Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Bars

These bars are my heaven.

They’re everything I want in a bar. I had to hide them from myself.

Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Bars (vegan, gluten-free) - Recipe at averiecooks.com

There’s something about supremely chewy, thick, and dense cereal bars that I just go for. I always have.

They’re no-bake and come together in the microwave in less than 5 minutes. So fast and easy to make and no need to heat up the house with a hot oven.

Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Bars (vegan, gluten-free) - Recipe at averiecooks.com

They’re vegan and gluten-free. There’s no butter or flour, but you’d never guess it because they’re exceedingly buttery-tasting and rich.

There’s an abundance of peanut butter and chocolate. Always a win.

Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Bars (vegan, gluten-free) - Recipe at averiecooks.com

The chocolate layer stays softer, fudgier, and isn’t prone to cracking or setting up too hard, courtesy of a couple tablespoons of shortening.

It’s a little trick I’ve learned.

Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Bars (vegan, gluten-free) - Recipe at averiecooks.com

They remind me of my beloved Special K Bars, my grandma’s recipe, which I included it in my cookbook because I love them so much. That recipe makes a bigger pan and involves a bit of stovetop cooking, whereas just two minutes in the microwave is all you need here to melt together peanut butter and sugars.

The saucy mixture then drenches cereal in a sweet, brown sugary, caramel-vanilla heaven. I used tablespoon of homemade vanilla extract just to be sure it was noticeable.

Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Bars (vegan, gluten-free) - Recipe at averiecooks.com

The bars are loaded with chewy texture from the cereal and are soft, but they still hold their shape and don’t turn into a gooey mess.

They’re sort of a cousin to Rice Krispies Treats, replacing marshmallows with peanut butter. And you could likely use crushed Frosted Flakes or Corn Flakes. I have a Frosted Flakes Bar recipe in my cookbook because yes, I love cereal bars.

Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Bars (vegan, gluten-free) - Recipe at averiecooks.com

If you need a last minute dessert that takes just minutes to make, try these. Especially if you need them for an event where vegan or gluten-free options may be welcome.

Let’s pretend that because they’re vegan and gluten-free that they’re healthy and we can eat half the pan in a sitting.

Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Bars (vegan, gluten-free) - Recipe at averiecooks.com

I loved these. They’re one of my favorite bars I’ve made in 2013.

My husband also loved them. He’s sort of immune to all sweets and treats I make, but these were keepers for him, too.

Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Bars (vegan, gluten-free) - Recipe at averiecooks.com

The only person who didn’t go crazy with them was my 6 year old. She’s missing her two front teeth and chomping is difficult. She’s been enjoying No-Ice-Cream-Maker Funfetti Cake Batter Golden Oreo Ice Cream instead.

I proudly claim those chomp marks as my doing.

Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Bars (vegan, gluten-free) - Recipe at averiecooks.com

Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Bars (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free) - These soft & chewy bars are packed with PB & topped with chocolate and more PB for all the peanut butter lovers! Easy recipe at averiecooks.com

Print Print Recipe

Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Bars (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free)

These are my definition of the perfect bar. Soft, extra chewy, rich, dense, peanut buttery, smothered in chocolate with more peanut butter swirled in. There's no butter or flour used, and they're vegan and gluten-free. They-re no-bake and made in the microwave in minutes. If you need a quick and easy dessert that looks and tastes more complicated than it really is, I highly recommend these.

Yield: one 8-by-8-inch pan, 9 to 12 squares

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes, microwave

Total Time: 2 hours, for chilling

Ingredients:

Bars
1 heaping cup creamy peanut butter (use Jif, Skippy, or similar; do not use natural or homemade peanut butter)
1/2 cup light corn syrup (light colored, not lite)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups Rice Krispies cereal (or similar crispy rice cereal that's vegan/GF)
Chocolate Topping
1 1/2 heaping cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, optional but highly recommended to keep chocolate smooth; see below
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, melted

Directions:

