Healthier Peanut Butter Cookies (aka Fresh Peanut Butter Cookies!) – A lower sugar, high protein version of classic PB cookies.

These peanut butter cookies are just like grandma’s, but changed up just a little to boost the protein and reduce the sugar. Oh, and they’re gluten-free. Make this one your new classic peanut butter cookie recipe!

Healthier Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten-Free, Low Carb)

You’re still holding on to that old recipe card, aren’t you? Hmm, well, did I tell you that the dough is made in a food processor, so preparation is a breeze? Yup, it’s true.

Making fresh PB in my Kitchenaid food processor, a Christmas gift I’ve finally gotten around to using. Much more powerful than my smaller food processor, it makes nut butter in minutes. Love!

Freshly Ground Peanut Butter

Did I mention you can grab all of the ingredients for these healthier cookies during your next trip to the grocery store? Also true.

Sorry, grandma. I love ya, but that cup of sugar and white flour have gotto go!

Made with real butter, freshly ground peanut butter, oat flour, and a mere 1/2 cup of sugar, these cookies have half the carbohydrates of your old favorite recipe…
Healthier Peanut Butter Cookies, pt. 2

…and ALL of the addictive, salty n’ sweet peanut butter cookie taste.

The new kids in town, aka the secret ingredients changin’ up the cookie scene: A dash of whey protein powder (<– not just for body builders!) to bump up the protein content, and a little stevia to naturally enhance the sweeten of these cookies, cutting down the amount of sugar you need. For my&nbsp;dairy-free readers, see the recipe for a variation sans the protein powder.

Did I mention these buttery, slightly crumbly little morsels of peanut butter goodness are gluten-free, too? They hold together just fine without xanthan gum, although you can certainly add a little bit (1/8th of a teaspoon, perhaps?) to make the cookies more sturdy and less shortbread-like. There’s a flaky, melt-in-your-mouth quality to these toothsome morsels – a slight change from the original recipe, for the better in my opinion. Apparently these cookies are a hit since the batch I made for the photo shoot today is already gone, devoured by myself, my parents, and my friends at the Veterans Affairs clinic at which I volunteer. If you do make these cookies, I recommend taking them to a summer picnic to share the love… and get ’em out of the house!

Healthier Peanut Butter Cookies

To my regular readers: These cookies are NOT sugar-free like the other recipes you see on this blog, and I’m totally owning up to that! Having tried countless batches of peanut butter cookies using erythritol, xylitol, and stevia, I’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t get the crispy, delicate cookie texture we all know and love without using a little sugar. Cookies are the one baked good that absolutely needs some form of sugar, whether it be cane sugar, honey, pureed fruit, agave… cookies need at least one of ’em to be cookie-like! If at least one person replaces their old peanut butter cookie recipe with this higher protein, lower sugar version that tastes every bit as good, then this recipe will have helped someone reduce the carbs in their diet. That, to me, is totally sweet!

Healthier Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten-Free, Low Sugar)

Makes 20 cookies

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, OR coconut oil
11 packets good-tasting stevia extract OR 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia powder
1/2 cup (4 oz) light brown sugar, firmly packed, OR coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 yolk from a large egg
1 1/3 cup (6.5 oz) dry roasted peanuts
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons oat flour
2 Tablespoons (.5 oz) whey protein powder OR 2 Tablespoons coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add peanuts to food processor and pulse a few times. Process peanuts for 1 minute, or until you get a coarse meal. Scrape down sides and grind peanuts until a smooth butter forms. Add softened butter, stevia, sugar, sea salt, vanilla, and egg yolk, and process 10-20 seconds, or until creamy. Add oat flour, whey protein, and baking soda to food processor in a circular motion, sprinkling the dry ingredients around the blade. Process for a minute or so until mixed thoroughly with no streaks of flour present, scraping sides of food processor down once during processing. Remove dough ball from food processor and refrigerate for later use, or bake immediately. Form 20 dough balls, setting them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Press balls a bit flat with your hand. Make crisscrossed marks on top of each cookie with the tines of a fork. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until cookies are slightly browned at edges. Let cookies cool on baking sheet a couple minutes before removing to a wire rack. Cookies will firm as they cool, which takes 10-20 minutes.

