The peanut butter and jelly sandwich is an American classic: synonymous with memories of school lunches and often thought of as an easy option when there’s nothing left in the kitchen.
But for some avid peanut butter and jelly lovers, this iconic combination is just the beginning. Foodies around the internet are cooking up comforting and creative dishes that prove PB&J can be much more than just a simple childhood staple.
Soy Nguyen, a food influencer from Los Angeles, Calif. took to TikTok recently to share a new, savory twist on the dish — kimchi-topped PB&J.
“I wanted to try something different and thought kimchi would be an interesting element to add,” Nguyen tells Yahoo Life. “I love kimchi with everything, so why not classic PB&J? It was great because the kimchi didn’t overpower the PB&J but it provided good texture with a nice crunch.”
Ravi Parikh tells Yahoo Life he found his idea of the weirdest take on a PB&J at a state fair and has never forgotten the combination. “This deep-fried peanut butter and jelly included cottage cheese and jalapeño, which I wasn’t aware of until I bit into it,” Parikh, who lives in Austin, Tex. recalls. “The flavor combination took some getting used to, but it wasn’t bad by the end.”
Stephanie Cole, a self-proclaimed peanut butter and jelly aficionado from Ashland, Oreg. shares her best sandwich creation came to her one day while she was feeling both creative and hungry. “My favorite and possibly the strangest combo of PB&J I’ve made is this … chewy sourdough bread with top-quality almond butter, apricot jam, bacon, cream cheese and sriracha sauce,” she says.
While spicy peanut butter and jelly recipes may not seem like the most natural combination, even professional chefs are taking this innovation to the masses.
In Lexington, Ky. at The Manhattan Project restaurant, Chef Ronnie Dunning and owner Erick Strnatka worked together to create the PB&J Burger, a combination of peanut butter, jelly, habanero jack cheese and bacon that became so popular during Louisville’s annual burger week that it became a permanent staple on their menu.
“We got the inspiration from a burger that caught our eye in a magazine,” says Strnatka. “We made some tweaks to get the flavor profile we wanted and it turned out amazing.”
For Cara Campbell, the Calgary, Canada-based food blogger behind The Gourmet Bon Vivant, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are best enjoyed in a glass. Her two-ingredient peanut butter and jelly mixed drink calls for Chambord, a naturally-flavored raspberry liqueur, and peanut butter whiskey to emulate the flavors of the classic sandwich.
To make a PB&J cocktail at home, “prepare two rocks glasses with ice, then pour in one ounce of Chambord,” says Campbell. “Next, slowly add two ounces of peanut butter whiskey. Garnish with berries and mix for the full PB&J effect.”
And Campbell isn’t the only foodie combining the flavors of peanut butter and jelly with alcohol. Dan Shapiro, owner of the Mohawk Bend restaurant in Los Angeles, Calif., says “edible cocktails” have become popular menu items. “We have three brunch menu items that each have a full cocktail’s worth of alcohol in them,” Shapiro explains. “So far, our most popular has been the almond butter, bourbon and jelly sandwich.”
Each of Mohawk Bend’s boozy PB&Js contain Four Roses bourbon whipped into housemade almond butter and blackberry and fig preserves and are served on sourdough bread.
From savory dishes to sweet cocktails, it seems peanut butter and jelly can be turned into anything, even a beloved local candy confection. Robyn Dochterman, the Scandia, Minn. owner of St. Croix Chocolate Company, forages for local wild grapes to make her own jelly for creating bite-sized peanut butter and jelly chocolates.
“It’s hyperlocal and the wild grapes give the combination just a little more tartness while still feeling familiar,” Dochterman says.
Familiarity truly seems to be the common link that makes PB&J sandwiches so universally beloved. And, while most concoct their more creative versions of the sandwich later in life, others have grown up on their unique peanut butter creations.
Glenn Boyd of Canton, Ohio, serves up his perfect peanut butter sandwich sans jelly, with a whole lot of nostalgia. “My perfect sandwich is wheat bread, crunchy peanut butter, a thin layer of mayonnaise and a layer of sweet relish,” he says.
Boyd recalls the days growing up when his dad, who was the captain of the Fullerton Fire Department in Fullerton, Calif. would make these sandwiches for the crew at the firehouse. “My dad always said don’t even bother buying creamy butter, why would you waste your time?” Boyd shares. “Now, as an adult, I still eat it and am reminded of those days with my dad. It’s really perfect any time of day, but I like it most as a late-night snack; sweet, salty and nostalgic.”
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