Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Granola Bars

The combination of peanut butter and oats is a favorite and I never tire of it.

And I’ll never tire of no-bake granola bars that taste like peanut butter oatmeal cookies, topped with melted butterscotch.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Granola Bars (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free)

Granola bars with an abundance of hearty, oaty texture, shoot straight to the top of my list. It’s better to spend time chewing hearty oats than inhaling handfuls of caramel corn and these granola bars are loaded with texture.

And anything that’s robustly peanut butter flavored is another huge bonus for me. I love peanut butter and it makes a great binder for no-bake granola bars. What a fortuitously sticky stroke of luck.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Granola Bars (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free)

Normally I make granola bars in the microwave or the food processor, but decided to use the stovetop to melt the ingredients. It was really chilly in my kitchen the day I made these and wanted to turn the stove. The recipe and method reminded me of a cold day over a year ago making Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Squares. It’s funny how looking back at old recipes I can remember things like if the house was cold or not and my overall mood the day I created something.

In a large kettle, combine butter or margarine (to keep vegan), sugars, milk (regular, soy, or nut-milk) and heat over medium heat to melt the ingredients, stirring to encourage melting. After the ingredients are smooth and combined, allow mixture to come to a fairly rapid boil for 90 seconds, stirring intermittently and as often as needed so it doesn’t boil over. Put on a hot-mitt and use caution because the mixture is in the 220F degree range, and you don’t want this bubbling up on your forearm.

Everyone’s definition of ‘rapid boil’ is different, but the goal is to reduce and thicken the mixture slightly by boiling it. And in doing so, the beginning stages of a caramel sauce are being made; butter, sugar, cream (milk) is what caramels are. The sauce doesn’t turn as thick as regular caramel sauce, but it’s sweet, sticky, and will help the oats stick together and the bars to hold their shape.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Granola Bars (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free)

After 90 seconds, shut off the heat and add the peanut butter, vanilla, and stir to combine. If the peanut butter is stubborn and doesn’t want to incorporate easily, turn the stove back on low just momentarily. After the sauce is smooth and combined, add the oats.

Use whole rolled old-fashioned oats and not quick cook or instant. Quick cooks oats are smaller, more broken down, and behave more like flour. You don’t want 3 cups of flour in this recipe, but 3 cups of whole-rolled oats is just dandy. Stir them in and then add the Rice Krispies or vegan crispy rice cereal. Adding rice cereal is a trick I learned when I made Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars. The crunchy, crispy effect in each bite adds another layer of texture and dimension. Plus, cereal soaks up excess caramely-peanut butter sauce.

The mixture will look a little on the soupy side, but as the bars cool and set up, it all soaks in. If you try to make the batter drier at this stage by adding more oats or cereal as I’ve mistakenly done, the finished bars set up too dry and are very prone to crumbling and don’t hold together. Some soupiness is welcome.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Granola Bars (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free)

Transfer the mixture into a prepared foil-lined pan. Smooth and pack down the mixture quite firmly with a spatula to compact it. I used an 8-by-8-inch pan and although the batter will appear to come up fairly high on the sides of the pan, the sliced bars aren’t overly thick. I’d rather err on the thicker than thinner side, but if you prefer thinner bars, use a 9-by-9-inch pan. Thick, densely packed bars, like my favorite Browned Butter Rice Krispies Treats, and really being able to sink my teeth into a big mouthful is the best.

Place the pan in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight, before slicing. Remember how hot that boiling caramel mixture was and if you try to slice them too early, you’ll have a literal hot mess on your hands. Even after being in the refrigerator for 18 hours, the bars weren’t difficult to slice through. Some things turn into rocks in the fridge, but these don’t.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Granola Bars (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free)

I made 12 bars, about 3/4-inch wide by 4-inchs long, but do as you wish. Because they’re dense and hearty, you really don’t need a big bar. I try to keep bars like this in the caloric realm of a snack, not a bar-as-meal, tasty as eating peanut butter and oats for dinner sounds.

Optionally, either before (easier) or after (prettier) slicing them, drizzle them with melted butterscotch chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, or peanut butter chips to keep vegan. The sweet, smooth, melted butterscotch is a nice contrast to the hearty oats.

A tip when melting butterscotch chips, or white chocolate for that matter, is to add a dollop of butter to the chips. Both are notoriously easy to scorch and butterscotch will seize almost instantly without the butter. Heat in 10-second bursts in the microwave until the mixture can be stirred smooth and don’t over-heat. You’re only melting a quarter cup and it’ll melt very fast, 15 seconds or so. Drizzle that luscious creaminess over the bars.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Granola Bars (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free)

I feel like I should hit a rugged trail with one of these hearty granola bars in my backpack. In that sense, they remind me of the Thick and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies I recently made. They’re not some flimsy little granola bar and are rugged and substantial. They’re dense, filling, and satisfying. Some granola bars are so wimpy and puny that after eating one, you pretty much have to have another to feel satisfied but not with these. One is good and gives me energy for hours.

