I never understood why there were so many different nut butters at Trader Joe's. You can get peanut butter, almond butter, cookie butter, sunflower seed butter, so many other butters, many available in creamy, crunchy, salted, unsalted, organic or normal. Wow. Needless to say, TJ's nut butter wall is the stuff of panic attacks.
But how are the nut butters even different? How's the crunchy, salty peanut butter compare to the raw, organic almond butter? Or the crunchy, salty and organic peanut butter for that matter. Well, I did it. I braved the wall of butters to try six different nut butters. Sunflower; crunchy, salted peanut; organic, crunchy, salted peanut; raw, crunchy salted; and better'n peanut butter are all here, with a special guest of crunchy cookie butter. What's the difference? Well..
Trader Joe's offers peanut butter in organic, non-organic, salted, unsalted, smooth, crunchy and “Better'n” versions. This time around, we'll be looking at the crunchy and salted non-organic and organic peanut butters, as well as the better'n — just out of morbid curiosity.
The non-organic peanut butter is wonderful (and is actually my go-to peanut butter). It's a pretty standard jar of crunchy peanut butter, and it's not as sweet as the name brand butters tend to be. You can eat it sans guilt, knowing that the only ingredients in the jar are, as my sister would say, “straight up peanuts.”
The same, unfortunately, can't be said for the organic peanut butter.
While the regular Trader Joe's peanut butter uses dry-roasted peanuts, the organic peanut butter uses non-roasted peanuts, and I'm not sure where to begin explaining my disdain for the organic jar.
How different could the organic and non-organic peanuts butter actually be?
So. Totally. Different.
For one, the earthy flavor you get with the organic peanut butter isn't so much an pleasant undertone or hint as a full-on top note. The organic peanut butter is just earthy — it's almost like eating a jar of mud. Normally, I can't find something at Trader Joe's that I wouldn't eat twice, but I can't help but despise Trader Joe's organic, crunchy, salted peanut butter. It's a waste of peanuts.
Then there's the Better'n peanut butter. The name's verging on false advertising, because it's not better n' anything. While apparently low in sugar, this sorry excuse for peanut butter is almost inedible with how sweet it is. I don't care that it's 85 percent less fat than regular peanut butter — it's also 85 percent worse. At least, when it's between bread.
However, while it may not be my favorite thing for lunch, I know first hand that the Better'n peanut butter — really more of a paste — makes for a pretty killer dessert. Dollop the low sodium, trans fat-free, saturated fat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, cholesterol-free, preservative-free peanut butter substitute on top of some vanilla ice cream and you almost feel healthy.
But Trader Joe's isn't just in the peanut butter business, oh no. For those of you with peanut allergies, TJ's got you covered with almond, sunflower, cookie, and others.
Raw Almond Butter
Trader Joe's almond butters are a great alternative to peanut butter, but Trader Joe's actually does sell raw almond butter. Seriously. Raw almond butter.
While there's not much to say about the differences between raw and regular almond butter (really guys, it's OK to cook your food), the raw almond butter doesn't taste bad, but it doesn't really taste good either. Almonds are one of the best nuts in existence, but this butter? A resounding meh. The thing just tastes like straight up almonds, which would be fine if it wasn't so obnoxiously thick.
Drop it in a smoothie or with some yogurt and it might be amazing. But solo? Meh.
As alternate taster Alex Moskowitz said, “It's just an easy way of putting almonds on something you want almonds on.”
Pro tip: Get the creamy almond butter. Almonds are naturally harder than peanuts and “crunchy” almond butter can be a little.. sharp.
Sunflower Seed Butter
Earthy and delicately sweet, sunflower seed butter tastes as bright as the jar it comes in. It's a good substitute; just apply sparingly because sunflower seed butter is really, really strong tasting. It doesn't take more than a teaspoonful to slap you in the face with sunflower seeds.
Are you really bad at spreading peanut butter? This is the butter for you. Sunflower seed butter spreads like, well, warmed butter. “Goopy” is the only word that comes to mind when it comes to texture; it went from jar to toast with ease.
The special finale, cookie butter
Cookie butter had the most buzz of any of the butters on the list. It makes sense — it's a jar of spreadable gingerbread cookies and biscuits. What's not to worship?
It's so popular that Trader Joe's was completely out of stock of the creamy cookie butter. Crunchy it is.
The crunchy cookie butter is horrible. It's sandy, it's too sweet, there's nothing redeeming about it. All I had after that taste test was sadness, a gritty mouth and elevated blood sugar levels.
“Why?” I asked myself. “Why had Trader Joe's done this to me?”
I love Trader Joe's. I couldn't believe I had rejected so many of the store's items in one sitting, especially the cookie butter. The anticipation! The excitement! All wiped away after one single bite.
The disappointment felt a little like growing up. Like when you find out the tooth fairy and Santa Claus aren't real (spoiler alert). Now I see the small little tropical-themed store without coconut-colored glasses. But hey, at least I have enough nut butters to last me through the year.