If you enjoy shortbread and are a peanut butter fan you will LOVE these crisp, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth-delicious Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies! No one has to know how easy (actually ridiculously easy) they are to make with just one bowl and no mixer!
If you search for "shortbread" in the Café archives you might be quite shocked at the huge assortment of recipes that come up. There are super simple, unadorned versions, fancy holiday renditions, lemon and caramel options, cutout, press-in-the-pan and drop cookies, even sweet/savory variants with fresh herbs like thyme and rosemary ... the list goes on and on. You might be thinking that we've exhausted every possibility for this delicious variety of cookies. Nope! These Ridiculously Easy Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies are the newest addition to this ever-evolving collection!
What is shortbread?
Shortbread is a crisp buttery, sweet treat. The main difference between shortbread and other cookies is that shortbread doesn't contain a leavening agent so it's denser than other types of cookies. Also, the classic shortbread ingredient list is super simple, traditionally just butter, sugar and flour although these days, there are lots of flavor options (as noted above).
Shortbread has been around for a long time, its history going back to Scotland in medieval times. Here is a short history of shortbread from Bake from Scratch,
- Shortbread is called "short" because of the traditional ratio of one part sugar to two parts butter which lends a high-fat content to the dough. This yields a soft, buttery crumb that melts in your mouth (similar to a shortcrust dough). This ratio is also what makes shortbread so crave-worthy.
- A Scottish biscuit through and through, shortbread is eaten on special occasions and hasn’t changed much from its original form in the Middle Ages. When you eat or bake traditional shortbread, you’re essentially enjoying the same buttery treats that the Scots did many centuries ago.
- Today, shortbread is gifted to loved ones on the Scottish New Year’s celebration of Hogmanay. When the clock strikes midnight, people run onto the streets to visit friends’ and family’s homes for the first time in the new year. To wish the homeowner good luck, it’s customary to present them with a box of shortbread (and a bottle of whisky for good measure).
Although Scottish in origin, shortbread is now days common and beloved throughout the United Kingdom.
We call these Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies "ridiculously easy" because... well, they are! With just one bowl and no mixer needed, the dough comes together quickly and you can have a batch made and ready to enjoy in less than an hour.
Another reason for the name is that being super easy to make, this recipe is the latest addition to our collection of recipes that we call "Ridiculously Easy". You can read more about this compilation of recipes in this post but my brief definition of our Ridiculously Easy recipes is "Recipes that make you look like a kitchen rock star with minimal effort on your part". Our readers love these recipes and so do we!
I love the versatility of this recipe. In the images above, these Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies are studded with chunks of semisweet chocolate. You could also use milk chocolate, mini chocolate chips or regular-size chocolate chips. If you're not a chocolate fan, just omit it, the cookies will still be fabulous!
I like to sprinkle the tops of these Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies with cane sugar but you can also use regular granulated sugar, Turbinado sugar or Demerara sugar or just leave them plain, it's your choice!
The round cookies featured this far are made by simply rolling the dough in balls, flattening them with the palms of your hands and then placing them in a muffin tin for perfectly round treats. If you're in a hurry, another option is to press the dough in a cake pan or tart pan, which takes minimal time and produces pretty wedges of shortbread.
A gift to bring smiles of delight
I'm pretty sure you will elicit a smile from anyone you decide to Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies to. We're offering some free printable labels to make your gifts extra pretty. To receive the PDFs for the labels, just let us know in the comment section at the bottom of this post that you'd like the labels. We'll email you the labels along with instructions on how to use them and links for the boxes and ribbon pictured below.
Whether you gift these delicious Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies, serve them for dessert, take them to work, invite a friend for tea, make them for a special after school snack or just make an ordinary day extraordinary, they're sure to bring rave reviews!
Café Tips for making these Ridiculously Easy Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies
- Because this recipe doesn't require a mixer, the butter needs to be nice and soft. You can let the butter sit out at room temperature, but if the air is chilly in your house, it won’t get soft enough. Here are some easy ways to soften butter:
- You can soften the butter in the microwave at 10% power level. It works like magic! You’ll need to experiment a bit with your microwave though, as they’re all different. Start with 1 minute. Add 20 to 30-second increments until you learn how long your microwave will take to get the butter nice and soft, but not melted.
- Another technique I often use to soften butter is to put it in the microwave for a few hours with the light on. To keep the light on in the microwave I put a folded paper towel in the door.
- Boil a cup of water in the microwave for 3-4 minutes and get things nice and steamy. Leave the water cup in the microwave, add the butter and close the door. The warmth from the steamy water will help to quickly soften the butter.