I try to make as much of my family’s snack food for lunch boxes as I can, not only to control the ingredients, but to save money, and these are a very economical way to go compared to storebought. And taste-wise, they were a hit with my family. Then again, a granola bar that tastes like a peanut butter oatmeal cookie will generally be met with positive reviews.

The peanut butter flavor is pronounced and takes center stage. They’re definitely more peanut butter-oatmeal than oatmeal-peanut butter, which I’ll never complain about.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Granola Bars (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free)

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Granola Bars (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free) - Healthy granola bars that taste like cookies!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Granola Bars (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free)

Both peanut butter and oatmeal cookies are favorites. I incorporated the flavor of those cookies into these fast and easy, no-bake granola bars. A sweet, buttery, peanut butter-caramel sauce is made in minutes before drenching oats and crispy rice cereal. The bars are loaded with texture, very chewy, dense, hearty, and so satisfying. Finishing them off with a drizzle of melted butterscotch chips or peanut butter chips is a nice touch and rounds out the flavors. The bars are easily kept vegan and gluten-free.

Did you make this recipe?


1/4 cup unsalted butter (half of one stick) or vegan butter
1/2 cup milk (regular, soy, or nut milk)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 heaping cup creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned whole rolled oats (not quick cook or instant, use certified gluten-free if necessary)
1 1/4 cups crispy rice cereal (Rice Krispies or similar, use certified gluten-free if necessary)
1/4 cup butterscotch/peanut butter/semi-sweet chocolate chips melted for drizzling, optional (use peanut butter or semi-sweet chocolate to keep vegan)
1 teaspoon unsalted butter or vegan butter for drizzling


  1. Line an 8-by-8-inch (or a 9-by-inch pan for thinner bars; I used an 8×8) with aluminum foil, leaving overhang. Spray with cooking spray; set aside. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, combine 1/4 cup butter, milk, sugars, and heat to melt over medium heat, stirring until smooth and combined. Allow mixture to come to a boil and then allow it to boil fairly rapidly for about 90 seconds, stirring frequently so it doesn’t bubble over or scorch. Wear a hot mitt and use caution when stirring it because this is the beginning stages of caramel sauce and in the 220F range.
  2. Turn off the heat and add the peanut butter, vanilla, and stir until combined. If it’s challenging to incorporate the peanut butter, turn the burner on low momentarily to help it along. Stir in the oats, crispy rice cereal, and transfer mixture to prepared pan. Smooth it into an even, flat layer with a spatula, pressing firmly to compact the mixture.
  3. Cover pan with with another sheet of foil (or not, but I prefer to keep things covered in the refrigerator) and place pan in the refrigerator for at least two hours, or until bars have set up fully, before slicing (I usually leave them overnight). I lift bars out and place on cutting board to slice.
  4. Optionally, either before (easier and faster) or after (prettier results) slicing the bars, drizzle with melted butterscotch/peanut butter/semi-sweet/white chocolate chips. Melt chips and 1 teaspoon butter in a small microwave-safe bowl in 10-second bursts until mixture can be stirred smooth, noting that butterscotch scorches and seizes almost immediately without butter and can scortch very easily so don’t overheat it; 15 seconds is likely all it will take to melt. Drizzle melted mixture over the bars.
  5. Slice into 1 dozen bars, 4-inches long by about 3/4-inch wide, or into preferred size and shape. Wrap bars individually in plasticwrap and store them in a large ziptop plastic bag or airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, in the refrigerator for up to 1 month, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
  6. Recipe is kept vegan by using margarine or vegan buttery spread, vegan milk, vegan crispy rice cereal, and a peanut butter or semi-sweet chocolate drizzle. Recipe is kept gluten free by using gluten-free oats and gluten-free crispy rice cereal. Take care all ingredients use are suitable for your dietary needs.
Only Eats

Related Recipes:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (no-bake, vegan, GF) – (no-bake, vegan, GF) – My favorite all-around no-bake granola bar and a reader favorite. Produces bars like Quaker Chewy granola bars. Bars can be customized easily based on what you have on hand and like fom peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter; to raisins, white chocolate chips, or coconut flakes; to M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces for a more candy-like bar. You can customize them easily with just about anything you enjoy

Snickerdoodle Cookie Granola Bars (no-bake, vegan, GF) – Snickerdoodle cookies are one of my favorites and these easy, dense granola bars have remarkable similarity to the cookies. They’ve been very popular with readers and people have written in with high praise for the cinnamon-sugary bars with an optional white chocolate drizzle

Sunflower Seed Butter Granola Bars with Chocolate Drizzle (no-bake, vegan, GF) – – Made with one of my favorite nut butters, sunflower seed butter. It has a distinctively bold, yet slightly sweet flavor. By combining sunflower seed butter, agave, and Medjool dates with oats in a food processor, these no-bake granola bars come together in minutes. Fast, easy, very chewy and texture-filled

Cinnamon Oatmeal Date Bars with Chocolate Chunks (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free) – (no-bake, vegan, GF) – If you omit the chocolate that’s used two ways on top of these bars, they’re quite healthy. Minus the chocolate, the bars themselves are just oats and dates, bound together by peanut butter, and I love them

