Soft and Chewy Vegan Peanut Cookies

Soft and Chewy Vegan Peanut Cookies


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These are the best soft and chewy vegan peanut cookies! Their puffy shape and tender interior is irresistable. Creamy peanut butter is the main ingredient in an otherwise simple ingredient list, and a touch of sea salt is the perfect finishing touch.

A round, rimmed white plate holds three vegan peanut cookies, each topped with chopped peanuts and flaky salt.

‘Tis the season of cookies.

This month, there will be festive, seasonal cookies aplenty. There will be sugar cookies, thumbprint cookies, cranberry almond biscotti, and vegan molasses ginger cookies.

I love these holiday cookies so much, and of course they needn’t be limited to the holiday season.

But today I’m sharing a cookie that belongs in your snack drawer year-round.

These vegan peanut cookies are the soft, chewy cookies of my dreams. If I had to choose between a crispy and a chewy cookie, I’ll take a chewy cookie anytime—and these round, fluffy, nutty little treats deliver.

The most peanutty of peanut cookies

I’ve made vegan peanut cookies before, but none tasted as vibrantly peanutty as these cookies do.

The purity of flavor is a great thing for peanut lovers like me. I think it’s also good for those who like their cookies sweet, but not too sweet.

Right after I made these cookies the first time, I was with a friend who’s decidedly not a dessert person. I was hesitant to share them with her, knowing that cookies aren’t really her thing.

My friend does love peanuts, though, and she seemed excited to try the freshly baked batch. She really loved the cookies, which made me so glad.

Why the intensity of peanut flavor?

It’s just a question of ingredients and proportions of ingredients. Smooth peanut butter is the only fat source here, so it plays a really prominent role in the recipe.

The main inspiration for this recipe was a terrific almond-butter based chocolate chip cookie from recipe creator Jessie May, which I tried years ago. I was also inspired by the America’s Test Kitchen chocolate chip cookies, a longtime favorite, which incorporates almond butter into the dough.

These two cookie recipes proved to me that, in some baked goods, nut butter can work just as efficiently as vegan butter or oil—with the added bonus that it contributes lovely, nutty flavor to recipes.

For this particular recipe, nutty flavor is essential. And the peanut butter base delivers.

These vegan peanut cookies have a relatively simple list of ingredients. I find that the fewer ingredients a recipe has, the more impactful each one becomes.

So, it’s worth highlighting a few of the ingredients that make these cookies work.

Flax “egg”

A flax “egg” is simply a tablespoon of ground flaxseed that’s been mixed with a few tablespoons of water. The mixture thickens up and takes on a slightly gelatinous texture, and it helps to re-create the binding action that eggs have in baking.

I don’t always use flax eggs in my vegan desserts; in fact, I think it’s often unnecessary to use an egg substitute if the original recipe called for two eggs or fewer.

In some recipes, however, egg replacer is essential. These vegan peanut cookies hold their shape and get some of their wonderful chewy texture thanks to the use of a flax egg.

My usual flax egg ratio is one tablespoon of flax to three tablespoons of water. For these cookies, I use 4 tablespoons of water; the extra tablespoon is important for their consistency.

Unbleached, all-purpose flour

All-purpose flour is my go-to for all baking. If you need to replace it with a gluten-free flour, then I recommend an all-purpose, gluten-free mix. My personal favorite is the Measure for Measure flour from King Arthur Baking.

Baking powder

I typically add a small amount of baking soda to cookies, rather than baking powder. In the case of these cookies, however, baking powder really works. It helps to create the pillowy, puffy, chewy texture that I intended for them to have.

Coconut or brown sugar

I offer you two sweetening options for these peanut cookies: coconut sugar or brown sugar, light or dark.

Either of these two sweeteners works. I opt for brown sugar most of the time because it’s less expensive than coconut sugar, and I’m more likely to have it at home. But I love the faintly caramel-like flavor of coconut sugar.

With this said, regular cane sugar will work perfectly well in the recipe. It offers a little less moisture to baked goods than does brown sugar, but for these cookies, the two are interchangeable.

Creamy peanut butter

Time for the most important cookie ingredient: peanut butter.

It’s important to use a creamy peanut butter here—crunchy won’t work!

The peanut butter can be very smooth, or it can be a more natural style; natural peanut butter is usually a bit more runny. If you use a natural peanut butter, be sure that it’s not overly grainy or gritty.

Here are my favorites to use in this recipe:

  • PB & C Smooth Operator
  • Maranatha Creamy No-Stir
  • Earth Balance Creamy
  • Teddie All-Natural Peanut Butter
  • Cream Nut Natural Smooth Peanut Butter

Vanilla extract

You won’t taste the vanilla extract in this recipe very much, but I think that it deepens the cookies’ flavor.

Salt

There are two types of salt in the recipe: fine salt, which flavors the cookies themselves, and Maldon, which adds a touch of crunch and saltiness to the peanut cookie tops.

I think that both are essential! It’s well worth keeping flaky sea salt at home, if only for cookie baking.

Roasted, salted peanuts

Sea salt isn’t the only topping on the peanut cookie tops: there are also small, chopped pieces of roasted and salted whole peanuts.

Those peanut pieces contribute to the cookies’ flavor, and they also provide some fun texture.

How to make vegan peanut cookies

The chewy vegan peanut cookies aren’t difficult to make, but there are some tips to keep in mind as you go along. I’ll walk you through it.

Step 1: Create your flax “egg”

Place the ground flax and water into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the water, stir, and set this mixture aside for a few minutes.