- Cutting the butter into small pieces helps it soften quicker.
- Place the hard butter on a small plate. Fill a bowl with hot water. Wait 5 minutes then discard the water. Put the warm bowl over the butter.
- Put the butter in the oven with just the oven light turned on. This will take a few hours.
- The fastest way to soften butter is to put cold butter in the microwave for 10 seconds. Turn it to the opposite side and microwave for another 10 seconds. It might be ready at this point, but if it’s not completely soft, add one or two more 5-second stints.
- As noted above, there are different pan options for these cookies. You can use muffin pans and simply divide the dough into 24 portions, roll the portions in balls then flatten them and place them right in the muffin cups. You will need two muffin pans to bake the 24 cookies or (if you don't have a second muffin pan) make one batch, wash the pan and then bake the second batch. You can also use a round cake or tart pan and make one large shortbread circle which can be cut into wedges.
- If you choose to bake these Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies in a round cake or tart pan they're heavenly when they come out of the oven but, because the circle is quite thick, it won't be crisp all the way through. I like to turn off the oven when the shortbread is done baking, let it cool in the pan for 20 minutes then flip it out onto a cutting board and cut it into 12 wedges. I transfer the wedges to a sheet pan and pop the pan back into the oven until it's completely cooled down. Voila! Deliciously crisp shortbread, all the way through!
- I've found that it's much easier to press the dough into the pan if I dip my fingers in flour from time to time.
- You can use a 9-inch cake pan or a 9-10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom for the round version of this recipe. I love using the tart pan as it makes such a pretty presentation (like the shortbread pictured below).
- Whatever type of pan you use, be sure to spray it well with baking spray to ensure easy removal. If you use a cake pan, spray it first then line it with a circle of parchment paper. I love these pre-cut circles of parchment. They save lots of time and fuss.
- I used a bar of semi-sweet chocolate (chopped) for the round cookies featured in this post. You could also use semisweet or milk chocolate chips.
- I like to sprinkle my cookies with cane sugar which is a bit coarser than traditional granulated sugar, has a little shimmer and adds a bit of crunch. You could also use Turbinado or Demerara sugars which are even more coarse or just use regular granulated sugar.
Thought for the day:
There is one God and Father of all,
Who is over all and through all and in all.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoy this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
If you enjoy shortbread and are a peanut butter fan you will LOVE these crisp, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth-delicious Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies! Know one has to know how easy (actually ridiculously easy) it is to make these with just one bowl and no mixer!
- ¾ cup very soft butter I use salted butter
- ⅓ cup creamy peanut butter not natural
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 ounces semi-sweet or milk chocolate bar chopped into small chunks with a knife or 4 ounces of semisweet or milk chocolate chips (chocolate is optional)
- sugar for sprinkling You can use coarse sugar, Turbinado sugar, Demerara sugar or regular granulated sugar.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 12-cup muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
You can also use a 9-inch cake pan or a 9 or 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. If using a cake pan, spray the pan generously with non-stick spray then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and set aside. If using a tart pan, spray the pan with non-stick spray and line a sheet pan with foil. Set both aside.
Combine butter, peanut butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium-size bowl and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until well smooth and creamy.
Add the flour and stir from the bottom up until completely incorporated. The dough will be a little crumbly. Stir in the chocolate chunks or chips. (I like to reserve some of the chocolate to press into the tops of the cookies before baking.)
If using a cake or tart pan, skip this step and proceed to step 4. Otherwise, scoop up the dough into 24 portions and roll each portion into a ball. Flatten one ball in the palm of your hand then place it in one of the cups of the prepared pan(s). Repeat with remaining balls. The dough disks should fill the bottoms of the muffin cups.
If using a cake or tart pan add the dough to the pan and press in to create an even surface.
Sprinkle the top of the dough with sugar, if desired. Bake the cookies in the muffin cups for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Bake the shortbread in the cake or tart pan for 25-30 minutes or until light golden brown.
Allow the cookies in the muffin pans to cool for 5 minutes then, use a thin-bladed, small sharp knife along the edges to gently remove the cookies to a cooling rack.
Allow the shortbread in the cake or tart pan to cool for ten minutes then remove to a cutting board and cut into wedges while warm. Allow the wedges to cool on a cooling rack.
*For extra-crisp wedges of shortbread, turn off the oven and allow it to cool for 30 minutes then place the shortbread wedges on a sheet pan and place in the oven until completely cool.
Store cookies in an airtight container. These cookies also freeze well in an airtight container.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn’t have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.
Adapted from LandOLakes.