Chocolate Peanut Butter Dream Bars — Nutter Butter crust, chocolate pudding, and peanut butter cream cheese filling! Easy, almost no-bake, and beyond AMAZING! Lives up to their dreamy name!
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Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Dessert
If you’re a chocolate and peanut butter dessert lover, you’ve found your end-all-be-all dessert. If you’ve tried ‘lush’ desserts like lemon lush or ‘better than…’ desserts, this recipe is a chocolate-peanut butter version.
Licking the bowls kept getting better and better with each step and layer in the recipe. The dream bars truly live up to their dreamy name.
It’s an almost no-bake recipe (the crust bakes for 10 minutes) that’s easy, goof-proof, rich, decadent, and guaranteed to be raved about by your friends and family.
There are so many textures and flavors that make the bars irresistibly dreamy. There’s a crunchy, salty-and-sweet Nutter Butter Cookie crust, topped with silky chocolate pudding, topped with a peanut butter-cream cheese-COOL WHIP layer. I could just eat a bowl of just that.
Finally there are peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, and Nutter Butters for added crunch and a boost of peanut butter flavor.
Call these bars what you will — chocolate peanut butter dream bars, chocolate peanut butter lush, or chocolate peanut butter lasagna — so long as you make them!
Ingredients in Chocolate Peanut Butter Dream Bars
For this decadent chocolate peanut butter lasagna, you’ll need:
- Nutter Butter cookies
- Unsalted butter
- Instant chocolate pudding
- Cream cheese
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Creamy peanut butter
- Cool Whip Whipped Topping
- Chocolate chips
- Peanut butter chips
Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.
A Note About the Ingredients
Use full-fat cream brick-style cheese because lite can be thinner, runnier, and won’t set up as well.
I used regular JELL-O Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix rather than sugar-free.
I used Fat-Free COOL WHIP with success.
I recommend using regular, no-stir peanut butter and not homemade or natural peanut butter.
Recipe Video Tutorial
How to Make Chocolate Peanut Butter Dream Bars
This chocolate peanut butter dessert does require some layering and active prep work, but it’s incredibly simple to make.
The layers go in the following order: crust, chocolate pudding, PB-cream cheese mixture, Cool Whip.
- First, you’ll need to make the peanut butter cookie crust and hard pack it into an 8×8-inch pan (the crust is just crushed cookies and melted butter).
- Bake the crust for just 10 minutes, then let it cool completely.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the instant chocolate pudding and pop it into the fridge to set.
- Then, make the peanut butter-cream cheese layer.
- Once the crust is completely cool, all that’s left to do is layer the instant chocolate pudding dessert!
- Just before serving, sprinkle the top with more crushed Nutter Butters.
Yes, you can make the bars in advance. I made it four days in advance of a party, froze it, and took it out to thaw 2 hours before the party.
My family actually preferred it when it was frozen solid and said it was like eating an ice cream sandwich bar. I prefer it softer and creamier at room temp. Either way, you’ll find yourself going back to straighten out the rows.
Yes, simply double the ingredients list and assemble the layered peanut butter chocolate lasagna in a 9×13-inch pan.
No, I recommend using old-fashioned peanut butter rather than natural types which are too oily, runny, and thin for this recipe.
Technically yes, but whipped cream deflates and loses its fluffiness after a few hours (even if stored in the fridge), which can affect the texture of the peanut butter dream bars.
If making this dessert in advance, Cool Whip will hold up the best! Or, you can make homemade stabilized whipped cream, which to be honest I never mess around with because I just can’t be bothered! But use whatever is best for your family.
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Chocolate Peanut Butter Dream Bars
- one 16-ounce package peanut butter sandwich cookies, like Nutter Butter Cookies, divided
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- one 3.9-ounce package JELL-O Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix, not sugar-free
- 1 ½ cups cold milk, use cow’s milk; pudding won’t set up with soy, almond, cashew milk. I used 1% cow’s milk
- 4 ounces PHILADELPHIA cream cheese, softened (not lite)
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
- heaping 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter, not ‘natural’
- one 8-ounce tub COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed and divided
- ¼ cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ¼ cup peanut butter chips
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- To the canister of a food processor, add 24 peanut butter cookies and process on high speed until broken down into very fine crumbs; set aside.
- To a small microwave-safe bowl, add the butter and heat on high power to melt, about 30 seconds.
- Add the melted butter to the peanut butter cookie crumbs and process on high speed to combine, about 30 seconds.
- Turn mixture out into prepared baking pan and using the back of a spatula, hard-pack the mixture to form a even, flat crust.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven; set aside to cool. While crust bakes, you can move onto the next steps.
- Add remaining 8 peanut butter cookies to food processor and pulse to break up cookies into bite-sized chunks, about 10 pulses or as necessary. Reserve cookie chunks in a small covered bowl or ziptop bag for use as a topping.
- To a medium bowl, add the pudding mix, milk, and whisk vigorously for at least 1 minute, making sure powder is fully dissolved and mixture is smooth. Place bowl in fridge to chill.
- To a large bowl, add the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, and beat for about 1 minute using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, or until smooth and combined.
- Add half the tub of COOL WHIP and beat for about 1 minute using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, or until smooth and combined; set aside.
- To the crust (make sure it’s cooled), add the pudding (make sure it’s thick and set up) in a smooth, even layer.
- Add the creamy peanut butter mixture in a smooth, even layer. I find it easiest to add it in golf ball-sized dollops staggered around the pan and then using a spatula, blend the dollops together to create a seamless layer. Take your time so you don’t disturb the layers underneath.
- Add the remaining half tub of COOL WHIP in a smooth, even layer.
- Cover and refrigerate pan for at least 2 hours, or until dessert is fully set-up. I made it 4 days before a party and placed dessert in the freezer at this point, and 2 hours before the party, I took it out, garnished with the remaining ingredients, and served.
- Before serving, evenly sprinkle with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and reserved Nutter Butter cookie chunks.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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Originally posted May 22, 2015 and reposted September 8, 2023 with updated text.