I don’t know about everyone else, but summer vacation in this house went by way too fast. We’re suddenly approaching the start to a new school year and getting ready to jump back into the daily routine of packing lunches and doing homework, and important things like actually getting dressed before noon. Last year was my first year with a kiddo in all day school. My little first grader loved it. As an incredibly social kid, the moment he walked in from the afternoon bus, I sometimes barely got so much as a hello before he was trying to run back out the door to play with friends. I always have to act quickly to reign him in because we usually only have a few minutes to re-group before it’s time to pack everyone up for after school sports and gym classes and music lessons, etc. During those busy times I came to really appreciate something:
(Yes, chocolate.) But also, the after school snack. It might seem silly, but with everything we have going on all the time, those few minutes to sit and re-group and actually talk to my kids became a relaxing little tradition for all of us. I love to surprise them with a special treat just to see their eyes light up after coming home from a busy day and I learned that the better the treat, the longer I get to keep them talking to me!
With school back in session, I wanted to design a new cookie recipe to celebrate the start of a new school year, and therefore the start of new after-school snacks! Loyal readers of this blog know that I religiously test every new variety of M&M’S®, and while I have lots of favorites, my heart will always belong to Peanut Butter.
One of my favorite combinations lately is peanut butter and pretzels. My favorite energy bar comes in this flavor, and I’ve been known (in lieu of an energy bar) to grab a handful of pretzels and a handful of M&M’S® Peanut Butter (totally the same thing) and call it good.
There’s a great flavor and texture combination here because you get the crumbly, salty bits of pretzel with the creamy, sweet chocolate and bursts of peanut peanut butter. They were meant to be friends.
So why not throw them all into a cookie? I’m also adding some M&M’S® MINIS into the mix here too, mostly because they’re adorable. But also because I love the little bits of chocolate throughout a cookie, and these minis make it so the chocolate doesn’t overwhelm the other flavors we have going on. You can find bags of minis in the baking or candy section of many stores, but I also designed this small-batch recipe to use one of those mini tubes you can find with the candy at the check-out lane so you can always grab that if you don’t see the larger bags. Or you could use standard size M&M’S® instead, that would be just fine, too.
Let’s start baking! First we’ll cream our butter (real butter- always!) with both white and brown sugars. Now a little tip about creaming butter and sugar. I think too often people stop before the “creaming” actually takes place. If you notice the photo on the top right, the sugars and butter have come together as sort of a paste-like consistency. You would think that’s as creamed up as it’s going to get- but not so! You have to keep beating to start seeing molecular chances occur and that happens when it starts to change texture like the photo on the bottom. That’s creamed. It only takes a minute or two longer, so don’t stop too soon.
After the butter and sugars are creamed, and an egg and some vanilla are added, you can slowly add in the dry ingredients. Remember to always gently spoon your flour into the measuring with a spoon. Don’t scoop or you’ll get too much, and too much means dry, dense cookies.
After the flour is mixed in, it’s time for the fun part. Add in the M&M’S MINIS, and some pretzels that have been broken up into bite-sized pieces.
Now comes the best part. In order to release all of that creamy peanut butter goodness inside, we’re going to give these a rough chop.
The trick is not pulverizing them. M&M’S Peanut Butter are actually really soft and easy to cut, so I run a knife through them and aim to cut each one in half. That sounds a bit tedious, but it’s really not, I promise.
Having the peanut butter filling exposed like that makes it burst in every bite. Since we don’t want to break these up too much, we’re just going to fold them in by hand with a spoon.
After it’s all mixed up, scoop them with a standard-sized cookie scoop onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Want to know a food stylist secret? How we get our cookies to have perfectly proportioned mix-ins displayed on top with stunning accuracy? After your cookies are scooped, take a few extra pretzels and M&M’S® and place them right on top and around the sides. That ensures that when they bake up they’ll have bright pops of color, and cute little chunks of pretzels in full view.
Put your baking pan in the oven and bake them up until puffed and golden.
