Brown Butter Peanut M&M Cookies
These chewy brown butter peanut M&M cookies are made from scratch for a dessert that’s simple to make but ridiculously delicious. Based on the classic treat, this version has toasty brown butter and peanuts for a nutty, caramelized flavor. They’re truly the best M&M cookie ever!
During this time of the year where perhaps the gloomy weather is weighing on us a bit more than it was, I don’t know, back in December, we need something to spark a little joy. So, if the question is, how do we get through the most bleh part of the year and maintain our sanity? Then, I will offer up the only answer I know to be true: cookies.
When it comes to cookies in these situations, I’m looking for a quick and easy recipe. Chewy coffee cookies and cardamom chocolate chunk shortbread are two of my go-tos. But, if the goal is also to spark the utmost joy, then why wouldn’t we step it up a notch and also throw a few handfuls of confetti-colored candy into the mix?
Let’s talk about these cookies
I learned the secret to perfect, chewy bakery style M&M cookies back when I was in pastry school. So, while yes, M&M cookies are a little basic, I can guarantee you that this recipe is anything but.
First off, let me say that these M&M cookies have no peanut butter in them. I didn’t want a peanut butter M&M cookie, I wanted one with peanut M&Ms. And I was right, because the milk chocolate, peanuts, and brown butter work together for an otherworldly experience, trust me. These cookies are also:
- Super easy to make! No weird instructions or ingredients.
- Chewy, nutty, and so delicious. Truly the best M&M cookie I’ve ever had!
- A huge crowd pleaser. Seriously, I put these out at a party last weekend and they were gone in minutes.
The ingredient list
- Unsalted butter – no need to soften the butter. We’re going to brown it for that toasty flavor!
- All purpose flour – this will give the cookies structure and bind everything together.
- Baking soda – this will act as our leavening agent which will spread out the cookies.
- Kosher salt – to offset the sweetness of the cookies.
- Dark brown sugar – brown sugar M&M cookies are superior, it’s just the truth. The brown sugar helps make for chewier, richer cookies! You can also use light brown sugar.
- White sugar – to sweeten the cookies a bit more.
- Eggs – these add moisture to the cookies which will prevent them from being dry.
- Vanilla extract – vanilla will add a ton of flavor and perfectly complement the brown butter.
- Unsalted peanuts – instead of using peanut M&Ms which are bulky, I like to simply add peanuts along with regular M&Ms. It also makes for a prettier, less puffy cookie!
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips – just cause extra chocolate is always a good idea.
- M&Ms – ok truth time. In this recipe, I used the Trader Joe’s M&Ms dupe because I like the muted colors lol. But, any M&M will work in this recipe.
How to make these cookies
Brown butter & prep
- To start, brown the butter. Melt the butter in a shallow pan over medium low heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter smells nutty and has brown bits on the bottom.
- Then, immediately pour the brown butter into a large mixing bowl and let it cool for a few minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Make the dough
- Add the sugar and brown sugar to the brown butter. Beat until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Next, add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla extract.
- Mix the flour into the butter-sugar mixture in 2 batches. The dough will be a bit loose. Use a rubber spatula to ensure that there are no dry spots.
- Then, cover the bowl and let it chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Bake & decorate
- Once the dough is chilled, it’s time to finish off the cookies! If the dough is too stiff, let it warm at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Then, add the peanuts, chocolate chips, and M&Ms until everything is mixed.
- Next, scoop the cookie dough and roll into bowls. Place the cookie dough balls on parchment-lined sheet pans.
- Finish by baking the cookies at 350°F for 8-9 minutes until the cookies are set on the edges and a bit underdone in the centers. Decorate with more M&Ms if desired and let them cool on the sheet pan for 5-10 minutes. Lastly, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!
- Large mixing bowl
- Hand mixer
- Sheet pans
- Parchment paper
- Measuring cups
If you want to switch things up, here are a few ideas!
- M&Ms – use seasonal M&Ms for Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day and other holidays! You can also use 1 1/2 cups of chopped peanut M&Ms in place of the regular M&Ms + peanuts.
- Peanuts – if you want to skip out on the peanuts altogether, replace them with more M&Ms or chocolate chips. Or, try walnuts, almonds, or pecans instead.
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips – use milk or white chocolate chips!
Storing, freezing, & make-ahead
To store leftover cookies, place them in an airtight container. They will stay good at room temperature for 2-3 days.
To freeze the baked cookies, line an airtight container or freezer bag with parchment paper. Place the cookies in the container or freezer bag, being sure that the parchment paper is protecting the cookies. (This will prevent freezer burn!) Then, freeze for up to 3 months and defrost at room temperature. for 1 hour. This is a great option for make-ahead cookies!
