These sweet and salty peanut butter-packed cookies are a peanut butter lover’s dream: soft and chewy and studded with peanut butter chips for an even more intense peanut butter flavor.
I think you’ll agree with me that the best cookies consider the texture as well as flavor, and these salted peanut butter cookies don’t disappoint: soft and almost cookie dough-like in the middle, crispy on the bottom, with a coating of granulated sugar on the outside for a delicate crunch you’ll adore.
This right here is proof that a cookie doesn’t have to have chocolate to be sinfully good.
For various reasons I had to go chocolate free for a week. Let me tell you… it’s harder than I thought it would be. Even my mid-morning granola bars have chocolate in them.
And of course, the second you tell me I can’t have something, I just want it all the more. Needless to say my sweet cravings were running amok.
I wasn’t just avoiding chocolate either, it was anything acidic really, so I couldn’t even turn to fruit desserts to sate my cravings.
Peanut butter was pretty much my only remaining option for a sweet indulgence. And rather than devouring the bag of peanut butter chips by the handful like a monster (ok, I admit, I may have snuck a few handfuls), I decided to put those chips to good use bake myself some truly extra peanut butter cookies.
At which point I realized that while I have recipes for peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter stuffed cookies, and chocolate cookies with peanut butter in them, I have never published a straight up peanut butter cookie. I know, right?! Such a travesty must be rectified, stat!
The result is quite possible the ultimate peanut butter cookie: sweet and salty with extra peanut butter and peanut butter chips for good measure (because if some is good, more is better, right?) You know me, I’m not one to half ass things, so you certainly can’t say I didn’t go all in on this one.
Texturally, this cookie is a bit hard to describe. It falls somewhere in between a classic peanut butter cookie (which I often find quite dry), a chocolate chip cookie, and a sugar cookie, somehow managing to hold on to the best qualities of each: intense peanut butter flavor, a soft, chewy center and crispy edges, and a coating of granulated sugar that adds a delicate crunch.
I will say that soft doesn’t quite describe the middles of these cookies sufficiently, because things that are soft can also be dry (like angel food cake, for example). These are not dry in the least. Rather, the centers are more like a soft cookie dough than anything. Paired with the crisp edges it really is a textural delight!
The melted butter base of this recipe (as opposed to creamed butter) gives the cookies a chewier texture and a more uniform appearance from batch to batch.
While the dough will seem very soft, it’s not sticky, so you should be able to finagle it into a ball and get it coated in sugar without too much hassle. I like to scoop the dough right into the bowl with the sugar, using the sugar as a natural barrier between my fingers and the soft dough. If it gets misshapen at all, just pat it back into place once it’s on the cookie sheet.
Letting the dough sit for 15 minutes first will firm it up a bit, but you can always chill it briefly if you find it difficult to work with (I found refrigerating the dough doesn’t make much difference in the overall spread of the cookies).
For such soft cookie dough, you’d think these cookies would spread much more than they actually do.
That said, as I’ve mentioned with other cookie recipes, if you find they spread a bit more than is ideal or if they are a bit unevenly shaped, you can tuck in the odd edges using the inner curves of two large spoons, or swirl a large round cookie cutter around the cookies immediately upon pulling them out of the oven. This will help create evenly round, picture perfect cookies.
What’s the Scoop?
I opted for a slightly larger cookie size here than my norm, using the large cookie scoop that I usually save for muffins and cupcakes (I think it’s equivalent to a #20 or #24 scoop, holding a generous 3 tablespoons). Compared to the medium one which is more like 1 1/2 tablespoons. The larger size results in a more even spread, with a thick, almost gooey middle and lightly crisp, browned edges.
If baking by weight is your thing, each dough ball will weigh approximately 60g.
Pick your Peanut Butter
I used a natural creamy peanut butter (tested with both Costco and Trader Joe’s brands), but any kind should work so long as it’s not sweetened (check the ingredients for added sugar). I find natural peanut butter to have a more intense, earthy-nutty flavor than the kind that’s more heavily processed. I have not tested this recipe with crunchy peanut butter, but I’d imagine it would work just fine as well.
If your peanut butter is unsalted, increase the salt in the recipe to 1 teaspoon. Don’t skimp on the salt! That extra hit of salt serves to cut the sweetness and amplify everything else, making the peanut butter flavor even more intense.
Peanut butter baking chips have a sweeter, more candy-like peanut butter flavor than peanut butter right out of the jar. You can usually find these in the baking aisle of most grocery stores, though I personally love the chips from Nuts.com, which don’t have the same ‘fake’ vanilla flavor that a lot of baking chips do.
Personally I love the extra punch of peanut butter that the chips bring to the party, but you can certainly use regular chocolate chips here if you’d like (I think that milk chocolate in particular would be simply divine).
Freezing & Storage
These cookies stay beautifully soft for longer than other kinds of cookies, thanks in part to the higher fat content as well as the hint of honey. Keep them stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
That said, if you don’t think you’ll be able to eat a whole batch, the raw cookie dough freezes beautifully. Simply shape and roll your dough balls in sugar and arrange them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, then pop the whole sheet in the freezer for the rest of the day. As soon as they are frozen solid, transfer them to a zip-top bag labeled with the recipe name, date, and baking info (you think you will remember, but trust me, you won’t).
When baking cookies from frozen, you don’t have to thaw them, but I do recommend letting the frozen dough balls sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes, just so they don’t bring down the oven temperature too much. But otherwise you can pretty much bake them straight from frozen. The cookies will be a bit taller and puffier, but the overall bake time should be similar (maybe a minute or two more at most).
Salted Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
- 1 ¼ cup / 156 g all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup / 113 g (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- ¾ cup / 160 g packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup / 50 g granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- ¾ cup / 200 g creamy salted peanut butter (ideally unsweetened), at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon / 21 g honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup / 175 g peanut butter chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda; set aside.
- In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine lukewarm melted butter with brown sugar and sugar. Mix until smooth and uniform, not broken-looking or greasy.
- Add egg and beat on medium speed until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in peanut butter, honey, and vanilla.
- Add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Fold in peanut butter chips. At this point the dough will be quite soft, but more oily than sticky. You can bake it straight away, though I prefer to let it sit at cool room temperature for about 15 minutes (it'll firm up just slightly and be a bit easier to work with). It doesn't need to be chilled, but if you find the soft dough hard to manage, feel free to chill it briefly.
- With a large cookie scoop (about 3 tablespoons worth, or 60g of dough per ball by weight), shape dough into a rough ball, then coat in granulated sugar. Arrange on prepared cookie sheet, leaving plenty of space between cookies as they will spread in the oven. I like to bake 6 at a time, but you could probably fit 8. The soft dough will slump naturally into a puck shape, or if your dough is firmer you can slightly flatten them. (At this point you can also freeze the unbaked cookie dough balls on a baking sheet until solid, then transfer to an airtight bag. Bake them straight from frozen, adding about a minute or two to the overall cook time).
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are puffed and lightly cracked and bottoms are just starting to darken.
- Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.