Right when they come out of the oven you’ll do something crazy and sprinkle them with a just a light pinch of salt. Sea salt or kosher salt works best here; it balances out and enhances all of the other flavors. Trust me. The combination of sweet and salty is what makes these cookies sing!
This is one of the rare cookies in the world that actually tastes better cooled off than warm. You’re able to better taste everything going on, and there’s a lot to taste!
You get crunchy bites of pretzel, and soft candy shell with mellow bursts of chocolate. Then there’s the surprising little bites of creamy peanut butter and everything balanced with the little flecks of salt.
Oh, and they also look totally cute. M&M’S® make everything instantly fun, don’t they? The bright colors, those happy little circles, you can’t help but smile when you look at this cookie and that’s just what your kiddos will do the moment they see these in the cookie jar!
Pair it with a tall glass of milk and a piece of fresh fruit and those tummies will hopefully stay happy until dinner!
Salted Peanut Butter Pretzel M&M’S® Cookies
Recipe by Our Best Bites
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup pretzel pieces (break small pretzel rods into 1/4″ pieces)
1/4 cup M&M’S® MINIS
3/4 cup M&M’S® Peanut Butter, roughly chopped in half
sea salt or kosher salt for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and beat until combined. Mix dry ingredients together and then add to dough. When combined, add pretzels and Mini M&M’s and mix until incorporated. Add Peanut Butter M&M’s and gently mix by hand until distributed through dough.
Scoop into 1 1/2″ balls onto parchment lined baking sheets. Cook for 7-9 minutes, until set on edges and lightly golden on the outside edge. While the cookies are still hot, lightly sprinkle with salt. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.
Hover your mouse over the image below to Pin it!
Post sponsored by M&M’S®. All opinions, and original recipe are 100% Our Best Bites.
I made these today using the Ghirardelli caramel chips in place of the M&Ms and oh my goodness, they are fabulous. Salted caramel and pretzels make a yummy cookie combination. Thanks for the recipe!
This may be a rookie question, but does it matter if you use salted or unsalted butter in the recipe?
Not a bad question! For most general baking and recipe-reading, you can always assume butter is salted unless specified unsalted. If you only have unsalted butter, just add a pinch or two of salt to the recipe and you’re good to go 🙂
Could these be made in a pan and, if so, what size? Thank you
My craft group is doing a cookie dough exchange for the holiday’s. Can I freeze this dough? Will the pretzels get soggy? Thoughts?
Honestly, I’m not sure- I’ve never frozen it, you’d have to experiment. To be honest, I don’t think cookies are ever as good from frozen dough so I usually avoid it!
We have a nut allergy in our house, but not severe enough to avoid regular M&Ms. As a substitute for the peanut M&Ms, I used Kraft Premium Caramel Bits. Thank you for this recipe!
Do you think I can freeze the baked cookies and have them be the same (the pretzel part) when they thaw?
I’m really not sure! To be honest, I never have much luck with frozen dough, but you could certainly try it out!
Yum! These were fantastic… even better dipped in coffee this morning! 🙂
Thank you for this recipe–I’ve needed ideas on how to use up a 3 lb bag of pretzel sticks! I actually used your Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (the one from America’s Test Kitchen) as a base and added a half stick of melted butter and a half cup of crunchy peanut butter. Then added the pretzel bits and chocolate chips and upped the cooking temp to 350 and backed for 9 minutes. PERFECT! So again, thanks!
These were really great! I ended up needing to bake them 10 minutes; 7-9 min. left the first few batches undercooked.
I ended up making 2 double batches since I needed treats for several families this week, and I ran out of peanut butter m&ms on the 2nd batch (had only half what I needed). I threw a big spoonful of peanut butter into the mix and they were just fine.
One of the families I delivered these to said they were so good they had polished off the plate before I got back home 🙂
I stopped by the store and bought the candy for this recipe on my way home from work earlier this week. I double it, of course. My family devoured the cookies! I made a plate up to give to a new neighbor, and I have to confess, it was very, very difficult to give them up. So good! There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about these cookies but I especially enjoyed the texture of the cookies. I think the extra creaming really helps! Thanks for the tip.
