Peanut butter and jelly is one of those flavor combinations that I have always loved. Really, who doesn’t love PB & J?
PB & J sandwiches may be accused of being a little on the boring side. So why not make PB & J dessert bars.
These are not boring.
I had been wanting to make peanut butter and jelly bars for quite awhile and I was given Heather’s blog for this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment.
I noticed that she had a recipe for PB & J Oat Bars and that got my wheels turning.
Her recipe inspired me to start working on my version of Caramel PB & J Bars.
My version doesn’t contain eggs, peanut flour, added oil, or whole wheat flour and I used the jelly I had on hand which happened to be peach.
And oh yes, I used more sugar than Heather did. Surprise, surprise.
I love the big jelly
I also had a little jar of caramel sauce hiding out in the fridge that caught my eye and I decided to drizzle that in before I baked these.
That was one of my better impulse moves in the kitchen because it added richness, sweetness, and just a gooey-ness that worked oh so well.
Move over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and please make room for PB & J bars.
Caramel Peanut Butter & Jelly & Bars (Gluten-Free, Vegan; See Below)
Base & Top Layers
1/4 c butter, melted (margarine or Earth Balance to keep vegan)
3/4 c peanut butter, melted
1 1/4 c brown sugar, packed
2/3 c white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon (increase to taste, I used 2 tsp)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 c oats (whole rolled, not quick cook. Use certified GF oats if desired)
1/2 c jelly (jam, preserves; use whatever flavor you have on hand and like. I used apricot)
1/4 c caramel sauce, optional (I used caramel ice cream topping; or try homemade Caramel Sauce. Increase the caramel sauce amount to 1/3 c to 1/2 c if you love caramel or omit if you don’t have any on hand)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350F. In a large microwave-safe bowl, add the butter and microwave to melt it, about 60-75 seconds. Add the peanut butter and microwave again for about 30-45 seconds. Stir to combine. You will have a very runny liquid.
Add the sugars, cinnamon, vanilla extract and stir to combine. You will have a fairly thick paste.
Stir in the oats. It will seem crumbly and messy and may not appear to combine well; that’s ok.
Use between two-thirds or three-fourths of the batter mixture (just eyeball it) and press it into a foil-lined and spayed 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan. Press firmly and really pack it down to create the base layer. The dough will begin to combine and pack in easily thanks to the peanut butter and butter.
Spread the jelly over the top of the base layer.
Drizzle the caramel sauce over the top.
Take remaining batter mixture and crumble lightly over the top.
Bake at 350F for 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. The jelly and caramel that’s peeking through and on the edges will be bubbling. The bars may still look underdone, but that’s ok because they will continue to set up as they cool. Allow to cool very well before slicing.
Store extras on the countertop, refrigerator, or in the freezer for long term storage.
Optional add in’s to the mix before baking: Raisins, nuts, chocolate/white/peanut butter chips to the mixture. I’d suggest starting with 1/3 to 1/2 c of add-ins and going from there based on taste preference.
Optional after baking: Drizzle top with melted peanut butter and/or more jelly and/or more caramel sauce, add whipped cream before serving.
Note: To keep vegan, use a vegan caramel-inspired sauce or google “vegan caramel sauce” to make your own at home
Scott proclaimed these the best dessert I’ve ever made. Because I knew we were going to be in Aruba for December, I had to make this recipe in mid-November. And he’s still talking about these bars almost a month later.
At least he’s consistent because all of his favorites have:
He loved the Caramel Apple Bars (GF with Vegan adaptations)
And the Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars (Vegan, GF) were a hit.
What I really liked about the PB & J Bars is that the base layer got crispy and dense and that was balanced with the squishy jelly-caramel layer.
You can use any kind of jelly you have on hand and you don’t have to add the caramel, but if you have it on hand, it’s a nice touch.
And it’s a creative way to use up your condiment collection that takes over the bottom shelf of your fridge. Sound familiar?
The top layer was a classic crumble topping layer.
I have a thing for crumbles.
Even though the the bottom and top layers have a different texture to them and feel differently in your mouth when you’re chewing them, the dough mixture is the same.
It comes down to whether you pack it down or crumble it lightly over the top before baking. Not having to make separate doughs was a time saver I liked.
And if PB & J is your thing, I can guarantee you’ll like these.
They’re like PB & J sandwiches. Only better.
1. Do you like the combo of PB & J?
I love PB & J, yes.
2. Do you have a favorite type of jelly/jam or a favorite type of nut butter?
If I would have had strawberry or grape jelly on hand, I would have used that.
I may have omitted the caramel sauce addition had I used grape jelly because I think caramel goes better with apple, orange, apricot, mango or those types of jellies and jams.
Then again, maybe not. Caramel sauce and caramel goes with pretty much anything for me.
Fave nut butter for me is TJ’s Sunflower Seed Butter, their new Speculoos Butter, or good old fashioned peanut butter will always be a fave.
Have a great week!
