Favorite Nut Butters, Ranked Worst To Best

You could argue that there's never been a better time to be a purveyor of nut butter. We are in a bit of a renaissance, a heyday, a reawakening –- call it what you will, nut butter is big right now. For a fairly simple spread, today's consumers are absolutely inundated with variations. Gone are the days of just "chunky" or "smooth." The nut butter options lining current grocery store aisles range from peanut to almond, cashew to hazelnut, walnut to the ever-elusive sunflower seed butter, which technically doesn't even officially qualify as a nut butter. Nut butter du jour can be sweet, salty, or an incredible fusion of both. It can incorporate chia, flax, and even comes in flavors like vanilla and chocolate. And, while this spread of spreads is undoubtedly dynamic, it can be overwhelming to deduce actual favorites.

We're here to help. As lifelong fans of nut butter on just about everything, we present a definitive ranking of the absolute best on the market.

11. Nutty Gourmet Organic Raw Walnut Butter

In the name of running the gamut on all nut butters, we were obligated to include a walnut butter variety on the list here. And, don't get us wrong, Nutty Gourmet does a knockout job with their raw walnut butter. It's a single-ingredient spread: just organic walnuts, packed together under an adorable pink lid and sustainably farmed (as Nutty Gourmet takes pride in communicating to their customers, they only use walnuts that are farmed with drip irrigation, micro sprinklers, and solar panels.) 

They take care to keep everything clean, organic, and honest -– while the walnut butter does have more calories than other nut butters might, it packs the meanest punch of Omega 3s as well as numerous phytochemicals, antioxidants, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Nutty Gourmet makes consumers aware of all of these benefits, and speaking from experience, we appreciate it. At the end of the day, though, while Nutty Gourmet's Organic Raw Walnut Butter is pure and delicious, it's still walnut butter. Comparatively, the taste of that nut itself just doesn't measure up to the rest of the spectrum.

10. NuttZo Keto Nut Butter

There are so many promising factors at play here. For starters, the Keto branding — easy to pick this up and fit it into even the most restrictive of diets. And then there's the packaging: irresistibility fun and playful, with shredded nuts absolutely dancing down either side of the lime green center of the label. But exterior aside, all that's going inside this bad boy also seems intensely exciting. A fusion of macadamia nuts, coconut, Brazil nuts, pecans, and almonds, it seems almost impossible that NuttZo's Keto Nut Butter would be anything short of layered, textured, dynamic. 

In theory, this is all true. And of course, the nutritional value packed in here is very real regardless of the taste. However, when it comes to that key factor, we find NuttZo slightly on the mild side — milder than we were hoping. It is so smooth that it verges on watery. 

9. Justin's Vanilla Almond Butter

One of Justin's products obviously had to make the list. This fairly new but ubiquitous company rolled out in 2004, and is easily recognizable by its white label with the friendly-looking brand name: "Justin's," spelled out in clean and simple cursive. The story goes that Justin himself began churning out peanut butter in his home kitchen back in the day, and as anyone who's familiar with Justin's nut butters can attest, that story tracks based on the current flavor.

Justin's is obviously, based on its rank, not our personal favorite. We find it a tad too grainy and hard to spread, and while it does taste healthy in that it clearly has minimal ingredients, there's nothing particularly creative to keep the flavor profile interesting. Justin's dabbles in all kinds of nut butters, but especially when it comes to their almond butter, the notes of nut are at times overpowering.

In Justin's defense, we were slightly swayed by their vanilla flavor addition for this almond butter. While still leaving a bit to be desired, this spread is inventive and interesting.

8. Once Again Cashew Butter, Creamy, Natural, Unsweetened

What is it about Once Again? We can't quite crack the code on this seemingly simple nut butter brand, which looks semi-nondescript before you dig in. Cased in a glass jar, the cashew butter is made only from organic cashews and organic sunflower oil –- when it comes down to it, the latter ingredient might be the real game-changer that sets Once Again's Cashew Butter apart. You can taste the extra-salty, extra-oily addition, and in no way does it detract from the naturally sweet cashew flavor. The consistency here is also something to write home about; Once Again's Cashew Butter is perhaps the most spreadable on this list, making it ideal for sandwiches and toast but also a strong contender in a smoothie.

It's evident how much care and thought is put into everything Once Again does, beyond even just their flavor. The husband-and-wife founding team takes the time to outline the benefits of cashew butter on their website, and every jar has the name of an employee that loves it on the back.

7. Teddie All Natural Smooth Peanut Butter

Talk about a classic brand. Everything about Teddie feels old school and endearing, from the green lid to the cartoon bear label with classic bubble lettering, even down to the very name itself. It's a kid-friendly, glass-jar staple, and it knows it. But perhaps the greatest aspect of Teddie's signature All Natural Smooth Peanut Butter is its health factor. This spread is all-natural (as the name very plainly indicates), vegan, gluten-free, and – we were pleasantly surprised to learn –- contains flaxseed. It somehow tastes better than the other all-natural peanut butters we've sampled; richer, bolder, and thick but still easy enough to spread onto just about anything and everything. The number one word we'd put to this quintessential snack component is "hearty" – without weighing you down at all, Teddie's All Natural Smooth Peanut Butter will leave you satisfied. For those who are so inclined the "Super Crunchy" variety is pretty delicious as well.

