15 Ways to Upgrade Your Peanut Butter Sandwich

iStock
iStock

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.  

11 Unusual Cutting and Cheese Boards

Fred & Friends, Amazon
Fred & Friends, Amazon

Planning a wine and cheese party? Make sure what you're using to serve snacks is just as cute as your food is delicious.

1. Mouse Trap; $21

A cheese board shaped like a mouse trap

Fred & Friends, Amazon

At first glance, this item just looks like an oversized mouse trap. Ingeniously, the snapping part of the trap can be removed to reveal it's actually a cheese slicer. A chunk of cheese can be displayed and sliced on the 9-inch-long board—just don't invite any mice to the party.

Find it: Amazon

2. MOUSE BOARD; $30

A board shaped like a mouse hole with a mouse-shaped cheese cutter on top

Fred & Friends, Amazon

If a mouse trap is a little too macabre for your shindig, consider this adorable alternative. Assemble your cheeses on the 8-inch-long board and slice them up with a mouse-shaped knife that can be stored in the Tom and Jerry-esque mouse hole at the bottom.

Find it: Amazon

3. STATE SLATE; $20

Cheese and crackers arrayed on a slate cheese board

Bison Hill Stonecrafts, Amazon

Celebrate cheese from all over the United States with this patriotic slate. You can even grab a piece of chalk and write down the names of all the cheeses for hungry guests. Creator Bison Hill Stonecrafts will even personalize your board with a laser engraving, if you'd like.

Find it: Amazon

4. Log and Axe; $25

A cheese board shaped like a cut tree trunk

Fred & Friends, Amazon

Give your cheese a rustic presentation with this log and axe set-up. The solid beech cutting board is shaped like a log and comes with an axe-shaped knife to help you bring out your inner lumberjack.

Find it: Amazon

5. Mariner Wheel; $35

Invite all your sailor friends over for snacks with this nautical cheese board. When each of the four differently-shaped knives are placed into their respective holes in the board, the board looks like a ship's wheel.

Find it: UncommonGoods

6. Cheese Degrees; $20

A cutting board with a protractor design

Fred & Friends, Amazon

Make sure everyone gets an even amount of cheese with this obsessively precise cutting board. Whether you want perfect cubes or exactly portioned triangles, this cheese board can help ensure that everything is perfectly sliced.

Find it: Amazon

7. The States; $28

A cheese board in the shape of New York state

Amy Stringer-Mowat and Bill Mowat, UncommonGoods

Celebrate your home state with a bamboo cutting board created by New York-based woodworkers Amy Stringer-Mowat and Bill Mowat. You can see all the available state shapes in this PDF.

Find it: UncommonGoods

8. Voodoo Doll; $20

Pull out this voodoo doll-shaped board when you're feeling a little vindictive. You can hack away at meats and cheese and then store the knife appropriately in the wooden doll's back.

Find it: Overstock.com

9. Ampersand; $48

Delight your guests with some knowledge about where the ampersand comes from while using this board, which lets you fill a twisting line of crackers around three different cheeses.

Find it: UncommonGoods

10. Say Cheese; $19

A cheese board shaped like a smiling mouth

Fred & Friends, Amazon

Smile! It's cheese time. This mouth-shaped cheese board looks just as happy about the selection as you do. Underneath all the food, the board says "say cheese" in the center.

Find it: Amazon

11. The Obsessive Chef; $27

A cutting board with measurements on it

Fred & Friends, Amazon

This product comes with a series of lines to guide the cutter, including how to medium dice, small dice, brunoise, fine brunoise, batonnet, allumette, julienne, and fine julienne. The lines are burnished instead of printed, so they'll never get worn away.

Find it: Amazon or at one of the retailers below:

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

A version of this article first ran in 2017. It has been updated to reflect current availability.

A Massive Beef Recall Due to E. Coli Might Affect Your Memorial Day Meal Plans

iStock/Kameleon007
iStock/Kameleon007

If your Memorial Day weekend plans involve grilling meat, you're going to want to take some extra precautions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday that 62,112 pounds of raw beef are being recalled due to possible contamination with E. coli bacteria, which causes food poisoning.

The meat originated with the Aurora Packing Company of North Aurora, Illinois on April 19. Aurora Packing is recalling the products, which have an EST. 788 number on the USDA mark of inspection found on packaging and were shipped to stores around the country. The meat was packaged in multiple cuts, including ribeye and briskets.

Escherichia coli, better known as E. coli, is bacteria that affects the gastrointestinal system, causing cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, and other serious symptoms that can derail one's celebratory mood. If you think you've purchased any of the contaminated meat, it's recommended that you immediately discard it.

[h/t USA Today]

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