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Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

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Make fast, easy and simple soft peanut butter cookies for your family. These are perfect for baking with kids. Take them to fundraisers, cookie exchanges and celebrations.

peanut butter cookies scattered on a wire rack

As a limited ingredient recipe, these cookies are an easy starter recipe for kids or beginning bakers. They take only 3 simple steps to create delicious cookies. If you are in a perpetual time crunch like so many working parents, make the dough ahead and bake later.

The dough for this recipe is easy to put together, but it does require at least one hour of chill time. Chilling the dough helps prevent the cookies from spreading which will also lend a hand in the soft texture.

You can taste and smell the peanut butter in these cookies! The recipe calls for creamy peanut butter, and I’m sure you’ll love the rich flavor. These have a lot of similarities to my peanut butter cup cookies.

These easy peanut butter cookies are thick and sturdy without crispy edges. It won’t fall apart in your hands, but it will practically melt in your mouth. You can thank the moisture in this recipe for this. You’ll find these cookies are anything but dry.

Butter, eggs and brown sugar contain moisture, and when mixed with flour, the evaporation of moisture is slowed. Adding shortening prevents the cookies from spreading, so they bake up thicker and softer. The addition of creamy peanut butter also aids in the super soft texture of these cookies.


Why this recipe works

  • Vegetable shortening acts as the key ingredient used to keep the cookies soft and tender.
  • Commercial brand creamy peanut butter aids in the super soft texture of these cookies. However, you want to avoid natural peanut butter as it tends to be oily and can change the texture of the cookies.
  • The peanut butter flavor is front and center in the cookies. This is due to the ratio of fats in the recipe. They are balanced so the flavors don’t take over the peanut butter.

When you are looking for a guilty pleasure treat, these cookies fit the bill! They are easy and simple, even kids will have fun making them.

three cookies stacked with the top one bitten so the inside is visible

What you need

These are the best peanut butter cookies and they’re the perfect answer for all your cravings as peanut butter is the star of the show! Let’s discuss the ingredients that make up the recipe:

Ingredients

This is a short overview of the ingredients I used and why I chose them. The full recipe can be found at the bottom of the post!

  • Peanut butter: This ingredient is the main flavor of these cookies! For best results, avoid using natural style or oily peanut butter. Use a commercial brand, such as Jif or Skippy, instead.
  • Fats: Peanut butter, shortening, butter, and egg are important fats in this recipe. They add moisture, richness, and flavor to the finished cookies.
  • Sugar: The granulated sugar is creamed with the shortening and the butter. This causes the fats and sugar to act as a leavening agent in the cookies.
  • Vanilla extract & salt: While these ingredients seem to be afterthoughts in many recipes, they add flavor and enhance the other ingredients.
  • Flour & baking soda: The flour is combined with baking soda in this recipe. All-purpose flour is best for cookies and the baking soda promotes browning.

Equipment

This is a list of tools I used to make the recipe. Some of the links are affiliate links.

  • Mixer: You’ll need a hand-held mixer to combine ingredients. Otherwise, you can also use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on it.
  • Cookie scoop: It’s important to make the rolled balls close in size to ensure similar baking times. I have found a 1.5 tablespoon size cookie scoop is perfect for this recipe.
  • Baking sheet: This recipe requires 2 large baking sheets. You can opt to line them with parchment paper. However, a silicone mat will work, as well.
peanut butter cookies scattered on a white table top

How to make soft peanut butter cookies

This peanut butter cookie recipe is so easy and fun to make with your family. There are three basic steps: mixing the wet ingredients, mixing the dry ingredients and baking the cookies.

Step 1. Mix the wet ingredients

First, grab a large bowl. Then, add the butter, shortening and brown sugar. Beat it on medium-high speed with your hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Continue until the ingredients are combined and fluffy.

After the ingredients are combined, beat in the peanut butter on high speed. Then, beat in the vanilla and egg on medium speed. You’ll likely need to scrap down the sides of the bowl as the ingredients are combining.

butter, shortening, sugar, eggs, and peanut butter creamed together in glass bowl

Step 2. Mix in the dry ingredients

Before we can bake, we have to mix in our dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together. Then, add into the peanut butter mixture from earlier. Mix on low speed until just blended.

