Not a particularly skilled baker, Mary loves making cookies and has increased her gluten-free cookie recipes repertoire to treat a GF friend
My Grandmother's Delicious 3 Ingredient Cookies
Here it is: my contender for the world's easiest cookie recipe. It's fun to make these on June 12, National Peanut Butter Cookie Day. But really, I'll take any excuse to make--and share--this terrific recipe from my grandmother, who passed away just shy of her 96th birthday. As a child I watched her make many amazing desserts, mostly nut-filled Eastern European specialties like roszke (crescent-shaped cookies) and potica (sweet, yeasted bread with layers of chopped-walnut paste) -- along with main dishes like halupki (stuffed cabbage). My dad and brother carry on those labor-intensive, time-consuming traditions today. But for me, the one recipe that's always stuck--mainly because it's so simple that it's nearly impossible to forget--is for these classic all-American treats. See if these aren't the best (and easiest!) peanut butter cookies you've ever made.
World's Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
1 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients well. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes or so. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a greased or nonstick cookie sheet. Press down each little ball of dough with a fork, then press again to make a criss-cross pattern. Bake 8-12 minutes, depending on whether you like softer or crispier cookies. (Peak underneath with a spatula to make sure the bottoms aren't over-browning.)
Tip: To avoid crumbling, let cool completely before you transfer these off the cookie sheet.
Variations: For extra decadence, add chocolate chips or chunks. Or press a Hershey's kiss into each ball of dough and skip the fork-pressing :)
P.S.: You don't want to get too fancy with these. If your heart is set on natural peanut butter, be sure to use a no-stir kind. The type that separates is too liquidy for this recipe. Also, go for regular granulated sugar. I tried it once with organic sugar, and for some reason, the recipe didn't work. With plain old sugar and PB, you're golden!
Yes, my best peanut butter cookies are full of sugar & fat. But they're also packed with protein, which gives them a distinct advantage over other cookies I make or buy. Not only are my kids rather meat-averse, but 2 of the 3 have attentional issues, so I'll grab any chance to sneak protein into them...especially at snacktime, right before homework, when I'm looking for something a bit filling that will help them focus and sustain their energy.
In fact, 2 of the 5 foods chosen by Cooking Light magazine in its "5 Foods That Should Have a Place in your Diet" piece are featured in this recipe: peanut butter and eggs. Yea!
What makes peanut butter so healthy? It's a good source of vitamin E, niacin, manganese, vitamin B6 and magnesium. And it contains oleic acid -- a healthier kind of fat that, when it replaces less ideal fats, can help us maintain good cholesterol.
For even more of a nutrition boost, try mixing a modest amount of your favorite seeds (pepitas, hulled and roasted sunflower seeds, etc.) into the cookie dough. For finicky young eaters, I would suggest doing this gradually, starting with a ridiculously small amount of seeds, like a tablespoon for the whole batch of dough -- adding more over time, as tolerated.
Convert to a Vegan Cookie Recipe?
To convert these to vegan peanut butter cookies, you'll need to substitute something for the egg, as a binder. I looked into various alternatives commonly used as egg substitutes for cookies, and most of them seem a bit unappetizing. (Mixing water and oil, for instance, is a popular solution, but peanut butter cookies are already full of -- healthy! -- fat, so adding more seems dubious.) I haven't yet tried this, but I think banana could work. Substitute one-half of a mashed banana for the one egg. Of course the banana will add some fruity flavor, but that should be pleasantly overpowered by the peanut flavor. Even if not, peanut butter and banana is a tasty combination! Because it makes cookies softer, banana can be a poor match for chewy cookie recipes -- but mine is a crunchy style cookie, so theoretically it could handle a bit of softening.
More Gluten Free PB Cookies
- Chocolate PB Bars
A no-bake recipe for those who prefer their PB treats in bar form.
- PB Balls
Ubersweet treats featuring coconut, nuts & cherries.
- Quick PB Cookies
Hmm, this recipe is almost exactly the same as my grandmother's -- but with one more ingredient. May need to try & compare.
- PB&J Cookies
Skip the sandwich & have a gluten-free PBJ cookie instead!
Obviously there's one group for whom these cookies are neither healthy nor safe: kids and adults with peanut allergies, which can be very dangerous--even life threatening. The fact that child peanut allergies in the U.S. doubled between 1997 and 2008 shows the danger of accidentally inflicting harm is no longer remote.
