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The chefs agreed that the best bread for a PB&J is classic white.
James Furnish, head chef at Maui Brewing Co., told Insider that ingredient quality is arguably the most important thing to consider when making the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
It’s ideal to use fresh or locally made ingredients as much as possible. Furnish said he likes to use two slices of homemade, classic white bread.
But according to Carey Bringle, pitmaster and owner of Peg Leg Porker, you don’t need to throw a dough together yourself — just about any classic white bread that’s soft will work.
“A fresh, white bread is the best way to start — something like Wonder Bread!” Bringle told Insider. “Got to have the stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth vibe.”
Homemade peanut butter can make all the difference.
After you’ve picked out your bread, you can get to the meat of the sandwich — the peanut butter.
Juan Muñoz, executive chef of Proper Food, told Insider that the best option is to actually make your own.
“This way, you can control the sweetness and consistency, whether you like it smoother or chunkier,” Muñoz said. “You can sweeten with any host of natural sweeteners like agave, maple syrup, honey, etc. and can avoid the preservatives and refined sugar of store-bought peanut butter.”
Furnish said that if you’re not able to whip up the homemade alternative, look for salted, crunchy peanut butter that’s natural and freshly ground.
Go for a flavorful preserve or consider adding a hint of spice.
Once you’ve selected your peanut butter, it’s time to choose a jelly or jam — strawberry and raspberry are the classics.
Chef and restaurant owner Matthew McPherson told Insider that the jelly must be very flavorful so you don’t have to use too much, otherwise, it will make the bread soggy.
“A strawberry preserve from last season’s late harvest gives added sweetness and flavor and utilizes used fruit or ugly fruit,” McPherson said.
Alternatively, Bringle said, you can add a hint of spice to your sandwich for a spin on the classic PB&J by using a strawberry-jalapeño or peach-habanero jam.
“I get mine from our local farmers market here in Nashville,” Bringle told Insider. “A tiny drizzle of spice here will go a long way.”
Toast just one side of your bread.
Furnish told Insider that a trick he uses that may throw some people off is toasting just one side of the bread, then putting the PB&J together with the heated sides on the interior.
“Toasting one side will add more texture and flavor,” Furnish said. “And having it on the inside will protect the roof of your mouth.”
The ratio of peanut butter to jelly is arguably the most important part.
Muñoz told Insider that perfecting the ratio of peanut butter to jelly is an essential step in making the best PB&J possible.
“The secret is putting peanut butter on both halves of the bread,” Muñoz said. “There should only be enough jam to taste the fruit, but the peanut butter should be the showcase.”
Elevate your sandwich by adding a few extra ingredients.
Finally, to truly get a chef-inspired PB&J, it doesn’t hurt to add a few extra ingredients that would make this sandwich shine.
Furnish recommended sprinkling a little salt to taste and or drizzling some balsamic syrup for an adult twist on a timeless childhood classic.
Other popular additions include bananas, chocolate chips, and marshmallow fluff.