*You can use 5.5 Tablespoons nonhydrogenated shortening or coconut oil in place of butter to make these cookies dairy-free.
Purevia (available in grocery stores) and NuNaturals stevia packets have both been found to yield delicious results with no aftertaste.

*You can replace brown sugar with an unrefined sugar like turbinado sugar (evaporated cane juice), or coconut sugar. If you use turbinado sugar, grind it to a finer consistency in your food processor and reserve it for later use in the recipe.


Nutrition Facts:

~8g net carbs, 121 calories, 3.4g protein per cookie

Let’s compare these nutrition facts to those of Classic Peanut Butter Cookies:

28.5g net carbs, 252 calories, 0g protein per cookie
Have you had success making cookies sugar-free? Share your tips and recipes in the comments, please!

29 Comments on Healthier Peanut Butter Cookies (aka Fresh Peanut Butter Cookies!) – A lower sugar, high protein version of classic PB cookies.

  1. Amy
    August 3, 2012 at 5:20 am (10 years ago)

    I think I'll give these a shot with ideal brown! Yum!

  2. Lauren Aranda
    August 3, 2012 at 6:47 am (10 years ago)

    *tear* no wonder sugar free cookies NEVER taste as good :/ but 8g net?! That's not bad at all and pb cookies were always my fav!

  3. Judy
    August 3, 2012 at 11:30 am (10 years ago)

    Sigh, now if I could just eat one, I'd be fine. These recipes are wonderful, Lauren. Thank you!

  4. Rica
    August 3, 2012 at 4:22 pm (10 years ago)

    Is there a reason you used dry roasted peanuts? Or could I use regular salted peanuts and reduce the salt by half?

    I am not a big experimenter by any means, but I have noticed when I bake sometimes with small amounts of honey say, instead of xylitol flavored honey, the carbs are negligible as well, and I think it is because we use alternative “flour,” which has much less carbs than traditional.

    Thanks for another recipe Lauren! ~~ Rica

  5. CJ
    August 3, 2012 at 8:56 pm (10 years ago)

    Have you ever tried coconut sugar?

  6. Lauren
    August 3, 2012 at 10:24 pm (10 years ago)

    Amy – What is Ideal brown?

    Lauren Amanda – Haha, I feel ya! A cookie ain't a cookie without a little real sugar, or sugar alcohols like maltitol, but my tummy cannot handle those. 😛 Hope you get to try the cookies!

    Judy – You could bake them one at a time and keep the dough in the fridge. 🙂 I try to make single servings of especially tempting treats and eat them with a regular meal. That strategy tends to help me with portion control!

    Rica – *waves* I used lightly salted dry roasted peanuts, and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt seemed to work just fine with each. I think 1/4 teaspoon is what I used with the salted dry roasted peanuts I got at Fresh Market from the bulk bin section and they still weren't too salty. If you use dry roasted unsalted peanuts, you might need a little more salt. I've made these cookies so many times that the experiments are all blending together in my memory! 😉 At any rate, the cookies shouldn't be overly salted with 1/4 tsp sea salt and unsalted butter.

    You're right about the carb counts being low due to our LC flours. It saves so many carbs being able to bake without white flour!

  7. Lauren
    August 4, 2012 at 3:10 pm (10 years ago)

    CJ – I have tried coconut sugar. Not sure if it was the brand I tried, but it had a bit of a tangy aftertaste and wasn't as sweet enough for my baking needs. Do you have a brand you would recommend?

  8. Anna
    August 4, 2012 at 7:48 pm (10 years ago)

    It's so true what you say, I tried countless times to bake a decent cookie without sugar, and failed. The texture was just never right. Coincidentally I made pb cookies yesterday with 1 tbsp of brown sugar and 1 tsp of agave, in addition to xylitol and stevia. To my surprise, even that small amount made a difference! They had more of a shortbread consistency and held together pretty well. I can just about handle these (1.8 g net carb). Unfortunately I will never be able to go up to a 1/2 cup of sugar 🙁

  9. Lauren
    August 5, 2012 at 3:16 pm (10 years ago)

    Anna – Hi, Anna! Thanks for sharing your idea of mixing sugar-free sweeteners with sugar. Adding just a tablespoon of sugar along with some Xylitol and maybe even a little Erythritol. 🙂 I'll give these cookies another shot with your suggestion! Do you find agave is tolerable for you? I'm always scared of the fructose in that stuff!

