Few foods are more nostalgic than a peanut butter sandwich, but your culinary skills need a serious upgrade if you’re still making the same basic recipe you enjoyed as a kid. Here are 15 simple ways to elevate the classic lunchtime staple to new—and delicious—heights.
1. TRY A DIFFERENT NUT (OR SEED) BUTTER.
PB might the most popular protein-packed sandwich spread, but it’s not the only one sold in grocery stores. You’ll probably find almond, cashew, and hazelnut butters at your local supermarket, and specialty stores carry even more varieties, like sunflower and pumpkin seed butters, Brazil nut butter, and pistachio butter. Each one boasts unique health properties, and—more importantly—they provide your sandwich with new, distinct flavors without sacrificing the creamy texture you love.
2. EXPERIMENT WITH SWEET—AND SAVORY—JAMS.
Grape jelly is the go-to fruit spread for PB&Js, but other sweet preserves might taste just as good (if not better) when paired with nut butters. Try strawberry, raspberry, red plum jam, mango, blackberry, blueberry, and even boysenberry. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can opt for a savory spread, like bacon jam.
3. TOAST, GRILL, OR FRY THE BREAD.
No one ever said a peanut butter sandwich is best served cold. Try grilling it, frying it, cooking it in a Panini press, and toasting it in the oven.
4. ADD SOME CRUNCH.
Prefer crunchy peanut butter to creamy? Skip the chunky pre-made spreads, purchase a jar of plain PB, and whip up your own custom blend. Nutrition buffs might opt for seeds, granola, or coconut flakes, but if calories aren’t an issue (or you’re craving dessert early), try crushed cookies, potato chips, or even sprinkles.
5. SPICE THINGS UP.
Raid your spice cabinet and sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice, nutmeg, cloves, or cardamom into your peanut butter. Looking for more of a kick? Opt for cayenne pepper and chili powder.
6. DOUBLE DECKER IT.
Instead of chowing down on a hearty club sandwich, consider making yourself a double-decker PB&J. Take three pieces of bread, and cover two with jelly and one with PB. Place the PB-covered bread slice sticky-side down on top of one of the jelly-covered slices, and add more peanut butter to its other side. Place the second jelly-covered slice on top, cut it in half, and voila!
7. TRY OUT DIFFERENT BREADS.
Skip the white sandwich bread and opt for baguettes, sourdough, whole grains, English muffins, and even tortillas (try rolling them up like burritos).
8. EAT IT FOR BREAKFAST.
Try adding peanut butter to pancakes, croissants, crepes, and French Toast.
9. SWAP JELLY OUT FOR FRUIT.
Looking to cut down on added sugars? Swap sweet spreads out for fresh fruits like grapes, blueberries, and strawberries. (If you miss the texture of jelly, try sautéing the fruits before putting them into your sandwich.)
10. EAT YOUR PEANUT BUTTER LIKE A FAMOUS CELEBRITY.
One iconic American rock and roll pioneer enjoyed an unusual twist on the peanut butter sandwich: Instead of eating with jelly, he preferred mashed banana—and he also liked for the bread to be pan-fried golden brown.
11. TURN IT INTO DESSERT.
Marshmallow fluff, chocolate syrup, and melted chocolate-peanut butter cups transform an everyday peanut butter sandwich into a unique dessert. If you’re looking for something even more decadent, consider using slices of pound cake instead of bread.
12. ADD SOME PIZAZZ WITH COOKIE CUTTERS.
Use cookie cutters to cut a peanut butter sandwich into tiny tea sandwiches—Christmas trees, snowmen, and snowflakes for holiday get-togethers, and hearts, stars, and dinosaurs for year-round parties.
13. MAKE A THAI-INSPIRED SANDWICH.
Instead of ordering takeout from your favorite Asian restaurant, make yourself a Thai-inspired sandwich. Cover whole-grain bread with unsweetened peanut butter, rotisserie chicken breasts, sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, chopped red onions, and hot sauce.
14. ADD EGGS.
Top your peanut butter sandwich with poached, fried, or scrambled eggs. Your inner child might be grossed out, but your adult palate might appreciate the novel combination of rich, salty egg yolk and savory peanut butter.
15. DRIZZLE IT WITH HONEY.
According to fitness experts, a peanut butter sandwich made on whole wheat bread and drizzled with honey is a great post-workout snack. It’s filled with healthy complex carbs, plus it’s simple to make—and eat—on the fly.