Classic Peanut Butter Cookies

After the chocolate chip cookie, I don’t think any cookie in America is more beloved than the peanut butter cookie.

Yes, I know there are versions of chocolate chip peanut butter cookies, and peanut butter cookies made even more peanut-y thanks to the addition of chunky peanut butter or chopped, salted peanuts…but for me, this classic version is still the best.

Ever wonder why peanut butter cookies have their distinct “criss-cross fork” pattern on top?  Peanut butter cookie dough is very dense, so pressing down on it before baking helps the cookie cook evenly.  The earliest mention of the fork-press method dates back to the Schenectady Gazette in 1932, a trick quickly adapted and popularized by giant flour producer Pillsbury throughout the 1930’s, and the method stuck.

When the craving for a good peanut butter cookie hits, whip up a batch (this King Arthur recipe is a winner), pour a glass of cold milk, and surrender.  It’s an American tradition!

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour


  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (do not use natural)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine shortening, sugars, egg, vanilla, and peanut butter until smooth.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture until well combined.  Add the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together.
  5. Place rounded tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2″ between each.
  6. Use a fork to press a criss-cross shape onto each tablespoon of dough.
  7. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the edges are just beginning to brown.  Do not overbake or your cookies will be too crisp.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack to cook, then store in an airtight container.

Yield:  24 cookies

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Categories: Cookies & Bars

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6 Comments on “Classic Peanut Butter Cookies”

  1. February 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    I haven’t made these in forever, but they are one of my friend classic cookies.

  2. February 18, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    Yes, yes, and yes again. Beautiful photos too.

  3. February 19, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    I did not know that was the reason for the fork pattern…I love little facts like that!

    • February 21, 2012 at 10:27 am #

      Me too, Ranjani…there’s always a little something to learn!

  4. February 21, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    PB cookies are some of my favorite!

  5. YUM! I could go for one of these right about now.

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