No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

No Bake Peanut Butter Bars take only 5 ingredients and 10 minutes (plus chilling time). My Grandma calls them “Almost Reese’s” for good reason!

Here is a delightfully simple candy recipe with that eternally delicious combination: Chocolate and Peanut Butter.  With 5 ingredients and about 10 minutes, you can be on your way to a batch of homemade “Almost Reese’s”!

A portrait photo of four no-bake peanut butter bars on a wilver tray with a blue background.

My grandma coined the term “Almost Reese’s” for obvious reasons (she also gave us this chocolate cream pie; thanks Grandma!).  These luscious bars are perfect for the holiday parties, for gift-giving, or for a Friday night at home.

Just try to stop eating them.

The recipe calls for milk chocolate chips and those would most closely align with a traditional Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  However, I have always preferred dark chocolate so I made my chocolate-covered peanut butter bars with semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Delicious!

I have an informal poll going that men prefer milk chocolate and women prefer dark chocolate.  Am I right?  Please leave your chocolate preference in the comments below.

By the way, these bars have to chill for at least a few hours, preferably overnight.  Make your next party less stressful by preparing these the day before! Or, freeze for up to 2 months in advance and thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Save these No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars to your “Desserts” Pinterest board!

And let’s be friends on Pinterest! I’m always pinning tasty recipes!

 

A square photo of four no-bake peanut butter bars on a wilver tray with a blue background.
5 from 2 votes
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No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

No Bake Peanut Butter Bars take only 5 ingredients and 10 minutes (plus chilling time). My Grandma calls them "Almost Reese's" for good reason!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings 24 servings
Calories 254 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups powdered sugar
  • 10 tablespoons butter divided
  • 1 ½ cups peanut butter
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil (see notes).
  2. In a large microwave-safe dish, melt 5 Tablespoons butter. Stir in brown sugar, powdered sugar, and peanut butter. Mix well and press into prepared pan.
  3. Wipe out microwave-safe dish and heat chocolate chips and remaining 5 tablespoons butter for 1 minute. Stir carefully and continue to microwave in 30-second increments until smooth, stirring after each increment. Pour over peanut butter crust and spread evenly.
  4. Chill until completely firm, at least 3 hours or overnight. Let stand 10 minutes at room temperature before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

Lining the pan with aluminum foil is optional. In theory this should make it easier to extract the bars from the pan, but I didn't have any trouble when I made and photographed the bars above for this post. So, you can still get clean edges without the foil.

If for some reason you find you have no brown sugar on hand when you set out to make these, you can substitute 1 1/2 cups sugar + 1 1/2 T. molasses. In the pre-chilled state, the molasses flavor will be strong and noticeable (just in case you happen to taste the peanut butter mixture!). But, after they are chilled, the flavor is indistinguishable from store-bought brown sugar.

Based on these notes, you can confidently assume that I set out to make these bars WITHOUT aluminum foil on hand and WITHOUT brown sugar in my pantry. :)

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54 comments

  1. Wow these look awesome! Certainly on my to-do list. I make my own brown sugar too at home, the best part is I can adjust the molasses to my own liking. Love picture by the way. Cheers 

  2. These are drool worthy, Meggan! I can’t believe how simple they are to make, dangerously simple!! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

    p.s. Keith and I are both in the dark chocolate camp – Theo 85% is our favorite!! :)

  3. Why can’t all-natural peanut butter be used?

    • Hi Liann, this is a note from my grandma’s original recipe. I guess I can’t think of a good reason WHY natural peanut butter wouldn’t work here. Might taste different but I would think it would still hold the shape… ? I guess I would have to test it myself to know if it actually makes a difference which I haven’t done.

  4. You can’t put foil in micro.

    • Hi Pat, I will have to fix my wording of this recipe so it’s not as confusing. There isn’t a point where you actually put foil in the microwave. Basically, you line a pan with foil and then, in a separate bowl, microwave different ingredients. And ultimately those melted ingredients end up on the foil, but the foil never goes in the microwave. Sorry for confusion. I’ll reword this!!! Thanks.

  5. I’m a dark chocolate fan (mainly because I’m lactose intolerant and I have less of a reaction to dark chocolate). My husband prefers milk chocolate.

    • And also because dark chocolate is better. :D But I really do think there are some excellent dark chocolates out there, even if they are vegan. They are so flavorful! Thanks for stopping by Jenn! 

  6. I like the sound of these will make them after shop day. But to answer your question I am more a normal chocolate rather then dark,I find the dark to strong. Oh just for the record I am Female.

