For our December 2009 Taste Test column, we sampled 16 different peanut butters over the course of four days. The results may surprise you (as they did us). Some staffers decided to ditch their household favorite for the brands that performed best in our blind taste test.The winners: 

  • Best Crunchy -- TIE!: Jif and Skippy
  • Best Creamy: Skippy
  • Best Natural Creamy: Adams
  • Best Natural Crunchy: Krema

Read more about the winners in this story.

We took it a step further with a peanut butter cookie bake-off. We tested the four top brands with a very basic, no-frills recipe: 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, and 1 egg. The cookies were surprisingly different. 

Skippy Creamy won top honors, producing a nice balance between salty and sweet. "The peanut butter seemed a little saltier," says Senior Food Editor Ann Taylor Pittman. "It made the flavor more rounded, not too over-the-top sweet."

The result was a very classic peanut butter cookie that lived up to our childhood cookie standards. "They reminded us all of school cookies," says Test Kitchens Director Vanesssa Johnson. "Other lost their nuttiness."

Interestingly, natural peanut butters produced cloyingly sweet cookies, possibly because they contain less (or no) salt compared to other brands. (Salt helps to balance the natural sweetness of the peanuts.) Natural peanut butters also produced a slightly denser texture and needed to cook a little longer -- an extra minute or two. While we don't recommend natural peanut butters for baking, they are great in sates and other cooked recipes.