6. Rx Nut Butter Nut & Protein Spread, Vanilla Almond Butter

If you haven't heard of Rx bars -– a.k.a. one of the latest fads in the health food and fitness world -– allow us to explain. In 2013 the bars were conceived, and from what it appeared like on the outside, it took approximately three seconds flat for them to overtake the entire protein bar space. As Rx puts it, they "called B.S. on protein bars," which at the time were "loaded with ingredients no one can even pronounce," and set themselves on a mission to create a simpler (and therefore healthier) bar.

Create they did. Rx bars, which you'd know from their genius and simplistic wrapper that lists the ingredients in bold letters, took off. Lauded for their plain nature, they still somehow manage to taste incredible.

We are here to report that Rx's new venture, nut butters, is just as wonderful and delicious. Our personal favorite is the Vanilla Almond Butter variety, since it is both exceptionally sweet and salty, but you honestly can't go wrong among these spreads.

5. Justin's Hazelnut Butter Blend, Chocolate

Just kidding! Two Justin's spreads ended up making our roundup, which is probably indicative of just how successfully they are mastering the marketplace, if nothing else. Despite our qualms about the almond butter and the overall grainy texture of Justin's products, this bad boy makes it pretty high in the definitive ranking. How does it manage to come from behind and lock in a lead? Honestly, in this case, it's all about the chocolate flavor. When combined with the strong hazelnut base, this Justin's spread is -– dare we say it? –- reminiscent of Nutella

While Justin's version of the semi-dessert nut butter packs a much stronger hazelnut flavor than its widely-celebrated competitor, it also has a lot less sugar, 4 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber. In a nutshell (pun very much intended) Justin's chocolate-flavored Hazelnut Butter Blend tastes healthier because it is healthier.

4. MaraNatha Natural Almond Butter

While brands like Rx began with one product and ventured into new spaces, MaraNatha has been laser focused on nut butters from the get-go, and to be honest, it's evident. Popular knowledge tells us that it's better to do one thing well than many things adequately -– quality over quantity, if you will -– and MaraNatha is the number one example of this in the nut butter space. The endearing brand, with its cheery yellow-and-orange sun logo, makes almond, peanut, and specialty butters that are delicious and simple. They say that the secret to their success is "a business strategy that is as simple and wholesome as our products: Make delicious, high-quality natural and organic foods that suit an active and healthy lifestyle." 

One bite of the almond butter, and you'll agree. Not only is it a high-quality and natural-tasting flavor, but it is mysteriously non-boring, considering it is actually just made from almonds. We put MaraNatha on everything, and are even more enchanted by their commitment to environmentally sensitive growers than we are by the (albeit incredible) taste.

3. JIF Natural Creamy Peanut Butter

Here's the problem, here: to us, this tastes like childhood. Sticky fingers, snack time, slabbed onto bread mid-playdate; that's the absolute essence of JIF peanut butter. For that reason, it's almost unfair to rank this timeless all-American spread against the newbies that have emerged in the current nut butter renaissance. But here we are trying anyway.

As any millennial who consumed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during the first two decades of life could probably tell you, JIF is sweet -– both literally and figuratively. It verges on unnaturally smooth, and every bite tastes salty and creamy and then, ultimately, also sugary. When stacked against more up-to-date favorites, JIF stands out like a sore thumb. There's no part of the spread that's trying to seem healthy -– until you consider this more recently released "natural" rendition. With all the nostalgic traditional flavor and some semblance of a health factor, JIF Natural Creamy Peanut Butter holds its own.

2. Trader Joe's Crunchy Salted Peanut Butter with Flax and Chia Seeds

A walk through Trader Joe's can feel like going down the rabbit hole, in the best possible way. Truly a wondrous place, there are surprises stacked in every aisle at the national grocery store, which prides itself on keeping branded products to a minimum and instead sends its buyers around the world to find distinctly different things to purchase.

Let us help you navigate to one of the all-time greatest products we've stumbled upon in the Trader Joe's maze: the Crunchy Salted Peanut Butter with Flax and Chia Seeds. This peanut-based spread is not only as salty and crunchy as the name might lead you to believe, but also tastes definitively nutritious. Chalk it up to the flax and chia seeds, perhaps, but in this red-capped container Trader Joe's has managed to create a peanut butter that feels both healthy and non-bland at the same time. The only downside, here? The short and stout jar, while fun and uniquely sized, is simply too small for such a stellar product.

1. Kirkland Signature Mixed Nut Butter with Seeds

As Costco shoppers know, there's no product like a Kirkland product. From the mega grocer's sophisticated-tasting store-brand liquor selection to their dips that are way more gourmet than generic, Costco kills it with the in-house creations. We are happy to report that their mixed nut butter is no different. This very large tub of nut butter might not look like anything special –- with a fairly vague label and a big brown cap, you could easily miss Kirkland's mixed nut butter during a Costco run. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that not snagging a jar of this spread would be a grave mistake. 

The unique, dark-caramel-colored spread is a fusion of almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds. It is diversely textured and thick without being too difficult to slab onto a piece of freshly-made toast. Similar to its Trader Joe's competition, the flax and chia seeds add crunch without distracting from the overall flavor. Ultimately the game-changer here, though, are the pumpkin notes. Not at all limited to fall, the subtle flavor addition is what seals the deal for the Kirkland Mixed Nut Butter in the first place.