By Nicole Cherie Jones
June 12, 2014

When you think "peanut butter," you likely think "jelly"-or "chocolate." Both excellent combos, but if that's all you think of, it's time to expand your culinary repertoire.

Peanut butter-as well as almond butter and all the other thick nut spreads out there like cashew, macadamia, walnut, and pecan-can be used in a plethora of recipes to add flavor, make things rich and creamy, and raise good dishes to the purely amazing level. Try these fresh ideas from top cookbook authors and food bloggers, but be warned: You may find yourself adding nut butters to almost every recipe once you realize it's good with pretty much everything.


Skip the flour. Instead, use a combo of your favorite nut butter, eggs, bananas, and cinnamon to make these gluten-free, protein-rich pancakes.

The ingredients list here is a tad long, but so worth it. These soft granola bars have a similar texture to a packaged brand, yet you'd be hard to find this mix of pepitas, almonds, coconut, cherries, and spices in stores.

These maple-syrup-sweetened treats prove that tasty muffins don't only come in fruity flavors. And they're a cinch to make.

Make this recipe on Sunday and have breakfast all week long. These chewy vegan bars with tart cranberries and crunchy pecans can also be made gluten-free or formed into cookies.


Made with healthy ingredients like whole-wheat pastry flour, almond butter, and applesauce, these are baked, not fried-and topped with a gooey, lick-your-fingers glaze.

No-Bake Sweets

These easy, no-sugar-added bars taste a little like Snickers and are packed with nuts and dried fruit. Pick your faves or whatever you have on hand to change up the flavor.


A creamy, thick icing made with protein-rich Greek yogurt and salty peanut butter to top all your favorite healthy (or not-so-healthy) treats, or use as a dip with fruit.

Nut butter, protein powder, and honey or agave are all you need to make these soft, fudgy-rich snacks. Feel free to add chocolate chips (because why not?).

Soft yet crunchy, fruity yet chocolatey, these are good for breakfast or snacks, and will stay fresh in the fridge for a week.


Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and delicious! These bite-size sweets are perfect for when a chocolate craving attacks.

Frozen Treats

If you haven't tried using frozen bananas to make ice cream, you'll be surprised how much fruit can taste like the rich dessert.

We fell in love with these adorable little stacks (shown at left) as soon as we saw them in our Pinterest feed. Portion control, check.

Made with real berries instead of jarred jam, these little frosty treats are bursting with the beloved PB&J flavors. What a genius use of a muffin tin!

Cake, frozen, on a stick? Oh yes. And they're made from simple, whole ingredients.


Smoothies and Shakes

With only three ingredients, this makes for a speedy vegan snack or pre-workout drink loaded with naturally sweet almond flavors. Be sure to use unsweetened cherries to avoid added sugars.

This wacky (in a good way!) blend calls for some of our favorite superfoods: avocado, chia seeds, coconut flakes, and three types of berries.

Okay, so it's not actually green and it's a tad high calorie (more dessert than snack), but we don't care: coconut milk, avocado, cocoa, peanut butter, and spinach, and it tastes like a PB cup-what's not to love?


PB&J Remixes

"Achingly sweet and an iconic deep purple when cooked, concord grapes aren't just for kids," says food writer Caroline Wright. We agree!

Avocado roll lovers may say this isn't sushi (Where's the rice? Where's the fish?). We say who cares? Plus this almond butter and banana roll will stay with you.

This stunner combines sweet raspberries, crunchy carrots, and refreshing lettuce with nut butter. Surprisingly delicious!


Making this crazy good spicy-sweet roasted PB, then pair it with juicy peaches and toast it up for a taste of summer with a kick.

PB mixed with cilantro, onion, garlic, and vinegar plays well with cool cucumber slices and creamy avocado in this Thai-inspired twist. (No, really!)

Asian-Inspired Stirfries, Noodles, and More

A Bento box is a complete, balanced meal. This version with tofu, soba noodles, and lots of veggies uses a rich and spicy coconut milk-peanut butter sauce to jazz up the mix.

Peanut noodles get a dose of fresh flavor from buttery, slightly sweet edamame and fresh mint and cilantro. Mix up the vegetables based on what's in your fridge, then serve it right away or let it sit so the flavors meld more.


The combination of quick-fried tofu, sautéed greens, and tangy Thai-inspired peanut sauce brings a ton of texture and flavor to the plate.

Spice up your night with this one-pot wonder of low-cal cauliflower in a nutty, chile-laced sauce that would be delish with grilled pork or salmon.

A few supermarket shortcuts (slaw mix and Thai chili sauce) make this wrap quick and easy. It also packs almost 30 grams of protein.

A high-protein puree of cashew butter, white beans, and silken tofu form the base of this brilliantly green, almost-instant soup that's excellent warm or chilled.

Peanut butter, tomatoes, and collard greens sounds, well, pretty disgusting, but you'll be shocked at how amazing this comforting soup is. Be generous with the sriracha if you like heat.

Blender soups are made for busy nights. This tomato-free gazpacho uses cucumber and green grapes for a quick and satisfying meal.

A delicious, creamy, smooth dessert, this chilled soup is the perfect end to summer dinners.


The richness of peanut butter balances out the tang of tomatoes and the spices in this hearty one-pot chili.

Savory Sauces, Snacks, and Sides

So long, sweet potato casserole! This egg- and butter-free side's velvety smooth texture comes from almond butter, and it's just as cinnamony good.


No tahini? No prob. Use PB instead-there's no chance you'll taste a difference.

The answer to even your busiest nights, this zesty sauce goes with just about any protein, whether you're in the mood for poultry, beef, tofu, or legumes.

Unlike most spring rolls that have maybe three or four ingredients, these are stuffed with tons of flavors and textures, from crispy bell pepper to creamy avocado to sweet spinach to gingery sweet potatoes. And then, of course, there's the lime-garlic almond butter dipping sauce. Heaven.


Sriracha + peanut butter = addictive. Serve this sweet, spicy, salty sauce as a vegetable dip, or try it on meat, noodles, and salads, and in wraps.

Salads and Dressings

A simple salad with a simple dressing, the nutty-ginger drizzle amps up the heartiness to keep you satisfied.

Look no further for the perfect picnic salad that's as good for you as it is pretty. Raw cabbage and shredded papaya give it a satisfying crunch with a touch of tang.


This five-ingredient dressing takes less than 5 minutes to whip up. No chopping or cooking required. Now pick your fave vegetables and dig in!

Photo credits (in order of appearance): Skinny Taste, Green Kitchen Stories, Nutritionist in the Kitch, Barney Butter, Amy Green of Simply Sugar and Gluten Free for Peanut Butter and Co., Brandi Evans of BranAppetit for Peanut Butter and Co., Camille Styles, Angela Liddon for, The Scrumptious Pumpkin, My New Roots, Pinch of Yum