Delicious, easy peanut butter cookies that everyone will think you bought from a bakery. The recipe has a roasted peanut flavor from chopped pieces and a creamy spread that strike the right balance of texture and consistency.
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Trust me. You’re going to want to keep this peanut butter cookies recipe handy. The amped-up peanut taste and irresistible texture are easy to achieve when you have the right ingredients and some scientific knowledge on your side. Without the proper levels of peanut butter flavor, it’s just a sugar cookie in disguise.
That’s why chunky peanut butter plus a generous amount of chopped peanuts are added to the formula. Creating a pleasing contrast of crisp and chewy textures involves the combination of brown and granulated sugar, plus two leavening agents. Make sure to whip up a big batch because, at my house, these melt-in-your-mouth treats tend to disappear quickly right off the cooling racks.
Peanut selection for cookies
To build up the nutty flavor of these cookies, it’s important to use spreadable peanut butter and whole dry-roasted peanuts. I prefer chunky for extra texture, but creamy peanut butter works too. The peanut butter is going to infuse throughout the cookie dough. I’m a big fan of making homemade peanut butter, which is very easy to do and can be substituted for store-bought jars. Natural peanut butter can also be used.
Choose peanuts that have already been dry-roasted for a stronger taste. If you have raw peanuts, place them in the oven on a sheet tray for about 6 to 8 minutes at 325 degrees until golden in color, making sure to cool.
Pulse the whole peanuts in a food processor or use a chef’s knife so they become finely chopped but still have some structure. The chunky nuts in the butter, plus the pulsed legumes, will add a rustic dimension to the cookie without feeling dense.
Cream the butter
What’s the secret to making peanut butter cookies soft and chewy with lightly crisp edges? This recipe uses two types of sugar; granulated white sugar and light brown sugar, which adds a hint of molasses flavor.
White sugar adds crispness, while brown sugar is a humectant, attracting moisture to keep the cookie soft in the center. Creaming the softened butter and sugars together in a stand mixer traps air in the butter pockets created by the sugar.
Add flour and leavening agents
Use all-purpose flour; it has a moderate amount of protein, 10 to 13%. This adds structure and some chew yet stays tender. It’s easy to swap in gluten-free flour. Two leavening agents are used, baking soda and baking powder.
They both provide rise, so the cookies puff up and stay light in density. However, adding a little extra baking soda will widen the spread without becoming too thin and make the edges crispy.
Make the cookie dough
Mixing the peanut butter, eggs, and vanilla extract into the butter mixture helps to aerate the dough while adding richness and flavor. The flour mixture is gradually added to prevent too much gluten from forming.
The ground peanuts are stirred in last to distribute the pieces evenly. You can shape and bake immediately, refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for 1 month.
Shape the cookies
To make big bakery-style peanut butter cookies, a decent-sized portion of the dough makes a noticeable difference between a chewy interior and a crunchy exterior. Measure out 3 tablespoons of the dough and roll it into a ball. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about 2 inches apart. It starts on the pan at about 2 inches in size, then expands to nearly 4 inches.
A criss-cross pattern on top of the dough balls adds the finishing touch and characteristic mark. I simply use the back of the tines of a fork to press down on the surface lightly. Sprinkle sparkling sugar over the fork marks if you want an even fancier topping.
Bake the cookies
After about 10 minutes of baking at 350 degrees, you’ve got the perfect golden brown, old-fashioned peanut butter cookie. It’s a game of surface area as the oven heat travels from the outer edges inward.
Larger cookies tend to stay softer in the center as it takes further for the heat to travel, while smaller cookies have the tendency to crisp more. Let the cookies sit on the warm sheet pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
Try these other molded cookies
- Thumbprint cookies
- Chocolate chip shortbread cookies
- Peanut butter kiss cookies
- Mexican wedding cookies
- Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
- Snickerdoodle cookies
The benefits of brown sugar
Using just granulated sugar makes crispy cookies throughout. Adding brown sugar helps to attract and keep some extra moisture in the cookie due to its humectant properties. This keeps the cookie tender but not crumbly and falling apart, even after storing it for a few days. The molasses notes in the brown sugar also help to enhance the roasted peanut flavor.
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Peanut Butter Cookies
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup dry-roasted salted peanuts
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to 65 to 67ºF (18 to 20ºC)
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup extra-crunchy peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- Preheat the Oven – Set oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Preheat to 350°F (177°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Mix Dry Ingredients – Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
- Chop the Peanuts – Add peanuts to a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs are formed, about 14 pulses. Peanuts can also be finely chopped on a cutting board.
- Cream the Butter – Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or hand mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Incorporate the Eggs – Add peanut butter and beat until combined, 30 seconds. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time until fully incorporated, scraping the bowl down as needed, about 30 seconds.
- Add Dry Ingredients – Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Add ground peanuts and mix until just incorporated.
- Shape the Cookies – Roll dough into 3 tablespoon-sized balls, spacing them 2" apart on the sheet pan. Use a fork to press and make crosshatch marks on the top of the cookies.
- Bake – Place the pan in the oven and bake until the edges are golden and the centers have puffed up but are beginning to deflate, 10 to 12 minutes. Switch and rotate baking sheet pans halfway through.Cool cookies for 10 minutes on the sheet pan, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely before serving.
- Cookie Dough Size: 3 tablespoons; 50g; 1 ¾ ounces.
- Cookie Size: 2 ¼ inches before baking, 3 ¾ inches after.
- Bake Time: The bottom tray may need 1 to 2 more minutes.
- Make it Gluten-Free: Substitute gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour. I recommend Bob’s Redmill 1:1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour.
- Storing: Refrigerate raw dough for up to 1 week or freeze for 1 month. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or freeze for 3 months.
- Recipe Adapted From: America’s Test Kitchen, The Perfect Cookie.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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