Peanut Butter

What Makes These Peanut Butter Cookies (Possibly) Better than the Classic?

October 15, 2016

Peanut butter is one of the more useful pantry staples. It pairs nicely with everything from tofu and noodles to chocolate and jam. It makes a very fine sandwich, and it does unspeakably good things to a simple piece of buttered toast. Peanut butter also happens to be a star in the realm of texture: Thickening sauces, yielding luxurious frostings, and sticking granola bars firmly together. Thus, it’s no surprise it shines in cookie dough.

Photo by Posie Harwood

The classic peanut butter cookie features that iconic cross-hatch pattern (easily made with the tines of a fork!) and a chewy, moist interior. I did a little research, wondering if there was merit in trying to elevate such a beloved recipe. Turns out, there is! Today’s recipe isn’t a full overhaul of the original (which comes from the back of the Jif jar). Instead, it takes the best elements of the cookie—sugar, salt, nuttiness, a tender crumb—and turns up the volume on each.

Photo by Posie Harwood

You’ll brown your butter, layering in more nutty flavor. You’ll use less flour and more peanut butter to increase the chewiness. You’ll add roasted, salted peanuts (toasted, then roughly chopped) for crunch and salt. And if you want to really get serious, you’ll sprinkle the cookies with flaky sea salt and sugar just before baking.

Photo by Posie Harwood

What you’ll get is the peanut butter cookie you remember, but louder and brighter. It’s the technicolor version of a black and white movie: both good in their own rights, but one more subdued and one more colorfully memorable.

Posie Harwood is a writer, photographer, and food stylist based in New York. You can read more of her writing here.

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What makes your ideal peanut butter cookie? Let us know in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Smaug
  • Kala Burris
    Kala Burris
  • Mary Drake
    Mary Drake
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


Smaug October 15, 2016
Brown butter in cookies is rapidly becoming overdone- don't much like the idea for peanut butter cookies, which tend toward the dry anyway. Other than that, this differs from the classic recipe I know by having less peanuts and more peanut butter, and way too much salt- also increasingly a cliche in cookies and deserts in general. If I want to "amp up" my recipe, I add some ground chocolate (about 3 oz.).
Kala B. October 15, 2016
The way my granny always made pb cookies is
1c pb, 1c sugar and 1 egg. Cook about 6 min. Very crumbly, but delicious, and great for gluten free friends.
Mary D. October 16, 2016
I use the same recipe (~10 min in the oven), but reduce the sugar to 3/4 c and add in about 1/3 c oats + some cinnamon. Gives a bit more substance to them, and you can almost pass them off as breakfast :)