No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

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Using just 5 ingredients, these easy no bake peanut butter bars are a rich and decadent treat that taste exactly like homemade Reese’s peanut butter cups! 

Bite taken out of no bake peanut butter bar

These no bake peanut butter bars are an old-school cafeteria recipe from back in the days when the lunch ladies would come in at the break of dawn and set to making the day’s meals from scratch. These ladies were our mothers away from home, always there to make sure we got enough to eat! Peanut butter treats were usually in abundance since peanut butter was a government commodity, provided in large quantities to lunchrooms.

This is a great homemade dessert recipe that uses only 5 ingredients, requires no baking, and ends up tasting like what a Reese’s peanut butter cup aspires to be. It features a rich and thick peanut butter layer that’s boosted with sugar, vanilla extract, and butter flavors. Then it’s topped with a decadent chocolate layer. This chocolate peanut butter bar recipe results in treats that are fudgy, creamy, and will disappear in an instant!

Labeled recipe ingredients for no bake peanut butter bars.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Creamy peanut butter
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Unsalted butter
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips

You don’t have to have a whole tub of peanut butter like I have pictured here so don’t worry about that. My family just happens to think peanut butter is the best thing since… well, peanut butter, so I tend to buy it in large quantities. 

How To Make No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Place all ingredients into a large bowl.

Microwave until the butter and peanut butter are both melted. This will take about a minute or so.

NOTE: Check it after 45 seconds and make sure though because microwaves vary so greatly.

Melted ingredients in mixing bowl.

This is our melted “stuff”.

Mix ingredients together.

Now take a spoon and give it a really good stir. 

Finished dough for no bake peanut butter bars.

NOTE: At first this peanut butter bar mixture will seem like a big old mess, but after several stirs, it will all come together and leave the sides of the bowl.

Transfer peanut butter mixture to prepared pan.

Now transfer your peanut butter mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 pan.

Pat mixture into pan with your hands.

Pat it out into the pan with your hands.

Melt chocolate in microwave.

Time to crank up that microwave again! Pour the entire package of chocolate chips into a bowl and microwave them at 30-second intervals, stirring in between each, until completely melted.

Pour melted chocolate over peanut butter mixture in pan.

Pour the melted chocolate chips over your peanut butter mixture.

Spread chocolate until evenly covered.

Spread it all around until the top is evenly covered.

No bake peanut butter bars ready for the fridge.

Now the hard part: waiting for these no bake peanut butter bars to harden.

TIP: You can do this at room temperature or you can do like me and place it in the fridge for about half an hour or so.

Cut into bars and serve.

Cut into bars and serve.

Stack of no-bake peanut butter bars.



  • Leftovers can be stored in your cookie jar on the counter or in the refrigerator, whatever cranks your tractor. They will last up to 1 week.
  • These no bake dessert bars also freeze beautifully for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.

Recipe Notes

  • You can add a cup of graham cracker crumbs to your peanut butter layer for added flavor.
  • I don’t recommend using crunchy peanut butter, natural peanut butter, or any natural nut butter like almond butter in this recipe. They just don’t have the same consistency as processed smooth peanut butter like Jif and Skippy.
  • If you like, you can use an 8×8 baking pan or a 9×9 pan. The cooling time will be the same.
  • While I prefer milk chocolate chips, feel free to top your bars with melted dark chocolate.
  • To make the chocolate peanut butter bars easy to remove from the pan, line it with parchment paper you can lift and remove with ease.

You may also like these bar recipes:

Lemon Bars Recipe and Video Tutorial

Chewy Pear Bars 

Lela’s Fried Peach Pie Bars

And here are some peanut butter recipes you might like:

3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Brownies with Peanut Butter Fudge Icing

Refrigerator Peanut Butter & Milk Granola Bars

Plate of no-bake peanut butter bars.