Check with your child's teacher before sending these cookies (or any treats, really) into the classroom or lunchroom.
On the other hand, this flourless recipe is fantastic for kids with wheat allergies, celiac disease, or some other need for a gluten-free diet!
For something close to the original recipe in taste and texture, you can substitute almond butter for the peanut butter (providing you won't be serving the cookies to tree-nut-allergic folks). Sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) also works, and because there's no leavening agent in this recipe to react with the chlorogenic acid naturally occurring in sunflower seeds, your sunbutter cookies won't turn an unappetizing shade of green when you use this recipe!
Out of concern over peanut allergy, some schools have outlawed peanut products in sack lunches. At others, like ours, lunches can contain peanut, but families are asked to label them as such. We use the peanut warning label pictured above, featuring a kid's cute illustration, when we pack PBJ sandwiches, PB cookies, granola bars containing peanut, or any other food that contains this dangerous allergen.
More 3 Ingredient Cookies
With years of experience as an editor for hire, I love well-edited recipes too! Here are a few more 3 ingredient cookie recipes that fit the bill...
Peanut butter cookies with chocolate made from peanut butter, brown sugar and chocolate chips
Oatmeal cookies made from oats, bananas and chocolate chips
Nutella cookies made from Nutella, flour and eggs (plus salt for topping, if you want)
Celebrate Silly Food Holidays!
We've talked about physical health; now how about mental health benefits? The year is full of semi-official excuses to try my peanut butter cookie recipe, given the number of relevant goofy (but fun) food holidays:
January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day.
The whole month of March has been decreed (by somebody!) National Peanut Month, with March 1 designated National Peanut Butter Lover's Day.
This recipe is so easy, it's a perfect choice for June 13, "Kitchen Klutzes of America Day" (count me in!).
Add chocolate and you can make these for August 4, National Chocolate Chip Day. Mmmmmm.
October is National Cookie Month.
In November the "Peanut Butter Lovers" graduate to a whole month, not just a day.
And December 4 is National Cookie Day. Knock yourself out!
© 2009 Mary
Mary on September 19, 2021:
This will diminish the health benefits, of course, but if you've got a true sweet tooth, try adding white chocolate chips or chunks. For a more nutritious take, your favorite seeds could be mixed in, as long as the dough stays nice and sticky.
MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose from Washington State on November 14, 2012:
This is a totally awesome recipe, thanks.
Mary (author) from Chicago area on August 23, 2012:
@anonymous: the recipe won't work w/out the egg; sorry. you could try it, but I'm pretty sure it would come out as just a pan of crumbs ... ? the egg is the "binder"
anonymous on August 16, 2012:
what if i don't got the egg
gatornic15 on May 11, 2012:
Looks good, and can't get any easier than that.
Winter52 LM on May 11, 2012:
I can't remember the last time I had a peanut butter cookie and I used to live on them as a kid. It was almost a staple in our house. I am really going to have to try that 3 ingredient peanut butter cookie. It doesn't get much easier than that!
Mary (author) from Chicago area on April 02, 2012:
@GuyB LM: wow, gotta admire your intensity here re. accuracy .... my grandmother taught it to me; we made these cookies together. I am really not sure, though, if her mom taught it to her or if she read it somewhere or (what I always believed) made it up. she passed away a few years back, so unfortunately I can't ask her about that. sorry I can't be more certain as to exact origin! thx for stopping by!
GuyB LM on April 02, 2012:
Did your grandmother come up with this recipe or was it handed down to her? Like, if your grandkids make these cookies will they say it's yours or their great great grandmas? I just want to make sure that when you title a lens, it is accurate. Please let me know which relative originated this recipe.
anonymous on February 04, 2012:
Those cookies look great, and I'll bet they taste great also.
MK2020 on January 26, 2012:
Those cookies look yummy
Mary (author) from Chicago area on January 25, 2012:
@damoiselle: thanks! peanut butter day was a nice little gift ;)
damoiselle on January 24, 2012:
Oh, neat. I'll have to see if my sister knows about this. Cheers and congrats on a good traffic day ;)
Zut Moon on January 24, 2012:
Yee Haw ... I like peanut butter cookies better than I like cats ....
curious0927 on January 24, 2012:
My favorite cookies are Peanut Butter! I love your lens, nice layout, easy to read, and great tips!