Step 2: Mix your dry ingredients

In another bowl—it can be a little smaller—whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. 

Step 3: Mix the wet ingredients

Now you’ll add to flax egg. Place the peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla to the same bowl with the water and ground flaxseed mixture and whisk well.

An overhead image of a white mixing bowl filled with flour, peanut butter, and other ingredients.
The wet ingredients for this recipe are creamy peanut butter, sugar, and a vegan flax “egg”.

Step 4: Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients

Add the whisked dry ingredients to the combined wet ingredients.

This is the tricky part: you’ll need to mix the dough with some elbow grease! Use a spoon to beat everything together. The dough will be thick.

A white, round mixing bowl contains a light brown vegan cookie batter.
Your peanut cookie dough will on the thick side, but you should be able to easily shape it into cookie balls.

Step 5: Rest the dough

Allow your peanut cookie dough to rest in the fridge for 15-30 minutes, or you can cover the bowl and refrigerate it for up to 2 hours. 

Step 6: Roll

Scoop the dough up by heaping tablespoons and roll it into balls by hand.

I recommend having slightly damp hands for this process—it makes the rolling a little easier. The balls should be a bit bigger than an inch in diameter.

Step 7: Decorate

Top each ball of dough with some pieces of the chopped, salted and roasted peanuts. As you do this, you can press the balls a little. You’re not trying to flatten them, just relax them a bit.

A close-up, overhead image of a round ball of cookie dough, topped with a few chopped pieces of peanut.
Hand roll the dough into balls that are about 1 1/4-inches / 3cm in diameter and decorate each with a few pieces of roasted, salted, and chopped peanuts.

Finally, sprinkle the flaky sea salt over the tops of all of the cookies.

Step 8: Bake

Now it’s time to bake the cookies.

You’ll do this in a 350°F / 175°C oven for nine minutes.

A light-colored, Silpat baking sheet is topped with round, puffy peanut cookies.
The cookies may not look quite ready after nine minutes in the oven, but they’ll continue baking for a few minutes after you remove them. Resist over-baking in order to achieve a perfectly soft and chewy texture!

The cookies may not look “done” when you remove them from the oven—and that’s OK.

Resist the urge to overbake them. Cookies continue to bake when they’re freshly out of the oven, and if you’re not careful, you might compromise that soft and chewy texture.

Step 9: Cool

Much as you might like to eat the cookies immediately, it’s worth cooling them for twenty minutes before enjoying them. At that point, they’ll be soft, but set.

Three round, puffy vegan peanut cookies are positioned on a round, white plate.
Finished cookies will be set at the edges and nicely soft inside.

Step 10: Store

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Keep them at room temperature—no need to refrigerate.  

A peanut substitute

The number one question on many readers minds is probably this: “what can I substitute for the peanut butter”?

Peanut allergies, and tree nut allergies generally, are one of the most prevalent food allergies worldwide. So it’s always wise to offer a substitution.

If you can tolerate nuts, but not peanuts, then a very smooth almond butter will be a good substitute. I think that Barney Butter is the best swap for peanut butter in baking.

If you can’t tolerate tree nuts at all, then I recommend creamy Sunbutter as a swap.

More favorite every day snack cookies

I like to think of the vegan peanut cookies as every day cookies. They’re not seasonal or occasion-specific; they’re just delicious cookies that you can enjoy for a snack or a treat anytime.

Here are some of the other vegan cookies that I love to snack on anytime and in any season:

  • Chewy vegan oatmeal raisin cookies
  • America’s Test Kitchen vegan chocolate chip cookies
  • Chewy vegan double chocolate chip cookies
  • Vegan black and white cookies

And here’s the softest, chewiest, nuttiest plant-based cookie I’ve tried—and promptly fallen in love with.

Three round, puffy vegan peanut cookies are positioned on a round, white plate. One of the cookies has a half-moon shaped bite taken out of it.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon ground flax meal (8g)
  • 4 tablespoons water (60ml)
  • 3/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour (90g)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar or lightly packed brown sugar (100g; you can substitute cane sugar)
  • 6 tablespoons smooth, creamy peanut butter  (90g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped, dry roasted, salted peanuts
  • Maldon salt (for decorating)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C.
  • Place the ground flax and water into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the water, stir, and set this mixture aside.
  • In a separate, medium small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  • Add the sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla extract to the flax mixture. Whisk until this mixture is smooth and evenly combined. 
  • Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Beat with a spoon until you have an evenly combined cookie dough. Allow this mixture to rest in the fridge for 15-30 minutes, or you can cover the bowl and refrigerate it for up to 2 hours. 
  • Scoop the dough up by heaping tablespoons and use your hands to roll it into balls that are about 1 1/4-inches / 3cm in diameter. You’re aiming for 10-12 cookies.
  • Arrange these cookies onto a nonstick or parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet. Gently press a small amount of the chopped peanuts on top of each cookie, using light pressure. Then, sprinkle the cookies with the Maldon. 
  • Bake the cookies for 9 minutes. The should be puffy and just golden—the texture is meant to be soft, so be very careful not to overbake!
  • Transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack and cool for at least 20 minutes before enjoying. Store the cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 4 days. 

From vegan peanut butter and jelly cake to crispy vegan peanut butter waffles, chocolate cupcakes with creamy peanut butter frosting to protein peanut butter stuffed dates, I absolutely love peanut butter themed treats.

These vegan peanut cookies are set to enter the permanent collection. I hope you’ll love them, too!

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