The Best Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies! Straight from my mom’s recipe box, these are the BEST peanut butter cookies – they are easy to make and stay wonderfully soft. It goes without saying that this staple recipe deserves a place in everyone’s kitchen!

A stack of peanut butter cookies with additional cookies on a napkin.

When you think about what would be on the all-star team of cookies, I think it breaks down pretty simply to the following:

Sure, there are tons of other amazing cookies out there (hello shortbread, thumbprint, snickerdoodles, snowballs, and macaroons, to name a few), but these four are the essentials. They’re the cookies that always show up on cookie trays, the ones that everyone’s family has multiple recipes for, are easy to whip up, and evoke the most nostalgic cookie memories.

Of these, I’ve always had the softest spot for peanut butter cookies. There’s just something about those crisscross-laced cookies loaded with peanut butter and rolled in crunchy sugar that makes me remember sitting in my mom’s old kitchen and licking the beaters, helping her roll those balls of dough and pressing the tines of a fork on top.

I might be biased, but I think these are the BEST peanut butter cookies!

How Do You Make Peanut Butter Cookies?

Peanut butter cookie dough being rolled in sugar.

Good news – it’s easy!

This recipe is straight from my mom’s recipe book, and the one we’ve been baking since I’ve been a little girl. I would venture to guess that it came from the back of a jar of peanut butter back in the day, but she doesn’t have a source listed anywhere.

It’s a simple list of ingredients – flour, baking soda, salt, peanut butter (of course!) brown sugar, shortening, milk, and vanilla. It takes all of five minutes to mix them together, then you roll the dough into tablespoon-size balls of dough, roll them in granular sugar, then press the tines of a fork in a crisscross pattern on top.

Why Do You Make Fork Marks on Peanut Butter Cookies?

Good question!

Peanut butter cookie dough is a bit dense, so pressing down on them helps to flatten them a bit so they bake more evenly. And, bonus! Since this is a traditional characteristic of peanut butter cookies, you’ll always be able to spot them on a cookie tray without having to ask what kind of cookie it is!

Can You Use Butter Instead of Shortening?

In a word, no.

Shortening keeps the cookies from spreading too much, keeps them from being crumbly, and ensures that they are nice and soft. Replacing it with butter would significantly alter the texture of the cookies and I beg you not to do it. They do now make butter-flavored shortening that I’ve used from time to time if you’re worried about the flavor.

Can You Freeze Peanut Butter Cookies?

Yes! They freeze exceptionally well.

You can freeze the balls of dough (roll in sugar and crisscross before baking), or you can freeze baked cookies. Keep either in the freezer for up to 3 months and then enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cookie Variations

While this recipe is a simple classic, there are tons of other varieties floating around the Internet, so let’s discuss some of the most popular:

Fork pressing down on peanut butter cookie dough to create the crisscross pattern.

So there you have it – peanut butter cookies in all of their wonderful, delicious glory. Next to chocolate chip cookies, these are the ultimate cookie comfort food for me.

They are incredibly easy to make and belong on every single Christmas cookie tray, wedding cookie table, and after school snack plate from now until the end of time.

(P.S. If you’re a chunky peanut butter kind of guy or gal, be sure to check out my chunky, chewy peanut butter cookies and chunky peanut butter cookies.)

An overhead shot of peanut butter cookies with a scoop of peanut butter.

Four years ago: S’mores Icebox Cake
Five years ago: Buttermilk Biscuits with Sausage Gravy
Six years ago: Crab Cakes with Remoulade Sauce
Ten years ago: Pesto Pasta & Chicken

Watch How to Make Peanut Butter Cookies:

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Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

Classic peanut butter cookies! Straight from my mom’s recipe box, these cookies are easy to make, full of peanut butter flavor, and super soft.

Ingredients:

  • 1¾ cups (248 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup (203 grams) creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup (92 grams) vegetable shortening
  • 1¼ cups (248 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • Granulated sugar, for rolling cookies

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until well blended, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat just until blended. Reduce speed to low and add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture gradually, mixing just until combined.
  4. Put the granulated sugar in a small bowl. Scoop a tablespoonful of dough and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Roll the dough into the sugar and place on the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Dip the tines of a fork into the sugar and make a crisscross pattern on the cookies, flattening them slightly.
  5. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until set and just beginning to brown. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months.

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All images and text ©Brown Eyed Baker, LLC.

This recipe was originally published on June 9, 2009.

[photos by Whitney Wright]