  10. Anonymous
    August 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm (10 years ago)

    I had read about coconut sugar on a facebook fan page. And those guys were very kind to send me a 3 page presentation on the health benefits of coconut sugar. I bought a pack from wallmart. It doesn't taste that good with coffee or tea, but tastes better by itself. lol:) Has a slight butterscotch feel to it. You can ask them for a copy of that presentation & they'll send it. Contact them here.

  11. Anna
    August 6, 2012 at 10:17 pm (10 years ago)

    Lauren, I have read that stuff too and I must agree, agave sounds a bit scary. Truthfully I am at the end of this agave bottle, and I'm going to be replacing that “teaspoon of agave here and there” with raw honey next time!

  12. Leslie
    August 8, 2012 at 12:22 am (10 years ago)

    love your lightened up version!

  13. Grace Lim-Clark
    August 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm (10 years ago)

    I'm tempted to try a batch! They might even be tastier than the exquisite Chinese Peanut Cookies (a family recipe) that I sometimes make with gluten-free baking mix.

  14. Oskars
    August 21, 2012 at 9:00 am (10 years ago)

    Gonna make Cake in a mug again :3

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  16. suzyq
    September 27, 2012 at 6:30 pm (10 years ago)

    Why not use Natural Peanut Butter instead of grinding up dry roasted nuts? If I used PB, how much would I substitute for nuts?

    AND I’ve always wondered about using no salt butter. Why is this done when one adds salt later in recipe. Couldn’t you just add less salt and use “reg” butter??

  17. Genie
    September 30, 2012 at 5:20 am (10 years ago)

    Good respond in return of this matter with solid arguments and
    telling the whole thing regarding that.

  18. Ozne
    October 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm (10 years ago)

    To make this almost “no” sugar, I’d say adding a half cup of xylitol with a tablespoon of yacon syrup for color and flavor might yield an equally delicious PB cookie.

  19. Marvin Galan
    March 1, 2013 at 9:05 am (10 years ago)

    Looks very yummy and delicious. I love cookies, children also love them and we usually have them during snack time.

  20. Michele Wragg
    March 30, 2013 at 11:21 pm (10 years ago)

    Hi Lauren,
    Have you ever tried cooking with dextrose and glucose syrup. Myself and my 2 kiddies are all Celiac and suffer fructose malabsorption. We use the dextrose instead of surgar 🙂
    xxxx Michele

  21. Ginny
    May 15, 2013 at 4:07 pm (9 years ago)

    Lauren, I’ve been plotting to try these since you posted them and finally did it last night! They’re pretty delicate compared to the traditional version and like so many healthier baked goods seem to benefit from a rest overnight after baking. My husband LOVES PB cookies and is a diabetic so he is really really happy with these! I’m wondering if a touch of xanthan gum might help as a bit more binder? Might try that. Thank you for your blog, we love it!

    • Lauren B.
      May 16, 2013 at 3:02 am (9 years ago)

      Ginny, did you find that the cookies firmed up a bit after cooling? 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of xanthan could probably bind the dough better, perhaps making the cookies a bit sturdier. Great idea for a tweak! If you do try it, please let me know how that batch turns out, Ginny. 🙂

  22. Ginny
    May 20, 2013 at 11:48 pm (9 years ago)

    Lauren, the cookies did indeed firm up after cooling and had a pretty pleasant blend of chewiness and crispness. I’m adding xanthan gum to the (double) batch of cookies that I’m making right now and the dough already does seem like it’s not crumbling quite as much. I’ll get it into the fridge to hydrate and we’ll see how it goes!

  23. MayMilton
    February 13, 2014 at 7:11 pm (9 years ago)

    I made these cookies earlier, and I’m thinking I might need to use some xanthan gum, because they’re so flaky I can barely pick them up. I wouldn’t even classify it as a problem because they’re so yummy, and I blame it on living in a different country and not being able to follow your recipe to the letter.

    I’ve been craving cookies foreeeeever, and those are HARD to find a good recipe for that isn’t basically “take some sugar and then an egg and chocolate chips”.

    ANYWAY, what I was trying to say (long-winded and badly) is that I love this recipe, thank you for sharing it! 🙂

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