Pretend Peanut Butter Cookies with Real Taste

Happy Sweet-Tooth Friday everybody!  This is Christine, and things sure have changed around the NMA house since I last checked in with you.  Of course you know by now that I am a proud aunt, ready to spoil the crap out of my new nephew with healthy treats.  That is, as soon as he’s ready to chew…

Cookies fit for 3,000,000 of your closest friends

In the meantime, these sunflower butter cookies will satisfy the rest of our palates.  In fact, everybody can enjoy these, even the 3 million people in this country with peanut-allergies.  Yep, there are no nuts here, and no gluten, eggs, soy, or dairy either.

Since receiving the Allergy-Free Desserts cookbook, I’ve had my eye on these so-called “Pretend Peanut Butter Cookies.”  Obviously I am not allergic to peanuts— peanut butter made its debut in my first Sweet-Tooth Friday recipe for chocolate avocado mousse, and has popped up in everything from my vegan chocolates to rice krispie treats to chickpea granola bars.

So with a love of peanut butter this strong, what would tempt me to make pretend peanut butter cookies?

The secret is sunflower seeds

I had never tried sunflower seed butter or any seed butter except for tahini before seeing this recipe.  On its own, sunflower seed butter is a delicate and creamy spread that tastes very similar to actual sunflower seeds.  But in the oven, the taste  magically transforms to something very similar to good ol’ peanut butter.  Plus, sunflower seeds are loaded with protein and vitamin E.

As for the gluten, eggs, and dairy, you’ll never miss them here either.  Again, I’m not allergic to gluten, but I enjoy a dessert more knowing that I am eating mainly ground chickpeas instead of just white flour.  If you’re curious about gluten-free baking, check out my interview with author Elizabeth Gordon as well as my post on Allergy-Free Pineapple Upside Down cake.

Here is the recipe from Elizabeth Gordon’s Allergy-Free Desserts (Wiley), reprinted with permission.

Pretend Peanut Butter Cookies


  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal
  • 1 1/4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 cup organic palm fruit oil shortening
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a cup or small bowl, combine the water and flaxseed meal and allow to thicken for 3 to 5 minutes.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the shortening, sugars, and sunflower seed butter.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the flaxseed mixture and the vanilla.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.  Stir in the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Using a small ice cream scoop, drop the dough 2 inches apart onto the prepared sheets.  Press the cookies down with the tines of a fork (dipped in sugar) in the criss-cross pattern characteristic of peanut butter cookies.
Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are golden and the tops no longer look wet.  Transfer the baking sheets from the oven to cooling racks and cool for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies directly onto the racks to cool completely.

Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.  Makes about 20 small cookies.

These cookies are really great, and will give any traditional peanut butter cookie a run for its money!  You’ll immediately reap the benefits of baking these goodies, especially if you happen to live with a breastfeeding mother with an insatiable craving for cookies…yep, you’ll get an extra 5 minutes of snuggling with the baby while everyone else chows down!

See you next Sweet-Tooth Friday!

(Aunt) Christine



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  1. Those look delicious! I wouldn’t have guessed there wasn’t anything nutty about them. I’m picking up some of Bob’s gluten free flour soon and I can’t wait for finding ways to use it
    .-= Evan Thomas´s last blog ..The Earth Will Forgive Me =-.

  2. Ooh, these cookies look awesome! As far as I’m concerned, you can’t go wrong with sunflower seed butter. It’s so good! 🙂
    .-= Jessie (Vegan-minded)´s last blog ..Celebrating Earth Day: 10 Ways I Live Green =-.

  3. Congrats on becoming an Aunt! And what a cute little nephew you have. These look awesome. Both my husband and I are huge sunflower seed butter fans. Total deliciousness. I never even thought to sub it in instead of nut butter! Happy weekend
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Body Step 79 Launch & Pizza Pot Pie (Vegetarian & Chicken) =-.

  4. These look amazing! I’ve never tried sunflower seed butter but this is a good excuse to do so! Quick question, though — I’ve never baked anything with Xanthan gum (though do know it’s in a lot of store-bought foods) and don’t exactly have this “on hand”. Does it add a lot to cookies or do you think it would be possible to go without?
    .-= Lauren (Health on the Run)´s last blog ..An Ode To My Water Bottle =-.

  5. Ohhh man, I’m all over these! Maybe a project for the weekend. YUM!

  6. Great blog Matt. I will have to try these cookies! They look awesome. Glad to hear vegetarianism is working well for you. I have a section of my site devoted to vegan athletes which you may find of interest, including runners Tim VanOrden and Brendan Brazier. Here is the link….

    Have a great day!
    James Reno
    .-= James Reno´s last blog ..Apr 23, Exercise Those Pounds Away With Your New Raw Food Energy! =-.

  7. I loved the sunflower seed butter from the jar, and I’m not an overly big fan of sunflower seeds- their outside coating bothers me. BUT… the sunflower seed butter was better than peanut butter! I can’t wait to try one of these- I hope there’s one left!

  8. Love this – thank you! I’m not allergic to peanuts either, but I know that as they are legumes and not true nuts, they can be very mucous forming, so I really try to avoid them as much as possible. Are there any subs for the xantham gum? I’m sure my local health food store carries it, but if I could avoid running to the store I’d certainly love to!
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Heal the world (and my legs!) =-.

    • @Catherine and @Lauren,

      Thanks for the comments! Xanthan gum is really important in gluten-free baking, because it plays the same role that gluten would– it helps the ingredients stick together and adds chews, as well as helping the baked goods rise.

      If you plan on doing any gluten-free baking in the future, it’s definitely worth picking up. The kind I use is under $7 at and is more than I’ll ever get through!

      Since the cookies don’t need to rise as much as a cake would, you might get away with adding something else just to act as a binder, like an extra tablespoon of ground flaxseed, arrowroot, or a teaspoon or so of agar agar.

      If you really don’t feel like getting some xanthan gum this time around, and you don’t have an intolerance to wheat, I would just use regular wheat flour in place of the gluten-free mix.


  9. Just made these cookies, they were yummylicious! I used coconut oil in place of the shortening and they turned out great, though I will probably use a little less than 1/2 cup next time. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  10. I just made these for my boyfriend who has a peanut allergy. They were good, but next time I would maybe use 1/4cup more of sunflower butter, and a bit more sugar with a little less flour. They came out kind of dry the first batch, but I’ll try again with less flour and see how the second one comes out!
    Oh I also substituted 1/2tsp of cornstarch for the Xantham gum just because I couldn’t find it anywhere believe it or not. And also substituted margarine for palm oil shortening (although I know most people with certain allergies can’t do this)

  11. Tried these last night as a dry run for a football party this weekend. Used Maranatha (non-raw) sunflower seed butter and Spectrum buttery palm oil shortening. They were awesome!

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