a completely good way. Gotta love overkill.

The folks over at Delish have the right idea with this chocolate peanut butter banana bread recipe. Moist, tender banana bread gets its rich tang from buttermilk and savory creaminess from peanut butter, and since throwing in a handful of chocolate chips almost always improves a baking project, semisweet morsels get some play. We love the way this recipe incorporates the peanut butter into the batter and uses it as a warm "icing" for serving. Pretty genius stuff.

Peanut butter pancakes

If light, fluffy, diner-style pancakes are a fixture in your breakfast rotation, then you understand the need to sometimes add delicious twists to the classic. We can't think of a better way to lend rich, nutty flavor to your stack than by stirring some PB into the batter before it hits the grill pan. Drizzle pure maple syrup on top, as well, and you have yourself a breakfast of champions.

This recipe from Minimalist Baker is extra hearty, with delectable peanut butter and yummy flaxseeds. These pancakes are perfect for when you just feel like eating a stack of bready goodness, covered in copious amounts of syrup, without the subsequent feelings of having just eaten, well, a stack of bread. They're made with oat flour and peanut butter to give you all the rich, satisfying pancake feels (and loads of energy), yet you never feel overstuffed. Make these, win at life.

PBJ hand pies

If you're one for honoring tradition, try the classic PBJ combo, but put it inside some hand pies. Buttery pie crust, good. Peanut butter and jelly, great. Full of inherent glory, these sweet and nutty portable treats will renew your spirits and invigorate your resolve to enjoy more peanut butter.

Try these adorable little guys, as prepared by Kitchen Konfidence. We especially like how they make more fun things in life socially acceptable—like eating pie for breakfast, not sharing your treat, and having dessert on the go. Here, flaky puff pastry provides the ultimate pie short cut, but feel free to use your own homemade pastry if you like. Citrusy grape jam and crunchy peanut butter, combined with tangy cream cheese and honey, make for an out-of-this-world filling. Slits in the pastry allow steam to escape, plus you get to see bits of the juicy filling bubbling through.

Blend with ice and coffee for a homemade frappe experience

Whip up an ice-blended coffee drink when you feel the need for a little pick-me-up. The tasty twist? Add some peanut butter to the blender before you hit the on button. A sweet, rich, frothy dreamboat of a beverage is a welcome treat when the post-lunchtime blues start to hit.

This one from Amy's Healthy Baking is worth trying because, well, it also includes chocolate. Skip the high-caloric drinks from the chain coffee shop and still enjoy everything you crave in a loaded frappuccino. This recipe combines good, strong coffee with waistline-friendly peanut butter powder, creamy peanut butter, unsweetened cocoa powder, and ice cubes for a drink that feels as special as something you would spend $6 on.

FYI, peanut powder is made by pressing powdered peanuts to remove a lot of the oil and fats. It's all on the up and up.

Frosting gets a rich upgrade with peanut butter

The next time you make a batch of buttercream frosting to decorate a cake or a few adorable cupcakes, try adding creamy peanut butter to the mixing bowl for extra richness. Peanut butter frosting goes especially well with chocolate cake, in case you were wondering.

Luxuriously smooth and decadent, you'll love this simple version from AllRecipes. It's made with four ingredients, all of which boast refreshingly pronounceable ingredient names, which we can't say for store-bought frosting. Rich peanut butter and softened butter are blended until the mixture is light and fluffy. Confectioner's sugar adds sweetness, while thickening the buttercream. The milk thins or thickens it to your liking. Additionally, we like to sift the sugar before adding it, just in case there are any lumps.

Peanut butter ice cream

There's no doubt that peanut butter's subtly sweet-and-salty taste combination is a winning one. Even so, we can't help but become transported to a whole other playing field when this humble miracle spread is incorporated into velvety ice cream. Rich and creamy reach their absolute peak when peanut butter ice cream are playing together.

Here, courtesy of Serious Eats, are a few recipes to whet your appetite. We love that they're simple enough to work every time, plus the three variations can be made from one base recipe. Beyond the suggested options, you can adapt the base in other crazy peanut butter-happy ways, too. We suggest whipping up this frozen treat to impress your family, win over your neighbors, and just make the world a better place.

Peanut butter waffles

We highly recommend introducing your favorite peanut butter to some light, golden brown waffles, and not just slathered on top. The pairing turns everyday waffles into a hearty meal that will leave you satisfied all day. If you like more texture, try using crunchy peanut butter.

This recipe for peanut butter waffles, from Primavera Kitchen, is made with coconut milk and oat flour, and is simply perfection, especially when you add egg whites for a lighter take. They taste and smell heavenly, but like the oat pancakes, won't make you feel like you've way overeaten. The key technique is to whisk your egg whites until soft peaks form, which takes about two minutes with an electric mixer. If you're whisking by hand, put in some elbow grease, and these waffles can count as your daily exercise, too. This step is well worth it for waffles that are impossibly light.

Peanut butter oatmeal

Energy-boosting oatmeal is the perfect blank canvas for all the toppings you desire. Add creamy peanut butter to your morning bowl for some extra-nutritious flair and richness. Garnish with dried or fresh fruits, add a drizzle of warm honey, and start your day in style.

This really, really, really ridiculously good-looking vegan version from Bakerita might speak to you. It's so tasty, you won't believe it's good for you! The oatmeal base is made with hearty oats, mashed banana, and almond milk. Protein-rich peanut butter adds a streak of creaminess, chocolate chips lend sweetness, and chopped peanuts give a delightful crunch. This dessert-adjacent bowl will make you want to carve out time to prepare breakfast in the morning, no matter how busy you are.

PBJ shortbread

Buttery shortbread is the platonic ideal of cookies. Comprised of butter and sugar, this dense little biscuit makes the perfect base for a classic PBJ topping combo. This is one bar cookie that will please even the toughest of critics.

Bring joy to all those around you when you bake these bite-sized treats, like how Fifteen Spatulas does it. The rich cookie base is perfectly complemented by sweet jam, peanut butter, and a buttery oat crumb topping. For clean lines, you'll have to exercise patience (it'll be hard, but you can do it!) and let this cool before cutting into squares both big and small. Keep in mind that baking in a tin pan causes more browning, so if you want the lighter shortbread look and taste, use a glass pan and grease it well.

Peanut butter French toast

Crisp and golden on the outside and soft on the inside, the natural charm of French toast is apparent for all to see. What's the only way to make slices of custard-soaked bread grilled to toasty perfection any better? Add creamy butter to the silk custard, and you will not be disappointed.

Try this Today Show recipe out for size. While a quick soak will do just fine, we find that this peanut buttery take on French toast really sings when the bread slices are soaked for at least 20 minutes. You can even go for a longer soak if you're using hearty bread that will hold up to the custard. The result is toast that's creamier, softer, and more deeply flavorful.

And there you have it — fifteen new, fun ways to eat peanut butter. When it comes to PB's siren song, there's no need to resist. Only good can come of it.