  1. For the Bars - Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil leaving overhang, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine 1 heaping cup peanut butter, corn syrup, sugars, and heat on high power for 1 minute to melt.
  3. Stop to stir. Mixture will be on the granular side, this is okay.
  4. Return bowl to microwave and heat for 1 more minute on high power.
  5. Stir in the vanilla.
  6. Stir in the cereal.
  7. Turn mixture out into prepared pan, packing it down somewhat firmly with a spatula and smoothing the top; set pan aside.
  8. For the Chocolate Topping - In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips, shortening, and heat on high power for 1 minute to melt. I highly recommend using shortening for many reasons. It helps the chocolate melt smoother and easier. It prevents the chocolate from setting up too quickly. It keeps the chocolate from cracking when you slice into the finished bars because the chocolate is fudgier and more forgiving than typical hardened chocolate.
  9. Stop to stir. Chips may not be completely melted. Return bowl to microwave and heat in 10 to 15-second bursts until chocolate can be stirred smooth.
  10. Pour chocolate over bars, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula or knife; set pan aside.
  11. Add 1/4 cup peanut butter to a small microwave-safe bowl and heat to melt, about 30 seconds. Stir peanut butter smooth.
  12. To create the marbled pattern, drizzle peanut butter over the chocolate in 5 wide, evenly spaced, parallel lines, each spanning the width of the pan. Like 5 rows of long train tracks.
  13. Rotate pan 90-degrees. With a toothpick, starting at the top of the pan, "draw" 5 evenly spaced lines through the peanut butter. In essence you're dragging the toothpick perpendicularly through the first set of lines to create the marbling.
  14. Cover pan with a sheet of foil (to prevent fridge smells), and place pan in fridge to set up for at least 2 to 3 hours, or overnight, or until chocolate layer is completely set before lifting out with foil overhang, slicing, and serving.
  15. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Take care all ingredients used are appropriate for your dietary needs, reading labels and selecting brands that are appropriate.

Recipe from Averie Cooks. All images and content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or simply link back to this post for the recipe. Thank you.

Related Recipes:

Peanut Chewy Payday Bars (almost no-bake)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (no-bake, vegan, GF)

Combos Pretzel and Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Bars (no-bake)

Caramel and Chocolate Gooey Bars

Double Chocolate Caramel Corn & Cocoa Rice Krispies Candy Bars

Nutella and Peanut Butter Graham Bars with Chocolate Frosting

Browned Butter Rice Krispies Treats – The best RKTs I have ever had. Double the butter and it’s browned, for great flavor and soft, buttery, chewy bars

Special K Bars

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars

No-Bake Nutter Butter Special K Bars

Peanut Butter Caramel Twix Bars (almost no-bake)

 

What’s your favorite no-bake, cereal or cookie bar?

   

137 Responses to “Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Bars”

  1. #
    51
    Emily — June 25, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Is there a reason you can’t use a natural PB like Adam’s? Will the bars just be less sweet without the extra sugar that Skippy, Jif, etc. have in them? Dying to try these since I am GF :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — June 25th, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      The reason is because natural PBs tend to spread and/or cause things they’re made with to spread. With a recipe like this with no eggs and no flour, the PB is your glue. And I don’t trust natural PBs as my glue – just being totally honest.

      Reply

  2. #
    52
    Kate@Diethood — June 25, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    OH MY GAH!!! I want a day alone with these bars. Just me and them. You can hide them from yourself, but please don’t hide them from me!! I’ll have your piece! :-D

    Reply

  3. #
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    Valerie — June 26, 2013 at 7:22 am

    Oh, these bars not only sound delish, they’re also sporting a very hip, retro design! (I want an a-line dress with the exact same colours and groovy pattern!) :D

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — June 26th, 2013 at 7:42 am

      Now that you mention it, groovy pattern is the perfect description for it, you’re right! And I’d love a dress (or a sofa!) in that pattern, too!

      And thanks for all the pins, too!

      Reply

  4. #
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    Nami | Just One Cookbook — June 26, 2013 at 7:43 am

    I miss American sweets already and it’s been only a few days since I left. You always know how to seduce us with delicious looking sweets! It’s way too dangerous to keep looking at midnight here. :D

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — June 26th, 2013 at 7:48 am

      Thanks for pinning and glad you’re seduced…at midnight. That’s my total bewitching hour for PB/chocolate cravings!

      And I just started following your pinterest boards. Whoa. You have some gorgeous!! boards! I am drooling over your collections of bars, brownies, and just about everything else :)

      Reply

  5. #
    55
    Eat Good 4 Life — June 26, 2013 at 7:52 am

    This looks ridiculously insane. This reminds me that I have to make some :-)

    Reply

  6. #
    56
    Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies — June 26, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    That top is just GORGEOUS. I don’t eat marshmallows so a lot of rice krispie treat recipes don’t work for me, so I am happy happy happy to see this one uses peanut butter instead! :D

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — June 26th, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      Thank you! And yes, these are vegan-friendly! I bet you’d like them! :)

      Reply

  7. #
    57
    Nancy @ gottagetbaked — June 26, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Your poor daughter, without the front teeth to enjoy these amazing, chewy, decadent little bars! Tell her I’ll have her share ;)

    Reply

  8. #
    58
    Sasha Simone — June 26, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Could I substitute agave for corn syrup and coconut oil for shortening?

