School Cafeteria Cookies

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School Cafeteria Cookies taste just like the ones the lunch ladies made back in the day! They're huge, chewy, and made with lots of creamy peanut butter.

peanut butter cookies on a sheet pan with spatula.
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What Makes These Cookies Special?

Do you remember sitting at your desk in school and smelling the aroma of peanut butter cookies wafting though the air? Whenever the lunch ladies baked School Cafeteria Cookies, we couldn't concentrate on anything else!

Throughout the years, I bet several fights have happened over these peanut butter cookies. When I was in school, the boys would beg the girls to hand them over...but I never faltered.

Nobody got between me and my peanut butter cookies. Not even my boyfriend, who happened to turn into my hubby several years later.

sheet pan full of school cafeteria cookies.

Ingredients You'll Need

  • cold butter or shortening
  • peanut butter
  • brown sugar
  • white sugar
  • large eggs
  • all purpose flour
  • baking soda
  • dash of salt

Quantities are listed in the recipe card at the end of this post.

stack of peanut butter school cookies.

How to Make School Cafeteria Cookies

These yummy peanut butter cookies are so easy to make! Just mix the shortening and peanut butter until smooth. Add two types of sugar and mix well. Gradually blend in the flour and other dry ingredients...then you're ready to start making peanut butter cookie balls!

making an indention in cookies with fork.

My favorite part is when you take a fork and press the dough in a criss-cross pattern. They look just like the cookies you'll remember from childhood! Dust them with sugar if you like, and bake for just 10 minutes at 350 degrees on a cookie sheet.

peanut butter dough on a sheet pan.

Why You'll Love This Recipe

School Cafeteria Cookies are sweet, salty, and filled with rich peanut butter flavor. They're everything you want a cookie to be. Plus, they're perfect when dunked in a cold glass of milk!

Chicago Public School system (CPS) is famous for their butter cookies, but down south, we lay claim to having the best school cafeteria peanut butter cookies you'll ever taste!

Isn't it great you don't have to stare at the clock and wish class would end so you can get your hands on this yumminess? Now that you have this recipe, you can make them anytime you want.

Recipe Highlights

This recipe is in honor of Granny Mac, who worked as a lunch lady in a school cafeteria for many years. Sometimes she would bring home School Cafeteria Cookies and make my day. I'd stuff one or two in my pocket and head out the door on a wild adventure.

These peanut butter cookies can be made with shortening like Granny Mac used, or with butter, which is more acceptable today. Either way is good, but the original way is usually the best.

More Cookies to Love

If you love cookies like I do, try these other yummy recipes...

Recipe Card

stack of peanut butter cookies like the school cafeteria ladies used to make

School Cafeteria Cookies

Huge, chewy, peanut butter cookies taste just like the ones the School Cafeteria ladies made back in the day! 
5 from 19 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Calories: 415kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.


  • ½ cup cold butter or shortening (shortening works best)
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • dash of salt


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix the shortening with peanut butter in a mixer until smooth.
  • Add brown sugar, white sugar and beaten eggs.  Mix well.
  • Gradually blend in the flour, baking soda and salt.
  • Drop cookie dough onto a cookie sheet in 2 Tbsp. scoops.
  • Pat dough down and press with a fork in a criss-cross pattern.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
  • Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to paper-lined sheets for cooling.


  • Shortening is the ingredient used and tested for years in this vintage recipe. It works best, so if you want great results, use shortening instead of butter. 
  • If you use butter, the cookies will spread more than if you use shortening and may appear more greasy. 
  • Dust cookies with sugar after baking if desired.


Calories: 415kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 407mg | Potassium: 199mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 36g | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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    1. I only use shortening because I've tried it with butter and the cookies spread too much. If you do try both, let me know how it turns out for you!

  1. 5 stars
    These are delicious.. love them and hubby does too.. I have a question though, I'm on chemo due to lupus and can't eat much & I'm also a diabetic, so was
    wondering if I can freeze the dough since we can't eat that many at once..thanks and God bless.

    1. Hi Tammy! Thank you for your kind words. The answer is YES! You can freeze the dough ahead of time and bake as needed. I hope you get better soon! 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I love the recipe and they are super good but I just don't have enough eggs to make more is there anything I could use instead

    1. Hey Mari. I've seen other peanut butter cookie recipes that don't use eggs. You could always try making the cookies without eggs and see what happens!

  3. 5 stars
    I've tried countless recipes and literally stumbled onto yours. I can't thank you enough. Test batch done, sampled and now I'm weeping tears of joy. These cookies are absolutely perfect! Oh my goodness...thanks again for sharing the recipe.

  4. 5 stars
    I have been searching for the Southern School Cafeteria peanut butter cookie recipe for years. I found it!! These are the best peanut butter cookies!!! They are so good that I have to thank you twice.
    Thank you, Thank you!

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