Three basic ingredients come together with ease in this flourless, dairy-free cookie that is sure to become a favorite!
This recipe originally came from my friend Abby, who has a delightful blog called Manila Spoon. Besides being incredibly easy, the cookies are grain- and dairy-free to boot. My gluten-free dad adores them, yet those who can eat wheat flour always rave about them, too.
Over time, I’ve made a few adjustments to the recipe. Though I was smitten with the utter ease and overall outcome of the original recipe, I was willing to overlook a touch of crumbliness given the incredible ease. After the cookies sat for a day, they became firmer–but who wants to wait a day for the perfect cookie?
At the same time, this was a three ingredient recipe. If I starting fussing with it, the ingredient list would likely grow. Perhaps it would be worth it.
As it turned out, the key to success was simple. I needed more binder, but another whole egg was too much. Slightly reducing the amount of peanut butter and sugar, however, served to increase the ratio of egg to those ingredients.
It was the hint of extra binding power that was needed. A secondary perk was less sugar and a sweetness level I preferred.
The texture of these cookies is dense yet soft and chewy, and the edges become a touch crisp. The cookies are sturdy–none of the previous crumbliness–but they do need to fully cool before moving. Soft and hot from the oven, they will be more likely to break.
I should also note that I’ve made these cookies with regular and natural peanut butter. While they both work, the use of regular peanut butter–I tend to use Jif–creates a slightly sturdier cookie as well.
As for the three ingredient mention, my original recipe did offer vanilla and salt as an optional extra. Minor as they are, I think these inclusions subtly elevate the cookies, so I wrote them into the recipe.
If you’re wondering where the baking soda or powder is, there isn’t any. I’ve tried it, but use of a leavener does not fundamentally improve the texture or flavor of the cookie.
And for all those fans of the mini peanut butter cup within the peanut butter cookie, pictured below, this recipe works brilliantly.
Effortless, scrumptious, and versatile. What’s not to love!
A few testing notes and tips:
Should I use natural or regular peanut butter? My preference for these cookies is regular peanut butter, like Jif or Skippy. I have made them with natural peanut butter, and while the recipe works and the cookies taste great, they are somewhat more crumbly, especially when first baked.
Creamy or Crunchy? I tend to use creamy, but you could use crunchy if you prefer the texture.
What type of sugar works best? In my original recipe, I used granulated sugar. I now prefer brown sugar for its hint of molasses flavor and the chewy yet tender texture it produces. Feel free to experiment with both–or use a mix.
I’ve also made this recipe with coconut sugar. The cookies did brown sooner and were not quite as tender as the brown sugar version, but still very good. If using this ingredient, check the cookies a minute or two early.
Do I need to refrigerate the dough? Refrigerating the dough for at least 15 minutes (longer is fine) will make the cookies easier to scoop and they will better retain their shape.
How do I make uniformly shaped cookies? I like to use a 2 to 3 tablespoon cookie scoop, level it off, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. There is no need to flatten the cookies. I used to press them with a fork to make the traditional criss-cross marks, but I’ve found the texture to be slightly better when not flattened.
What is the recipe yield? When using the method above, I get 10 cookies with a diameter of about 2½ inches. For those who like to use a kitchen scale, you’ll want to scoop 42 grams of dough.
How do I make jumbo cookies? The cookies described above are fairly generous, but for bakery-size cookies, scoop the dough into a large ice-cream scoop or quarter cup measure and level off before transferring to the prepared baking sheet. Adjust the baking time up 1-2 minutes, as needed.
Can I use this batter for peanut butter cup cookies? Yes! In this case, I make 20 balls that are about 1-inch in diameter (21 grams each for those who like to use a kitchen scale) and bake according to the recipe, adding a minute or two to the bake time as compared to the store-bought peanut butter cookie dough recommendation.
What is the best baking temperature? I used to bake the cookies at 375℉ and now bake them at 350℉. This way, the thick cookies have time to thoroughly cook through without risk of burning the bottoms.
Did you forget the leavener? No–you don’t need it. The cookies bake beautifully without it, and when used, I’ve found that it didn’t perceptibly change them.
Pro tip #1: Just before baking, sprinkle the cookies with a pinch of flaky sea salt.
Pro tip #2: For added decadence, dip the cooled cookies in melted chocolate. Dark chocolate is my personal favorite, although peanut butter has an affinity for white chocolate as well.
- 1 cup less 2 tablespoons (224g) smooth or crunchy peanut butter*
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup (150g) packed light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (use ⅛ teaspoon if using table salt)
- Optional: flaky sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350℉. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg, and then stir in the brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the peanut butter and stir to thoroughly incorporate. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes (longer – even up to a few days – is fine) so that it’s firm enough to scoop.
Drop rounded spoonfuls onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. I use medium ice cream scoop or about 2½ tablespoons (42g), filling and leveling off each scoop. This produces 10 large, perfectly shaped cookies. There is no need to flatten – the cookies will spread a little bit when baking – although you may lightly press with a fork if you like the criss-cross design. Sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt, if using, just before baking.
Bake for 15 minutes, give or take a minute or two depending on oven and color of baking sheet (dark-coated sheets bake faster than light ones) or until just cooked through. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet. The cookies will firm up as they cool.
- Storage: The cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days or so, and they may be refrigerated to maintain freshness even longer. The cookies freeze well, too.
*I prefer regular, creamy peanut butter for this recipe. Natural peanut butter will work, but the resulting texture can be a bit more crumbly.
*If you don’t have a kitchen scale to weigh the peanut butter, simply go slightly scant on the cup measurement. If doubling the recipe, you’ll need 1¾ peanut butter, which conveniently, is the amount in a 16-ounce (454g) jar of Jif.
This recipe was first posted on May 15, 2013. ⬇
Sounds so easy and good. I have a question about using other butters; Almond or Seed butters are two I’ve used in place of the peanut butter which a family member is allergic to. I haven’t tried this recipe, but plan to print it out and use the alternative almond smooth butter, will follow the tip about allowing to cool before lifting off the pan. Another to add to my list of “Recipes by Ann Fulton!”
Two of your recipes; “Scrambled Hard-boiled Egg’ AND THE Blintz recipes I made to take for a couple days at the Bay. I used the Blueberry sauce, but would like to try the cheese sauce with it. Another winner is the Turkey Burgers with Blue Cheese. I’m going to try extra blue cheese, too. Will report.
Hi Dotti! I made these with almond butter some time ago and my recollection is that they worked very well. Seed butters should work too. In a different recipe, I once tested Wowbutter, which is soy-based, and it yielded a crumbly outcome. So I would hesitate to try that if you happen to use it. I’m delighted you made several other recipes recently and appreciate the feedback. Those turkey burgers are a favorite here!
Enjoy your time at the bay!
2017 I decided to make these cookies tonight with coconut sugar. Baking in oven now. Cannot wait to try the cookies.
Awesome, Cassandra, and hope you are enjoying them!
these area GREAT with a mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cup pushed into the middle of each as soon as they are taken out of the oven!
Love that idea, Bertie! Thanks for suggesting!
How much chia seeds did you put in?
Hi Ann, I have been thinking of these cookies and wanted to let you know about an amazing peanut butter my husband found at our Kroger. It is Earth Balance coconut and peanut spread. He loves it ins smoothies and you can taste the coconut but I would imagine it would be delish in these cookies (as long as one likes coconut).
I know I plan to give it a try and will let you know how it turns out!
That is too funny because I just used that exact same spread for the first time two days ago and then again today. I love it! I can’t wait to hear how it works in these cookies!
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