Vegan peanut butter cookies taste just as good as the cookies Grandma made, but without the refined flour and sugar. Peanut butter is vegan food, so most organic or all-natural peanut butter brands will help you bake a delicious cookie. You can always use vegan flours and other vegan butter instead of peanut butter.
Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies
Vegans can enjoy cookies and baked goods by making a few substitutions in the kitchen. You can replace the usual refined sugar and flour with coconut sugar or flour, or several other plant-based options.
Vegan vs. Regular Peanut Butter
Many peanut butter brands consist of nothing but ground peanuts, salt and maybe some sugar. A few brands may contain honey.
You’d think any peanut butter brand would be great to use for vegan peanut butter cookies. After all, peanuts are a vegan food. Unfortunately, some favorite peanut butter brands use animal-based ingredients during processing.
When you go to the store, check the ingredient list on the labels for Skippy, Jif or other well-known brands for additives that may contain chemicals or animal by-products.
Luckily, you’ll find most brands have peanuts, salt and maybe a handful of other all-natural ingredients, even if they don’t carry the vegan moniker on their label. Some brands have unique features that a vegan foodie might appreciate.
If you need to watch your fat intake, look for peanut butter made defatted peanuts, which have 85 percent less fat than regular peanuts.
Peanut butter made with defatted peanuts is great to use in cookie dough along with other ingredients but has a bland taste if you eat it as a stand-alone spread.
That old brand name stand-by, Skippy, has a natural spread that’s made in the USA. It comes in a 40-ounce jar, so you’ll have plenty of peanut butter for cookies and sandwiches. All-natural Skippy has the taste you expect from this brand name without lots of added oils and sugars.
Some organic peanut butter may contain flax seeds for more fiber and a light crunch. If you want crunchy peanut butter cookies without adding nuts to the mix, this is an excellent option.
Ingredients to Avoid
Remember to choose a peanut butter with all-natural, non-GMO peanuts, no trans-fats, hydrogenated oils or palm oils. Here’s a bit about what ingredients to avoid in peanut butter if you want your vegan cookies to taste better.
Trans-fats are manufactured fats. Trans-fats were originally used to make processed foods like crackers and snack foods have a better texture. Studies show that eating too many foods with trans-fats lead to higher blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, and eventually strokes, diabetes or heart attacks.
The FDA has mandated that all trans-fats be removed from prepared foods. Palm oil and hydrogenated oil/ vegetable oil are other names for trans-fats.
Vegan Cookies – The Basics
If you’re a vegan, you don’t eat butter made from cow’s milk or eggs (and you probably don’t consume refined sugar often, either), so what ingredients do you use to make baked desserts, including peanut butter cookies? (Hint: Get ready to say hello to a lot of cocoa butter if you plan on baking!)
In addition to the healthy peanut butter described above, you’ll need vegan flour, natural sweeteners like brown sugar, maple syrup or agave, vanilla extract, salt and baking soda.
You can experiment with several ingredients (and the amount used for each one) until you get the right cookie taste/texture. Vegan bakers learn from recipes, but they don’t necessarily stick to them all the time.
Vegans know how to experiment with food because most processed food products contain ingredients they can’t eat. Vegans are savvy eaters and they know certain substitutions will make cookies and other baked goods taste better.
Here are a few options for making vegan peanut butter cookies at home. You can experiment with different kinds of vegan milk, butter, and sugar. You can also change the amount of each ingredient to taste and adjust it for the number of cookies you need.
Oat Flour Option
Bake soft, gluten-free peanut butter cookies with a cup of your favorite peanut butter, or a half-cup of almond butter and a half cup of peanut butter for a slightly different taste and consistency. Other ingredients are brown sugar, vanilla extract, and oat flour.
Use a cup of oat flour if you want chewy treats; two-thirds cup if you wish to have tender cookies. Add baking soda, salt and filtered water or almond milk. (Some people use milk – soy or rice milk are vegan choices.)
This delicious cookie recipe takes 20 minutes to prepare. You mix the vanilla extract, peanut butter, and brown sugar in one bowl. Mix the oat flour, salt and baking soda in another bowl. Add the oat flour to the wet mixture until it becomes a dough, then add water or vegan milk.
