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Peanut Butter & Almond Butter To Never Buy Again + My Top Brands (Ultimate Nut Butter Buying Guide)

One of my favorite indulgences is almond butter. I eat it almost every day… I’ll put a scoop in my morning oats, in my smoothies, and spread it on celery.

When I was growing up, we always had a jar of Peter Pan Peanut Butter in the house. To me, that sweet heavily-processed spread was the only real peanut butter there was – and I really didn’t realize until well into my 20’s that there are MUCH healthier options out there. 

Today, the nut butter section is one of the most confusing sections in the grocery store. You’ve got creamy, crunchy, no-stir, stir, reduced fat, sweetened, unsweetened, palm oil, no palm oil, raw, roasted, natural, and organic. It’s no wonder that one of most popular questions I get is what brand of nut butter I use. 

In this post, I’m going to walk you through practically every brand of nut butter that you’ll see on the shelf and tell you what I look for. And, the absolute first thing I look at is the ingredient list.

Nut butter should only contain nuts (and perhaps sea salt). 

Flip over all the major brands of nut butter and read the ingredients. It’s common to find hydrogenated oils (soybean and cottonseed) or palm oil added, which is used to keep it from separating on the shelf and keeps it fresh without refrigeration. This may be more convenient, but those heavily processed and refined oils are not good for your health. 

Also, you’ll usually find sugar added to nut butter, which is an ingredient that most people eat way too much of. If you are eating nut butter on a regular basis, you especially want to make sure it is not sweetened. Occasionally, I may choose an organic nut butter that’s sweetened with coconut sugar (such as JEM brand), but I would treat this as a dessert. My everyday nut butter doesn’t contain any added sugars – just nuts! 

Let me give you a perfect example. Jif has three types of peanut butter (regular, Simply, and Natural) that all contain white sugar and additional oils. 

Other popular brands such as Skippy, Peter Pan, and Reese’s are also filled with hydrogenated oils and white sugar. 

Avoid “No Stir” nut butters which contain added oils. 

Barney Butter, Justin’s, and Jif Almond Butter may sound healthier, but they also add oils to their nut butters so that stirring isn’t required.

The oil in nuts naturally separate in the jar and float to the top, that is why you have to stir it the first time you use it. This can be messy, but one trick I’ve found is to store an unopened jar upside down in your pantry. When you’re ready to open and use it, it is much easier to stir without making a mess because the oil has largely incorporated into the butter and settled at the bottom of the jar, instead of the top. After stirring, make sure to store the opened jar in your fridge. 

Look for Nut butters that are 100% organic… don’t let the “natural” label guide you

Some brands (Adams, Smucker’s, Crazy Richards, Trader Joe’s, and Kirkland) make nut butters with only nuts, but they are not certified organic. It’s very important to choose organic nut butter because conventional nuts and peanuts are known to be heavily treated with synthetic pesticides and fungicides. Especially when it comes to peanuts because they are a legume (not technically a nut) and their pods grow underground, which allows pesticides to be more readily absorbed and concentrated. Couple that with the fact that peanuts are often rotated with cottonseed crops (1) (the world’s most pesticide-ridden crop) and you’ve got a breeding ground for massive pesticide contamination. (2)

Conventional almonds and peanuts can be contaminated with Piperonyl Butoxide (3) a pesticide ingredient that is classified by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen (4) and linked to liver damage. Conventional almonds can also be contaminated with Chlorpyrifos (5), a controversial pesticide which is a neurotoxin. (6) Glyphosate (Roundup) herbicide is used on conventional peanuts and nuts (7) – and it’s known to cause cancer (8). Products are usually not tested for these chemicals, but residues of glyphosate have been found in Skippy Natural Peanut Butter. (9)

The best nut butters are both Raw & Organic. 

There are several organic brands with one ingredient (which is good), but they are made with roasted nuts instead of raw nuts. If it doesn’t specifically say the nuts are “Raw” on the label, it is safe to assume the nuts are roasted. Roasted nut butters taste really good, I’m not going to lie – but if you want to choose the best one, raw nuts are healthiest because… 

  • Roasting can damage the healthy fats that are found in nuts. One of the greatest health benefits of nuts are the healthy polyunsaturated fats they contain, so you don’t want those destroyed! When nuts are roasted at high temperature or for a long time these fats can oxidize, a process that generates free radicals. (10). Free radicals are renegade molecules that damage cells in the body.
  • Oftentimes, “roasted nuts” are not actually roasted but fried in oils. These oils end up in the finished product.
  • Roasted nuts may contain fewer antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin E which are prevalent in almonds.
  • Roasting at high temperatures may produce harmful substances like acrylamide, which is linked to cancer. 

