These healthy peanut butter cookies couldn’t be easier! Rich and tender, these gluten-free peanut butter cookies are made without oil or butter and with (very) minimal natural sweetener. Just one bowl and six ingredients are required!
While I haven’t calculated it exactly, I’m betting that cookies are one of the most extensive categories on this blog. There’s a lot of variety, from rainbow cookies to pizzelles to palmiers, but there’s a common theme — these cookies qualify as desserts.
As a big fan of everything in moderation, cookies definitely have their rightful place in my diet. In fact I’m eating a chocolate chip cookie as I type this. 😉
But sometimes a healthier version is welcome, with ‘healthier’ meaning more than just low-calorie. Whole grains, naturally-sweetened, gluten-free, dairy-free…there’s a time and place for everything. And as luck would have it, these healthy peanut butter cookies fit the bill on all four.
With just six ingredients, the dough for these cookies comes together in just one bowl (always a plus) and holds together very well.
Peanut butter makes up the majority of the dough, bringing a rich flavor. For this recipe I recommend using a creamy or no-stir peanut butter. While I like natural peanut butter on/in other things, I’m afraid the separated oil, even if stirred in well, would make these cookies too greasy.
And FYI, this recipe works great with other nut butters, too. Halfway through making these healthy peanut butter cookies on one occasion I realized I didn’t have enough peanut butter and subbed in about a third of a cup of almond butter for the remaining. Delicious!
While we still have a bold peanut butter flavor, one major difference between these cookies and your standard variety peanut butter cookie is the sugar content. Here only two tablespoons of maple syrup are used to sweeten the batch of fifteen cookies (you can also use honey if you want).
This means that each cookie contains approximately 3.5 grams of sugar. When compared with a store-bought cookie mix peanut butter cookie (from a brand that rhymes with…Sweaty Rocker), these healthy peanut butter cookies contain per cookie:
- Half the sugar
- Half the carbohydrates
- More than double the fiber
- Five times more protein
These aren’t low-calorie or likely to satisfy the most serious sweet tooth, but are a more wholesome and healthy cookie that can act like a filling snack instead of relegated to the dessert table only.
To keep these healthy peanut butter cookies gluten-free, I ground old-fashioned oats and used them in place of flour. I just used my regular food processor…they won’t get as fine as the consistency of flour, but that’s okay. I also added in ground flaxseed for a little omega-3 and fiber boost.
When combined with one egg and a smidge of vanilla extract, these ingredients produce a tender cookie rich in peanut butter flavor and just-so on sweetness. We can never keep these around for longer than a few days after I bake them!
- While this recipe for healthy peanut butter cookies is gluten-free, if you’re strict in that regard, be sure to use certified gluten-free oats here (but I’m sure you know that).
- These cookies aren’t the most sturdy cookies out there as the main ingredient is peanut butter. They might get a bit crumbly if you pack them in a backpack or jostle them around, but cookie pieces are still delicious, too. 🙂
- I bought this food processor set (affiliate link) years ago and used it to grind the oats. It’s super affordable and can also power through dates and nut butters wonderfully. It’s what I use for all my chia bars.
Healthy Peanut Butter Cookies
- 1 cup peanut butter (I used creamy)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp ground oats, measure after grinding*
- 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well.
- Scoop dough (approx. 1 1/2 tbsp per cookie) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Flatten the tops of the cookies using a flat surface like the bottom of a glass, You shouldn't need to spray the glass with cooking spray, but do so if the flattened cookies are tough to remove from the bottom.
- Using the tines of a fork, lightly press a crisscross pattern into the top if you like.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until bottoms of cookies have browned and cookies have set some. They will continue to harden as they cool. Let cookies cool for a few minutes on baking sheet, and then transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.
P.S. If you’re looking for a more classic peanut butter cookie recipe, check out these Loaded Chocolate Chip Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookies!
Photos updated in July 2018, but the recipe remains the same.