    • Thank you for weighing in, Julie! :D I do really like semi-sweet too, that’s a great balance. Have a lovely day!

  7. This looks like fun to make and I’ll certainly try it out. I prefer either or, but more over I like milk chocolate.

    • Another vote for the milk chocolate! :) Thanks for your comment and I hope you get a chance to try the bars at some point.

  8. I want to try this with sunbutter or almond butter so my daughter can have it. Yum!

    • And then blog it! I’d love to hear how it goes, and then I can list your recipe for people who have allergies. :)

  9. Delicious looking recipe! Back in our day (your Grandma’s and mine) natural or homemade peanut butter always had a layer of oil on it which probably would have made the bar runny. My chocolate preference? I’m a Milk Chocolate lover!

    • Hi, Deborah! You know, I’ve recently discovered that if it’s imported milk chocolate (from Europe or Australia), it’s really really REALLY good! So I guess I’m becoming a milk chocolate lover also! I do think the natural peanut butter might make the bars strange, too. Plus, if you are worried about the sugar in peanut butter, then the sugar in these bars probably isn’t right for you, either. :) Thank you so much for stopping by my blog!

  10. Have you made this for large crowd using a Costco size jelly roll pan, wondering how they turn out? And would I need to double or 1.5x, what is best?

    • Hi Renee! I haven’t made this in a Costco jelly roll pan. I am not sure the best way to proceed, but you could try doubling it and if you have too much peanut butter mixture, you could set some aside and press it into another smaller pan just to use it up. Good luck!

    • Just an update, I doubled the ingredients and it was perfect for the Costco size jelly roll pan! Great, easy recipe and they’re delicious, very rich!! So it’s more like the candy bar, but bite size pieces were great!! Served them at Teachers Appreciation and they were a hit!

    • Perfect, Renee! Yes, they are quite rich. When my grandma saw the size of the pieces I cut for the photos in my post, she was quite surprised and said they were WAY too big. :) Well, I guess that’s just how I roll…. but I’m glad doubling worked out and I will add that info to the post and credit your insight. :) Thank you so much and I’m glad it all worked out!

  11. Do you use light or dark brown sugar?

    • Hi Jeanie, I always use light brown sugar. I feel like it is more readily available (i.e., if stores have only one kind, it will be light; Target is an example). I will start specifying this in my recipes and I apologize for the confusion!

  12. Hi Meggan,
    Thanks for the great recipes.  I enjoy your blog !
    My husband definitely prefers milk chocolate and me, dark chocolate rules.  We meet in the middle, for most recipes, with semi-sweet chocolate !!

    • Thank you so much, I’m glad you are finding recipes you like. Semi-sweet is a good catch-all. Plus they taste the best in cookies I think. :) Take care and thank you again for commenting!

  13. ok, finely got to make these after I saw how many friends pinned these! The results are in……… Easy to make, very, very rich, freeze well but they are to rich for us!  Will not be making these again, to each their own!

    • Appreciate the feedback, CC! Yes, they are quite rich. Thanks for giving the recipe a shot! :) Take care.

  14. Can’t wait to taste these! My husband and I are indiscriminate chocolate fans. However, he prefers dark, whereas I usually crave milk chocolate.

  15. I have always preferred dark chocolate by far, although with Reese’s I still like the milk chocolate so that it does not over power the peanut butter flavor (and maybe I just like the traditional flavor). I do like Mounds and other candies in the newer dark chocolate variety. I was looking for my elementary school peanut butter bar recipe that did not include chocolate, The no-bake recipe attracted me to your website. I’ll now bookmark it and come here for future recipes.

    • Hi Ray! I do think with Reese’s I like the milk chocolate an awful lot, too. Especially the holiday peanut butter eggs that they put out because the Peanut butter-to-chocolate ratio is skewed in favor of PB. I love it! Thanks for the bookmark, I hope you find what you like if you come back. :) Best wishes and thanks again!

  16. Quick, easy and soooo good! Will be making these again and again. Thanks for this recipe! Directions were perfect also! :)

    • Hooray Donna, that’s great news! I’m so happy you liked them. Thank you so much. :) I hope you have a teriffic week!

  17. Oh yummy. These are just delicious. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    Simon

  18. Dark chocolate is my favorite. Besides that, it’s good for you. My husband prefers milk chocolate but will eat whichever I use in a recipe because he doesn’t want to do the cooking. 

