These date sweetened, vegan, and gluten-free chocolate peanut butter cookies are made with just 6 total ingredients – peanut butter, cocoa, dates, and a couple extras for flavour. Super fudgy and very much like brownie cookies, even total sugar lovers have scarfed these down. Everyone loves a classic chocolate and peanut butter combo.
For the past couple of years I’ve been making my gluten-free peanut butter cookies more often but I love that these chocolate cookies are made with dates instead of maple syrup, and every once in a while you just need LOTS of chocolate, you know?
The term ‘guilt-free’ isn’t my favourite, and I know a lot of people would describe these cookies that way, but I think it’s healthier to thing of the good things you’re getting from the foods you eat. These are high in protein, magnesium, iron, and fibre, while being quite low in sugar (only dates).
If you get cravings, especially during your period, these are the types of sweets you can turn to. Magnesium helps to alleviate PMS symptoms – you won’t have a sugar crash or headaches from these little cookies, they’ll keep your energy levels high, and still satisfy a chocolate craving.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Dates: any type of soft dates. If yours are a little dry, soak them in very hot water for at least half an hour before mixing.
- Coconut oil: use refined coconut oil to avoid any slight coconut flavour. I think a good (vegan) butter can also be used but I haven’t tested this.
- Peanut butter: unsweetened, with no oil added. Look for a type with just peanuts, or at most salt, in the ingredient list. Try with almond or hazelnut butter, or use sunflower seed butter for a nut-free version (add an extra date to counteract the bitterness of the seeds).
- Cocoa: any type of baking cocoa, it doesn’t matter (not drinking cocoa). Raw cocoa does tend to make these slightly bitter.
Step by Step
You will need a food processor to make these, but otherwise it’s an easy, super quick recipe. It might be possible to mash the dates by hand if you’re willing to get an arm workout!
1. Prep: Add all ingredients but cocoa and water to a food processor.
2. Blend: mix on high speed until a crumbly dough forms. It will look seized, this is normal.
3. Add remaining ingredients: add the cocoa and salt, then blend again.
4. Roll and flatten: form the dough into balls and flatten into a crosshatch pattern with a fork before baking.
Try making these into energy balls or raw cookies instead of baking them (especially during the height of summer) for a chewy chocolate peanut butter ball, or bake them as instructed for a fudge-like, dark chocolate cookie.
The added oil makes it possible to effectively roll the cookies and gives them a much better texture and flavour. I don’t recommend omitting it.
Cool the cookies fully before dipping in chocolate if you want to. I usually freeze them for at least ten minutes before dipping so that it sets quickly.
How to Store
Storage: these will keep for a couple days on the counter, but are best refrigerated in a sealed container for up to a week.
Freezing: place cooled cookies in an airtight container and freeze for up to six months.
- Use runny nut butter: the dry peanut butter from the bottom of the jar will make for dry, unpalatable cookies. Mix well and use a fresh jar if needed.
- Add water if needed: the dough might be too dry for two reasons: either the peanut butter was too hard, or the dates were dry. Either way, an extra splash of water (don’t add too much) will make the dough roll-able.
- Reduce the salt: if your peanut butter has salt added, reduce the amount of salt by half or omit altogether if you’re sensitive to salt. Keep in mind that sea salt is less salty than other types like kosher salt.
More Gluten-Free Chocolate Desserts
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Gluten-free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add the dates, peanut butter, milk, and coconut oil to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.100 grams soft dates, 160 grams natural peanut butter*, 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk, 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Mix on high for a minute or two, or until the dates have broken down. The dough will likely have seized up but that's good.
- Add the cocoa powder and salt, and mix again until fully combined.20 grams cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt**
- Form small balls of dough, about a tablespoon each, using your hands. Place them onto the prepared baking sheet with some space in between and press with a fork to make a crosshatch pattern.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, then remove and cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before removing and cooling fully on a wire rack.
- Drizzle or dip in melted dark chocolate if desired, and store the cookies in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
This post was first published in March 2018. It has been updated with some very minor changes to the recipe as of January 2023.