Damn, you did it again. I have now commented THREE times on your site which equivalates to my LIFETIME comments. You may be my doppleganger. Your comment about eyeing that jar of caramel in the fridge? Made me laugh cause that is EXACTLY how I think/do. Going to make these but baby? I am going Uptown on this recipe – using precious as gold cashew butter & wait! yes! Homemade jam/jelly/preseves from my older sister. Thank you for the inspiration. And the justification for spending so very much on the cashew butter. And anything involving caramel will catch my eye!
I made these for my dad’s birthday and he LOVED them. Just posted them on my blog and would love if you’d check it out! Have a great weekend :)
Thanks for trying the recipe, Laura, and glad you loved them!
Just wanted to let you know that I used this recipe as a base for one of my online cooking challenges and it was wonderful. I shared the linky love and you can check it out here: Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars on Cook Lisa Cook.
Also, I had fun looking through your blog. It was interesting that we were both in Aruba last December, the produce from Ling’s caught my eye. I have been going to Aruba every December for the past 25 years, one of my favorite places ever!
Thanks for a great recipe, have a wonderful weekend.
We have a place there and go as often as possible…SMALL WORLD!!! Ling’s, who knew someone would recognize it! That’s awesome!!
And glad you made this recipe using it as a jumping off place!
Wow! With carmel and a peanut butter! I like home mades bars, did it a couple of times. I love the photos as well :)
Those are scrumptious treat! I love the photo and I love the combo pb and j I this is perfect.
Peanut Butter, Jelly Time..Peanut Butter, Jelly Time….Peanut Butter, Jelly Time…. ok sorry I’ll stop my dancing now. haha
Love the photos and the bars!
I love ooey gooey bars, and anything that involved peanut butter. My mouth is watering! I love PB&J. I like to grill it-warm and gooey inside and crunchy outside. Yum!
grilled PB & J…warm with the crunchy outside…oh that sounds heavenly. I want to try that! Or like a PB & J “pannini” almost.
I am not a big fan of jam or jelly, but I do love PB.
LOVE pb&j! In fact, I think I’d be happy to eat a peanut butter sandwich just about every day. These bars look so amazing!!!
I’ve been on a major peanut butter kick lately (even more than usual) so these are looking mighty enticing right about now! PB & any kind of J will never get old!
Just wow, these look amazing! You rocked another great recipe here! Love the flavor combo!
Oh yum! All the bars look so good! I have been craving an oat bar! I’m kind of getting sick of cookies! :)
Girl, you killed this one! PB+Caramel+Peach=pure genius! Fantastical photos too!
These look so good! And I love that they’re vegan. I think I have everything on hand (and grape jelly) to give these a try…
Reading my mind again; I’m posting about pb tomorrow! If I get that written tonight.
These look awesome. I can’t get enough of the pb/jelly combo. In middle school, that is pretty much the only sandwich I ever requested for lunch. I would get that at Subway when we stopped there for lunch. Then I “upgraded” to pb/banana/honey.
I still have 2 jars of strawberry jam in my freezer from strawberry picking this summer. These aren’t exactly holiday baking, but I might be a little chocolate-minted out. Wait, no, I’m not. But this would be a nice break anyway. ;)
Mmmmm I made something similar in the summer, but different enough that I want to try these! I love PB & J in desserts!! And caramel sauce…oohhh my <3
Averie- I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and I just started a recipe blog of my own! I’m not nearly as talented baker nor is my blog as huge or beautiful as yours, but I admire your recipes so much!! I love pb&j, oat-based bars, and apricot is one of my favorite jams– so this is right up my alley. Thank you for all of your recipes and beautiful photography! I can’t wait to try these bars and those pumpkin pb oatmeal bars too!
These look amazing! PB & J is a super yummy combo. Not as good as PB & Chocolate, but it does provide that nostalgic homey feeling. My favorite jam is strawberry and a true PB & J item has to have strawberry involved!
That is such a genius idea for a bar; love them! I’d never heard of them before you so I’ll credit you as the creator of PB&J bars :)
I remember seeing Ina Garten make a pb and j bar and I have fantasized about them ever since. The caramel that you have added, however, may just be enough motivation to actually make them! I’m thinking all sorts of happy thoughts about that filling stuck in my teeth :)
Ina anything is fabulous and so if I can push you over that edge to make her recipe or mine…go for it. And report back if you do!
I LOVE PB & J sandwiches! My favorite is a thick shmear of Adam’s All-Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter with my grandmother’s homemade strawberry jam on quality whole wheat bread. Delicious!
grandmother’s homemade strawberry jam…oh how I wish I could have some from mine….fabulous memories
I can’t begin to imagine how awesome these would be with TJ’s cookie butter. OMG.
I know, right! But seriously there is so much other ‘stuff’ going on in these, using anything too fancy and the taste might just get kind of ‘lost’…but I am all for experiments on this kind of order :)
My mom hates peanuts so we were deprived kids growing up who never had pb&j. She made us cream cheese & jelly sandwiches instead. That would be a delicious bar combination!
I use cream cheese all the time…I just don’t mention it that much :) I need to mention it more I am thinking! I love TJs hot pepper jelly + cream cheese. Or baking cream cheese (or baked brie) with spicy/savory chutneys on them…cream cheese is so versatile!
