No bake peanut butter bars are the perfect treat. They are easy to make and taste just like Reese’s peanut butter cups!
Why you’ll love it: These bars are dangerously good!
How long it takes: 15 minutes hands-on but an additional 1 1/2 hours to chill
Equipment you’ll need: saucepan, 9×13 inch pan
Servings: 24 bars (generously sized)
Peanut Butter. Chocolate. No-bake. Just like Reese’s.
Sounding pretty great, right?
Let me also tell you how dangerous these are. We’re talking put-them-in-the-freezer-to-“forget”-about-them-but-proceed-to-eat-them-straight-out-of-the-freezer good. Who cares if you get chocolate all over your face? Who cares if your overly sensitive teeth sting as you bite through the cold chocolate and peanut butter? Who cares? You’re happy. Very, very happy.
These no-bake peanut butter bars couldn’t be any easier to make, either. You don’t even have to turn the oven on.
Hence the “no bake,” in case you haven’t had your coffee yet today.
The addition of graham cracker crumbs gives these bars the signature texture of Reese’s peanut butter cups: slightly grainy, but in a good way.
I’m serious, you guys. These things are good. So good! If you make these for any event, your friends and family are going to absolutely rave about them.
If you like the peanut butter and chocolate combination (and I’d guess that most of us do!), try Buckeyes, Oh Henry bars, peanut butter fudge brownies, peanut butter cookie bars (only 5 ingredients!) or drink it in this peanut butter chocolate banana milkshake.
If Oreo cookies are more your thing, try frosted Oreo cookie bars. They’re a family favorite too!
About This Recipe
The bars have two layers so they are made in two steps with a thirty minute chill time in between. After the second layer is added, the bars need an additional chill time of an hour for the chocolate to set. So even though it looks like it takes a long time to make these bars, most of it is time spent in the refrigerator. The bars, that is, not you.
Let’s get rolling on these no-bake bars! I’ll walk you through the recipe here and give you lots of helpful tips. You can also refer to the step-by-step photos.
As always, you’ll find the printable recipe card near the end of the post with complete instructions, measurements, and nutrition information.
What You’ll Need
- Butter: Use unsalted butter if you can. You’ll need two sticks. It’s not necessary to soften it for this recipe but it’s a bit easier to make the bars if the butter isn’t rock hard.
- Brown Sugar: While most of the sugar in this recipe is powdered sugar, a bit of brown sugar adds a deeper caramel flavor to the peanut butter layer.
- Powdered Sugar (Confectioner’s Sugar): This finely textured sugar gives the bars the signature creamy filling.
- Peanut Butter: Use a creamy peanut butter like Jif or Skippy, not a natural old-fashioned peanut butter for best results. Crunchy peanut butter is fine.
- Pure Vanilla Extract: Vanilla lends a wonderful flavor that can’t be replicated.
- Graham Crackers: You’ll need 14 whole crackers to make 2 cups of crumbs. Crush them in a resealable bag with a rolling pin or wine bottle. They should be pretty finely crushed for the best texture. Buy pre-made graham cracker crumbs if you prefer.
- Chocolate Chips: Use semi-sweet chocolate chips or milk chocolate chips, whichever you like best. You’ll need a 12 oz. bag.
- Vegetable Oil: Just a teaspoon of oil is added to the chips so they melt smoothly and spread well.
how To Make These Bars
To get started, line a 9 x13 -inch pan with parchment paper. I like to spray the pan lightly with cooking spray so the paper stays put. Leave wings on at least two sides so you’ll be able to lift the bars out to cut. You’ll find that most bars are much easier to cut into squares when they are on a flat surface and not in the pan.
Before you get started on this layer, make sure your crackers are crushed so they’ll be all ready to go. You’ll need a medium to large sauce pan. Add the butter, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, peanut butter, vanilla, and salt to the pan. Over medium low heat, cook and stir the mixture until it’s well combined. The butter and peanut butter should be completely melted and the sugars incorporated into the mixture. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the crumbs.