  19. Bang on!!
    I like milk chocolate, the wife prefers dark chocolate!

  20. dark chocolate every time and I am an english male scouser

  21. Making these tonight for my boss! I’lol let you know how they turn out.

  22. Super yummy but I do not like the grit from the brown sugar. I like the smooth peanut butter bottom. Next time I will use all powdered sugar.

    • It’s weird, I actually like that grittiness so that must be a personal preference. I make peanut butter balls and I grind up graham crackers in them to make them grittier! Glad you can find a way that makes you happy, that’s what counts. Happy New Year!

  23. My wife and I seem to break your “survey” on dark vs milk chocolate. I prefer extra dark chocolate (75% and above cacao content) while my wife prefers milk chocolate and would prefer to stay below 65% cacao.

    These “almost Reeses” sound wonderful. I can also see adjustments to the recipe, such as not just which chocolate to use, but also creamy vs chuncy peanut butter, almond butter, chocolate hazelnut spread (you know the brand) You could make a whole variety pack for yourself or as holiday gifts.

    • That’s so interesting, Mark! And you’re right, there are a lot of ways you could change these up. Nutella definitely needs to be added here, among other things. :) Thanks so much for your comment.

  24. I made these today with my 3 year old. They were super easy! However, I miss read the directions and microwaved the sugar with the butter. That’s what happens when cooking with a 3 year old. They came out really gritty. I was expecting a smooth crust. 

    • Hi Amanda, I think it’s a bit gritty. I don’t know about “a lot” gritty, but definitely some grit. Chances are you didn’t do anything wrong and you just don’t care for the recipe, but I’m speculating. :) I can’t really see why microwaving the sugar would make it “more” gritty! Great you’re cooking with a child, though. Mine always want to help!

  25. I LOVE this recipe! I was wondering if you think they would hold up rolled into balls and put on abstick before dipped into the chocolate?

    • Hi Jerrica! I think so! But I would roll the balls and chill them for 30 minutes or so before dipping in chocolate. Then you should have no problem! Thanks for your question. :)

  26. Is this recipe gluten free? 

    • Technically yes, provided none of your ingredients have been cross contaminated. But none of the ingredients inherently contain gluten. Great question! Thanks Emilia.

  27. I am from Utah and have found that in general here men prefer dark, and women prefer milk chocolate. Odd that this preference is upside down from other places. I teach cooking classes, including a whole class dedicated to just chocolate, and so have had opportunities to speak with lots of people about this. How interesting.
    I thought your comment about imported chocolate being preferable for milk chocolate interesting. Traditionally there have only been one or two American manufacturers that make edible chocolate. All the other stuff like Hershey’s and Nestlè are just terrible. The problem is they use inferior beans, and don’t process them well. The gourmet chocolate being produced by a few French and Italian companies has changed the way I think about chocolate, both milk and dark. Because of this, I think, there are now a number of American bean-to-bar companies that are doing amazing and wonderful things with chocolate.
    Thanks for the delightful recipe.

    • Hey Matthew, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. It’s slightly anxiety-inducing to have a professional such as yourself be on my blog, ha ha! I didn’t know much about the process big American chocolate companies were using to make their inferior product, but what you said makes perfect sense. It still begs the question, why can’t they do a better job? Perhaps Americans just don’t know any better or don’t care how it tastes as long as it’s sweet. Thanks again for stopping by and I appreciate your input. Take care!

  28. After these bars firm enough to make in candy molds for a specific shaped bar for a party?

  29. Hello! Lovely recipe! I made these on the fly after my husband requested something – I didn’t have to run to the store! I usually completely fail and the PB balls, so am thrilled these turned out well. I noticed another comment about cooking with a toddler and wanted to comment also. We used crunchy PB, and I made them with my 3 year old. The brown sugar is still gritty, but I assumed that was because of how slow I work with a toddler. I suspect that if we blended the brown sugar with the butter quickly, and while still warm, and then added the rest, we might have a smoother consistency. Either way, a true win for a quick and easy treat!

  30. I made these and used exact recipe and instructions. The brown sugar left the peanut butter grainy instead of smooth. Any thoughts.
    THanks
    Sarah 

  31. I used Splenda brown sugar because that’s what I had and regular powdered sugar, I did use PB2 made peanut butter with the last of the jar of regular smooth stuff( my kids use the PB2 for smoothies) and dang they still turned out amazing. Slightly and I mean slightly more healthy, as healthy goes!!!

    • I’m obsessed with PB2! What a great idea. So many great ideas Chari! Thank you for sharing! Even slightly healthy is better than nothing. :)

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