I just made these and followed the directions (no subbing, no allergies, no gluten free issues, etc.) and they are fabulous. Fabulous! I was skeptical about the salt at the end, but it totally makes the cookie. I love your blog, thank you for all the time and effort you put into it!
My friend sprinkles the pan with kosher salt before baking…do you think it’d work?
Sure- that would probably be good!
Wowzer! Just made these. They turned out fantastic. Definitely on my ” favorite cookie” list.
These look INCREDIBLE! I love sweet-and-salty combinations, and peanut butter M&Ms are TOTALLY the best kind. Can’t wait to make them!!
Heaven! Can’t wait to try these, I love salty and sweet.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’ve wanted a good homemade M&M cookie for years. So can’t wait to try this one out!!!
Looks delish! If I had regular M&M’s on hand and wanted to add peanut butter in the dough, would I make a substitution or how much could I add? Someone above said just a “spoonful” but was looking for more specific directions 🙂 Thanks!!
I’m not sure; I’ve never done it that way- you’ll have to experiment!
Just made these – amazing! We are sending some in for the first day of school for my daughters teachers. And since I’m a teacher, they are coming in for the math dept. as well! The perfect pick me up after a long day.
My friend and I just made these! They are amazing! We made them gluten free for her family. they didn’t rise but spread out which we think was due to the gluten free flour. We sure didn’t care because we almost are then all with our kids!
I just made these! I didn’t have peanut butter M&Ms, but I had regular ones so I put a giant spoonful of creamy peanut butter in the dough and they turned out AMAZING! Yum. Possibly my second most favorite cookies ever. I’m going to have a hard time not eating them all right away!
And to think I was just wondering what to bake for my grandkids who are on their way over right now. I’ve got the mini’s but I don’t have the pb M&M’s. Maybe I’ll sub Reese’s pb cups. They won’t be as pretty, but on a Sunday, that’s not an ox in the mire I want to deal with.
Oh boy these look delicious! My kids would go nuts for these!
Where does the salt figure in?
At the very end; just sprinkle it on lightly while the cookies are still hot!
Didn’t see a name on this one (Kate or Sara) or picture at the bottom?
I don’t know what’s going on with our site and that whole section missing- but imagine my smiling face there! 🙂
So fun!! I love the colors and the pretzels make these perfect for football games!
These look delicious! Please note though that all varieties of M&Ms are unsafe for people with peanut allergies due to potential cross-contamination. You could use “Skippers” from http://www.vermontnutfree.com as a safe M&M substitute. All their chocolate & candy is tree nut and peanut free– and delicious!! My daughter has a severe peanut allergy and she is so happy when I order the skippers and other special chocolates like coins and molded shapes from them. I just don’t want someone to mistakenly give cookies with M&Ms in them to someone with a peanut allergy. Thanks for all your great recipies! My daughter and I just made chocolate chocolate chip & skipper cookies today before school starts on Tuesday.
That was exactly what my first thought was. All M&Ms are processed on the same equipment and the cross contamination could be life threatening for someone with a severe allergy. Thank goodness for those specialty companies who make safe food for people with allergies!
As for me, I don’t have an allergy and these look amazing! I’m going to make them right now. 😀
I was making a note for those who didn’t want to use peanut butter out of preference, not for medical reasons, but good reminder for those with allergies.
thanks, laura! i hadn’t ever heard of skippers. my daughter will be thrilled :).
These come straight from the devil himself! Can’t wait to make them!
I love these cookies! So many colours and such a fun flavour!
OH my goodness these look amazing!! Can’t wait to try them before I start my no sugar for 30 days challenge. Why am I doing this?
Seriously Alisa. That sounds like a horrible idea, lol.
The recipe at the bottom calls for 1/2 c sugar and 1/2 white sugar. Is there an error and is one supposed to be brown sugar? Thanks!
Good catch! I bet you’re right, that its brown sugar as well.
Yep! Just a typo, thanks. It’s fixed!