No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Squares

If you happen to have just returned home from a vacation

And realize that your cupboards are sort of bare and that even your freezer stash of desserts is looking pretty bleak, but you happen to have the following on hand:

Stick of butter


Cocoa powder


Jar of peanut butter

…You’re in business and can make these.

Bare shelves crisis averted.

Well, at the least the dessert and snack crisis was averted.

Going to the store to pick up apples, green beans, lettuce, and broccoli was still necessary.

But not quite as fun as one of these.


No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Squares (Vegan, Gluten Free) – Adapted from my own recipe

1/2 cup butter (1 stick; or margarine, Earth Balance)

2 cups white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

6 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used TJ’s)

1/2 cup milk (cow, vegan, soy, nut, etc.  You could probably use water, too, and if so, I’d use about 2/3 c water)

1/2 heaping cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3.5 cups oats (I used whole rolled Old-Fashioned Quaker Oats)

1/4 cip chocolate chips, 1/4 cup peanut butter chips (or butterscotch/white chocolate chips, toffee bits, chopped candy bits, Reese’s Pieces, etc.), optional


Line an 8×8 or 9×9 pan with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray and set it aside.  In a medium saucepan, combine butter, sugars, cocoa powder, milk and heat over medium-high to high heat, stirring to encourage the ingredients to melt and combine.  Once all items have melted and combined, allow the mixture to boil for 90 seconds, stirring continuously.

After 90 seconds, turn the heat off and add the peanut butter and vanilla extract (careful when you add the vanilla, it could bubble up a bit on you) and stir until smooth. Then add the oats and stir to coat.

Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading it evenly into the pan. If adding any optional chips to the top of the bars, add them now; pressing them into the mixture lightly with a spatula.  (If you press them into the batter too deeply, they will probably melt; not bad, but not what I intended for which is why I kept them at the surface level to avoid complete melting)

Place pan into the freezer and freeze at least 30 minutes, or until bars have set up, before slicing and serving.  (I take the bars out of the pan by holding the edge of the foil and place the whole foil “slab” onto a cutting board rather than cutting them inside the pan because I can be neater on a cutting board and I also don’t carve up the bottom of my pan with knife marks).

Optional: Frost them with a vanilla or cream-cheese/buttercream frosting, or use a melted white chocolate drizzle or a melted peanut butter drizzle over the top, too.

Yields: 16 squares.  Or cut them into bar-shapes for approximately 12 bars, depending on size used.  Store extra squares on the countertop, refrigerator, or freeze, plastic-wrap them for use in lunches or snacks.


Everything used was vegan and gluten free.  If you need to use certified gluten-free oats, do so.  As with all recipes, take care all ingredients used are appropriate for your personal dietary needs.

If you like very intensely flavored chocolate desserts, increase cocoa powder to 8 tbsp (1/2 c) and if you like a less robust cocoa taste, reduce to 4 tbsp (1/4 c) cocoa powder and taste batter before adding 6 tbsp of cocoa powder.


These took about 10 minutes to whip into shape.

No-bake, vegan, gluten-free, one sauce-pan.

Are you sold yet?

They are based on my Microwave Chocolate Peanut Butter and Oat Snack Bars which has a recipe yield of only three bars.

These oat squares will wrap up perfectly for Scott’s lunches this week.

Those that haven’t already been eaten.  We’re down to less than half pan in a blink of an eye.  Funny how that happens.

And what few I can hide in the back of the freezer that aren’t gobbled up will keep as good emergency snacks to throw in my purse for those errands or shopping excursions where carrots sticks and broccoli spears won’t quite cut the mustard.

These should do the trick.

Do you have any “throw together” desserts that you’ve made recently with the ingredients found in your cupboards?

I made Double Chocolate Caramel Corn & Cocoa Rice Krispies Candy Bars (No-Bake with Vegan & GF options) with the odds and ends and mishmash of ingredients I had accumulated in my Aruban cupboards.

If you have random Christmas cookies, holiday treats, fudge, baggies of this or that with just a few pieces left from pretzels to candy canes to caramel corn to marshmallows, you can re-purpose it in those bars.  Throw it all in and stir.


Thanks for the DAHLicious Giveaway entries


  1. These do look delicious, but I couldn’t bring myself to make something so full of refined sugar….. If I make them, I’ll try substituting some honey….

    • Enjoy them how ever you choose to make them. Honey is still sugar and it’s not vegan (and for this recipe, I wanted to keep it vegan) – it’s a balancing act for me trying to create recipes for all the segments of my readers – the something for everyone approach can’t always please everyone, but I try.

      You could likely reduce the granulated sugar amt if you wished but I haven’t tried it.

    • Honey is still sugar for sure but I suppose I use it as a substitute because I can get away with using a smaller quantity than refined sugar while keeping the sweetness… Plus honey has some vitamins & minerals.
      It’s definitely hard to cater for everyone’s preferences, but its so good to have access to your fantastic recipes – we can always experiment ourselves to make them suit :)

    • Thanks for understanding Mel that it’s hard for me at times and quite a balancing act b/c if I post ‘too healthy’ then people won’t try the recipe because they want a dessert – not health food. If I post too desserty, then the healthier eaters aren’t happy. If I post non-vegan, then I get the vegans writing in. So adapting to suit your needs is best – and I agree with you on honey for sure!

  2. Hi Averie!
    I just made these bars and they were so easy AND delicious! Seriously, they’re beyond good. It’s fudge-y because of the chocolate-PB part and chewy because of the oatmeal. I’m bringing some over to a party tomorrow, I’m positive it’ll go over wonderfully with them all. THANK YOU!!

  3. These were very tasty (came from your blog, so of course they were!) but I did have a problem with the bottom layer not holding together. Once I cut into them, some–not all–of the bottom layer fell/crumbled apart.

    I did freeze the mixture for about 45 minutes after I stirred everything together and I thought that was plenty of time. But perhaps that was the issue–just needed to let it sit for a little bit more time in there?

    I also made sure to wait until the bars reached room temperature to cut them, thinking that’d lessen the chance of them crumbling.

    Any thoughts? Let’s be honest, though–these things are good as crumbles or actual bars! Thanks for the simple recipe!

    • Maybe just add a touch more PB next time or slightly less oats. With recipes like this, 2 to 4 tbsp of either wet or dry, in either direction, can usually do the trick and solve all issues. Just eyeball it next time before adding quite as much dry ingredients and/or increase the wet slightly and you should be fine. Glad it didn’t effect taste at all :)

  4. Pingback: This Week for Dinner – Weekly Meal Plans, Dinner Ideas, Recipes and More!: Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars (No-Bake) - This Week for Dinner - Weekly Meal Plans, Dinner Ideas, Recipes and More!

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