11 Ways to Update Peanut Butter and Jelly


Most of us have been eating peanut butter and jelly sandiwches since we first moved to solid food. Inexpensive, quick, and easy to pack, it's unsurprising that many of us continue to nosh on these sandwiches well into adulthood. But the ubiquitous PB&J can also get a little boring after a while. Try one of these easy variations to add some excitement to the old sandwich. (See also: Sex Up Your Sandwich: Ideas for Budget-Concious Brown Baggers)

1. Use Other Butters

Cashew butter, almond butter, and sesame seed butter all taste great. Most — especially cashew butter and almond butter — are available in both crunchy and smooth.

2. Make PB&J for Breakfast

What's better than peanut butter and jelly? Peanut butter and jelly drenched in maple syrup. Rachel Ray has a recipe for peanut butter and jelly french toast sticks.

3. Go Elvis

The King loved his peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Give a hat tip to Elvis by adding sliced banana between your peanut butter and jelly. Or try other fresh fruits like sliced apples or pears.

4. Grill It

The bread gets toasty, and the filling gets gooey and warm. It's a perfect quick winter comfort meal.

5. Add Raisins

...or dried cranberries, chopped prunes, or any other dried fruit.

6. Prepare a Pina PB&J

Sprinkle a layer of shredded coconut (preferably unsweetened) between the peanut butter and the jelly.

7. Lose the Bread

Almond butter and jam with raisins between two rice cakes is one of my favorite travel snacks — plus it's gluten-free. You can also try PB&J wrapped in a tortilla, on pizza crust, or on banana bread for a decadent dessert sandwich.

8. Toast Up PB&J S'mores

Add a layer of peanut butter and a layer of jelly to graham crackers before smushing them in with chocolate and a soft marshmallow.

9. Prepare PB&J Pie Pockets

These handheld peanut butter and jelly pockets look a little like Uncrustables, but feature peanut butter and jelly inside of a flaky pie crust.

10. Use a Savory Jelly or Jam

My mom gave me a jar of red pepper jelly for Christmas. It's a great pairing for cheeses, but also makes for a totally different peanut butter and jelly experience.

11. Put PB&J on Your Burger

This might sound like an example of two sandwiches that should never meet, but peanut butter and jelly burgers are popping up at restaurants across the United States. The key, it seems, is to choose your jam carefully. Very carefully.

Do you make a great, atypical peanut butter and jelly sandwich? What variations am I missing? Share in the comments!


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Guest's picture

Why use processed jellies or jams at all? This is prime berry season. Lightly mash a bunch of raspberries with a fork and spread over PB on a sandwich. Drizzle on a little honey and lightly cover with a bit of granola for some crunch -- good stuff.

Meg Favreau's picture

Fresh berries? Crunchy granola? Honey? I love everything about this sandwich.

Guest's picture

My kids would eat PB&J every day if I let them! I did a post about peanut butter sandwiches with a spreadsheet of spreads and toppings to make it easier to come up with variety. We have some of the same options, but S'Mores didn't occur to me. Yum!

Meg Favreau's picture

A PB&J chart -- I love it! The shredded carrot idea is great for getting some veggies in, too.

Andrea Karim's picture

Totally yes on the savory jellies! Try a grilled peanut butter sandwich with grated aged asiago cheese and a spicy green pepper jelly. LOVE it!

Guest's picture

How could you forget peanut butter and Nutella?? It's good on wheat bread, but I also love the combo on waffles instead of syrup. It's like a Reese Cup on a waffle...heaven.

Guest's picture

A dusting of Cinnamon is nice, but add a dash of Tabasco for some spice. Hot foods help curb your appetite as well.

Guest's picture

Peanut butter (from Trader Joes) on whole wheat toast (extra crunchy) is always a hit, but when cherry jam (from Trader Joes) is gobbed on, the results are delicious!

Here's something my grandpa loves: Peanut butter sandwhich with strawberry or raspberry yogurt and potato chips filled in the sandwhich (yes, I did say yogurt and potato chips!). It's surprisingly yummy, with lots of flavor and crunch.

I also find putting real berries sprinkled with sugar in a sandwhich (rather than using jelly) is extra yummy, and not as processed for all of you health-nuts out there.

Another variation of the sandwhich is take a bagel, fill with jelly of choice between halves, and frost with peanutbutter on top for a "bagel sandwhich donut".

Dessert sandwhich? Sure! Take two slices of pound cake, spread with peanutbutter and jelly, chopped walnuts, some whipped cream, and sandwhich together! MMMM!!!

Guest's picture

I love to make a pb&j on leftover french toast. It's good cold, or you can heat the french toast up in the toaster first.

I also love pb&banana. You can add some chocolate chips to it for more of a desert sandwich. I once chopped up some really good dark chocolate and added that, and it was excellent. I like to make this on toast and put the slice with the chocolate on it in the microwave for about 6-8 seconds. Such a short time doesn't make the toast soggy, but it does make the chocolate and pb a little melty.

I always have a glass of cold milk with my pb sandwiches.

Guest's picture

Warmed peanut butter and jelly on thin homemade pancakes rolled up, or peanut butter and honey, or p.b. and maple syrup.

Meg Favreau's picture

Oh my goodness, keep the suggestions coming, people! So many great ideas -- these all sound delicious.

Alex Lam's picture
Alex Lam

Elvis sometimes included bacon with the banana variation.

Condensed milk is also worth trying.

Guest's picture

This is my best tip for PB&J - Mix them together before spreading them on the bread, small kids like it better, and you can mix it up ahead of time, also, try honey, corn syrup, or molasses with peanut butter, a little goes a long way.

Guest's picture

I'm a PB&J lifer. I keep jars of peanut butter and jelly in my desk at work and loaves of whole wheat bread in the freezer in the office kitchen. Another classic spin on the classic sandwich: Chips inside the PB&J. The salty crunch is awesome! I also like to make cinnamon-sugar open-face peanut butter sandwiches. Toast the sandwich so the cinnamon-sugar gets crunchy. It's wonderful with coffee!

Guest's picture

Instead of peanut butter try peanut chips! It tastes the same but, i just love to put the little chips in!

Meg Favreau's picture

Oooh, peanut chips? Is that like crushed peanuts? Or like chocolate chips? Or something else entirely?

Guest's picture

My guilty pleasure is PB&J with banana and mayonnaise. Trust me, it sounds gross but it's great.

Guest's picture

Marshmallow fluff is good with peanut butter, especially if you have banana slices as well. I found on a visit to New Orleans that a peanut butter and fluff sandwich can actually be more appetizing on a hot work day than classic pb&j. I'm still not sure why.

Guest's picture

Did you try mayo with peanut butter?