When it comes to peanut butter, it’s a bit more tricky.

Raw peanuts may be contaminated with Aspergillus flavus, a type of mold which produces the cancerous toxin aflatoxin. (11) Roasting peanuts prohibits the production of aflatoxin and may also reduce aflatoxin content (12) – so roasting may make peanuts safer to eat. Also, the fat found in peanuts is fairly heat resistant and less likely to oxidize. (13) It’s rare to find raw peanut butter on the market, but you can make it at home. 

Note: All almonds grown in the U.S. are pasteurized (typically with steam if they are organic) to destroy any pathogens such as salmonella. So there are not any truly raw U.S. almonds, but they are not cooked to the extent of roasted almonds. Beware that if the almonds are NOT organic, they may be pasteurized with the toxic chemical propylene oxide – which is classified as a probable human carcinogen. (14) Yet another reason to only choose organic! 

Three steps to finding the healthiest nut butter:

  1. Only contains nuts (and perhaps sea salt)
  2. Is certified organic. Look for the USDA organic seal on the label.
  3. The nuts and seeds are raw (not roasted), with the exception of peanut butter. It will say specifically on the jar that it is “raw”. 

Some brands make conventional and raw organic versions, so you need to be very careful when shopping.

For example, the brand MaraNatha makes conventional almond butters, but also has a raw organic version that I like. The packaging looks NEARLY IDENTICAL, which is why reading the ingredient list is so important. 

My picks for the best nut butters & seed butters:

To make it super easy for you, here’s a list of brands that meet my criteria. I personally buy the Artisana Organics brand often – which is found in natural grocery stores and online. If you have a nut allergy, I also listed my picks for seed butters. This includes pumpkin seed butter, which many people find better tasting than sunflower seed butter. 

PEANUT BUTTER

Vivapura Raw Organic Wild Jungle Peanut Butter

Santa Cruz Organic Peanut Butter

Once Again Organic Peanut Butter

MaraNatha Organic Peanut Butter

Kirkland Organic Creamy Peanut Butter

Trader Joe’s Organic Peanut Butter

Woodstock Organic Peanut Butter

Spread The Love NAKED Organic Peanut Butter

ALMOND BUTTER

Artisana Organics Raw Almond Butter

MaraNatha Organic Raw Almond Butter

JEM Naked Almond Butter

Wilderness Poets Organic Raw Almond Butter 

Jiva Organics Raw Sprouted Organic Almond Butter

Gopal’s Organic Raw Sprouted Almond Butter

Sun and Seed Organic Raw Almond Butter

CASHEW BUTTER

Artisana Organics Raw Cashew Butter

Sun and Seed Raw Organic Cashew Butter

Living Tree Raw Organic & Alive Cashew Butter

Wilderness Poets Raw Cashew Butter

Jiva Organics RAW Organic Cashew Butter

Gopal’s Organic Raw Cashew Butter

PECAN BUTTER

Artisana Organics Raw Pecan Butter

Wilderness Poets Organic Raw Pecan Butter

WALNUT BUTTER

Artisana Organics Raw Walnut Butter

Wilderness Poets Raw Organic Walnut Butter

Living Tree Alive & Raw Organic Walnut Butter

Gopal’s Raw Organic Walnut Butter

Sun & Seed Raw Organic Walnut Butter

PISTACHIO BUTTER

Wilderness Poets Raw Organic Pistachio Butter

Living Tree Alive & Raw Organic Pistachio Butter

SEED BUTTER

Wilderness Poets Organic Raw Pumpkin Seed Butter

Jiva Organics Raw Sprouted Organic Pumpkin Seed Butter

Gopal’s Organic Raw Sprouted Sunflower Seed Butter

Sun and Seed Organic Raw Sunflower Seed Butter

Want more shopping cheat-sheets like this?

I created a list of EVERYTHING you’ll find in my pantry and fridge – including brand names! 

Here’s how to get it: 

  1. Order a copy of my new cookbook, Food Babe Kitchen, below;
  2. Fill out the form here;
  3. I’ll instantly send my Ultimate Pantry List to your email. 

PRE-ORDER NOW

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Available in stores everywhere October 20th, 2020

Know anyone who still buys Jif or Skippy peanut butter? Please share this post with them. The sooner that people learn the truth about this pantry staple, the better! 

Xo,

Vani

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49 responses to “Peanut Butter & Almond Butter To Never Buy Again + My Top Brands (Ultimate Nut Butter Buying Guide)

      1. The Kirkland Organic Almond Butter has one ingredient:
        organic roasted almonds

        It must be stirred.

        Do you recommend this one?

