Is Peanut Butter Vegan? How to Choose Plant-Based Peanut Butter

Whether you like it crunchy or smooth, there's vegan peanut butter for you.

Close-up of a knife spreading peanut butter on a slice of bread
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Peanut butter consists of ground peanuts or, sometimes, a mixture of peanuts, salt, sugar, and oil. This fan-favorite (and often vegan) spread makes a great sandwich and is often used in desserts and condiment recipes. Alas, things can get sticky when you come across jars of peanut butter with non-vegan ingredients blended in.

Here, we dive into the world of peanut butter and share why most are vegan, which products aren't vegan, and our expert shopping tips.

Why Peanut Butter Is Usually Vegan

Invented in the United States by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg in 1895, peanut butter contains peanuts and sometimes salt, sugar, and oil—all of which are plant-based ingredients. The peanuts are shelled, dry roasted, cooled, blanched, and ground into a paste until the desired consistency is reached. Chunky and smooth kinds of peanut butter are ground to varying degrees.

Hydrogenated vegetable oil found in the most common peanut butter brands, like Jif and Skippy, stabilizes the nut butter by preventing peanuts' natural oils from sitting at the top of the jar. The oil you see in natural peanut butters—where the only ingredients are peanut butter and salt—comes from the peanuts themselves and is not added vegetable oil.

When Is Peanut Butter Not Vegan?

While most peanut butter is safe for vegans, there are still a few considerations. First, non-vegan peanut butters might use honey as a sweetening agent, which is not vegan. Likewise, less common specialty spreads may include non-vegan chocolate swirled in a peanut butter jar—a delightful dessert, but not for plant-based eaters.

There is also the mystery of sugar's vegan status. The refining process of certain sugars might involve the use of a bone char filtration system to remove impurities. Check with your favorite peanut butter brands to see what their sugar processing involves, or choose nut butter without sugar.

Did You Know?

Palm oil is a popular addition to certain foods due to its long shelf life. However, its production is a major cause of deforestation and habitat loss, impacting a range of wildlife species. Some small peanut butter producers that include palm oil in their products work closely with organizations like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which sets certain standards for sustainable palm oil production.

Types of Vegan Peanut Butter

We're giving you the vegan go-ahead on the following peanut butters. Above and beyond their vegan status, these brands incorporate high-quality ingredients and production methods.

  • 365 by Whole Foods Organic Peanut Butter
  • Yum Butter Organic Peanut Butter
  • Justin's Classic Peanut Butter
  • Santa Cruz Organic Peanut Butter
  • Spread the Love Organic Peanut Butter
  • CB's Nuts Organic Peanut Butter
  • Crazy Richard's Peanut Butter Co. 100% Peanuts
  • Naked Nutrition Powdered Peanut Butter
  • Georgia Grinders Creamy Peanut Butter
  • Saratoga Peanut Butter Company's Plain Jane Creamy Peanut Butter
  • Fortnum & Mason Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • Hank's Protein Plus Vegan Peanut Butter
  • Trader Joe's Peanut Butters

Types of Non-Vegan Peanut Butter

From peanut butter chocolate creations to jars that contain honey, some familiar grocery-store items are off-limits because they include animal-based components. Keep in mind that while standard peanut butters from conventional brands like Jif and Skippy are considered vegan, they do contain sugar, which could be made with bone char.

  • Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter with Honey
  • Peter Pan Crunchy Honey Roast Peanut Spread
  • Skippy Roasted Honey Nut Creamy Peanut Butter
  • Justin's Honey Peanut Butter
  • Big Spoon Peanut Butter With Wildflower Honey
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is Jif Natural Peanut Butter vegan?

    Jif Natural Peanut Butter is widely considered vegan because it contains only peanuts, sugar, palm oil, salt, and molasses. Note, though, that sugar is often made with bone char, an animal ingredient, and that palm oil production drives deforestation, which deters many environmental vegans.

  • Can vegans eat peanuts?

    Absolutely! Peanuts are plant-based. Check the label of peanuts you buy in stores to ensure they are not processed with non-vegan ingredients, like honey.