In the vast universe of cookies, the simple peanut butter cookie stands as a timeless classic. Renowned for its straightforward recipe and irresistible taste, this cookie has remained a staple of both amateur and seasoned bakers alike.

The process involves creaming butter with sugars, adding peanut butter and egg, then gradually mixing in the combined dry ingredients. Once the dough is formed, it’s shaped into balls, rolled in sugar, pressed with a fork, chilled, and finally baked to perfection. So simple, yet so divine.

Freshly baked simple peanut butter cookies

Can You Use Natural Peanut Butter in These Cookies?

The traditional recipe suggests creamy commercial peanut butter for its consistent texture. However, natural peanut butter can be a healthier alternative, albeit potentially altering the cookie’s texture and spread. If opting for natural peanut butter, ensure it’s well-stirred and at room temperature to integrate seamlessly into the dough.

How Do You Keep Peanut Butter Cookies Soft?

Soft peanut butter cookies are a must! This detail makes such a big difference. The secret to soft peanut butter cookies lies in the baking process and storage. Slightly underbaking them, so they’re just set when removed from the oven, helps retain softness. Store in an airtight container, possibly with a slice of bread. The bread trick is an old baker’s secret; it transfers moisture to the cookies, keeping them soft for days.

Why Do Peanut Butter Cookies Have Fork Marks?

The criss-cross fork marks are not just for aesthetics; they are a traditional aspect of peanut butter cookies. Pressing down the dough with a fork ensures an even thickness for optimal baking. Additionally, this pattern is symbolic, instantly recognizable as the hallmark of a peanut butter cookie.

Simple peanut butter cookie dough

Can These Cookies Be Made Gluten-Free?

For those with gluten sensitivities, these cookies can be adapted to a gluten-free version. Substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend. Be mindful of the dough’s consistency; gluten-free flour can sometimes result in a crumblier texture, so adjustments in liquid ingredients might be necessary. The best thing to do when making something gluten free is add a bit more fat into the recipe to help with dryness. My favorite gluten free flour to use is Bobs Red Mill 1 for 1.

6 Tips for Making Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies

  • Ingredient Quality and Preparation: The quality of ingredients plays a crucial role in the final outcome. Room-temperature ingredients blend better, contributing to a smoother dough. Premium quality peanut butter enhances the flavor, while fresh baking soda and powder ensure proper rise – remember both only last 3-6 months.
  • Balancing Flavors: The perfect peanut butter cookie strikes a balance between sweet and salty. The choice of peanut butter and the ratio of sugar to salt are critical in achieving this harmony. Using unsalted butter allows for controlled seasoning, ensuring the cookie does not become overly salty.
  • Texture and Consistency: Achieving the right texture is a fine art. The dough should not be too stiff or too sticky. It needs to hold its shape when rolled into balls but should be soft enough to be pressed down with a fork. The consistency of the dough is influenced by factors like the type of peanut butter used and the precision in measuring ingredients.
  • Chilling the Dough: Chilling the dough is a crucial step often overlooked. This process solidifies the fat in the cookies, reducing spread during baking and resulting in thicker, softer cookies. It also allows the flavors to meld, enhancing the overall taste.
  • Baking to Perfection: Baking is more than just a process; it’s an art. The cookies should be baked just until they’re set. Over baking leads to hard, dry cookies, while underbaking results in an unappealing doughy texture. The ideal peanut butter cookie is soft in the center with a slightly crisp edge. If you are watching them bake you will see them change, the second they look dull and no longer shiny, they are done.
  • Cooling and Storage: How you cool and store these cookies significantly affects their texture and longevity. Allow them to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. This step prevents them from becoming too soft or breaking apart. Storing them in an airtight container keeps them fresh and delicious for days.
Freshly baked peanut butter cookies

What is in Simple Peanut Butter Cookies?

Unsalted butter

It is always important to use unsalted butter when baking. If you use salted butter, you have no way of knowing how much salt you are adding to your dough and it will result in an over salted treat.

Butter adds fats to your dough which helps with moistness, flavor & texture. Butter melts at body temperature, which creates a ‘melt in your mouth’ sensation.

When baking with butter the temperature is important. If the butter is too warm your cookies will melt down too fast and spread too much in the oven leaving you with a greasy, flat cookie. If butter is too cold it will have the opposite problem and not melt down enough, leaving your cookies too thick.

