Ready for the best, most decadent chocolate peanut butter dessert in the world? No Bake Peanut Butter Bars, aka Almost Reeses, are just that. My Grandma’s recipe is naturally gluten-free, needs only 5 ingredients to make, and disappears in seconds.
We want candy! Homemade candy hacks are so much better than running to the convenience store. Satisfy that sweet tooth with Homemade Snickers Bars or Homemade Twix Bars, made with regular club crackers! And if you’re looking for no-bake recipes, well, then, turn off your oven and roll up your sleeves—there’s a bunch of great ones to choose from.
Everyone just goes wild for this recipe, and I can't blame them. Chocolate and peanut butter are the ultimate power couple, when it comes to desserts. If you're the kind of person who sorts out the Halloween candy and saves the peanut butter cups for themselves but gives everything else away, this easy recipe is going to rock your world.
It only takes 10 minutes to do. Make one batch, and they'll probably vanish within the day. But make a double batch and hide half in the freezer for later, and you'll be glad you did. (I've been doing it for years--there's no reason to stop now.)
Need No Bake Peanut Butter Bars to round out your dessert table? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
No Bake Peanut Butter Bars ingredients:
Only 5 ingredients, I promise.
- Butter. I like salted butter in this recipe, but it's up to you. If you only have unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the peanut butter mixture.
- Brown sugar. If you don't have it, make your own light brown sugar with molasses and white granulated sugar. Mix together 1 cup granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon molasses, and voilà!
- Powdered sugar. To make confectioner's sugar at home, pulse white granulated sugar in a high-speed blender for a few seconds until powdery.
- Peanut butter. My grandma always used a processed, store-bought peanut butter for this recipe, like Jif or Skippy. I have yet to try it with a natural or homemade peanut butter, because it's just so delicious as it is.
- Chocolate. Whatever kind of chocolate you like! Hershey's kisses, Ghirardelli (blue bag) chocolate chips, semi-sweet, milk, or 60% cacao chocolate. You can even use white chocolate with peanut butter.
Don’t get me wrong, I love every kind of peanut butter, and nut butter, under the sun, whether it’s the fancy stuff or the basic butter at the convenience store on the corner.
But for some reason I always feel that the best peanut butter for this recipe is the smoothest, most everyday peanut butter I can find. It makes for the incredible texture that Reese’s are loved for.
What's the best chocolate for peanut butter bars?
There’s a bit of a debate about milk chocolate vs. dark chocolate, and the only thing I suggest is that you conduct, ahem, extensive research on which chocolate your household prefers for this recipe.
Milk chocolate makes the bars, in my opinion, taste more authentic, but ultimately the decision is completely up to personal preference. I’m a dark chocolate lover, so I veer towards a 60% cacao chocolate.
(Whatever you decide, let me know in the comments, as soon as you lick the chocolate off of your fingers.)
How to make No Bake Peanut Butter Bars:
Are you really, really ready? Let's do this. You need an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan to make one batch of bars, as well as some foil and nonstick baking spray. Also, this walkthrough doesn't give exact ingredient quantities, so check the card for the details.
- To start, line the baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. This will help the bars release.
- Next, cream half the butter together with the brown sugar and powdered sugar until smooth. You can do this in a big bowl or with an electric mixer. Then stir in the peanut butter and mix well.
- Press the peanut butter mixture into the foil-lined pan, using your fingertips.
- To make the chocolate layer, melt the remaining butter together with the chocolate. You can use a microwave (50% power for 1 minute, stir, then 30-second intervals always at 50% power) or a double-boiler method, with a heat-safe bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once the chocolate and butter is melted and blended, pour it over the peanut butter mixture and spread evenly.
- Pop the whole thing into the refrigerator to chill completely (3 hours to overnight) before serving. Take it out and let it sit out at room temperature before cutting into squares and serving.
Tips for making your best No-Bake Peanut Butter Bar ever:
- Make ahead. These bars need some time to set up, so plan on chilling them at least a few hours, preferably overnight. No one could blame you if you wanted to make these a few days before a party, if you have the willpower to steer clear of them until then.
- Freezing peanut butter bars. Better yet, make a big batch and freeze them for up to 2 months in advance— thaw overnight in the refrigerator.Cover bars tightly as a whole and freeze. Or cut into squares, place them in a freezer-friendly container between sheets of parchment paper, and freeze.
- Slicing peanut butter bars. After they chill, take them out of the fridge and let them sit out for 10 minutes. Then run a sharp knife under some hot water and make careful slices. The smaller, the better--they're rich!
- Peanut butter bars in a 9"x 11" pan. If I'm using a 9"x 11" or 9"x 13" baking pan, I will usually make a double batch of the recipe. BUT, readers have used a larger pan for a single recipe and have been happy, too, claiming it makes a thinner bar that is more like the real thing. That's purely up to you.
- Less gritty peanut butter bars. Because these are no-bake bars, the brown sugar might not completely dissolve into the peanut butter. Some people like that texture, but if you’re more of a smooth operator, try melting the butter on the stove and adding the brown sugar into the warm butter, stirring to dissolve before adding the powdered sugar and the peanut butter. It takes a few more minutes, but it's worth it.
Variations of no-bake peanut butter bars that you'll go crazy for:
Remember, this glorious chocolate peanut butter is a candy-like dessert and very sweet. It's why we love them!
That doesn't mean that you can't get lower the sugar a bit or use a healthy nut butter instead, but it may taste different than sticking to the recipe.
- Healthy peanut butter bars. Substitute Splenda brown sugar blend for the brown sugar, and consider using a powdered peanut product like PB2 made into peanut butter in this recipe. Cuts down on the sugar and the fat!
- Gluten-free peanut butter bars. Already a gluten-free recipe, as long as there's no cross-contamination with your other ingredients. Read your labels carefully.
- Keto No Bake Peanut Butter Bars. Make this recipe keto-friendly by using Swerve icing sugar, sugar free creamy peanut butter, and sugar-free chocolate chips in the recipe.
- Other nut butters. Maybe this is a little embarrassing to admit, but I can't get past the old fashioned peanut butter variety. Feel free to substitute your preferred nut butter: almond, cashew, sunflower seed, or homemade peanut butter, then make sure to let me know how it went. One tip, though: with oily nut butters and homemade nut butters you may want to blast the nut mixture in a food processor to make sure it’s mixed well. Some nut butters are more stubborn and separated than others!
- Crunchy peanut butter bars. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't. Lots of cooks prefer crunchy-style peanut butter for the bottom layer, and even chop up peanuts for pressing over the warm chocolate before it sets up.
No Bake Peanut Butter Bars Recipe
- 10 tablespoons butter room temperature, divided
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or milk chocolate chips
- Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with a foil sling for easy cleanup and coat with nonstick spray.
- In a large bowl, cream 5 tablespoons butter, brown sugar, and powdered sugar until smooth. Stir in peanut butter. Mix well and press into prepared pan.
- In a small, microwave-safe bowl, 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 filling and spread evenly.
- Chill until completely firm, at least 3 hours or overnight. Let stand 10 minutes at room temperature before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
- Foil sling: 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.
- Brown sugar substitute: 1 1/2 cups sugar + 1 1/2 tablespoons 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.