    Reply

  9. #
    59
    Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust — June 26, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    That swirl on top is gorgeous!!

    Reply

  10. #
    60
    Christine — June 26, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    I would love to try these, but I’m not so fond of the corn syrup. Can anyone chime in if honey would make an ok substitution?

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — June 26th, 2013 at 7:24 pm

      More than likely it will be fine. LMK if you try it. Obviously won’t be vegan and it will have a different taste than using corn syrup since honey has more flavor, but it will ‘glue’ and bind the bars together fine I would imagine. LMK if you try!

      Reply

  11. #
    61
    angela @ another bite please — June 27, 2013 at 5:35 am

    that swirled top…that like totally makes my love for these bars that much more…and i am so with you there is something about cereal bars that I would have to hide from myself as well :-)

    Reply

  12. #
    62
    Cori — June 27, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Think chunky PB would work? I’m lazy.

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — June 27th, 2013 at 8:49 am

      More than likely yes – it just won’t be as smooth to stir together but you should be fine in terms of it ‘glueing’ the bars together. LMK how you like them!

      Reply

      • Cori replied: — June 27th, 2013 at 1:18 pm

        Delicious! Worked just fine. Used brown rice cereal too since that’s what I had and you can’t tell. Thanks!

        • Averie Sunshine replied: — June 27th, 2013 at 5:30 pm

          So glad to hear that it worked, as well as brown rice cereal! Yay! Hope you’re enjoying them!

  13. #
    63
    Georgia — June 28, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Love your website but, chocolate chip aren’t vegan?

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — June 28th, 2013 at 2:51 pm

      Yes, they most definitely are if they are semi-sweet. The only ingredient of consequence is cocoa solids. Chocolate IS vegan. If you combine it with milk for milk choc chips, that’s different. But semi sweet choc chips are most definitely vegan.

      Reply

  14. #
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    Heather @ French Press — June 28, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    these blow me away! this is first up in my back to school lunch packing treats!!

    Reply

  15. #
    65
    Charul @ Tadka Masala — June 28, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Oh! those swirls!! They just look perfect P-E-R-F-E-C-T.

    Reply

  16. #
    66
    Karly — June 29, 2013 at 8:54 am

    This is the perfect for summer and you know how I love chocolate and peanut butter! Thanks for linking up with What’s Cookin’ Wednesday!!

    Reply

  17. #
    67
    Carolyn S. — June 30, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    These are so good! I actually was in the mood for an “oats” bar, but these caught my attention so I made them using 1/2 oats (toasted b/c I don’t like raw oats) and 1/2 rice krispies. Swirled white chocolate on top instead of peanut butter… only b/c my son loves white chocolate. We just cut into them and they are YUMMY!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — June 30th, 2013 at 5:00 pm

      I love your creativity with the white choc (I love it too but sometimes my readers don’t love it as much as I do)! And oat bar that’s no bake and along the same lines that you may also like with oats, PB, & chocolate
      http://www.averiecooks.com/2011/12/no-bake-chocolate-peanut-butter-oat-squares.html

      And this one is a healthier twist on oats
      http://www.averiecooks.com/2012/09/cinnamon-oatmeal-date-bars-with-chocolate-chunks.html

      This is super gooey and decadent with oats
      http://www.averiecooks.com/2012/02/caramel-and-chocolate-gooey-bars.html

      I am a HUGE oat bar lover so when you said that, I wanted to throw some of those out there. I have tons more too :) Thanks for telling me you made these!

      Reply

      • Carolyn S. replied: — July 5th, 2013 at 4:35 pm

        Averie – We took these with us on vacation & I even ate one for breakfast one morning… with coffee. Made me a happy girl! If I wanted to make this same bar without peanut butter (can you believe how much nerve I have asking you this?!), could I just leave it out or do you think I would need to replace the peanut butter with some butter or whole milk or something so they don’t get dry?

        By the way, I appreciate how responsive you are on your blog. Thank you!

        • Averie Sunshine replied: — July 5th, 2013 at 5:12 pm

          Yes you 100% would need to replace the PB with something else! They would be horribly dry, wouldn’t hold together, and will not taste anything like what they taste like now without the PB. And no, milk will not work. Nor will adding butter.