Liked, Blessed and will send in to Squidoo for Peanut Butter Lens Quest! Yoo Hoo/1
MamaRuth on January 24, 2012:
This recipe certainly lives up to your title! Wow, can't wait to try them...I love that the recipe only has 3 ingredients. I have a friend who is always on the lookout for good gluten-free treats so I will definitely share with her.
writerkath on January 24, 2012:
Well, you certainly got my attention with only 3 ingredients! I actually had to double check to make sure you intentionally didn't have flour in this! I love it! I just made peanut butter cookies recently, and am eager to try these little flour-less gems! And I don't CARE that it's a butter & sugar filled treat! I'm all in! :) ~*~Blessed~*~ :) Kath
GreenMind Guides from USA on January 24, 2012:
Nice -- peanut butter day tip in!
Jessica from Southern Indiana on January 24, 2012:
These sound so simple and very yummy. I LOVE peanut butter and especially peanut butter cookies!!!
anonymous on January 20, 2012:
yummy article and yes, this does look easy, even a monkey could make this!
SaintFrantic on October 05, 2011:
Love Peanut Butter.Thanks for the recipe
valiapegli on October 02, 2011:
very interesting information! I love your cookies! I would be very glad if you visited my lens about veg recipes and leave your comment
Mary (author) from Chicago area on September 24, 2011:
@anonymous: yep! and you don't miss that flour a bit :)
anonymous on September 24, 2011:
And they are Gluten Free!!!!!!
agoofyidea on August 20, 2011:
These look awesome. Great lens.
Doors4Home from Austin, TX on July 01, 2011:
Peanut butter cookies are my favorite! I wish I had time to make them. Thanks for the recipe~!
anonymous on March 23, 2011:
Thanks so much. I liked your Squidoo.
Sue Dixon from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK on June 25, 2010:
I love your cookie lens- I've featured it on my Rocketmoms cookie collection- thank you!
norma-holt on April 20, 2010:
Wonderful recipe and thanks for sharing. I think I will give it a go for the grand kids. Blessed and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust
Jeanette from Australia on October 13, 2009:
Hehehe. I was attracted to this recipe because it is "outrageously simple". I love simple! And these look great. Definitely worth a try.
Treasures By Brenda from Canada on July 12, 2009:
Nicely done & blessed. I'd love to see another big picture of a peanut butter cookie though!
Welcome to the Culinary Favorites From A to Z group. Don’t forget to come back and add your lens to the link list so that it will appear on the group page!
poutine on June 25, 2009:
I've got to try this "easy" recipe for peanut butter cookies.
I tried once to bake them and it was a "fiasco".
CCGAL on June 24, 2009:
I love peanut butter cookies - and this recipe is going to get tried at my house very, very soon. Thanks so much for sharing it!
Mary (author) from Chicago area on May 30, 2009:
[in reply to C-Joy] lol...I've been known to make a half-recipe when I'm low on PB :)
anonymous on May 29, 2009:
Oh I wish I had enough peanut butter in the house to make these RIGHT NOw!!
EpicFarms on May 22, 2009:
I'm definitely adding this recipe to my box! I think we'll have to make them with the chocolate kisses though...YUM :o)
Holley Web on May 21, 2009:
You had from the picture down. I could already taste those lovely morsels. This is a yummy lens!
AlisonMeacham on May 21, 2009:
I am learning about all the different celebration days we have! Great recipe. We are selling cookie dough at the moment for a fund raiser so maybe we can use this as a marketing pitch!
Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN, USA on May 21, 2009:
Can you believe all the peanut related holidays we have? I guess we're nuts about peanuts! You did brilliantly here! Those cookies just have three ingredients? Amazing!
Tarra99 on May 21, 2009:
YUM!...I love PB cookies warm out of the oven with a big glass of milk!
Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on May 19, 2009:
I love Peanut Butter anything and this recipe sounds delicious.
seashell2 on May 19, 2009:
Mmmm peanut butter cookies are great! Sweet lens! :-)
Heather Burns from Wexford, Ireland on May 19, 2009:
Well I can't try them since I have that horrible Peanut allergy, but 2 of my kids don't have it so I will pass on the recipe. they sound yummy for those that can eat them.
bdkz on May 19, 2009:
I LOVE Peabut Butter Cookies!