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Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

When I was younger, I didn’t like crunchy peanut butter because of the texture. Fast forward to adulthood and I really appreciate the complexity of different textures in desserts. Soft desserts mixed with a little crunch is a fantastic combination. That is why I love these peanut butter cookies. The soft peanut butter dough is mixed with chopped peanuts to add dimension to a cookie that is typically one note.  I love that the edges of the baked cookie are slightly crispy, and the middle is soft and chewy.  This recipe is a big win in my book. 

I also love this recipe because the dough can be frozen in pre-shaped cookies and baked off for a fresh treat without dirtying more dishes. My husband and I like to make 2-4 cookies at a time so we aren’t tempted to eat the whole recipe in one night. 

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Ingredients for Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookie Ingredients
Butter not pictured
Equipment
Making the Peanut Butter Cookie Dough

Preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C

Place the flour and peanuts into the bowl of the food processor and pulse until the peanuts are finely ground (approximately 1 minute).  Set the flour mixture aside. 

Combine peanut butter, butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer).  Mix ingredients on low speed to moisten, then increase the speed to medium (#4 if using a Kitchen Aid stand mixer) and beat until soft and light, approximately 3 minutes.  This process is increasing the air in the cookie dough, which helps increase leavening and making the cookies less dense.  Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated. 

With the mixer running, add the egg in two additions and mix thoroughly after each addition.  Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture followed by the milk.  Mix just until incorporated. 

Dividing Peanut Butter Cookie Dough
Using Ice Cream Scoop to Make Peanut Butter Cookies

You have two options for dividing the dough.  The first option (and the one that I used to make this recipe) is to use a 2-tablespoon ice cream scoop to divide the dough into equal portions.  I like using ice cream scoops because they efficiently make every cookie the same size.  The second option is to use a tablespoon and scoop out two tablespoons of dough and form into a ball. 

Cookie Shaping Options
3 Different Peanut Butter Cookie Design Shapes

In the picture above, I have also demonstrated 3 different ways to shape the dough before baking the cookies.  Each version results in a slightly different looking peanut butter cookie. 

Type 1: Ice Cream Scoop

This is the simplest version.  Just use the ice cream scoop to divide the dough into even portions and place onto the baking sheet.  That’s it.  They are ready to bake. My husband likes this version best because the rough areas on the top of each cookie stay rough and he likes the way it looks. 

Type 2: Ice Cream Scoop Rolled Into Ball

After scooping the dough with an ice cream scoop, roll the portion between your hands to create a ball.  Place the dough onto the baking sheet.  I like this version the best because the cookie has a smoother surface when baked and I prefer the way this looks. 

Type 3: Traditional Peanut Butter Cookie shape

Roll 2 tablespoons of dough into a ball and use fork tines to create a crisscrossed pattern on the cookie.  In other words, orient the fork tines horizontally and press into the top of the cookie.  The dough might stick to the fork.  If that happens, gently use your finger to separate the two.  Then, orient the fork tines vertically and press down again.  Continue this process for all cookies.  Place the baking sheet with unbaked cookies into the fridge for 20-30 minutes.  This will help the design stay visible during baking. 

Important note: DO NOT bake the cookies like I have in the picture above.  The traditional, flattened cookies bake more quickly than the balls.  They will over-bake before the other ones are finished.  I would suggest only baking one type per baking sheet for best results.

This recipe will make 29 cookies. 

Baking the Peanut Butter Cookies

Bake the peanut butter cookies based on the table below.  The lower end of the range will make cookies that have a crunchy edge and a soft and chewy interior.  The upper end of the range will make cookies that are less soft in the middle.  All cookie versions should brown a little around the edges and the middle will look a little wet and still be puffed.  If you bake the cookies until the middle is firm, they will be over-baked and crunchy throughout.  If your oven does not heat evenly, rotate the baking sheet halfway through the baking time. 

Baking Times
Type 1: Ice Cream Scoop15-17 minutes
Type 2: Ice Cream Scoop Rolled Into Ball15-17 minutes
Type 3: Traditional Shape10-12 minutes
Ice Cream Scoop Peanut Butter Cookie
Ice Cream Scoop
Ice Cream Scoop Peanut Butter Cookie Rolled into Ball
Ice Cream Scoop
Rolled Into Ball
Traditional Peanut Butter Cookie
Traditional Shape
Cooling the Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies

Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes.  The cookies are too delicate to remove before that time and they will likely break apart if you move them too early. 

Move the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely or eat them immediately if you can’t wait (they are so good when still warm).

Storing Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies

These cookies are best the day they are baked, but you can store cooled cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week at room temperature. 

Freezing Peanut Butter Cookies

Portion out any dough you want to freeze and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Place the baking sheet into the refrigerator and cool for 30-60 minutes (or until the cookies are firm).  Transfer the cookies to a resealable freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months.  I like to label the bag with the type of cookie, date they were made, how long they will remain good, and baking directions (e.g., thaw to room temperature and bake for X minutes at 350°F).  This way, when I inevitably forget what is in my freezer or where I got the recipe, I know I have all the necessary information written on the bag. 

To bake, remove the desired number of cookies and let stand at room temperature until they reach room temperature (approximately 70°F/21°C).  Then bake based on the table above. 

Peanut Butter Cookies
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Did you make this recipe?

