How to Make the BEST Peanut Butter Blossoms Cookies

October 7, 2021
We all know and love iconic Peanut Butter Blossom cookies -- the classic tender peanut butter cookie treat, coated in granulated sugar with a Hershey's Kiss proudly perched on top. But not all Peanut Butter Blossom recipes are created equal. We tested five of the most common ones (including the original) to see which was the best, and our findings may surprise you. Read on for our results and how to make the BEST Peanut Butter Blossoms around!

Peanut Butter Blossoms Cookies Image

Peanut Butter Blossoms are a classic.  I mean, who doesn't know and love this truly iconic cookie? And with their tender peanut butter cookie base topped with a cute and tasty chocolate Hershey Kiss, there's certainly a whole lot to love.

But you know what? -- There are about as many Peanut Butter Blossoms recipes out there as there are Grandma's who bake them. Which got me thinking, which Peanut Butter Blossoms recipe is the best? Is there a significant difference between the recipe results? And if there is, what makes one recipe better than the next?

So we did what we love to do best, and set about researching and testing various Peanut Butter Blossom cookie recipes to see if we could figure that out. And I'm happy to report -- we did. Yes, there is indeed a "best" Peanut Butter Blossoms recipe. And yes, there is indeed a significant difference between different recipe results.

But before we dive into our recipe tests and results, let's take a brief look at the history of the Peanut Butter Blossom cookie.  Because, well, quite frankly I find the cookie's history interesting -- and I hope you do, too.

There are about as many Peanut Butter Blossoms recipes out there as there are Grandma's who bake them.

(A Brief) History of the Peanut Butter Blossom Cookie:

Initially called Black-Eyed Susans by their creator, the now-named Peanut Butter Blossoms originated quite by accident.

The story goes that grandmother Freda Smith of Gibsonburg, Ohio, was baking a batch of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for her grandkids -- only to find partway through mixing her dough that she was out of chocolate chips. Thinking on the fly, she then grabbed a bag of Hershey's Kisses in her pantry and plopped them on top as a chocolate chip stand-in. I must say, I like her thinking.

Mrs. Freda Smith then later entered her accidental cookie creation in the 1957 9th annual Pillsbury Bake-Off competition, where Pillsbury changed the cookies' name to "Peanut Blossoms." And you probably think these beloved cookies won, right?  Nope, they did not. Surprisingly, this now iconic cookie recipe did not win. -- It took 2nd place instead. (Incidentally, the winner was a cookie called Accordion Treats. Ever heard of them? ... Nope, me neither. Freda and her Blossoms were robbed.)

After their strong competition showing, Hershey started printing a version of Mrs. Smith's Peanut Blossoms recipe on bags of Hershey's Kisses. -- And the rest, as they say, is history. Peanut Butter Blossoms had been introduced to millions of cookie lovers, and they've been beloved and enjoyed ever since.

Thank you, Freda! Holiday cookie platters everywhere just wouldn't be the same without you.

Peanut Butter Blossoms Cookies on Baking Sheet Image

What We Tested:

After researching and comparing many Peanut Butter Blossom recipes, we boiled them all down to 5 core basic recipes. We then conducted tests to compare the results of the 5.

All 5 of the recipes used creamy peanut butter, an egg, all-purpose flour, and a mix of both granulated and brown sugars. All but one of the recipes included vanilla extract and a little bit of milk. The same recipe that omitted the vanilla and milk was also the only recipe to include both baking soda and baking powder. -- All the other 4 used solely baking soda. 

(Side note: We also tested a recipe that, as a total departure from the core 5 recipes, used Bisquick and sweetened condensed milk as its base. We did not like the finished product at all, and are therefore not including it in these tests and results.)

The main differences in the core 5 recipes came down to the:
  • Use of shortening vs. butter
  • Amounts of granulated and brown sugars
  • Amount of peanut butter, and
  • Amount of flour

The 5 recipes tested were:

1. The original Pillsbury recipe - Freda Smith's original recipe, as shared on Pillsbury's recipe site. This one uses shortening, and a little more flour than the other recipes.

