gluten-free peanut butter cookies

Peanut butter cookies are relatively new confection because peanut butter itself is relatively new. It all started in 1890, when Dr. John Kellogg of cornflake fame created peanut butter as a healthy protein substitute that his toothless patients could easily consume. Meanwhile, George Washington Carver, founder of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, was promoting peanuts as a replacement for the cotton crop, which the boll weevil destroyed in the 1890s. Carver developed hundreds of recipes using peanuts, and in his 1916 research bulletin How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption, he had three recipes for peanut cookies calling for crushed peanuts as an ingredient. The commercial production of peanut butter began in the 1920s when J. L. Rosenfield perfected a process to prevent the oil from separating from the peanut butter and spoilage prevention methods, resulting in the Skippy brand peanut butter. In the 1930s, peanut butter finally began to appear in cookie recipes, which often called for flattening the cookie with the tines of a fork, a tradition still practiced today.

Most peanut butter cookies I've tasted have a rather weak peanut butter taste, while the few that use peanut butter as the sole flour and oil taste a bit too rich. Trying to find a compromise, I made batches and batches of peanut butter cookies which turned out good but rather chewy and greasy, until one time I accidentally used a teaspoon of baking soda in place of baking powder, and they turned out crumbly and delicious like peanut butter cookies are meant to be. These always vanish immediately no matter how many you make, so make a double batch if you plan on sharing. One carnivore told me "this is the best cookie I've EVER had."

Crunchy peanut butter is my favorite for this recipe, but I don't recommend using the bulk peanut butter available at some grocery stores. I wanted to use this kind because I can save packaging by using my own container for the peanut butter, but I've tried to use it countless times for this recipe and it always ruins the texture.

Also, an obvious complement to peanut butter is chocolate, so I recommend throwing some chocolate chips into the batter or half-dipping the cookies in melted chocolate. I would advise chocolate chips over dipping if you're in a time crunch or if the weather's hot (because the chocolate won't set up), but the half-dipped look is very pretty. 

Makes 1 dozen
Total time: 1 hour

2/3 cup (175g) crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup unrefined cane sugar (or vegan brown sugar)
3 tablespoons (40g) melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup maple syrup 
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup (30g) garbanzo bean flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (or up to 1/2 teaspoon if your peanut butter doesn't have any salt)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

4 oz vegan chocolate, chopped, or 1/2 cup chocolate chips
several pinches coarse sea salt for garnish

In a medium bowl, beat together the peanut butter, sugar, and coconut oil, vanilla, and maple syrup for several minutes. In a separate bowl, thoroughly whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and stir until combined. If using, mix in the chocolate chips. Cover and chill for at least 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough on a greased baking sheet, setting them about 2 inches apart. Dip a fork in melted water and press the tines to flatten the dough in a crisscross manner. If desired, sprinkle each cookie with a few grains of coarse salt.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until beginning to brown around the edges. The cookies will be very, very soft right when you take them out of the oven, which may be quite deceiving, but they should firm up to a crisp, crumbly cookie after they have completely cooled.

To dip the cookies in chocolate, fill a small saucepan an inch or two high with water and place a small, heat-proof bowl on top to create a double boiler. Bring water to a boil, then reduce to barely simmering. Place the chocolate in the bowl and with a spatula, gently stir until consistently creamy, then remove from heat. Spread the melted chocolate over half of each cookie with a spoon, and place the cookies back on the parchment-lined baking sheet to until the chocolate sets. If you're pressed for time you can set the sheet in the fridge.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for several days, or freeze them and I guarantee they will be eaten before they go bad. They are good defrosted on the counter or in the microwave, but they are also really good frozen. 


  1. wow - a happy accident! These look so good in the picture I want to reach out and grab one!

  2. I just discovered your site, and I read through all of your past posts. I hope you will keep posting! Your recipes look amazing (I cannot wait to try some of them!) and I really enjoy your blog. Thanks for your posts!


  3. Thanks so much! I've stopped posting temporarily because I've been out of town and I won't be back for another month, but I definitely will continue once I get back.

  4. Gauri Radha गौरी राधाJanuary 2, 2011 at 4:54 PM

    Your cookies look quite splendid :-)