          If it’s a PB allergy, you can try Sunflower Seed Butter or Biscoff/Cookie Butter spread. Although I havent tested either.

          If it’s just b/c you don’t like the PB and want to make another type of bar, I would say look these over and select something else. http://www.averiecooks.com/category/dessert/bars

          My suggestion is to just leave the recipe alone and enjoy it with the PB in it :)

  18. #
    68
    Carolyn S. — July 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    OK, thank you Averie! I love them “as is”… just thought another variation w/o the peanut butter flavor would be fun sometimes too… depending on my mood ;-)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — July 5th, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      I would just go with a diff bar then for a diff mood. Don’t mess with these – so few ingredients and each and every one counts to make the recipe a success.

      Reply

  19. #
    69
    Nutmeg Nanny — July 9, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Mouth watering!! Oh my, these look dangerous, I don’t know if I’d be able to stop myself ;)

    Reply

  20. #
    70
    Nadia @ SpicySpoonful — July 12, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Your desserts are beautiful and they look delicious. I CANNOT wait to try one of these bar recipes this weekend.
    Question for you or any bloggers out there: what are these little wax paper looking squares that I see in dessert food photography? Where can I get them? I tried improvising by manually cutting wax paper, but they don’t look as nice as these ones here. Thanks for your help!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — July 12th, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      It’s parchment paper that I cut into various shapes – it’s a bit of a pain, but for photos, it does make things look nice :)

      Reply

  21. #
    71
    Louise — July 18, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Could you use heavy cream instead of shortening…sort of like ganache?

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — July 18th, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      Yes you could but it will set up ‘drippier’ and runnier and I didn’t want ganache-like, drippy bars because I wanted them to be portable and well, I just knew what texture I was going for :) But yes, it will work.

      Reply

      • Louise replied: — July 19th, 2013 at 10:35 am

        Thanks Avery good to know! I rarely bother to change the ingredients of a great recipe, but I was looking to get away from the trans fats if possible.

  22. #
    72
    Ginny — August 1, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    FYI: Nestle and many other semisweet choc chips are not vegan. You have to read labels and the only ones I found were at a natural grocery store.

    Reply

  23. #
    73
    kelley {mountain mama cooks} — September 17, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    These are gorgeous, Averie! The peanut butter and chocolate topping makes me want to lick the screen. They are everything I want in a bar too. Dangerous!!

    Reply

  24. #
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    Cheryl — December 19, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    These look wonderful! But Rice Krispies are only GF if you buy the right one made from brown rice. It is very confusing to those who think they are fixing it correctly and then hurting their friends. :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — December 20th, 2013 at 6:19 am

      There are many other brands of GF crispy rice cereal, found in health food stores or in some mainstream groc stores, that are also GF. Anyone who is cooking for others or themself and needs to follow dietary restrictions always needs to read labels – it’s just a fact of life. People should read labels anyway to make sure they know what they’re ingesting!

      Reply

  25. #
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    Ally — December 23, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    I just want to thank you for this delicious recipe! The bars are currently chilling in the fridge but from the piece that I tried, they are yummy :) As someone who is going through the first holiday season without gluten/ dairy, I am very excited to find a delicious dessert to enjoy. I always use Enjoy Life chocolate chips (vegan) and they work wonderfully. Thanks again!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — December 23rd, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      Glad you like them and that they work for your needs. It can be hard making big changes like that so glad you have something that will work for you :)

      Reply

  26. #
    76
    angela — December 25, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    what happens if you use natural peanut butter?

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — December 25th, 2013 at 2:23 pm

      It may or may not be enough to ‘glue’ the bars together. Natural PB can be oily, thin, and runny – so it’s a gamble.

      Reply

  27. #
    77
    Cathy — February 20, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Hi,
    Just wanted to let you know I am sharing your wonderful recipe tomorrow in my Gluten-Free Recipe RoundUp with a link back to your original post!
    Have a terrific weekend!
    Cathy from APeekIntoMyParadise.com

    Reply

  28. #
    78
    Tina @ Tina's Chic Corner — November 5, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Averie, I made these cereal bars last weekend and they were awesome! I blogged about them today:
    http://tinaschic.com/2014/11/peanut-butter-and-chocolate-cereal-bars/

    I’ve made several of your recipes and you never disappoint. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — November 6th, 2014 at 1:04 am

      Thanks for trying these and so glad you’re pleased with this one and others! That’s awesome to hear :)

      Reply

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