These look amazing Averie! What a fun way to put PB and Jelly together! Since I’m allergic to peanuts, I may have to try these with almond butter instead :) Yum!
yes or sunflower seed butter :)
I would so so SO try these. And then sing about it.
I wish I could sing!!!
Hello Lovie!!!! What gorgeous looking bars!!! I love peanut butter and jelly combo’s :) I’ve made them as rice crispy treats too, so good!!
PB & J rice krispy treats have been on my horizon, too :)
I love PB&J bars but with caramel? You have outdone yourself again Averie!
thanks and you out-do yourself with every post!
Oh so fun!!! Ahhh I’m glad you got my blog!! I’ve been waiting and wondering when we’d get each other… now it’s just me who need to sneak around your blog sometime. Can’t wait! :)
Love that you added caramel in here. PB and J is always a combo I love. Such a yummy idea! Glad they were a hit Averie.
they were a huge hit with my hubs…I obviously doctored them up quite a bit from yours…ahem, the sugar :) and the caramel sauce and oh yes there was whipped cream on his version, too…but they were a winner!
These looks absolutely wonderful – I agree with the grape vs. caramel though. I love Raspberry Jelly – that’s my favorite I think.
There are endless possibilities here, which is awesome! Great pick!
Good Morning Averie,
What an awesome combination for these beautiful bars. We would just love these little treats and just in time for holiday baking. Your photo’s are outstanding. It is fun cooking with you at the SRC, have a great day!
I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That is what I lived on as a kid. Peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and fluff! Remember those?
I might try these with fig jam, what do you think?
Going for a run here today but it’s 40 degrees out! Yikes, will need my gloves today.
I’m a fan of whole berry preserves with almond butter…I could mix the two and just enjoy it on a spoon, nothing else. Fig jam is also delightful…and today I mixed some cranberry-kumquat sauce that I made with almond butter — it was out of this world.
These bars look like something I’d want to pack in my lunch, something to look forward to. And caramel! I’m drooling. And excited that it’s gluten free, too!
Definitely better than their sandwich counterpart! These look amazing!
Are you able to bake in Aruba, find all you need and have all the appropriate utensils?
From the post I wrote this, right under the recipe box
“Scott proclaimed these the best dessert I’ve ever made. Because I knew we were going to be in Aruba for December, I had to make this recipe in mid-November. And he’s still talking about these bars almost a month later.”
So these PB & J Bars I made in advance
But the white choc puppy chow, white choc peanut & pretzel fudge, etc from last week..and some more goodies I havent blogged about yet…yes, made them here :)
Yes … I did see the comment … it was just a general question, a curiosity … it is just that you must be organized to be able to keep baking as you do from home … on vacation it is sometimes hard for me to keep cooking unless I am in my kitchen with my little gadgets …
Well with things like the SRC it does require planning in order to make something well before the ‘due date’ knowing that when you get to your destination, oven temps, ingredient availability, or overall motivation may not be what it is at home :) You are right on with that. In general though, I like to bake..and it’s not a chore…but…when you are supposed to follow an assignment or be inspired from another’s recipe I did want to preplan that one just so there were no fails! ha!
Oh those look fantastic. Nice and gooey. Strawberry has always been my jelly of choice. And good call on no caramel with grape LOL. I wouldn’t have thought of that, but I think you’re right.
caramel and grape, yeah, probably not the best. lol
I’m allergic to peanut butter, and am trying to imagine combinations that would work. As it turns out, everything sounds awesome! Almond butter and strawberry jam, cashew butter and apricot jam, sunflower seed butter and raspberry jam.. Must make these soon.
yes any combo of nut butter, really….SFSButter, AB, cashew butter, etc…you made need to add slightly more dry if you use another nut butter, i.e. AB and SFSB tend to be runnier, but it’s a really forgiving recipe so not a biggie one way or the other.
I was thinking at first- I don’t see the jelly in these! I was picturing a dark purple swirl or layer. But ahh apricot is still jelly! (ps what’s the diff between jam/jelly/ preserve anyways?). Glad Scott loved these so much, they look fabulous Averie!
midway thru this post
I gave a jelly, jam, chutney, etc tutorial link.
jelly is clear/strained fruit
chutney tends to include certain spices…
I am all about the nut butters. Cashew seems to be my favorite right now but I’ve never combined it with jam. In fact, I can’t tell you the last time I combined nut butter + jam… but I LOVE dipping dried fruit into nut butter! Dates, prunes, dried figs… mmm!
you need to make those nuts you just posted about into nut butter and put that on some toast with jam…or just eat that as nut butter. I bet it would be soo good!
Your bar cookies always look so good!
PB & J never gets old!! Yum :D
How can you possibly make a classic PB&J any better? Well add caramel of course! :) These look sensational.
These look amazing Averie! Love the idea of PB & J in a bar. And those oats are the perfect addition to add a little texture!
Hope you’re having a wonderful time in Aruba with your wonderful family! :)
thanks, Heather, we are and have a great holiday season, too!
My favorite sandwich!…in bar form. Can’t go wrong here!
that’s what I was thinking :)