Natural peanut butter may be many things – free of hydrogenated oils and sugar, perfectly peanut-y, delicious – but it won’t win any awards for ease of use.
Because natural peanut butter (peanuts and salt, basically) doesn’t use stabilizer oils to keep it homogenized, you have to stir the peanut butter thoroughly when you first open the jar. This sounds easy, but if you’ve ever done it, you know it’s a cumbersome task to get it all mixed together smoothly. Some of the oil always globs out on the countertop!
Is there a better way to mix natural peanut butter than stirring it by hand? I tried four other ways and found what I think is a winning method.
Natural Peanut Butter Mixing Techniques
Here are five ways you can mix natural peanut butter:
- The Spoon Method: The go-to method, wherein you take a spoon or a knife and stir (and stir and stir) the oil and solids together until the peanut butter is once again homogenous.
- The Hand-Crank Method: This requires one of these, a contraption that’s specifically designed to mix natural peanut butter without all the mess. But does it really work?
- Immersion Blender: Power blend that natural peanut butter right in the jar itself! At least, that’s the idea.
- Food Processor or Blender: Scoop out the natural peanut butter from the jar and into either a food processor or blender, then blend. It must work at mixing it together, but is it worth the hassle?
- The Upside Down Method: Store a jar of natural peanut butter upside down for one to three days, then shake for 20 seconds before opening it. Apparently storing the jar upside down enables the oil to rise back up through the peanut butter and essentially mix itself.
I rated each technique on three criteria: how effectively the method mixed the peanut butter, how much of a hassle it was or a mess it made, and whether or not I’d do it that way again. Each method got a score on a scale of 1-10, one being the worst and 10 being the best.
For all of these methods, I used the same peanut butter: Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter, which was our top pick for the best natural peanut butter!
The Spoon Method
What I Did: I dug a large spoon deep into my jar of peanut butter and stirred... and stirred... and stirred.
Hassle/Mess: One would think that years of stirring natural peanut butter this way would improve my technique and make me a master stirrer, a no-oil-spilled-ever savant! But no. Despite stirring slowly and carefully, a little oil still splashed out and dribbled down the sides of the jar, and, of course, the spoon handle was entirely covered in peanut butter. Score: 4
Mixing Effectiveness: This method mostly works, but it’s still tricky to incorporate all the solid chunks at the very bottom of the jar. You really have to dig into the curves of the jar to get it all out and up, and it’s in that scooping motion that some oil often glugs out of the jar. Score: 6
Would I use this method in the future? I can’t not use this method at least some of the time, since it is the most basic way to mix natural peanut butter. But it does make me wonder: Is there a better way?
OVERALL SCORE: 5
The Hand-Crank Method
What I Did: I bought Grandpa Witmer’s Old-Fashioned Mess-Free Nut Butter and and Natural Peanut Butter Mixer (top score for having the longest product name ever), size 16 oz/3” to fit the Smucker’s jar, assembled it (super easy), screwed it on to the Smucker’s jar in place of the original lid, and cranked it about 50 times.
Hassle/Mess: This contraption lives up to its mess-free name. Because you’re doing all the stirring within a closed jar, there’s no chance of splashing oil on the counter, and no need to scrape peanut butter off a knife or spoon. In fact, the mixing rod self-cleans when you pull it out so you don’t have to deal with any peanut butter residue. Score: 9
Mixing Effectiveness: This is where Grandpa Witmer lost me. I didn’t really mind turning the hand crank so many times, since it wasn’t difficult, but I was disappointed to see when I opened the jar that the peanut butter wasn’t completely mixed together, even after all that cranking! The oil wasn’t pooled on top anymore, but there were still solid chunks of peanut butter at the very bottom of the jar, and overall the consistency remained chunky. Score: 4
Would I use this method in the future? Eh, probably not. I loved how clean the process was, but I’m not keen on buying a unitasker like this unless it’s a miracle worker. And it wasn’t.
OVERALL SCORE : 6
The Immersion Blender Method
What I Did: Since my immersion blender head was too large to fit directly into the Smucker’s natural peanut butter jar (which would have been ideal), I scooped all the peanut butter out of the jar into a bowl, and then used the immersion blender to mix it all together.
Hassle/Mess: Ugh, a lot. Having to scoop out the peanut butter into a separate bowl meant I had to clean said bowl, spatula, the outside of the peanut butter jar (since scooping the peanut butter out and putting it back in was a messy business), and immersion blender blade when I was done, which required some power washing with my faucet sprayer to get all the peanut butter out of the blade crevices! It was lot of extra pieces to wash. Score: 2
Effectiveness: Despite the hassle, the immersion blender worked! I blended the peanut butter for about one to two minutes, and it was nicely mixed by the end. Score: 8
Would I use this method in the future? Probably not. If the whole reason you don’t just want to just stir your peanut butter in the first place is because it’s messy, then this is a crazy alternative. Yes, the immersion blender does a fine job of blending the peanut butter (and if you can blend in the jar itself, that would obviously improve things!). But scooping the PB out and scooping it back in is way messier than just stirring could ever be.
OVERALL SCORE: 4
The Food Processor or Blender Method
What I Did: I scooped all the peanut butter out of the jar into a small 3-cup food processor, then blended it for 20 seconds. (You can also try this with a blender.)
Hassle/Mess: Like the immersion blender, I was questioning my life choices in the midst of scooping out all this peanut butter into the food processor bowl, knowing I was going to have to scrape out the bowl and get it all back into the jar again. This couldn’t possibly be worth it. That said, my food processor blade was slightly easier to clean of peanut butter than my immersion blender blade. Score: 3
Mixing Effectiveness: To the surprise of no one, the food processor did the best job of all the methods at turning my separated natural peanut butter into one smooth, homogenous spread. It was so well-mixed I was tempted to stop all testing immediately and spoon some of that goodness straight onto a piece of bread. Score: 10
Would I use this method in the future? Possibly, if I committed to mixing three or more jars of peanut butter at once, and then decanting them into one large container. You’re still adding half a dozen steps with this method from your baseline stirring-with-a-spoon technique, and even though the mix is great, it’s probably not worth it to me for just one jar.
OVERALL SCORE: 7
The Upside Down Method
What I Did: I turned the jar of Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter upside down in my pantry and left it that way for four days. Then right before opening it, I shook it for 20 to 30 seconds.
Hassle/Mess: None! Everything you do for this technique is done before the jar is even opened, so there’s no mess and no hassle. The only thing you really have to remember is to flip the jar upside down before you put it away in your pantry, and you’re good to go. Score: 10
Mixing Effectiveness: I’ll be honest: I’d read about this technique all over the internet, but was still totally prepared for it to be a bust. I was surprised, then, when I opened the jar of peanut butter and found that – yes! – this technique had actually worked. The oil had reintegrated, and the peanut butter was smooth and homogenous. Not quite as smooth as it was with the food processor, but definitely as good or better than I would have achieved stirring by hand. Win! Score: 9
Would I use this method in the future? Definitely, but it’s important to note that the final shaking is key. That’s what really mixes everything up.
OVERALL SCORE: 9
And the Winner Is…
... the Upside Down Method!
This method gets the award for the easiest and most effective-yet-mess-free way to mix natural peanut butter! It won’t work if you buy a jar of natural peanut butter and plan to open it right away (it really needs to sit upside down for a few days before shaking), but if you’re storing a few jars in the pantry, store them upside down, shake them vigorously before you open, and voila – perfectly mixed natural peanut butter!