  1. “Nut butters” which contain added oils are (mostly) composed of nuts which have been flushed with solvent to remove the peanut oi, which is then sold at a high price after the solvent is evaporated. The dry peanuts are then ground with cheap oils. This point does not affect the validity of your presentation. but it does add to understanding of the tricks of the “food industry.”

  2. Great post Vani! You have not done these in awhile and I’ve missed them 🙂
    I agree ARTISANA is one of the best out there; although pricey but well worth it when it comes to your health. Another one I use is NUTTZO Brand. They make non-organic and organic, so this needs to be watched. No added oil, raw, salt/no-salt and super-tasty.
    Look forward to more posts like this … keep up the good work!

  3. I second nutzo you can buy it at Whole Foods and Costco. Also artisana is our top choice.
    Thanks for once again reinforcing the need to read labels and make smart fact based food choices. Keep up the good work.

    1. Costco does not sell Nutzo. Also a Costco organic peanut butter is in a plastic jar, which was not discussed.

  4. As usual a VERY informative post AND a great comment by Bruce (at August 3, 2020 at 11am)! I love this contribution of knowledge from all sides

    1. DEFORESTATION. In order to plant the palm plants they are destroying the habitats of the Orangutan. The Red Ape sleeps eats and lives in the trees. If people continue to buy products with palm oil that will be the end of Orangutans.

      1. A lot of companies are actually using sustainable palm oil now. Some will put this directly on the package, while others make the information available on their website. I think there’s also some kind of rainforest alliance certified seal. When in doubt I always just email the company and ask. I personally sometimes cook with palm oil because it is more heat stable than other oils, especially when searing meat or using hot cast iron. Spectrum makes a good organic sustainable palm oil that I feel safe using. I think the concern might be consuming too much palm oil and getting your omega 6 out of balance, as with most oils. Moderation is key.

  5. You inevitably steer us away from everything that tastes good and toward foods that taste awful. A food can’t do much for your health if you don’t want to eat it.

    1. Are you saying that real whole food taste terrible? Maybe you need to transition from conventional to real whole food gradually because honestly once you do, there is no comparison & you’ll think the other tastes terrible.

    2. Eat food for your body, not “tongue-pleasure,” which is easily manipulated through processing. You’re setting yourself up for disease.

    3. Healthy food is often an acquired taste. So try it a small bit at a time instead of massive changes overnight. Chemicals and “natural flavorings” etc are in there to whet your appetite and make it taste appealing by contrast. Another way to change is, like Vani, me, and many others here, wait til you have serious health problems and are forced with essentially a life or death choice! Fifteen years ago my diet was pizza, cheese, sandwiches, candy, misc processed foods and gin. Today I rarely drink, am dairy free, wheat free, gluten free and eat almost entirely organic, plant based, and vegan except for farmers’ market eggs. Tomato and pear sandwiches? Yes please! I make an awesome kale and brussel sprout salad. Fifteen years ago I’d have smacked you and called you a liar. Kale???? GROSS!!! LOL No, I’m not a saint. If you’re getting her newsletter, you’re on the right track. Enough education and you’ll find yourself eventually making different choices. And YAY for you as that happens!

    4. With kids your statement rings even truer. I’ve eat fresh ground peanut butter from Whole Foods and it was awful. My grandkids spit it out immediately. We should all strive to eat a healthy diet in moderation. Healthy is very subjective. Someone below suggested eating the way they do is an acquired taste. You apparently just have to learn not to enjoy eating if you’re gonna eat from their kitchen

  6. Wild Soil Almond butter is made with California grown wild soil almonds, which is claimed to be superior to organic. They are sustainably grown without any toxins and have no additives. I order their raw almonds and almond butter from their website, free shipping. I must say the almond butter is the best I’ve had. Excellent. Just thought I’d share!

    1. Nina – excellent. Thank you! I’ve been doing the Trader Joe’s, but aware it’s not organic it’s been digging at me since the rest of my diet is so clean. The one you mentioned is a very viable price for the size and with a teeny budget and big organic diet (and organic shampoo, soap etc)….I haven’t been able to find – until now – a viable option that fit both the “clean” and the “good value” categories! And free shipping is a double bonus!

  7. Thank you again, I just ordered Macadamia Nut Butter from Wilderness Poet. I never knew such a butter existed & it is my favorite nut. Woo-hoo!

  8. Unfortunately, many of the healthier options are made on shared equipment with or in a facility with other nuts, such as peanuts, which can make it tough if you have food allergies and need to avoid cross contact with allergens to find a product that is safe but also healthy. Barney butter, for example, is made in a peanut free facility.