No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

Using just 5 ingredients, these easy no bake peanut butter bars are a rich and decadent treat that taste exactly like homemade Reese's peanut butter cups! 
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bars, peanutbutter
Servings: 4
Calories: 532kcal


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar light or dark
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


  • Place all of the ingredients (except the milk chocolate chips) in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until the butter and peanut butter are melted (1 to 2 minutes). Time will vary by microwave.
    1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 cups creamy peanut butter, 2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • Remove from the microwave and use a large spoon to stir all of the ingredients together (except chocolate chips) until they form a ball of dough that leaves the side of the bowl. Pat into a 9x13 pan.
  • Pour the chocolate chips into another microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until completely melted. Spoon over the top of the peanut butter mixture and spread evenly.
    2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Allow the peanut butter bars to cool completely at room temperature until the chocolate hardens again or place in the refrigerator for faster hardening. Cut into squares and serve to some awfully happy people!


Calories: 532kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!


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  1. These look amazing. I would like to make them with Peanut Butter powder rather than regular peanut butter. Anyone have any idea how to measure the powder and water to make the amount needed in this recipe. I have looked online, and have some idea, but was wondering if anyone has tried it with peanut butter powder. Thanks in advance for any information you may have.

  2. 5 stars
    I love these. They come out perfectly every time and are always a big hit (especially in the chemo room!) I hate the ones with graham cracker crumbs in them. These remind me of the ones in elementary school to a T. Thanks so much for these!

  3. These Peanut Butter Bars were beyond excellent. So easy to make and so easy to eat.

    I did substitute 12-16 oz. of Hershey milk chocolate candy bars for the semi-sweet chocolate chips. I also added about 1 Tbsp. of peanut butter to the melted chocolate.

    I was in a big hurry when I was making these and did not sift the confectioners’ sugar, it did have a lot lumps. And the lumps did not dissolve as I had thought. But to my surprise my husband liked them like that. He liked the sweet crunch from the undissolved sugar lumps.

    So even though I messed up, these were delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe and your stories. I enjoy reading both.

  4. Christy, I agree wholeheartily about loving those lunch ladies! My sister and I helped in the school cafeterias from 4th or 5th grade through high school. Part of the reason we helped was because we received free lunches as our pay for helping. That also helped our parents not to have to pay for them. We enjoyed getting to know those ladies as we worked with them. We are still friends with some of them although most have passed on. I think that also helped us want to be in the kitchen helping and learning from them as well as learning from our mom. The lady that was head cook during our last two years of school was an Italian and she was a great cook. We helped serve at a dinner for some group from school and she made homemade ravioli and rolls. It was really a treat for us! I would have to say that part of the reason I love to cook and bake now is from working with them. During the hot summer days, I love no bake recipes!

  5. Isnt it funny how we all have the memories of these?
    Ours had crushed up rice crispies in them too, for a little extra oomph

  6. These look delicious! Definitely going to try these. I have been looking for that long ago cafeteria peanut butter bar. I remember them being made this way with the chocolate…….but does anyone remember these with a small amount of Cheerios mixed in without the chocolate on top?

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! To me, this treat was a childhood staple, and there are so many memories of my friends and I scraping together change to see if we could get enough to buy extra of these (even when we had to pool our funds and share, that was still better than no extra). These taste JUST like the ones we had in school growing up, it’s a shame that kids today aren’t allowed to get these in their lunch (but that’s a separate topic). I’ve tried other recipes but they were never quite right….. This one is on the money! Thank you so much

      1. Christy,
        In your recipe, the instructions failed to say that the vanilla and confectioners sugar should be put in the microwave at the same time as the butter, brown sugar and peanut butter. Should they be? Thanks.

        1. It says, “all other ingredients except chocolate chips”, which means powdered sugar and vanilla to in after the microwave!

          1. I use the printed version which says place peanut butter, butter, and brown sugar in a large bowl and microwave until melted. I knew it was too soupy and went back and looked at the long drawn out version and saw the confectioners sugar in the photos so I added it after microwaving which made it harder to stir, completely forgot the vanilla and I’ve already patted it into a bowl. I don’t have enough peanut butter to scrap it and start over, we will just have it without vanilla. just wanted to comment that many of us use the printed recipe to shop and bake, I often skip all the text and scroll right to the recipe, it needs to be updated.

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