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies – One of my favorite cookies on my site and very easy to make. No mixer required and perfect for times when you can’t decide between a chocolate chip, peanut butter, or oatmeal cookie. This cookie has all three-in-one

Special K Bars (no-bake) – My grandma’s recipe that I’ve eaten since childhood and I love them. As I was making today’s recipe, there are many similarities to the way the recipe starts, boiling the mixture, then adding peanut butter, and in my Grandma’s recipe, Special K rather than oats are used

Nutter Butter Special K Bars (no-bake) – A twist on the above with the addition of ground Nutter Butter cookies. Dense, rich, and easy

Nutella and Peanut Butter Graham Bars (no-bake) – An all-star lineup of Nutella, peanut butter, butter, graham crackers, and chocolate chips produces sink-your-teeth in dense, fast, sweet and easy bars

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Squares (no-bake, vegan, GF) – This recipe starts out similar to today’s recipe, by melting butter and sugar and eventually stirring in oats, but chocolate is used along with peanut butter

Do you have a favorite granola bar or no-bake bar recipe?

Fan of peanut butter or oats?

Tell me about your favorites and feel free to leave links.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

104 comments on “Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Granola Bars”

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  5. If it has butter, it is not vegan… why is it titled “vegan” ?!

  6. These are awesome! I didn’t regular oats, so I used quick instead and I also used crushed rice squares because thats what was in the pantry. They turned out amazing(hubby loves them as a breakfast bar!), so I can’t wait to try it with the actual ingredients next time. Thanks so much for all the recipes!

    • So glad you tried them and your version sounds great! Whatever works and holds together and that the family likes and will eat – that’s all that matters! LMK if you try other recipes or play around with this one!

  7. How are these gluten free? Oats have gluten. Any suggestions on oat substitutions?

    • Buy gluten-free oats! Simple!

      And as a sidebar, oats themselves are a gluten-free grain. The oat does not contain gluten. It’s that during milling and production, they’re often processed on shared equipment which can cross-contaminate them. Therefore, some people can get away with not necessarily purchasing certified GF oats; obviously do what’s necessary for your own situation.

  8. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but you are so creative and smart! Love this recipe you came up with. Pinned and tweeted about this. My kids would definitely love eating these treats!

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  11. I just made theese. I added in some chopped up prelzels and they turned out great . My husband and I had been hunting for a good granola bar for a while. Im just not a fan of PB. He on the other hand loves it. My intention was to make thees for him but I love how the PB flavor doesn’t take over, its just there enough to make itself known. I think we’ll keep makning theese for a long time. Thank you for an awesome recipe =)

  12. Hi, I made these for my husband. The flavor is great and he really likes them. I let these harden overnight, and when I went to cut them, a lot of them broke in half and they are very crumbly. Did I do something wrong? Should I have let them warm a little instead of cutting them straight from the fridge? These are a good dessert/snack, but as I have them now, not very convenient for my husband to throw into his lunch for work.

    • I’m thinking that you could have cut back on the dry ingredients slightly. Reduce the oats or the crispy rice cereal slightly – and/or increase the amt of PB next time to add more moisture. Really make sure it’s a heaping cup. Everyone’s brands of ingredients vary in terms of how moist or dry they are, and in bars like this, sometimes the ratios are a little delicate so that the bars set up, aren’t too gloppy yet aren’t too dry. Fine tooth comb kind of tinkerings.

      And for future reference, slicing anything immediately as it comes out of the fridge is a recipe for potential cracks and breaks. Always let it come to room temp first.

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  15. These turned out great and the kids love them, however, I cannot eat nuts. Would this recipe work by subbing sunflower butter for the pb? Or is sunflower butter not thick enough? Thanks!

  16. Mine also crumbled. I think my peanut butter wasn’t heaping enough. But it was still delicious! I poured the really crumbly bits into a bowl, added milk, and ate it like cereal. Yum!

    • They were prone to being a bit crumbly but yes, heaping enough will help next time or reduce the dry ingredients a bit and sound like you made good used of the crumbly bits anyway :)

  17. I was thinking of adding some flax seed. Think I’d need more peanut butter or other wet ingredient to compensate?

  18. I made these peanut butter granola bars over the weekend. They are delicious. I am curious about a comment made in the article about keep the calorie count in the snack realm. When I did the math, 12 of these work out to being over 450 calories each! For someone watching their intake, that is more like a meal than a snack.

    • I haven’t done the calorie count on them but 450 seems like a ton, if I’m just guesstimating things. I think some of the online tools and calculators don’t always do a perfect job at the counts and sometimes things vary widely from tool to tool. Glad they tasted delicious!

    • Yep, over 450 is correct. Considering the fact that there are 2 CUPS of sugar (I’ve never seen a granola bar recipe with that much) and a cup of peanut butter, I’m not surprised. I don’t normally calculate calories for recipes, but I saw your comment and decided to do a quick calculation. Just the sugar, PB, and oats come out to over 400. I definitely wouldn’t consider this a healthy  treat. They do look like they would taste pretty good though, so I might try making them with some adjustments

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