The Best Way To Thin Peanut Butter Is Also The Easiest

Peanut butter usually maintains a nice, smooth texture, but sometimes you forget to close the lid tightly or your PB is just old, giving it a dried-out, dense consistency. When peanut butter turns hard and super thick, it will sooner take a chunk off your bread than spread over it smoothly. If your peanut butter has turned hard and needs to be restored, or you want to thin it out to a perfectly drizzly consistency to pour on top of smoothie bowls, pancakes, ice cream, and popcorn, all you need to do is give it some heat.

Heating peanut butter can soften and thin it out without changing its flavor in any way. It's not only super easy, but the most effective way to get the job done. The most obvious tool to use is the stove. Grab a small pan, spoon out as much peanut butter as you need, and warm it up over low heat while stirring constantly until it loosens up. 

If firing up the stove seems like too much trouble for a spoonful or two of peanut butter, there's also the trusty microwave. Scoop your peanut butter into a bowl and heat it for 20 seconds in the microwave on high heat, then take it out and stir it. If it looks like it could do with some more thinning, keep heating it in 10-second intervals while stirring it between each one. Don't go too far, or your peanut butter could end up burned.

Use the help of other liquids

Applying heat is the easiest way to thin peanut butter, but if your PB still looks grainy or is so thick that it's prone to burning, a little liquid can help. Try whisking in a few drops of water as you heat the peanut butter, slowly adding more until the butter reaches the right consistency. You might need to dilute the peanut butter a little more than you want to, because it will thicken up slightly once it cools. 

If you worry about the oil in peanut butter and water not mixing together properly, there are other liquids that you can use as well. Oil is an excellent option, particularly a neutral-flavored one such as canola oil or vegetable oil. You could also use peanut oil, olive oil, or sesame oil. Simply whisk in a few drops of oil until the peanut butter breaks down into the consistency that you desire. 

Alternatively, if you're thinning peanut butter to turn it into a sauce (say, a sweet dessert sauce or a spicy salad dressing), get creative with the liquid you use to dilute it. A more flavorful liquid translates to more flavor in your sauce. Milk, yogurt, honey, and even fruit juice will all loosen up the peanut butter and give it a sweet and creamy touch, whereas vinegar and soy sauce will give a savory spin to the nut butter.

More ways to thin peanut butter

You can also thin out peanut butter by heating up a liquid first, then pouring it over room-temperature peanut butter. This can be faster and less fussy than heating the peanut butter itself. Simply warm your water, oil, milk, or other liquid and pour it over the butter while whisking it. Add a little liquid at a time and it should reach the right consistency in no time.

Although thinning peanut butter is a fairly easy task, it will also help if you store the spread in a way that it doesn't dry out in the first place. Beyond closing the lid tightly, consider storing the jar upside-down. The natural oils present in peanut butter can separate and form a greasy pool on top, often leaving a gritty, dried-out layer underneath. By storing it upside-down, the oil will move from the top to the bottom of the jar, which helps the entire jar of peanut butter to stay smooth and creamy. Something as simple as proper storage will go a long way in ensuring that your peanut butter doesn't need any thinning at all.