Recipe Review

Bon Appétit’s Peanut Butter Cookies Are the Most Extra Thing I’ve Made This Year

updated May 26, 2020
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Credit: Image: Jesse Szewczyk; Design: The Kitchn

One of the reasons I love baking peanut butter cookies is for their ease: You get near- instant results with minimal effort. Most recipes call for a handful of pantry ingredients, dirty just one bowl, and are out of the oven in less than an hour.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I came across Bon Appétit’s recipe for the “best” peanut butter cookies, which involves toasting nuts, whipping eggs, browning butter, and setting up a steamer inside the oven. The process seemed excessive to say the least, but I was intrigued. Would the extra steps yield a superior peanut butter cookie? Bon Appétit’s recipes have consistently proven to be delicious in our recipe showdowns, so I had high hopes. Here’s what happened when I baked them off.

Get the recipe: BA’s Best Peanut Butter Cookies

Credit: Images: Jesse Szewczyk; Design: The Kitchn

How to Make Bon Appétit’s Best Peanut Butter Cookies

You’ll start the process by toasting (already roasted) peanuts in the oven until fragrant. Coarsely chop them, set them aside, then cook butter in a skillet until browned and fragrant. Transfer the butter to a bowl and let it cool at room temperature until it begins to solidify.

As the butter cools, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, beat together 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and water using an electric mixer until light and ribbony. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the flour mixture, and beat for one minute. Add peanut butter, the toasted peanuts, and the cooled brown butter. Mix until incorporated, then let the dough sit at room temperature to firm up a bit.

Portion the dough into balls and place them onto a parchment-lined sheet tray. Flatten the cookies by dipping a fork in water, then pressing the tines into the balls in a cross-hatch pattern. Place the trays in the fridge and chill for one hour.

As the cookies are chilling, preheat the oven and place a skillet on the bottom rack. Once the dough is chilled, sprinkle the tops with raw sugar and place the pans into the oven. Before you close the oven door, add water to the skillet so it sizzles and creates steam. Immediately close the door and bake the cookies until slightly browned.

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

My Honest Review of Bon Appétit’s Best Peanut Butter Cookies

After spending an entire afternoon making these cookies, I was severely disappointed when I realized they simply weren’t worth the effort. The cookies were dry, crumbly, and just not that interesting. Their sandy texture makes me think that the steamer was entirely unnecessary, as was whipping the eggs with the sugar. The flavor was also nothing to write home about — they tasted like a typical run-of-the-mill peanut butter cookie and you really couldn’t taste the brown butter.

There were, however, a few small touches I liked. Both the addition of chopped, toasted peanuts and the sprinkle of raw sugar on top gave the cookies a nice crunch, and the sugar added a pretty sparkle, too.

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

If You’re Making Bon Appétit’s Peanut Butter Cookies, a Few Tips

1. Use natural peanut butter. This recipe calls for natural peanut butter, which doesn’t contain any added sugar. This is an important detail to keep in mind so that your cookies don’t turn out too sweet. And if you start with a 16-ounce jar, you can use the whole thing, which saves you from dirtying a measuring cup.

2. Do some of the work in advance. Each step of this recipe takes a fair amount of time. To make it less of a chore, try breaking it up into two days, or take breaks in between each of the steps.

3. Chill the dough before baking it. Before popping these cookies in the oven, the recipe instructs you to chill them for one hour. I tried baking a batch without chilling it and they spread way too much, so be patient.

4. Skip the hot water in the skillet step. This really didn’t seem to do much, so I honestly wouldn’t bother. It was a lot of work and felt a bit dangerous.

Rating: 6/10

Have you ever baked Bon Appétit‘s “best” peanut butter cookie recipe? Tell us what you thought!

Credit: Image: Jesse Szewczyk; Design: The Kitchn