Peanut Chewy Payday Bars


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Peanut Chewy Payday Bars are a three-layered bar full of that resembles a Payday candy bar, but better – thanks to the gooey marshmallows that are sandwiched in the middle layer.

Peanut Chewy Payday Bars

Normally I don’t like nuts in my desserts.

But I made an exception for these.

I love peanuts on their own and have to resist the urge to polish off a jar in a sitting and they are my favorite nut to blend for homemade nut butter. But there is something about having big, chunky, hard bits of nuts in desserts when I’m expecting something soft, comforting, and squishy that’s usually a dealbreaker.

But the peanuts work in these bars, which resemble a Payday candy bar. I like these much better than Payday bars because of the three distinct layers, especially the fluffy layer of marshmallows, absent from Payday bars.

Overall, the bars aren’t an overly sweet treat and are perfect for those who enjoy salty ‘n sweet combinations. There are three layers, but they’re easy and the bars can be made from start to finish in a half hour. Although there’s a very brief amount of baking, the recipe feels more no-bake than baked, and the recipe can be kept vegan and gluten-free quite easily.

Peanut Chewy Payday Bars

Make the crust by combining six tablespoons of softened butter with flour and brown sugar and stir to incorporate the butter. The softer the butter is, the easier this will be. Don’t be alarmed if the mixture looks quite crumbly, sandy, and dry.

Transfer it to a foil-lined baking pan, and absolutely line the pan to make your life much easier. Press the crumbs down with your fingertips and then really pack it down using the back of a spoon or press down on it with the bottom of a drinking glass, helping it get nice and smooth.

Bake the crust for about ten to twelve minutes, or just until it has barely set and still pale and golden. If it’s slightly under-baked, that’s fine because the pan is going back into the oven.

Peanut Chewy Payday Bars

Sprinkle three cups of marshmallows over the buttery crust and return the pan to the oven for about five minutes, or just long enough to soften and begin to melt the marshmallows. Keep a watchful eye on the marshmallows and remove the pan from the oven before the marshmallows start toasting and browning because these aren’t s’mores.

The final layer is a mixture of melted peanut butter, butter, and corn syrup, that’s stirred together before adding a splash of vanilla and one-and-a-half cups of both crispy rice cereal and roasted salted peanuts. Stir the cereal and peanuts into the warm and sticky peanut buttery broth and then pour it over the marshmallows.

These bars need to set up for at least four to six hours before slicing them. I made them at night and sliced into them the next morning and you could probably speed up the process by putting the pan into the refrigerator.

Peanut Chewy Payday Bars

I love the diverse layers and flavors going on, from sweet and gooey to salty and crunchy. Each is notable and distinct. The buttery crust resembles a shortbread crust, crispy and firm without being dry or too sweet.

The marshmallow filling is the perfect squishy and sweet complement to the crust, providing plenty of oozing, cloud-like softness. Too often marshmallows get lost in layered bars because they are squished and flattened by the weight of the subsequent layers. I planned around that unfortunate phenomenon and used an ample amount of marshmallows so this layer would really stand out and be thick, puffy, and voluptuous.

Peanut Chewy Payday Bars

The final layer is for peanut and peanut butter fanatics, and reminds me of a Payday candy bar. The melted peanut butter, butter, and corn syrup creates a beautiful brown sauce that’s both sweet with a touch of savory. The salty peanuts and crispy rice cereal added help soak up saucy peanut butter mixture and after the bars set up, there’s an abundance of crunchy and crispy texture, along with chewy and gooey.

I got over my issue with nuts in desserts as I sank my teeth into one of these babies.

Peanut Chewy Payday Bars

Peanut Chewy Payday Bars

Peanut Chewy Payday Bars are a three-layered bar full of that resembles a Payday candy bar, but better - thanks to the gooey marshmallows that are sandwiched in the middle layer.

