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.
‘Tis the season of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
You won’t taste the vanilla extract in this recipe very much, but I think that it deepens the cookies’ flavor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In another bowl—it can be a little smaller—whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Finally, sprinkle the flaky sea salt over the tops of all of the cookies.
Now it’s time to bake the cookies.
You’ll do this in a 350°F / 175°C oven for nine minutes.
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.
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.
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Keep them at room temperature—no need to refrigerate.
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.
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:
And here’s the softest, chewiest, nuttiest plant-based cookie I’ve tried—and promptly fallen in love with.
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!