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Who doesn’t love peanut butter cookies? This classic recipe deserves a spot in your rotation.
My kids are always clamoring for homemade cookies. I can’t say I blame them, because it’s hard to resist a warm-from-the-oven cookie.
Their vote is for chocolate chip cookies, but I prefer to mix it up and have non-chocolate options every once in a while.
The entire family loves peanut butter, so of course peanut butter cookies often end up in our cookie jar.
Only homemade, though. For some reason, the store-bought version just doesn’t have that soft, sweet, perfectly peanut buttery taste I need from a cookie.
I originally made these for the Austin Bakes for West fundraiser in 2013, and they’ve been my go-to peanut butter cookie recipe ever since.
While there is a tendency for food bloggers to get ultra-creative when it comes to bake sales and food swaps, I’ve come to realize that simple, classic items sell the best.
To make them a little more special I’ve added a bit of orange zest, which I think helps enhance the peanut buttery goodness.
What is orange zest?
Orange zest is the outer portion of an orange peel.
If you peel an orange, take a look at the peel. You’ll see the interior portion — the pith, which is white — and the outer orange layer, which is the zest.
The zest contains flavorful oils that brighten up dishes and drinks. You might be familiar with zest from your favorite cocktail!
One orange will give you 2-3 tablespoons of zest. This is more than you need for this recipe, so just zest what you need, and enjoy the orange as a snack!
Note that if you use dried orange peel (available from the spice section of your grocery store) you will only need 1/3 teaspoon.
One of the great things about cookies is how customizable they are. If you don’t like the orange flavor in this cookie or don’t have an orange on hand, simply leave it out.
You can stir in chocolate chips instead, or try peanut butter chips or chopped peanuts for double the peanut flavor.
Chopped dried cranberries are unexpected and add a burst of tart flavor.
If you are a fan of snickerdoodles, try rolling the peanut butter cookies in sugar, or a sugar and cinnamon mixture.
Simply form the dough balls, then roll them in a shallow bowl of sugar to completely cover.
You can also sugar only the tops of the cookies by wetting the bottom of a glass, dipping it in sugar, then pressing the glass to the dough to flatten slightly.
The sugar will stick on and you can repeat with the rest of the dough and sugar.
Can I freeze these?
Peanut butter cookies are a great candidate for freezing and baking off later!
Scoop the cookies onto a baking sheet. You can place them very close together since they aren’t being baked.
Put the baking sheet into the freezer, and freeze dough until solid.
Once solid, pop the dough balls off the baking sheet and place into a freezer-safe container.
You can bake the dough balls directly from frozen, adding a few minutes to the baking time.
Cookies baked from frozen won’t have that trademark peanut butter cookie crosshatch, but they’ll taste just as good!
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, cream together butter, peanut butter, and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and stir in vanilla.
- In another bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, zest, and salt.
- Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture until well-incorporated. Scrape the bottom and sides as needed to incorporate loose flour.
- Form dough into 1-inch balls and put on cookie sheets, flattening with a fork or the bottom of a cup. If dough is too sticky to easily form into balls, refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Bake for approximately 10 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes before moving to a rack to finish cooling.