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4.23 from 9 votes

Peanut Chewy Payday Bars

By Averie Sunshine
A three-layered bar full of that resembles a Payday candy bar, but better - thanks to the gooey marshmallows that are sandwiched in the middle layer. The melted marshmallows are flanked by a buttery shortbread-style crust and topped with a mixture of peanut butter, peanuts, and crispy rice cereal. Sweet and gooey meets salty and crunchy with an abundance of peanut butter, peanuts, and plenty of chewy texture. Although there are three layers, the bars can be made from start to finish in a half hour, and can be kept both vegan and gluten-free.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 9
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For the Crust

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (three-quarters of one stick)
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed

For the Filling


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil leaving overhang (you must line your pan), spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  • For the Crust - In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and stir to combine. Keep working the butter into the flour and brown sugar and transfer the sandy and crumbly mixture into the prepared pan. Press mixture down firmly with fingertips, and then pack it down with the bottom of a drinking glass or back of a spoon. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or just until crust has set and pale in color; don't worry if it's a bit under-baked as pan will be going back into the oven in the next step.
  • For the Filling - Evenly sprinkle the marshmallows over the crust and bake for about 5 minutes or until they have begun to melt and before they start browning (we aren't making s'mores); set pan aside.
  • For the Topping- In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine peanut butter, corn syrup, butter and heat on high power to melt, about 1 minute; stir to combine. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Add the peanuts and cereal and stir to combine. Pour mixture over the marshmallows, smoothing it lightly with a spatula to create an even flat layer. Set pan aside to cool for at least 4 hours before slicing, or overnight; refrigerating the bars can be used to expedite the cooling process. Slice bars by lifting them out using the foil overhang and transfer to a cutting board. Bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Recipe may be kept vegan by replacing the butter with margarine or Earth Balance, by using vegan marshmallows, and using a vegan cereal.Recipe may be kept gluten-free by using a gluten free flour blend for the crust and and using gluten free cereal of your choice. Take care all ingredients used are suitable for your dietary needs.

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Do you like nuts in desserts? Salty ‘n sweet combos? Payday bars?

As a general rule, I am not a nuts-in-desserts person, at all. But I made an exception for these.I definitely have more of a sweet tooth than a salty palate, but here in Aruba with the heat and constant sweating, salty foods taste extra good. And of course, the peanut butter and marshmallows don’t hurt.

As a kid, I never got into Payday bars as much as Snickers bars because Payday bars don’t have chocolate or nougat, and now I have a homemade and amped-up version.

The winner of the Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Sampler Giveaway is Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

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  1. Hi Averie, can vegetable oil be used in the topping mixture instead of butter? And do these bars taste better cold or room temp? Thanks

  2. Hi! These look lovely and I want to make them for Easter but am wondering it just says 1/3 light corn syrup. Is that 1/3 cup or? Please let me know! Thanks so much!

  3. The payday bars look so delicious. I’ll be trying them this weekend.
    I wanted to say thank you for having the “print” feature as an option for your recipes. Makes things SO much easier.

    1. 95% of my recipes have it. Those from about 2010 and earlier don’t, but the majority do. Enjoy the bars!

  4. My husband is so in love with these! Thank you for the recipe. I use homemade honey roasted peanuts. I do however have trouble spreading the topping over the marshmallows. The marshmallow layer becomes uneven and squished to the top layer in some spots. The end result is still delicious. How do you get yours to look so pretty and keep the marshmallow where it belongs?

    1. How do you get yours to look so pretty and keep the marshmallow where it belongs? = taking my time and being super, super soft, gentle and careful :)

      Glad you & your hubs love the recipe!

  5. You NAILED it with the sweet and salty combo on the payday bars. I never really liked nuts in my desserts either until the past couple weeks when I started loving them! I can’t wait to get back to my kitchen post holidays.

  6. So excited to make these this week! I would like to use homemade marshmallow fluff instead of the marshmallows. Do you think this will work?

    1. Yes I’m sure it will! Just keep an eye on it when they’re baking to make sure it doesn’t run/spread/splooge/burn and you’ll be set! LMK how they turn out for you! :)