Food on a table next to a cup of coffee, with Butter and Cookie

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies

My mother-in-law was a very organized woman. She had file folders for everything you can imagine including one containing lists of her most valued possessions along with the name of the person who would fall heir to that item upon her passing.

Food on a table next to a cup of coffee, with Cookie and Peanut

Among the items I received are two three-ring binders filled with “magnetic” scrapbook pages into which Gwen had carefully placed hundreds of handwritten and newspaper-clipped recipes. Next to each one are little handwritten notes about the recipes.

She includes each recipe’s origin along with other tidbits of information she undoubtedly believed I would want to know, such as how many cookies she baked for her parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration on April 27, 1950 (10 dozen each of six different recipes, neatly arranged on facing pages). Many of the recipes are dated 1942 and, she notes, were in her original trousseau collection.

I stuck these binders in a closet after we settled the estate and sold the house. I guess I just wasn’t ready to admit that her many years of cooking and mothering were over. Until recently.

Going from one page to the next has been like sitting down with her over tea, once again. Oh, how she loved to recall names, occasions and “lovely times” with her friends and family. Each one of the recipes reminds me so much of her, and in that, I’ve found comfort.

Today, I want to share one of these recipes with you that is just “so Gwen!” The cookie recipe includes this note: “This is the recipe I used for many years as the children grew up. They loved them!” According to my husband, her middle son, they still do.

Not long ago a reader wrote asking for if I knew of a recipe for plain, old-fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies—the kind she remembered from her childhood. I can’t be certain my husband’s favorite are hers too, but I sure wouldn’t bet against it!



Food on a table next to a cup of coffee, with Cookie and Peanut
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4.67 from 12 votes

Peanut Butter Cookies

These are the simple cookies my mother-in-law made for her family every week. The cookie recipe card I inherited includes this note: “This is the recipe I used for many years as the children grew up. They loved them!” According to my husband, her middle son, they still do.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Cookies
Cuisine: American
Servings: 36 cookies
Calories: 88kcal


  • ½ cup peanut butter, any style
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 egg slightly beaten
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt


  • Preheat oven to 375 F. 
  • With an electric mixer on low speed, cream together the peanut butter, butter, and sugars, about 3 mins.
  • Add beaten egg and mix to combine.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to sugar and egg mixture and stir until all dry ingredients are well incorporated. 
  • Roll into 1-inch balls and place on greased baking sheets. Flatten each ball with a fork, making a criss-cross pattern.
  • Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cookies begin to just slightly brown.
  • Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 3 dozen


Calories: 88kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 73mg | Potassium: 40mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 115IU | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg

Food on a table, with Cookie

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7 replies
  1. Don says:

    One of my wife’s sister sat down with their mom, and wrote down recipes as their mom dictated them. Recently, my wife made beef stew and another similar soup containing beef and chicken, using her mom’s recipe. They were incredibly delicious, but the recipe was for a family of 9, and only my wife and I are trying to eat all this. I guess we’ll be freezing some.

  2. Melanie says:

    What a great story, Mary! I’m sure Gwen would love that you are enjoying her notebooks of favorite recipes. I have many notebooks containing recipes I’ve made over the years and those I would like to try, should I live that long! Ha. Don’t think my adult kids care a bit about home cooking these days. But for each of them I have, in the past, compiled for them “survival recipes” of quick family favorites and those I thought they’d appreciate having when I’m gone.

  3. Jenny Sonsalla says:

    5 stars
    This is just like my peanut butter cookie that I have had for over 50 years and got it from my mother. Have no idea how long she had it before passing it on to me. The only thing I add to it is a little cinnamon and nutmeg.

  4. Bonnie says:

    I don’t have it in front of me, but this sounds exactly like the Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie recipe I’ve been using for probably at least 35 years. So simple and tasty!!

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Maybe Gwen and Betty were friends! Ha-Ha. Gwen was making these cookies in the 1950s. She tried to estimate for me one day how many dozens she’d made in her life. It was quite amazing … and funny 🙂


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