Famously thick enough to stick to the roof of your mouth, peanut butter is a stubborn ingredient when it comes to blending it with other foods. Yet the fatty food is worth incorporating into dishes - it adds creaminess to desserts and nutty depth to Asian-style salad dressings and dipping sauces, among other foods. The solution to peanut butter's consistency problem is to apply some gentle heat with a microwave or a low burner, or to add a hot liquid to it. For a no-heat approach to liquefaction, use a blender and a fluid ingredient to thin it out.
Method #1: Melt in the Microwave
Whether you want to use melted peanut butter for savory or sweet reasons, melting it couldn't be easier. To liquidify peanut butter, start by scooping out the amount of peanut butter that you need into a microwave-safe bowl. Put the bowl into the microwave and set the microwave to High. Program the timer for 30 seconds.
You will want to check the bowl after 30 seconds since it could harden if left for too long. On the flipside, it might not be melted enough. If that's the case, return the peanut butter to the microwave and cook on High, checking in on it at 30-second intervals.
Method #2: Soften on the Stove
This is a common way to liquidify peanut butter if you were making pad thai or some other Asian-style dish. Simply scoop the amount of peanut butter you need into a small saucepan set over low heat. Melt the peanut butter by itself, or with other ingredients in the order specified in your recipe.
Allow the peanut butter to liquefy, whisking gently if the oils start to separate from the solids. Remove the peanut butter once it reaches the consistency that you want. Depending on the amount of peanut butter and other ingredients, this could take 5 or more minutes.
Method #3: Process Those Peanuts
If you're looking for a method that requires less supervision as the microwave or stove, the food processer could work since there's less chance of it burning or melting too much. Start by putting the amount of peanut butter you need in the blender or food processor.
Add a liquid and flavoring agents. For an Asian-style dressing, use an equal amount of rice vinegar, as well as small amounts of soy sauce, garlic and cilantro. Process the peanut butter mixture until it becomes a well-combined liquid.
Method #4: Ladle in the Liquid
If you're used to baking and melting chocolate, then this method might seem the most famililar. Scoop the amount of peanut butter you need into a sturdy mixing bowl. Heat the amount of cooking liquid, such as milk or cream, that's specified in your recipe. Use a saucepan over low or medium heat to warm the liquid.
Pour the hot liquid into the peanut butter, and whisk until the peanut butter begins to liquefy and combine with the hot liquid. Proceed the mixture with the remainder of the recipe ingredients.
Uses for melted peanut butter include peanut butter popcorn, a hot dipping sauce for skewered meat. In a sauce, it coats noodles, African-style vegetables or an Asian stir-fry. It can also coat a chicken breast or pork chop before being popped into the oven.
Like other fats, peanut butter can sputter under heat, especially if the oils separate from solids. Take care when stirring it in a saucepan or spreading a just-microwaved scoop of peanut butter.
With a focus on food, nutrition, cocktails and the latest dining trends, Melissa J. has been a freelance writer for more than 15 years. Her specialties include articles for such publications as SF Chronicle and National Geographic Green Living, as well as blog posts for the hospitality industry. Her previous positions include newspaper staff reporter and communications specialist for a nonprofit agency.