Granulated sugar

Adds sweetness, provides a caramelized flavor and crisp texture. Sugar assists with rising when creamed with butter & sugar. It helps add moisture to your cookie and helps it evenly spread as it melts into a liquid in the heat of the oven. Sugar also helps with naturally preserving your baked treat.

Brown sugar

Brown sugar is granulated sugar with a little molasses mixed in. Molasses is a more bitter natural sweetener which actually makes the sugar a bit sweeter than plain granulated sugar. Brown sugar draws more moister into your treat and is more acidic, that means it will help make baking soda react.

Creamy peanut butter

It adds another fat into your dough that melts easily, so it can make your cookie spread a little more. It will also add a creamy texture & rich flavor to your treat.

Egg

Adds both protein (egg whites) and fat (egg yolks). The egg whites help with rising because when foamed, little air pockets get trapped inside the mixture. The water content in egg whites encourages steam while baking which helps with gluten formation, resulting in nice and thick cookies. Egg yolks have emulsifying properties that bring batters together and help your dough from collapsing.

All-purpose flour

Flour builds structure as it absorbs liquids and expands. All-purpose flour falls in the middle of bread flour (high in gluten) and cake flour (low in gluten). It is exactly what it is named, all-purpose, the most universal flour that can be used in most baked goods. 

Baking powder

Puffs up your batter instead of spreading it out. Baking powder contains a little bit of baking soda, an acid & cornstarch. Because of this it only needs a liquid to react and because it consists of two different acids, it is double reacting. It reacts as soon as it’s mixed with moisture and then again when it is heated up.

Baking soda

Elevates the pH level of your batter. It increases the spread in cookies and encourages browning which gives the crispy outside, soft inside texture that everyone loves. Baking soda needs both an acid and a liquid to react. Things that will make baking soda react are: vinegar, fruit juice, molasses, brown sugar, tartar, buttermilk, sour cream. Baking soda only reacts once, right when its mixed into your batter it will create little air bubbles all throughout your treat. When the air bubbles get heated up in the oven, they expand.

Fine sea salt

Enhances flavor, adds balance, masks any bitter flavors. Salt is the most powerful and oldest preservative. Always make sure to use fine sea salt so that it melts down at the right speed in the heat of the oven. If you use larger granule salt it will not melt down fully when baked and will leave salt crystals throughout your cookie, making it crunch like you dropped it into sand.

Why Use Both Baking Powder & Soda in Cookies?

Baking powder has two different acids, which react with baking soda two different times during the baking process. Meaning your cookies will rise multiple times.

When your cookies need a little more help rising, you use both soda & powder. Baking soda has a very metallic taste, so you never want more than a teaspoon or two into your dough, but sometimes that is just not enough. Adding some powder in the mix will give your cookies a little more puff. In these scenarios, you wouldn’t want to only use baking powder instead because it’s 4x weaker than baking soda.

Recipes You May Enjoy

Freshly baked simple peanut butter cookies

Simple Peanut Butter Cookies

Author: Madison Reid
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Servings: 20 cookies
Simple peanut butter cookies are a staple. Basic ingredients, and easy to make! I dare you to try to only eat one.

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar + more for topping
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Instructions

  • In a standing mixer whip butter, peanut butter and sugars for 1 full minute until lighter in color and fluffy
  • Stir in eggs until just combined
  • In a separate bowl mix together soda, powder, salt and flour
  • Turn standing mixer on low and slowly pour in dry ingredients
  • Mix just until combined, be careful to not over mix
  • With a standard size cookie scoop, scoop cookies onto a light metal cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
  • Roll the cookie dough balls in a bowl on granulated sugar
  • Take a fork and create a criss cross on top of each cookie dough ball
  • Place sheet pans in refrigerator for 30 minutes
  • While dough is resting, preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • After 30 minutes, place cookies in the oven for 9 minutes
  • Let cookies cool for 10 minutes on pan before removing to finish cooling

Nutrition

Calories: 151kcal Carbohydrates: 18g Protein: 3g Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 4g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0.2g Cholesterol: 20mg Sodium: 128mg Potassium: 57mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 11g Vitamin A: 154IU Calcium: 17mg Iron: 1mg

Have you tried this recipe?

I’d love to see it! Follow @_mrs.madi_ on Instagram and tag your photos with #mrsmadi.