Spoon the contents of the sauce pan into the prepared 9×13 pan and spread the mixture out evenly. Tap the pan on the counter to smooth everything out. Put the pan into the refrigerator and chill the first layer at least 30 minutes. It doesn’t matter if it goes longer.
Next, melt the chocolate chips with the oil. There are a couple of ways to do this. You can do it in the microwave in a bowl. Heat the chocolate in 15 to 30 second increments, stirring well between each time interval. Don’t overheat the chocolate. Often the residual heat from the bowl will continue to melt the chocolate as you stir it.
If you prefer to melt the chocolate slowly in a double boiler, that’s a perfectly fine way to do it too.
Okay, once your chocolate is melted, remove the pan from the fridge and pour it on the peanut butter layer. Spread it to the edges and again, a sharp tap on the counter will remove any air bubbles and smooth out the chocolate layer.
Back into the refrigerator it goes. This time you’ll want to chill it for at least an hour. Be patient, my friends! I know you’re dying to try one. Trust me, the bars will be much easier to cut into squares if they are cold.
It’s up to you how large you want to cut the squares. I’ll admit, mine are pretty large. If you want to make them closer to bite-sized, that’s perfectly acceptable but admit it, then you’ll probably want to have at least two.
The main concern is the added sugar. These goodies definitely fall into the once-in-awhile “treat” category.
According to Wikipedia, when these peanut butter and chocolate treats were first produced by the H. B. Reese Candy Company in 1928, they were called “Penny Cups” because that’s how much they cost: one cent. They are currently manufactured and sold by The Hershey Company.
Make It Your Own
Since writing this post, my son has been diagnosed with a peanut allergy (amongst other food allergies), and seeing these photos reminds me of how much I loved peanut butter. Thankfully he is able to enjoy sunflower seed butter!
- Peanuts a no-no? Make these bars with sunflower seed butter (sun butter) instead of peanut butter.
- Not a fan of dark chocolate? Substitute milk chocolate for the semi-sweet chocolate chips.
- Want even more crunch? Use crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy.
Once you’ve cut the bars into squares, put them into an airtight container with parchment paper or waxed paper between the layers. They definitely need to be kept in the refrigerator or someplace cool because they get quite soft at room temperature. They will keep for at least a week or up to 3 months in the freezer.
More No-Bake Treats
- No Bake Lemon Berry Cheesecakes — one of my favorites!
- Easy Strawberry Trifle Recipe
- Pink Lemonade No-Bake Mini Cheesecakes
- Cappuccino Mousse Cups
- Chocolate Protein Balls — a healthier treat
- Classic Rice Krispie Treats (my recipe is the best!)
- Fruity Pebbles No Bake Bars — kids love these!
- Chocolate Tart Recipe – NO BAKE – 4 Ingredients!
- Cookie Dough Bars from The View From Great Island — can’t wait to try these!
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 ¾ cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup smooth peanut butter (such as Jif or Skippy)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (see note)
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (12 oz. bag)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper, leaving wings on the side, and set aside.
- In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine butter, brown sugar, powdered sugar, peanut butter, vanilla and salt. Stir frequently until butter is melted and all ingredients are combined.
- Remove from heat and stir in graham cracker crumbs. Spread into prepared pan, tapping down on counter to level it out. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Gently melt chocolate chips and oil in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring well in between each interval until smooth. Spread over peanut butter mixture, tapping down on the counter again to smooth out and get rid of any air bubbles.
- Chill for at least one hour. Cut bars into squares after they have chilled. Lift bars out of pan using parchment paper wings.
- You’ll need approximately 14 whole graham crackers (rectangles) to make 2 cups of crumbs.
- These are pretty generously sized squares. If desired, cut into 32 squares.
- Bars can be frozen up to three months in airtight container.
- If desired, substitute sunflower butter or crunchy peanut butter for the creamy peanut butter. Milk chocolate chips can be substituted for the semi-sweet chips.
- Store leftover bars in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.