2. Hershey's recipe - The recipe shared on Hershey's recipe site. This one, like the original, also uses shortening. However, in comparison to the original recipe, it includes a little more peanut butter, less granulated and brown sugars, and less flour.

3. The original Pillsbury recipe changed to butter - We prefer baking with butter over shortening, so tried the original recipe with butter swapped in for the shortening.

4. Hershey's recipe changed to butter - As we did with the original, we also swapped butter in for the shortening in the Hershey recipe.

5. Betty Crocker recipe - The recipe shared on Betty Crocker's site. This is the recipe that's more of a departure from the original. In contrast to the original, Betty Crocker's is a butter-based version, does not include any vanilla extract or milk, has no salt added, and uses a combination of both baking soda and baking powder.



What We Found:

Overall we found that, indeed, not all Peanut Butter Blossom recipes are created equal. Here are our overall findings, summarized in terms of the 3 questions posed earlier in this post:

Is there a significant difference between the recipe results? - Yes indeed, there is a significant difference between the recipe results. Some cookies were flatter, some plumper. Some were a nice tender texture, while others were dry. And some had a much better, richer flavor. 

If there is a significant difference, what makes one recipe better than the next? - I firmly believe butter produces a much better, richer flavor than shortening. So our winner is a butter-based recipe. With that being said, butter spreads more than shortening while baking, so adjustments have to be made to accommodate that so you don't end up with a super-flat cookie.

The Winner!
Which Peanut Butter Blossoms recipe is the best? - #5, the Betty Crocker recipe, was the clear favorite of our tests! (I'm so sorry, Freda. The original recipe is really good, just not as good as the Betty Crocker version.) Betty Crocker's butter-based version is the recipe that included no vanilla extract nor milk, and used a combination of both baking soda and baking powder. While it produced a firmer, more crumbly dough than the others, it also produced a more tender-textured, sweeter, and more flavorful cookie as well. It's so good, you all!


Let's take a look at some details for each cookie recipe we tested, glancing at the photos both above and below this section of the post for reference:

1. The original Pillsbury recipe - The original recipe produces a good cookie that I certainly wouldn't turn down if offered. In comparison to the other recipes we tested, it makes a bit flatter, drier, grainier-textured cookie than the others.

2. Hershey's recipe - Again, I wouldn't turn down this cookie if offered. The result is a plumper, less dry cookie than the original recipe, and the graininess of the original cookie is gone.

3. The original Pillsbury recipe changed to butter - The butter version of the original recipe spread a lot while baking, creating a very crinkled totally flat cookie and is not recommended for making blossoms. It bakes up more like a peanut butter sugar cookie than a blossom-type cookie.

4. Hershey's recipe changed to butter - This was the runner-up of our recipe tests, and makes a very tasty cookie! This butter version of the Hershey recipe didn't spread as much as that of the butter version of the original recipe. It had a nice tender texture and tasty rich flavor.

5. Betty Crocker recipe - Our winner! The Better Crocker recipe makes a firmer, more crumbly dough than the other recipes, which had me worried, to be honest. But that dough bakes up to make a very nice tender-textured cookie that's sweeter and more flavorful than the other cookies we tested. It's our hands-down favorite, for sure.

Are you surprised by our results?


The BEST Peanut Butter Blossoms Ingredients:

Aside from some Hershey's Kisses, there's nothing fancy needed to make Peanut Butter Blossom cookies. To whip up a batch of the best around, you'll need:
  • Creamy peanut butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Unsalted butter
  • An egg
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder, and
  • Hershey's Kisses

Best Peanut Butter Blossoms Ingredients Image

How to Make The BEST Peanut Butter Blossoms:

As far as cookies go, Peanut Butter Blossoms are pretty straight-forward to make. They're truly not at all difficult, which is nice.

Start by mixing up a basic peanut butter cookie dough. The dough includes both granulated and brown sugar for nice sweetness and flavor, and both baking soda and baking powder to give good rise that makes a cookie with a nice tender texture.

Best Peanut Butter Blossoms Dough Image

Scoop and shape the dough into 1-inch balls. I use a cookie scoop to scoop the dough, which makes it really easy to keep the cookies all about the same size.

