To know me is to know my love and obsession for peanut butter. My passion for PB means that any peanut butter recipe I create has to be absolutely packed full of PB flavor.
In creating this recipe, I tweaked and adjusted until I struck the perfect balance of nutty flavor and thick, tender, chewy texture in every bite.
This is a simple and easy old-fashioned peanut butter cookie recipe. You don’t even need to chill the dough. But it’s one of those recipes I hope you add to your repertoire and return to again and again. Especially during the Christmas cookie season!
Follow my instructions and tips below for perfect Peanut Butter cookies!
How to Make the BEST Peanut Butter Cookies
How to Make Thick, Soft Peanut Butter Cookies
- Peanut butter is one of those ingredients that automatically lends itself to a thick texture in cookies. It’s thick and rich all on its own, and that translates to the final result. That’s actually why we press the tines of a fork into the balls of cookie dough: to flatten it into a disk shape. Otherwise, the cookies would hardly spread!
- The key to soft peanut butter cookies is the perfect ratio of PB, butter, flour, and leavening – which is what I believe I’ve accomplished here! Plus a hefty amount of brown sugar, which draws in moisture, for soft and tender cookies.
- TIP: When measuring flour, be sure to use a digital kitchen scale or the spoon & level method detailed here. This will prevent dry or crumbly cookies.
- Lastly, for soft peanut butter cookies, be sure not to over-bake these. They’ll continue to bake from the residual heat of the oven. I find it’s best to remove them *just* before they look completely done so you don’t overdo it.
What’s the Best Peanut Butter to Use for Cookies?
- This recipe has been successfully tested with conventional peanut butter (Skippy and Jif) AND natural peanut butter.
- Check out the peanut butter experiment here.
- Only use natural peanut butter if it’s VERY well stirred to be completely smooth and cohesive with no oily or dry bits.
- When it’s very smooth, natural peanut butter will yield a much bolder peanut butter flavor!
- You can alternatively use almond butter at a 1:1 ratio. More on this below.
Why Do You Put a Criss-Cross Pattern on Peanut Butter Cookies?
Pressing a fork into these peanut butter cookies prior to baking helps flatten the cookies slightly, promoting oven spread. The fork marks also encourage the cookies to bake more evenly and brown evenly. If we skipped that step, these cookies would be so thick that they’d barely spread, and they may not bake all the way through.
Do I Have to Refrigerate This Cookie Dough? What Does Chilling Cookie Dough Actually Do?
- You do not have to chill this peanut butter cookie dough for perfectly thick cookies that are full of peanut buttery flavor.
- You can chill the dough for up to 72 hours if you prefer.
- Chilling cookie dough is very similar to marinating meat – things just get so much better if you wait a day or two.
- The baked cookies become chewier and thicker and the flavor intensifies.
- Learn more about why we chill cookie dough and the benefits of chilling cookie dough here!
How to Store Peanut Butter Cookies
Store in an airtight container or a ziptop bag for about 3 days at room temperature. Keep a piece of bread or a tortilla in the container with the cookies to keep them soft and chewy and prevent them from drying out or getting hard as quickly.
Can Peanut Butter Cookies be Frozen?
Yes! Freeze the baked, cooled cookies in an airtight container for about 1 month. Allow to defrost at room temperature then refresh in a 300°F oven for about 5 minutes, if desired.
You can also freeze the peanut butter cookie dough disks (rolled in sugar and pressed with the fork) in an airtight container for up to six weeks. Allow to thaw to room temperature before baking as written. Get all of my tips for freezing cookie dough here!
Peanut Butter Cookies Variations & Substitutions
These cookies have endless variations, so feel free to have some fun with them!
- Almond butter: Use almond butter in place of the peanut butter at a 1:1 ratio. Our team tested this substitution successfully using Barney Butter Smooth Almond Butter. No need to adjust anything else.
- Mix-Ins: Add 1 ½ cups (255 grams) chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, toffee bits, toasted peanuts, or any other mix-ins you desire!
- More PB: Add an additional 1/4 cup peanut butter (so 1 cup or 270 grams in total) and increase the vanilla to 1 teaspoon to really amp up the PB flavor.
- Bars: If you’re looking for PB bars, try my Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Bars or even my Peanut Butter Stuffed Brownies.
- Make mini cookie sandwiches: Use a 1-tablespoon size cookie scoop and bake the cookies for about 8 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned. This makes about 30 small cookie sandwiches. Fill cooled cookies with the filling recipe below.
Peanut Butter Filling Recipe
- 1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
- 1/2 cup (135 grams) smooth peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups (157 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoons (44 grams) heavy cream (keeps filling light, fluffy, creamy, and not as sweet)
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and peanut butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla, salt, powdered sugar, and heavy cream, and continue beating until the frosting is smooth and fluffy, about another 3 minutes.
More Peanut Butter Recipes:
For the cookies:
plus 2 tablespoons (302 grams) all-purpose flour,
sticks (170 grams) unsalted butter,
at cool room temperature
(50 grams) granulated sugar
(150 grams) light brown sugar
(200 grams) creamy peanut butter*
at cool room temperature
(67 grams) granulated sugar
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until smooth and well combined, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Beat in the peanut butter until well combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, beating until combined.
Place the granulated sugar for rolling in a separate small bowl. Using a medium spring-loaded cookie scoop, form the dough into 1 1/2 tablespoon rounds. Roll between your palms to smooth, then roll in the granulated sugar before placing on the prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Slightly flatten the dough by pressing the back of a fork into each ball of dough twice, to create a criss-cross pattern.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned. Let cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes before removing the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
For a stronger peanut butter flavor, use natural PB - just ensure it's VERY well stirred until completely smooth and no oily or dry bits remain.
Or, using conventional peanut butter, add an additional 1/4 cup PB (so 1 cup or 270 grams in total) and increase the vanilla to 1 teaspoon.
Alternatively, you can use almond butter instead of peanut butter at a 1:1 ratio.
This recipe was written in 2019 and updated with additional tips and recipe improvements. Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.