To freeze the cookie dough, roll the dough into balls and place them on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Next, freeze until the dough is completely firm, about 1-2 hours. Then, pop the frozen cookie dough balls in a parchment-lined freezer bag or airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Also, there’s no reason to defrost before baking! Just add 1-2 minutes of extra bake time for a total of 10-11 minutes.
The secret to pretty cookies
Want to know my secrets to pretty bakery-style cookies? Happy to share!
- For round cookies, all you need is a big round cookie cutter or cup. Right when the cookies come out of the oven, place the cookie cutter/cup around the cookie. Then, shape the cookie into a circle with a ‘swirling’ motion. Instant round cookies!
- To make the cookies look even better, gently press extra M&Ms, chocolate chips, and/or peanuts on top of the cookies right out of the oven.
- For big, bakery-style cookies, use a 1-ounce cookie scoop. This is about 2 Tablespoons!
Tips & tricks
- Bring the ingredients to room temperature. In this recipe, cold butter is totally fine. But, make sure to bring the eggs to room temp so they mix in evenly!
- Make sure to measure the flour properly! Otherwise, you’ll end up with dry, crumbly cookies. To measure the flour, first fluff it with a whisk or fork. Then, scoop the fluffed flour into a measuring cup and level it off without packing it in.
- Chill the dough properly! Yes, you must chill the dough in this recipe or the cookies will not come out correctly. For starters, it firms up the dough and keeps the cookies from spreading too much. Secondly, the chill time makes the cookies more flavorful and decadent.
- Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes. Otherwise, the cookies will fall apart when you take them off the pan!
What does brown butter do to cookies?
Brown butter isn’t necessary in cookies, but you should 100% do it anyways. Brown butter adds a richness, decadence, and nutty flavor to baked goods. It’s total heaven.
Why are my cookies flat?
Cookies can be flat for a few reasons. First, make sure you chill the dough for at least 1 hour or they will spread out too much. This is because the butter needs to firm up a bit, especially since we’re browning it!
Secondly, your oven may be too hot or you may be baking the cookies on hot sheet pans. Always make sure that your oven is preheated properly (I recommend a thermometer in your oven to ensure it’s accurate!) and that you’re baking on cooled sheet pans.
Lastly, you may have measured the ingredients incorrectly. If the flour or sugar ratio is off, the cookies will be too flat or too cake-y. Make sure you’re measuring everything properly! (See flour measuring tips above.)
Do I have to use peanuts?
Nope! The peanuts are totally optional (but super delicious). Replace them with more M&Ms or semi-sweet chocolate chips. Or, use a different nut like walnuts or pecans!
What cookie scoop should I use?
In this recipe, I used a #40 which is 1 ounce (2 Tablespoons). This will give us those big, gorgeous cookies! You can also use a smaller scoop, just make sure to adjust the time down by 1-2 minutes.
More simple cookie recipes
If you make this recipe, I would love it if you left a star rating and review! I read every single comment and love hearing what you think about my recipes. Thank you for supporting Sunday Table!
Brown Butter Peanut M&M Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar (or light brown sugar)
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup M&MS, plus more for decoration
- Hand mixer,
- 2 sheet pans
- Parchment paper
- To brown the butter, melt the unsalted butter in a shallow, light-colored pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes. At first the butter will foam up and get bubbly, but eventually, you will start to see small brown bits on the bottom of the pan. It’s ready when the butter is golden-brown and smells nutty and caramelized. Immediately remove the butter from the heat and pour it into a large heat-proof bowl to cool for 5-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the all purpose flour, baking soda, and Kosher salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Next, add the dark brown sugar and white sugar to the brown butter. Using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until it’s well-combined, 1-2 minutes. Next add the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Mix in the vanilla extract.
- Add half of the flour mixture to the sugar-butter mixture until mixed. Then, add the remaining flour mixture, beating just until the dough forms. Use a rubber spatula to ensure there are no dry spots. The dough will be a bit loose, but it will thicken once it's chilled. Cover the bowl and chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Once the dough is chilled and you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Then, remove the dough from the fridge and gently fold in the unsalted peanuts, semi sweet chocolate chips, and M&Ms until they’re well distributed.
- Using a #40 cookie scoop (2 Tablespoons), scoop the cookie dough and roll into balls with the palms of your hands. Place the cookie dough balls 3 inches apart on the parchment-lined sheet pans (they will spread quite a bit).
- Bake for 8-9 minutes until the edges are set and the centers are still a bit underdone. Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately press 4-5 M&Ms on top of the cookies if desired (this is just for aesthetic purposes).
- Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes on the pan, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!
xo Sara Lynn
Song of the day – Where’d All the Time Go? by Dr. Dog