  9. Due to the high cost and low availability of organic almonds, here’s what I’ve been buying for years: Trader Joe’s RAW almond butter, creamy, no salt. Ingredients: Raw almonds.
    It isn’t listed on their web site so maybe it’s not distributed nationally, but it’s been in their New England stores for ages. At about $4/lb. it’s a good value for me. But if I ate more than one pound every 4-6 weeks, I’d probably seek out an organic version; I tend to focus my organic dollars where my total exposure to toxins might be higher due either to extreme contamination (like with berries and hot peppers) or relatively high, continuous consumption (like unsulphured dried apricots… but that’s just me.)

    1. TJ – yeah, Trader Joe’s, me too. And it’s REALLY GOOD. I’m in CT and I can get it here. I eat a lot of almond butter though and it’s been weighing on my mind. Although lol – ours went up – now $6.49/lb! And an organic almond butter is really expensive. A person a few comments up though mentioned one Wild Soil Almond Butter – it’s $21 for 32 oz and $14 for 16 oz. Frequently organic almond butter is $20 or more for 16 oz. Alternatively………..another cleanse…………

  10. We all love nut butter! But it SO SAD and disappointing that some are $20 A JAR! People living on a budget (us poor people) Cannot afford to eat these healthy products! So they more than likely choose JIF because it’s cheaper. 🙁 I wonder how much it would cost to grind my own in a Vitamix?

  11. I have made almond butter in my Vitamix. I buy the blanched almonds because the nut butters with bits of skin taste very bitter. You can find recipes for making your own nut butters online.

  12. Have you ever made your own nut butter? I started making my own homemade almond butter with Organic Spanish almonds since they are truly raw and not pasteurized like California almonds. Spanish almonds are more oily so easier to blend in my Vitamix. I only use the almonds no other oils or liquids.

  13. How about the honey roasted peanut butter or organic almond butter from the red machines at Whole Foods?

  14. Thanks Vani for looking out for the public’s health. I use Smucker’s certified Organic peanut butter. Letting the oil settle by turning the jar over is a trick I’ve been doing also. A good shake gets it started quickly. I’ll try the MaraNatha raw almond butter soon. I do like the Santa Cruz organic jellies as well. Thanks again Babe!

  15. Good information, but the versions recommended are absolutely not affordable for me or anyone I coach. Most people can’t afford or are not willing to spend $20+ on a jar of nut butter. That’s an outrageous price! I will stick to Trader Joe’s brand.

  16. By the way all natural is a meaningless word. Please check what I said about palm oil. Its important. Just scroll up.

    1. Yes, Smuckers Natural: Peanuts and Salt, that’s it. And once I get it stirred up I put it in the refrigerator. Because it’s in a glass jar, not plastic, when I use it I warm it up in the microwave for 15 seconds so it is spreadable. Works for me. (I don’t worry about nut butters being organic because they are in a shell that is removed.)

    2. But Caryl if it does not say Palm Oil…..If it says peanuts and salt, then that’s all that can be in there.

  17. Hi Vani,

    Wanted to drop you a line to let you know I appreciate all the research you put in to help cut through the confusion when it comes to picking the most healthful foods.

    I just recently discovered you within the last year, and so far, am glad I have.

    I have been trying to eat healthy for quite awhile now, but even for me, who does a little research on my own, it can become very confusing. So it’s nice to have people like yourself who seem dedicated to provide us with all the useful info you do.

    Keep up the great work, and I’m sure your new book will be a great success.

  18. I’ve researched them all and I’m very surprised that Vani didn’t list this one because it’s far superior to any on her list. Better Almond Butter Truly Raw Chunky Organic Sprouted Almond Butter is the best you can buy. They use unpasteurized almonds from Spain, and they are sprouted, which makes it better for you than any other almond butter. Amazon sells it and if you use Subscribe & Save, it’s $16 for 12oz. Expensive? Yes, absolutely… but when you look at the big picture, you either spend it now and live a long healthy life, or buy cheap, processed foods and spend all of your retirement savings on meds and seeing doctors, while being in pain!

    1. Also to anyone that is buying almond butters that say “Raw” on the label… unless the almonds are NOT from the U.S., it is NOT RAW… the U.S. will not allow almonds to be sold if they are unpasteurized.

      1. Eating unpasteurized food is dangerous. It’s Russian Roulette. Louis Pastuer became synonymous with safer food for a reason.

  19. Hi! I read your post its brilliant and very informative, I adore peanut butter and recently made my own with a selection of different nuts! normally I buy ‘whole earth absolutely no added sugar’ peanut butter but I will keep an eye out for some of these in the uk! thankyou.

  20. Which of the recommended peanut butter contain ONLY peanuts? We have a tree nut allergy in the family. Our allergist recommended JIF because they use dedicated lines. We use natural because it is the lesser evil between sugar and hydrogenation.

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