The recipe only calls for six ingredients—and two of them are optional.

By Bridget Hallinan
April 17, 2020
Credit: Bridget Hallinan

Freshly baked cookies are one of life’s greatest joys. They warm up the kitchen and make it smell sweet; depending on how many your recipe yields, you also have a snack that can last several days (or months, if you decide to pre-freeze some batches of dough). And if they're low-fuss, that makes them all the more enticing.

Our crunchy peanut butter cookies deliver big time on both taste and simplicity. The ingredient list requires just four (four!) items—smooth peanut butter, sugar, baking soda, and a lightly beaten extra-large egg, with finely chopped peanuts and mini chocolate chips as optional add-ins. No flour needed, no butter required. Just mix everything together in a bowl, roll the dough out into balls, and bake. In a mere 25 minutes total—including both prep and baking time—you’ll have two dozen cookies at your disposal. 

The end results are crunchy but not too dry with just the right hint of sweetness. The best part? You only have one mixing bowl to clean when they're done. Check out our key tips for making the cookies below, compiled from the recipe and the Food & Wine Test Kitchen.

You Won’t Need Flour, But the Egg Is Key

The egg acts as a binder in this recipe, adding moisture, and together with the baking soda, it will help the cookies rise and keep their shape.

Speaking of Eggs…

This recipe calls for one extra-large egg. If you only have a large egg, don’t sweat it—there’s a small volume difference, but since you’re using just one egg, you can get away with it. Keep reading for guidelines if you want to scale the recipe up.

Feel Free to Use What You Have on Hand

As aforementioned, the chocolate and chopped nuts are entirely optional for this recipe. But if you want to include them, substitutions are easy. Don’t have mini chocolate chips? Regular-sized chips will work just fine. So will those flat chocolate disks (aka wafers) and chocolate bars chopped up into small pieces, and chocolate chunks—dark, white, milk, semi-sweet, whatever you want. You can also experiment with using different nuts, like almonds, walnuts, and even pistachios. 

Mix Away

With cookie recipes that use flour, you don’t want to mix the dough too much, since you can end up overworking the gluten and creating a tough, rubbery texture. However, since there’s no flour in these cookies, that won’t happen.

When in Doubt, They’re Done

In general, peanut butter cookies don’t always look done when they actually are. Watch for them getting lightly browned and set (no longer damp or super-soft), and then take them out. They’ll continue to darken and harden out of the oven as they cool, thanks to carry-over cooking. 

Scale ‘Em

The proportions for these cookies are very uniform—1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 extra-large egg—so you can easily double the batch. However, if you do want to scale up and only have large eggs, you’ll need to adjust. Since you have to beat the egg for the recipe anyway, you can do this by beating them and weighing out the volume using a kitchen scale. Typically, a large egg is about 57 grams on average and an extra-large egg is 64, so if you double the recipe, you'll want 128 grams of beaten eggs.

Freeze and Save for Later

Like most cookies, these freeze beautifully. You can pre-make the dough, form it into balls, and portion them out on either a quarter or half baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Lay them out in a single layer, no stacking.) Cover them with plastic wrap and place in the freezer—once they’re frozen, you can transfer them to a ziplock bag and keep them in there for several months until you’re ready to bake and be comforted all over again.