We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.
Every year around Halloween the candy debates begin, but there’s usually only one candy that seems to rise above the fray, beloved by nearly all: the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
Even if this classic isn’t your hands-down favorite, you probably still love it. After all, it’s so popular it has morphed into a bazillion variations and inspired a legion of competitors. Seriously, have you ever stopped to notice just how many different nut butter cups there are out there? During one supermarket outing I recently found nine (9!) different options — plus riffs like almond butter, sunflower seed butter, and even various chocolate coatings. Which ones are worth treating yourself to? Which ones are just tricks? I had to find out.
How We Tested the Nut Butter Cups
To see if any of them could dethrone Reese’s, I gathered up all the competitors and every member in my household, and we tasted them side-by-side. If that sounds like a dream come true, it is (until about the fifth bite). Peanut butter cups are so rich. To preserve our health and stamina, we divided our nut butter cups into several different categories and tasted them blind over the course of several days.
We even broke the minis into their own division, because the ratio of filling to chocolate is really quite different. We skipped white chocolate versions, as those are outliers. And we didn’t include any nut butter cups that had extra add-ins like jelly, nut pieces, caramel, etc. In the end, we narrowed it down to six categories. So which brands took the top spots? Let’s take a look.
The Best Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup: Reese’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
I have to admit, I was really hoping there was a better peanut butter cup out there, for the sake of keeping things interesting. But there’s something about Reese’s that hits the spot like no other and so I’m okay with being predictable. I think it’s the salt. These peanut butter cups are far saltier than any other brand, which gives the decadent milk chocolate-peanut butter combo a brightness that’s kind of irresistible.
My team of tasters also appreciated that the chocolate doesn’t overpower the peanut butter flavor, and how its softness melds with the creamy peanut butter filling. Some of the artisan brands we tried used much higher-quality tempered chocolate, which snaps when you bite it and offers more intriguing cocoa notes. Those are great qualities for most confections, but for peanut butter cups, we all preferred a softer bite and chocolate that could fade into the background and let the peanut butter shine.
Some brands sweetened their filling too much, some not enough. Some skimped on the peanut butter while others bordered on savory. In the end, Reese’s came out on top. Justin’s came in a very close second. While it was almost identical in texture, it had a shallower filling and less of that balancing saltiness.
Buy: Reese’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, $24.72 for 36 two-packs
The Best Mini Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup: Aldi Choceur Peanut Butter Cups
This brand is exclusive to Aldi, so if you have one in your area, you’re in luck. What we loved about these is they have that ideal textural balance of soft chocolate coating and soft peanut butter filling. They also strike the perfect ratio between the two with a generous amount of filling that’s not too sweet or too salty. We loved how Aldi’s Choceur cups were very peanut-y and enrobed in a rich and milky chocolate coating that tasted almost Belgian-like. As a bonus, they’re super cheap and the chocolate is Fair Trade certified. If these came in a regular-size format, they might just unseat Reese’s from the throne.
Buy: Aldi Choceur Peanut Butter Cups, $2.69 for 12 ounces
The Best Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup: Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Once again, Reese’s and Justin’s rose to the top, however, in this instance, Justin’s took the lead because the dark chocolate has that rich, dark chocolate taste, with bittersweet notes you’d expect. This filling is richer and more peanut-buttery too, which stands up to the coating and makes for a deliciously balanced treat. So, from now on, when I’m craving a milk chocolate peanut butter cup, I’ll reach for a Reese’s. When I’m craving a dark chocolate peanut butter cup, I’ll snag Justin’s.
Buy: Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, $2.19 for two at Target
The Best Mini Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup: Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Mini Peanut Butter Cups
The dark chocolate winner won again when it came to mini form! Justin’s bittersweet chocolate just goes really well with its filling. Even though the peanut butter texture isn’t as creamy as some other brands we tried, it’s just more intensely flavored and a better match for the dark chocolate.
Buy: Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Mini Peanut Butter Cups, $4.99 for 4.7ounces at Target
Best Almond Butter Cup: Theo Chocolate Almond Butter Cups
We expected the fillings in this category to taste like almond butter, but instead, most of them just tasted … vaguely nutty. Theo Chocolate actually delivered on its almond promise. Its filling has a deeply toasted almond flavor with an intriguing bit of salty crunch. The chocolate is clearly really high-quality, with a smidge of grown-up bitterness and hints of bright berries (it’s organic and Fair Trade, too). These are “gourmet” nut butter cups for when you’re looking for a real confection.
Buy: Theo Chocolate Almond Butter Cups, $38.92 for 12 two-packs
Best Mini Almond Butter Cup: 365 Mini Everyday Value Dark Chocolate Mini Almond Butter Cups
Of the cups we could get our chocolate-smudged fingers on in this elusive category, Whole Foods’ 365 brand squeaked out a win. The almond butter minis are borderline too sweet, but the flavor is much more pleasant than any others we sampled.
Read more: 365 Mini Everyday Value Dark Chocolate Mini Almond Butter Cups, $4.99 for 4.7 ounces
Best Sunflower Butter Cup: Free2B Milk Chocolate Sun Cups
There weren’t a lot of contenders in this category, but Free2B was easily the favorite of those we did try. We preferred the milk chocolate, which doesn’t overpower the filling’s fresh and toasty sunflower seed sweetness. Sometimes sunflower seeds can have bitter notes, but not in this candy. If you can’t have nuts, this is a great alternative to a classic peanut butter cup.
Buy: Free2B Milk Chocolate Sun Cups, $30.43 for 12 two-packs
Did your favorite make this list?