Peanut butter is one of the most common pantry items around, because who doesn’t love a PB&J sandwich?
One problem with peanut butter, whether you want to use it in a sandwich, or to add it to other ingredients, such as when baking, is that it tends to go hard at room temperature. Being hard makes peanut butter quite difficult to spread and work with.
How do you soften peanut butter?
The trick to softening peanut butter is to expose it to heat, and there are a few different methods to do this, such as using the stovetop or the microwave. If you want to avoid heat, you could also soften peanut butter using a blender.
Read on to find out exactly how to soften peanut butter, so that you do not need to fight with the hardened spread when trying to make a sandwich, or when making some baked goods!
Why Does Peanut Butter Go Hard?
First, it helps to know why peanut butter goes hard. The reason for this is that peanut butter has a high oil content, and this oil tends to harden at room temperature. This is mostly true for natural peanut spread, which has no added oil.
Any peanut butter that has added oil will not harden as much, as the extra oil prevents it from drying out and hardening, but this is also not the healthiest option, as the extra oil increases the fat content of the peanut butter.
There is not much you can do to prevent peanut butter from hardening when kept in the pantry, so it is helpful to know various ways to soften peanut butter when it is time to use it.
How to Soften Peanut Butter
There are a few different ways you can soften peanut butter, and the method you choose will depend on what you have available to use, and what you will be using the peanut butter for.
The best methods to soften peanut butter include exposing it to heat on the stovetop, or in the microwave, or using a blender to soften it.
Here is how to do each:
Softening Peanut Butter on the Stove
Softening peanut butter on the stove might not be the most efficient way to get it done, but it does offer you the most amount of control, so you can determine exactly how much your peanut butter softens.
It is a fairly straightforward method to use, and you simply need a pan, a small heat-proof bowl, and a spoon.
Here is what to do:
1. Turn the stove on low heat, and place a small saucepan over the heat. (I really love using this one I’ve found recently). Fill the saucepan halfway with water.
2. Place the desired amount of peanut butter into the small heatproof bowl, and place this onto the small saucepan. The small bowl needs to be large enough that it does not fit inside the saucepan, but rather sits on the top. Make sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl with the peanut butter, and if it does, remove some water.
3. As the water in the saucepan begins to heat, it will begin to steam and soften the peanut butter. Stir the peanut butter as it heats, to get it to a smooth and even consistency.
4. Keep stirring the peanut butter as it heats up and softens, making sure that the water in the saucepan is kept at a simmer, and that it never boils.
5. Once the peanut butter is softened to the consistency you want, carefully remove the bowl from the saucepan, switch off the heat, and leave the peanut butter to cool.
By continuously stirring the peanut butter, and keeping a check on it as it softens, you have full control over how soft it becomes, and you can then remove it once it has softened enough.
Softening Peanut Butter in the Microwave
If you do not want to spend too much time standing over the stove and stirring the peanut butter as it softens, you could soften it using a microwave.
This is a fairly simple method, and it should give you soft peanut butter in a short amount of time, but you do have to be careful that you do not overheat the peanut butter. To soften peanut butter in the microwave you will need a microwave-safe bowl and a spoon. Here is how to do it:
1. Spoon the amount of peanut butter you want to soften into a microwave-safe bowl, making sure to not overfill the bowl, as the peanut butter might expand slightly as it heats.
2. Place the bowl of peanut butter into the microwave, and heat it for 20 seconds on high.
3. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir it using a spoon. Mix it well to try and even the consistency.
4. If it has not softened enough, place it back into the microwave for an additional 10 seconds, stirring after it has been heated. Repeat this until it is soft enough.
Softening Peanut Butter in a Blender
A good method to use to soften peanut butter, if you want to avoid the heat, is to use a blender. Using a blender is a quick method, although the cleanup can be tricky, as the peanut butter will likely stick to the blender blades and the inside of the blender.
However, it is a fairly quick method that is easy enough to do. Here is how to soften peanut butter in a blender:
1. Set up your blender, and make sure that the inside of the blender is clean.
2. Place your desired amount of peanut butter into the blender, making sure that there is enough peanut butter to reach the blades.
3. Add a tablespoon or two of water to the peanut butter, depending on how much peanut butter there is, to prevent the peanut butter from sticking to the blades too much, and to make it slightly smoother (you can use milk if you’d prefer)
4. Pulse the peanut butter in the blender, making sure to not over-blend the peanut butter. Keep pulsing until the peanut butter is smooth enough and soft enough for you to use.
How Do You Prevent Peanut Butter from Going Hard?
As peanut butter has a lot of natural oil, and if there is no oil added, it does tend to go hard quite easily when stored at room temperature. There really is no way to prevent this from happening, unless you buy peanut butter with added oils (which isn’t always ideal).
However, there is one trick that many people swear by, and it is definitely worth a try. Many people claim that storing a jar of peanut butter upside down in the pantry prevents it from forming that hard, crusty layer on top.
When it comes time to eat the peanut butter, you turn it right side up again, and the peanut butter that is now on the top (which has actually been stored at the bottom) will be smooth and softer.
You can then store the peanut butter in the fridge once opened, to prevent the natural oils from losing too much moisture and drying out.
Can You Mix Peanut Butter With Water?
Peanut butter can be mixed with water, but the two do have to be incorporated well so that they form a smooth, even consistency.
Mixing peanut butter with water, such as in a blender, is a good way to soften peanut butter, but you can add more water to peanut butter, along with some flavorings, to make a peanut butter sauce or a peanut butter drizzle, which can be either sweet or savory.
Peanut butter can be used in many different ways in cooking or baking, and mixing it with some water definitely makes it easier to work with, you just have to blend the two together well!
Best Ways to Soften Peanut Butter
It can be nearly impossible to spread hard peanut butter onto bread or to add it into other ingredients when baking or cooking, so it is definitely helpful to know how to soften peanut butter.
The three best methods to soften peanut butter are to heat it on the stove, heat it in the microwave, or to blend it in a blender with a small amount of water.
All these methods should give you smooth, creamy, and soft peanut butter that is much easier to work with!
How Do You Make Dry Peanut Butter Creamy?
One of the best ways to make dry peanut butter creamy is to blend it with some oil. You would need to add in very small amounts of oil to start so that it does not become too oily. Blend the peanut butter and oil until it is creamy and smooth.
How Do You Make Peanut Butter More Spreadable?
To make peanut butter more spreadable, you can heat it in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave for a few seconds. This should soften the peanut butter enough to make it easy to spread.