Vegan and gluten free peanut butter cookies, made with coconut flour and maple syrup. These super healthy cookies taste just like standard PB cookies, despite being grain free and naturally sweetened.
This post was originally shared in June 2016. It has been updated with new step-by-step photos and improvements to the text and recipe as of July 2020.
My go-to flourless peanut butter cookie! My go-to PB cookie recipe in general, actually, because it’s better than a regular cookie. It’s way too easy – no egg beating, just one bowl, no effort but a bit of stirring. The end result is a slightly soft and chewy cookie.
There are lots of egg, peanut butter, and sugar PB cookies out there but they’re so sweet and I always think it’s nice to 1. have a healthier option, and 2. a great egg-free cookie. This recipe uses pretty simple pantry ingredients.
- Natural smooth peanut butter (unsweetened)
- Coconut flour
- Maple syrup (or runny honey if not vegan)
- Non-dairy milk
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- Vanilla extract (optional)
We’re going really step-by-step here! This is a simple recipe, but it can be very slightly finicky because of the coconut flour – and because it’s a different kind of cookie method than you might be used to.
Start by adding the peanut butter, maple syrup, milk, olive oil, salt, and vanilla (if using) to a large-ish bowl.
Give the peanut butter mixture a really good stir with a wooden spoon. It might look a bit curdled and strange at first, but keep stirring until everything comes together in a smooth, glossy mixture. Don’t worry if it seizes a bit – that’s okay! It’s just the sweetener reacting to the nut butter.
Add the coconut flour. If this is your first time using a specific brand of coconut flour, add it a tablespoon at a time, stirring between additions. If you’re used to the flour you’re using, add the full amount.
Stir in the coconut flour until the dough seizes – it’ll harden a bit and become scoop-able. This takes about 30 seconds of stirring. You might see it at first and think it’s not working, but it will! The coconut flour needs a bit of time to absorb the extra liquid and the friction from stirring speeds up this process.
Preheat the oven now. Make 12 equal balls of dough, each about the size of a golf ball. Place them onto a parchment lined sheet – don’t worry about spacing too much, they won’t really spread – then use a fork to press one way, then the other, for a crosshatch pattern.
The outer edges of the cookies will crack a bit, and that’s normal. If they really split, just push them back together or re-roll. You want about 2cm (3/4 in.) thickness but a little thicker or thinner is fine.
Bake the cookies for about ten minutes, then cool on the tray for a few minutes before carefully removing and cooling fully on a rack. If they seem a bit too delicate, leave them to cool longer on the tray. It’s okay to cool fully on the baking sheet!
Once the cookies are cool, it’s time to melt your chocolate for dipping. You can see that I melted it directly in a saucepan – that’s because I have an induction cooktop and the lowest temperature is so low that it’s okay to melt chocolate directly on.
Otherwise, place your chopped chocolate into a heat-safe glass or metal bowl. Place it over a gently simmering saucepan of water (the bowl shouldn’t touch the water) and melt the chocolate that way.
Dip your cooled cookies into the melted chocolate, then place them back onto the parchment lined baking tray. Let the chocolate set at room temperature before storing or serving. To speed up the setting process, you can chill the cookies in the freezer for ten minutes before dipping them.
Tips and Notes
If your coconut flour is temperamental, you may need to add a bit more of it, or a touch more milk. It is key, though, to make sure you stir your cookie dough for long enough before thinking ah! it’s my flour! because it might look like it isn’t thickening up when really it just needs a bit more time.
If your dough is very soft, add more flour a tablespoon at a time, stirring for another 30 seconds with each addition. If your dough is too hard (though this should be avoided by adding the flour 1tbsp at a time if you don’t know your flour in the first place) do the same thing but with milk, until the dough looks like it does above.
For a large family or to make these as gifts or for a gathering of some kind, simply double, triple, or quadruple the recipe. It’s a relatively small batch at 12 small-ish cookies because we’re a two person family and I have no self control.
It is very important that you use natural peanut butter with no additions beyond perhaps salt. Roasted or raw doesn’t matter, but don’t use a version that has oil or sugar added – it won’t work for this recipe. If yours has salt added, reduce the salt used in the recipe by half (or omit it altogether if you know it’s particularly salty peanut butter).
About Coconut Flour
Coconut flour isn’t a flour at all, really, but very finely ground dried coconut – like almond flour. It’s gluten and grain free, very high in fibre, and can be quite nice to bake with. I’ve used it before in my gluten free chocolate cupcakes, and usually you need eggs to act as a binding agent. It works fairy well for cookies but can’t be substituted into recipes easily because it absorbs a lot of moisture. So make sure you’re using a recipe that specifically calls for coconut flour!
There are some notes in the methods above about this, but please note that coconut flour can vary hugely from brand to brand. I always used Nutiva in Canada (not sponsored) and Mea Vita now. Though both have always worked well for me in this recipe, they might change any time. There are some notes above about what to do if your cookie dough is too thin or too thick. It’s usually due to differences in flour.
If you’re concerned about a coconut flavour, it’s not noticeable in these cookies. You’re using a comparatively small amount and peanut butter is the overwhelming taste. My mom, for example, loves these cookies but generally despises coconut.
I have not personally tested this, but readers have informed me that they’ve successfully made this recipe with wheat flour. I’m not sure why you’re using a gluten-free peanut butter cookie recipe then, but if you are, about double the amount of whole wheat flour should work.
Other grain-free flours can’t be subbed 1:1 for coconut flour here. Though you might be able to use cassava flour, or even almond flour, they absorb liquids at a different rate and will require differing amounts.
Runny honey can be used in place of maple syrup if they don’t need to be 100% vegan, as always with my recipes. I’m not sure if another liquid sweetener (like agave) would work, but date syrup does nicely.
Any nut or seed butter – like sunflower seed butter – can be used instead of peanut. This is great if you’ve run out or if you’re allergic. I’ve often made this recipe with sunflower seed butter for others if I’m not sure there’s an allergy.
More Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Recipes
Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Cookies
Blueberry Peanut Butter Smoothie
Peanut Butter, Banana, and Chocolate Popsicles
Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Granola Bars
Peanut Butter Banana Cookies
Oil Free Peanut Butter and Banana Granola
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- 150 grams (1/2 cup) natural smooth peanut butter
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt*
- 4 tablespoons coconut flour, one tablespoon at a time (1/4 cup)
- 50 grams (1/4 cup) dark chocolate, chopped, for dipping
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add the peanut butter, maple syrup, milk, olive oil, vanilla, and salt to a mixing bowl. Stir for thirty seconds with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is smooth.
- Add the coconut flour a tablespoons at a time, stirring between each addition. After the final addition, stir for a full 30 seconds. A thick and slightly seized dough should form after stirring. (See above for full notes and tips on this).
- Once your cookie dough is ready, roll 12 equal balls of dough and place them onto the prepared baking sheet. Use a fork to press each cookie down, creating a crosshatch pattern. Cookies should be about 2cm (3/4 in.) thick.
- Bake at 180C (350F) for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden.. Cool on the pan for five minutes before removing and letting them cool completely on a wire rack.
- Use a double boiler or a small saucepan on very low heat to gently melt the chocolate.
- Dip the cookies halfway into the chocolate mixture, place them back on the lined cookie sheet, and let the chocolate cool at room temperature until fully set.
- Store the cookies in a sealed container at room temperature up to three days, or freeze up to a month.
• If your peanut butter has salt added, reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoon.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 58Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 104mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g
This data is provided by a calculator and is a rough estimation of the nutritional information in this recipe.