Scooping Dough to Make Peanut Butter Blossoms Image

The dough will be a little crumbly. Squeeze the dough in the palm of your hand, if needed, to form it into balls.

Then roll each dough ball in granulated sugar, coating it completely.

Rolling Peanut Butter Blossoms Dough Balls in Sugar Image

Place the sugar-coated dough balls on ungreased cookie sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart.

Peanut Butter Blossoms Dough Balls Ready to Bake Image

Bake the cookies at 375℉ for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to turn a light golden brown.

Baked Peanut Butter Blossoms Without Hershey Kisses Image

Remove the pan from the oven and immediately place a Hershey's Kiss in the center of each cookie, pressing down just slightly until crinkles/cracks just start to appear in the cookie's surface.

How to Make the Best Peanut Butter Blossoms Image

Remove the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Keep in mind -- after placing Hershey's Kisses in the center of the cookies, don't touch the Kisses again until the cookies are completely cooled. The Kisses do melt (and glisten!) from the heat of the cookies, but they keep their shape. If you touch the Kisses at this point while they're at all warm, their shape will warp or smush.

The Best Peanut Butter Blossoms on Cooling Rack Image

Once they're cooled, you're ready to enjoy the iconic deliciousness of everyone's beloved Peanut Butter Blossom cookies. And hopefully you'll agree with us that these are the BEST Peanut Butter Blossoms around!

Enjoy!

Check out these other super tasty cookie favorites:
The Best Peanut Butter Blossoms Cookies Image
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Cookies
American
Yield: about 36-38 cookies
Author: Tracey | The Kitchen is My Playground
The BEST Peanut Butter Blossoms Cookies

The BEST Peanut Butter Blossoms Cookies

We all know and love iconic Peanut Butter Blossom cookies -- the classic tender peanut butter cookie treat, coated in granulated sugar with a Hershey's Kiss proudly perched on top. And this version based on Betty Crocker's recipe is the best around!
Prep time: 30 MinCook time: 9 MinTotal time: 39 Min

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • additional granulated sugar for rolling
  • about 36-38 Hershey's Kisses, unwrapped

Instructions

  1. In large mixing bowl, combine the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter, butter and egg. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed.
  2. By hand, stir in flour, baking soda and baking powder until just combined and a dough forms.
  3. Scoop and shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll each dough ball in additional granulated sugar to coat. Place on ungreased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake at 375℉ for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are just starting to turn light golden brown.
  5. Remove pan from oven and immediately place a Hershey's Kiss in the center of each cookie, pressing down just slightly until crinkles/cracks just start to appear in the cookie's surface.
  6. Remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
TRACEY'S NOTES:
  1. I use a cookie scoop to scoop the dough, which makes it really easy to keep the cookies all about the same size.
  2. The dough will be a little crumbly. Squeeze the dough in the palm of your hand, if needed, to form it into balls.
  3. After placing Hershey's Kisses in the center of the cookies, don't touch the Kisses again until the cookies are completely cooled. The Kisses do melt (and glisten!) from the heat of the cookies, but keep their shape. If you touch the Kisses at this point, their shape will warp or smush.
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How to Make the BEST Peanut Butter Blossoms Cookies ~ We all know and love this classic peanut butter cookie treat with a Hershey's Kiss proudly perched on top. And this recipe makes the BEST Peanut Butter Blossoms around! Soft, tender-textured, & fabulous peanut butter flavor.  www.thekitchenismyplayground.com


This post is linked with Weekend Potluck.

3 comments

  1. Peanut butter cookies are my favorites and these sounds delicious! Chocolate is a perfect partner and I wish I had a batch right now! :) Thank you for sharing your recipe at Fiesta Friday! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a fun project and comparison, butter does make all the difference. Peanut butter is my husband's favorite. Thank you for bringing them to Fiesta Friday.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I never knew these had a special name! I love learning about food history. Thanks for sharing at the What’s for Dinner party! Enjoy the rest of your week.

    ReplyDelete

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