Delicious 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 just the right balance of texture and consistency.
Nailing just the right bakery-style peanut butter cookies is a dessert victory. Trust me, you’re going to want to keep this recipe handy. The amped-up peanut taste and irresistible texture are easy to achieve when you’ve got the right ingredients and some science 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 into the formula.
To create 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 they tend to disappear quickly right off the cooling racks.
Peanut selection for cookies
To build up the nutty flavor for these cookies, it’s important to use spreadable creamy peanut butter and whole dry-roasted peanuts. The peanut butter is going to infuse throughout the cookie dough. I’m a big fan of making my own homemade peanut butter, which is very easy to do and can be substituted for store-bought jars.
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.
Soft and chewy texture
The selection of sugar and leavening agent are the key factors in this peanut butter cookie recipe if you want to achieve a soft and chewy texture 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. The moisture from the eggs and gluten formation from the all-purpose flour also help in contributing to a chewier center.
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 in a little extra baking soda will widen the spread without becoming too thin, plus it makes the edges crispy.
Another way to help lighten the cookies is to cream the softened room temperature butter and sugars together in a stand mixer, this helps trap air in butter pockets created by the sugar.
Making the crisscross pattern
Adding 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 lightly press down on the surface. Sprinkle on some sparkling sugar if you want an even fancier topping. After about 10 minutes of baking, you’ve got the perfect old-fashioned peanut butter cookie.
Cookie size matters
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 its further for the heat to travel while smaller cookies have the tendency to crisp more.
Using a decent-sized portion of the dough gives a noticeable difference between a chewy interior and a crunchy exterior. I use 3 tablespoons of mounded dough. It starts off on the pan at about 2-inches in size, then expands to nearly 4-inches.
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The benefits of brown sugar
Using just granulated sugar makes crispy cookies throughout. Adding in 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 fall apart, even after it’s been stored 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
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (67F)
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup extra-crunchy peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- Set oven racks to the upper middle and lower-middle position. Preheat to 350°F (177°C).
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a medium bowl.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds.
- Add ground peanuts and mix until just incorporated.
- Roll dough into 3 tablespoon-sized balls, spacing them 2-inches apart on the sheet pan.
- Use a fork to press and make crosshatch marks on the top of the cookies.
- Bake until the edges are golden and centers have puffed up, but 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 to a wire rack and cool completely before serving.
- Cookie Dough Size: 3 tablespoons; 50g; 1 3/4 ounces.
- Cookie Size: 2 1/4-inches before baking, 3 3/4 inches after.
- Bake Time: I find that the bottom tray needs 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.
- Recipe Adapted From America's Test Kitchen, The Perfect Cookie.
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