Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Bars
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These bars are my heaven.
They’re everything I want in a bar. I had to hide them from myself.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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)
- 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
- For the Bars – Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil leaving overhang, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- 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.
- Stop to stir. Mixture will be on the granular side, this is okay.
- Return bowl to microwave and heat for 1 more minute on high power.
- Stir in the vanilla.
- Stir in the cereal.
- Turn mixture out into prepared pan, packing it down somewhat firmly with a spatula and smoothing the top; set pan aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pour chocolate over bars, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula or knife; set pan aside.
- Add 1/4 cup peanut butter to a small microwave-safe bowl and heat to melt, about 30 seconds. Stir peanut butter smooth.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 401Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 177mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 3gSugar: 38gProtein: 7g
Peanut Chewy Payday Bars (almost no-bake)
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (no-bake, vegan, GF)
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
Peanut Butter Caramel Twix Bars (almost no-bake)
What’s your favorite no-bake, cereal or cookie bar?
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