You can use sunflower butter instead of peanut butter if you have nut allergies, or replace the brown sugar with coconut sugar.
Roll the dough into balls and bake on a cookie sheet for eight or ten minutes or until golden brown.
Another version of all-natural peanut butter cookies uses the ingredients above – and two tablespoons of applesauce. Put dry ingredients in one bowl, and add peanut butter and vegan milk to it. Stir the mixture and form the dough into balls.
Put the dough in your refrigerator before baking for an hour if you want soft cookies. If you want to make the cookies later, it’s okay to freeze the dough longer. Freezing the dough won’t affect the taste. Bake cookies for eight minutes at 350 degrees. The cookies won’t look done when you take them out of the oven. Let them cool for ten minutes, and they’ll be ready to eat.
The applesauce adds natural sweetness and gives you, in effect, peanut butter and apple cookie.
Chocolate and Peanut Butter
Chocolate and peanut butter go together in candy, but they made a tasty cookie, too. Several experienced vegan cooks have their versions of this delicious treat. One great vegan cookie uses a smidge of peanut butter (or another nut butter of your choice) as a tasty decoration in the middle of the cookie.
Peanut butter is the main ingredient, but you can substitute cashew butter, sunflower butter or almond butter if you or someone you know has a peanut allergy. Gather six tablespoons of cocoa powder (with good-for-you polyphenols), six tablespoons of sugar, a few dashes of salt and baking soda and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Add a quarter-cup of melted coconut oil, a cup of spelt or oat flour, and a tablespoon of maple syrup or honey to complete the ingredients.
(Add chocolate or carob chips if you want some more texture and chocolate your cookies, but it’s not mandatory.) Now make ten to fifteen separate small portions of peanut butter or nut butter and leave them in your refrigerator.
Use a cookie scoop to make dough balls. Press on the center of each dough ball and add a piece of frozen nut butter (and chocolate chips if you want.) Bake ten minutes, and then let the cookies cool for ten minutes. You probably won’t have leftovers, but if you do, store them in a covered plastic container for two or three days.
You can freeze the dough just like the other vegan cookie recipes we’ve highlighted, and use it days or weeks later for a special occasion.
No Bake Cookies
If you want peanut butter cookies fast, you can make no-bake cookies using peanut butter or no-bake paleo cookies using cashew butter or sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter. You’ll also need rolled oats, quick oats or coconut flour. You can use maple syrup or the natural sweetener of your choice as the third ingredient.
Use a three-fourths cup of coconut flour. If you use oats, double the amount of flour. Use two cups of peanut butter or any nut butter and a half-cup of the sweetener of your choice. Combine ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl.
Mix until you have a thick batter. Form small dough balls on a tray lined with parchment paper. Press the balls into a flat cookie shape, and refrigerate until the dough is firm. Then enjoy your no-bake cookies.
(If you still have some oats leftover, you can use them in another tasty treat – like Vegan Oatmeal Porridge! A fun recipe we saw over at Raw Food Magazine.)
Flours You Can Use to Make Vegan Cookies
The refined white flour most people use to make cookies and cakes is unhealthy, so vegans use whole, additive free flours. You can also substitute the vegan flour listed in a recipe with vegan flour. Vegan flours come in three categories – grain-free, nut-free and grain and nut-free.
Soy, chickpea and coconut flours are grain-free and nut-free. These healthy flours are best for people with many allergies, or strict vegans who want the most pristine ingredients in all their homemade foods. Grain flours include quinoa, teff, brown rice, and amaranth. Vegans often use nut flours, such as almond, cashew, coconut, hazelnut and Macadamia nut to add a crunchy taste to cookies and cakes.
You can find most of these vegan flours online or at health food stores. Some folks even make their nut flours at home.
If you are on a gluten-free diet, you can safely use any butter, milk or sugar made from nuts, rice, millet, quinoa, flax or similar plants.
Healthier Peanut Butter Cookies
Vegan peanut butter cookies are healthier than regular cookies made with refined sugar and white flour, but many connoisseurs consider them better-tasting, too. The ingredients that substitute for standard flour may give the peanut butter cookies a crunchier texture, even without adding chopped up nuts.
We hope that you’ll use these tips and tricks to make your own delicious cookies. Now get baking!