You’ll need to cover your dough with plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour before baking. It’s worth the wait!

peanut butter cookie dough in glass bowl with pink spatula

Step 3. Roll into balls and bake

Now, preheat your oven to 350°F. Then, line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Take your cookie dough out of the fridge. Then, scoop approximately 1.5 tablespoons of cookie dough and roll into balls.

As you roll each ball, place it on the prepared baking sheets. Then, place the balls about 3 inches apart from each other.

Finally, bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. The centers should look puffed up and slightly undercooked.

After removing the cookies from the oven, have them cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets. Then, place them on wire racks to cool completely.

peanut butter cookie dough balls on baking sheet lined with white parchment paper

Storing & freezing

To store: Place the peanut butter cookies in an airtight container stored at room temperature. They will stay soft and fresh for up to one week.

For those who like to divide prep and baking, the cookie dough can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Bring the dough to room temperature, and continue to roll and bake as directed in the recipe.

To freeze: When you have extra baked cookies, you can freeze them for up to 3 months.

You can also freeze unbaked balls of cookie dough for up to 3 months, as well. Bake the frozen cookie dough balls, without thawing, for an additional minute or two. This method is so fast and easy for the impatient toddler or your last minute craving.


Frequently asked questions

Can I double the recipe?

While I’ve not doubled the recipe myself, it should be fine to do. Simply double each ingredient.

Can I use crunchy peanut butter in these cookies?

Crunchy peanut butter can be used if you wish to have that texture in your cookies.

Can I use salted butter?

Salted butter can be used. Omit the additional salt from the recipe.

cookies neatly arranged on a wire rack

Possible variations

  • Mix in ½ cup chocolate chips or peanut butter chips.
  • Top with flaked sea salt.
  • Use almond butter instead of peanut butter.
  • Roll the dough balls in sugar before baking.

Jen’s best tips

  • Use a scale when making these soft peanut butter cookies. You’ll find that weighing your ingredients will ensure accuracy in the amounts.
  • Don’t overbake the cookies! It’s normal for the cookies to look slightly underdone at the end of the baking time. However, overbaking will cause the cookies to be hard, dry, and crumbly.
  • I like to roll the dough into 1.5 tablespoon-sized balls that are slightly taller instead of evenly round. When the cookies bake, the outer edges will set quickly preventing the cookies from spreading too much. This, in turn, will give you a thicker cookie.

More peanut butter recipes you might like!


Watch how to make it

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cookies neatly arranged on a wire rack

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

Yield: 22 cookies
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 11 minutes
Total Time: 36 minutes

These soft peanut butter cookies are all the rage. They’re easy to make and even easier to eat! They will be your absolute favorite.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup (56 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (51 g) vegetable shortening, room temperature
  • 1 cup (210 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup (129 g) creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups (195 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Add the butter, shortening, and brown sugar to a large bowl. Beat on medium-high speed with a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until combined and fluffy. 
  2. Beat in the peanut butter on high speed. Beat in the vanilla and egg on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add to the peanut butter mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  5. Scoop about 1.5 tablespoons of cookie dough and roll into balls. Arrange the balls onto the prepared baking sheets placing them about 3 inches apart.
  6. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned, the centers will look puffed up and slightly undercooked. 
  7. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

Butter: Salted butter can be used. Omit the additional salt in the recipe.

Peanut butter: Avoid using natural style or oily peanut butter. Use a commercial brand like Jif or Skippy instead.

Egg: The egg must be at room temperature or it won't mix evenly into the dough. You can quickly bring the egg to room temperature by setting it in a bowl of warm tap water for about 5 minutes.

Don't overbake! Overbaking will cause the cookies to be hard, dry, or crumbly. The bottom edges should look set and lightly golden, and the centers should appear slightly undercooked.

Use a scale. Weighing the ingredients with a kitchen scale will ensure accuracy.

Make ahead tips

  1. The cookies will stay soft and fresh for up to one week in an airtight container stored at room temperature.
  2. The cookie dough can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Bring the dough to room temperature, and continue to roll and bake as directed in the recipe.
  3. Alternately, you can freeze baked cookies for up to 3 months.
  4. Or you can freeze unbaked balls of cookie dough for up to 3 months, as well. Bake the frozen cookie dough balls, without thawing, for an additional minute or two.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 22 Serving Size: 1 cookie
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 141Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 87mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 2g

* Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy by an online nutrition calculator and is not guaranteed to be accurate. Always seek advice from a nutritionist or medical professional.

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