FAVORITE PEANUT BUTTER SQUARES FROM CHILDHOOD
Who else grew up in a time when the school lunch ladies actually made the food from scratch? So much better than the processed/prepackaged food they serve now. Ah, those were the good old days!
I was beyond thrilled any time chocolate peanut butter oatmeal bars were on the menu! They were one of my very favorites back then, and they still are today. How can you beat three layers of chocolate and peanut butter goodness?
Unfortunately for school kids today, they don’t serve these bars anymore. But don’t worry, you can make them right at home. And trust me, you do not have to be a child to enjoy these spectacular peanut butter oat bars!
I’ve taken them to many potlucks, picnics, and bake sales over the years, and everyone raves over them. But of course, you can wrap them up and send them in a school lunch, or have them ready for an after school snack.
I had actually tried a few similar recipes for lunchroom peanut butter bars over the years, but after one bite of these bars, I threw out all my other versions. My friend Heather brought some to a ladies luncheon, and after one bite I knew they were the best peanut butter bars ever!
I’ve been making them for years, and I have never tried another version that beats this one. The bars have perfect texture and plenty of peanut butter flavor, and the chocolate frosting is heavenly. Every bite is pure bliss.
The extra layer of peanut butter adds a rich flavor and saltiness that offsets the sweetness of the chocolate frosting. Trust me, these things are addicting! It makes a large batch, and that can be a good or bad thing. Wink wink.
To skip my tips and tricks and just see the recipe card, simply scroll to the bottom of the post.
HOW TO MAKE PEANUT BUTTER OATMEAL BARS
- creamy peanut butter (Crunchy peanut butter yields dry bars, and it is hard to spread on the bars, so I highly recommend using Jif or Skippy creamy peanut butter.)
- butter (I use salted butter.)
- granulated sugar
- light brown sugar (or dark brown if you prefer)
- large eggs
- vanilla extract
- all purpose flour
- baking soda
- oats (I recommend old fashioned oats. Quick oats will work in a pinch, but do not use instant oats.)
- cocoa powder (I use regular Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa.)
- powdered sugar (AKA confectioners sugar)
- milk (I usually use 2%, but any kind should work. You can even use cream or evaporated milk.)
- First up you are going to make a simple peanut butter base that has crunchy oats that add a perfect texture. The key to soft and chewy peanut butter bars is not to over bake them! You want them to barely be set when you pull them out of the oven. They will continue to cook after you remove them, and they will set up even more as they cool.
- Secondly, top off your warm bars with peanut butter. The heat of the bars will melt the peanut butter a little, making it easier to spread.
- After the bars have cooled completely, spread a decadent chocolate buttercream frosting on top. It’s a little easier to spread if it isn’t too thick, so make sure you add enough milk. Don’t worry if the peanut butter and frosting swirl into each other a bit.
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER PEANUT BUTTER BARS
If you have any leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container at room temperature and they will last up to a week. I simply keep them in the pan and cover them with this plastic lid.
MORE RECIPES FOR PEANUT BUTTER FANS:
- Peanut Butter Waffles
- Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies
- Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
- Reese’s Cake
- Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Balls
- Peanut Butter Cake Recipe
GIVE THESE OTHER DESSERT BARS A TRY:
PEANUT BUTTER BARS RECIPE
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup butter or margarine
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups old fashioned oats
- 1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
- 3 Tbsp butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- dash salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 Tbsp milk or cream (more or less)
- Spray a half sheet jelly roll pan (13x18") with non stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream peanut butter, butter, and sugars in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda, salt, and oats.
- Mix together well and press dough evenly into the prepared pan.
- Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until just barely set in the middle. Don't over bake.
- While bars are still warm, drop spoonfuls of peanut butter on top, and spread evenly.
- Cool completely then spread chocolate frosting over the peanut butter.
- For frosting, beat butter and cocoa in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add enough milk to make a spreadable consistency and beat till smooth and creamy.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 399Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 353mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 3gSugar: 26gProtein: 8g
(originally posted Mar 11, 2009, updated January 2021.)
If you need an easy bar cookie that feeds a crowd, give this peanut butter oatmeal bars recipe a try. I bet you will want to make them again and again!