I’d love to know how it turned out!  Please let me know by leaving your thoughts below.  Or snap a photo and share it on Pinterest or Instagram (@windycitybaker).

Notes
  1. I added the crunchy peanut butter to add extra texture to the cookies.  You can definitely swap this for creamy peanut butter if you want a smoother textured cookie. Additionally, I did not test this recipe using natural peanut butter.  It is possible these cookies will behave differently if you use natural peanut butter.
  2. This recipe is adapted from the “Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies” recipe in the BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts cookbook by Stella Parks.

Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time16 mins
Course: Dessert
Servings: 29 Cookies

Equipment

  • Stand mixer with paddle attachment OR hand mixer with large mixing bowl
  • Digital scale OR measuring spoons and cups
  • Silicone spatula
  • Food processor
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • 2 Tbsp ice cream scoop OR Tbsp measuring spoon

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
  • cup (170g) honey-roasted peanuts
  • cup (324g) crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup (142g) granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup (145g) light brown sugar
  • 1 large (57) egg
  • ¼ tsp (1.6g) salt
  • ¾ tsp (4.5g) baking soda
  • ¾ tsp (3.3g) baking powder
  • 2 tsp (10g) vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp (50g) milk

Instructions

Making the Peanut Butter Cookie Dough

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C
  • Place the flour and peanuts into the bowl of the food processor and pulse until the peanuts are finely ground (approximately 1 minute). Set the flour mixture aside.
  • Combine peanut butter, butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer). Mix ingredients on low speed to moisten, then increase the speed to medium (#4 if using a Kitchen Aid stand mixer) and beat until soft and light, approximately 3 minutes. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
  • With the mixer running, add the egg in two additions and mix thoroughly after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture followed by the milk. Mix just until incorporated.

Dividing Peanut Butter Cookie Dough

  • You have two options for dividing the dough.
  • The first option (and the one that I used to make this recipe) is to use a 2-tablespoon ice cream scoop to divide the dough into equal portions. I like using ice cream scoops because they efficiently make every cookie the same size.
  • The second option is to use a tablespoon and scoop out two tablespoons of dough and form into a ball.

Cookie Shaping Options

  • There are 3 different ways to shape the dough before baking the cookies. Each version results in a slightly different looking peanut butter cookie.
  • Type 1: Traditional Peanut Butter Cookie shape
    Roll 2 tablespoons of dough into a ball and use fork tines to create a crisscrossed pattern on the cookie. In other words, orient the fork tines horizontally and press into the top of the cookie. The dough might stick to the fork. If that happens, gently use your finger to separate the two. Then, orient the fork tines vertically and press down again. Continue this process for all cookies. Place the baking sheet with unbaked cookies into the fridge for 20-30 minutes. This will help the design stay visible during baking.
  • Type 2: Ice Cream Scoop
    This is the simplest version. Just use the ice cream scoop to divide the dough into even portions and place onto the baking sheet. That’s it. They are ready to bake. My husband likes this version best because the rough areas on the top of each cookie stay rough and he likes the way it looks.
  • Type 3: Ice Cream Scoop Rolled Into Ball
    After scooping the dough with an ice cream scoop, roll the portion between your hands to create a ball. Place the dough onto the baking sheet. I like this version the best because the cookie has a smoother surface when baked and I prefer the way this looks.
  • This recipe will make 29 cookies.

Baking the Peanut Butter Cookies

  • Bake the peanut butter cookies based on the baking times below. The lower end of the range will make cookies that have a crunchy edge and a soft and chewy interior. The upper end of the range will make cookies that are less soft in the middle. All cookie versions should brown a little around the edges and the middle will look a little wet and still be puffed. If you bake the cookies until the middle is firm, they will be over-baked and crunchy throughout. If your oven does not heat evenly, rotate the baking sheet halfway through the baking time.

Baking Times

  • Type 1: Traditional Shape (10-12 minutes)
    Type 2: Ice Cream Scoop (15-17 minutes)
    Type 3: Ice Cream Scoop Rolled Into Ball (15-17 minutes)

Cooling the Peanut Butter Cookies

  • Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes. The cookies are too delicate to remove before that time and they will likely break apart if you move them too early.
  • Move the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely or eat them immediately if you can't wait (they are so good when still warm).

Storing Peanut Butter Cookies

  • These cookies are best the day they are baked, but you can store cooled cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week at room temperature.

Freezing Peanut Butter Cookies

  • Portion out any dough you want to freeze and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet into the refrigerator and cool for 30-60 minutes (or until the cookies are firm). Transfer the cookies to a resealable freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months.
  • I like to label the bag with the type of cookie, date they were made, how long they will remain good, and baking directions (e.g., thaw to room temperature and bake for X minutes at 350°F). This way, when I inevitably forget what is in my freezer or where I got the recipe, I know I have all the necessary information written on the bag.
  • To bake, remove the desired number of cookies and let stand at room temperature until they reach room temperature (approximately 70°F/21°C). Then bake based on the times above.

Notes

1. I added the crunchy peanut butter to add extra texture to the cookies. You can definitely swap this for creamy peanut butter if you want a smoother textured cookie. Additionally, I did not test this recipe using natural peanut butter. It is possible these cookies will behave differently if you use natural peanut butter.
2. This recipe is adapted from the “Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies” recipe in the BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts cookbook by Stella Parks.

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