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 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoon ground oats, measure after grinding*
- 2 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well.
- Scoop dough (approx. 1 ½ tablespoon 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.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer
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.
I followed the recipe exactly. Falls apart easily, bland and dry. I do not recommend this recipe.
Jane Rampona says
I loved these cookies! There 16 of them, so I figure that each one has about a tablespoon of peanut butter, which means that two cookies is perfect for a meal. They’re just sweet enough, and hold together fine, although I have to confess, I tweaked the recipe (because I always do) to substitute1 tablespoon molasses for the teaspoon of vanilla; and I substituted honey, as someone else suggested, in place of the maple syrup. I love that they aren’t full of unhealthy ingredients! Thank you!
You're welcome, Jane! I'm so glad you love them and can tweak them to your tastes. 🙂
These are amazing! To all the reviews saying they are dry-they aren’t going to taste like a bakery Pb cookie. But they get the job done and my kids love them, and I don’t feel as guilty having these readily on hand vs traditional cookies filled with sugar and flour. I did use honey instead of maple, but they came out amazing.
I'm so happy your kids love them, Jess! Thanks for letting me know how they went.
Page Hamrick says
Just wondering if you can add chia seeds as I don't have flaxseed
That should be just fine, Page.
These cookies where Delicious! I don’t know why everyone’s saying they’re dry because mine were very moist. Also just enough natural sugar because I don’t like really sweet cookies. I used natural organic peanut butter and did not add any chocolate chips. My whole family loved them and I’ll have to make more. Thanks for the recipe!
You're very welcome, Maria! I'm so glad you liked them. 🙂
just wasted some good peanut butter on these. The addition of the flax seeds made them taste like a dry dog biscuit. I wish I would have read the reviews before I went ahead with this recipe. I think you should take the recipe down, because the only people who liked it added chocolate chips, which means it's no longer a healthy recipe.
I will make these and update you once I do (they sound delicious!), but in the interim, to all the bland comments: add a pinch of salt! (Especially if you're using unsalted nut butter.) Adding a pinch of salt is your advice for any and all recipes ever.
I eat healthy, but I’m not fond of these. They taste like dry roasted peanut butter, not cookies at all. They might be more worthy if the maple syrup was doubled.
Sorry they weren't to your taste, Dee!
Love! I used freshly grind almond butter instead of peanut butter, and 72% chocolate chips. They came out moist and very chocolatey.
So delicious! I have already made 2 batches of them and they are already gone!
Thank you so much!
bye going to go make me some more!
So happy you liked them, Jessa!
I made these today with my granddaughter. They tasted like peanut butter flavored sand. I didn’t mind they fell apart, they were just so dry. We didn’t like them at all!! I’m glad that some people enjoyed them. I wanted a healthy alternative and it just wasn’t to be.
I'm sorry this recipe didn't work out for you, but thank you for letting me know how it went!
Ken J. says
These are a very good alternative to the normal peanut butter cookie! While it’s not very sweet at all, it’s a very hardy (protein) cookie. I didn’t follow the recipe like a bible; I substituted in Blanched Almond Flour, honey, and natural peanut butter (yes with the oil separation, and it worked amazingly!!) and I added a little pumpkin pie spice for a little added flavor! It was amazing and will definitely be making it again for an added protein snack!
I'm glad you liked them, Ken! Thanks for sharing how they went.
I grinder steel cut oats, since I didn’t have rolled, added three Tbs of maple syrup. The consistency was great and they were just the perfect hint of sweet I needed. It is also satisfying to know that all healthy ingredients were added. I froze them to have that fresh taste every nite with my tea. Thanks for sharing!!
So glad you like them, Jackie! 🙂
I mean... it worked. But it was a bland non cookie. The texture was cookie ish. it was warm like a nice soft cookie should be... but it makes your mouth dry, it was bland. I have nothing that great to say about this recipe at all. Waste of 120 calories.
Sorry they weren't to your taste, Jem. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Jennifer Lee says
I just made these cookies and added semi sweet chocolate chips. And yet still a little bland. It fit my taste but made them for my Grandmother. So while the cookies and oven were still warm, I added a sprinkle of Tubanado Sugar to the tops and put them back into the warm oven... oven was off. Let them sit long enough to where the sugar would stick to the tops. It was just enough to add a little bite of sweetness to the cookie. Oh and I also used Raw Honey since I did not have any maple syrup. I'm thrilled to have run across this recipe and saved it so I will be making this as one of my simple go to recipes!
Thank you for your review, Jennifer! I'm glad you were able to tweak these cookies and make them your own. Those additions sound delicious!
Was I suppose to mix water with this. Mine were flakey and dry.?
Hi Laura, I'm sorry you had some trouble with this recipe. I don't add water, though someone has mentioned maybe trying to add in a little oil, but I haven't tested it that way myself. These are a very tender type of cookie, but they do get moister as they are stored.
Love these healthy cookies and so does my toddler! Made our first batch today. The cookies themselves are moist and soft to the touch, but when you eat them they dry you out so bad! The taste is wonderful, but hoping someone has a suggestion how to moisten them! It is strange as the cookies don't feel dry, but taste so dry. Any else had this issue and have a remedy?
Thanks for sharing this great recipe though! If I can figure out the dry issue they will be perfect!
I was so excited by these cookies and couldn't wait to try them. I substituted honey for the maple syrup as I am not a huge fan of maple syrup. The taste was good, but I found them too dry. I'm wondering if adding a little coconut oil to them might help moisten them.
I bet that could work, though I haven't tried it myself. Please let me know if you give it a shot! 🙂