These Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars are rich, creamy, slightly crumbly, and loaded with an incredible amount of flavor! The pretzel topping adds extra crunch but is entirely optional.
This post is all about how to make No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars.
These easy Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars made with graham crackers are insanely delicious and downright sinful! I mean, is there anything better than combining peanut butter and chocolate?
If you love the taste of biting into a Reese’s peanut butter cup, then you’ll appreciate these homemade bars with an upgraded gourmet flair. Because these no-bake bars are thicker with a decadent Ghirardelli chocolate chip topping, they far exceed any old-fashioned peanut butter treat you may have tasted before.
Again, making these bars involves no baking and can be accomplished in 15-20 minutes max! Oh, and did I mention this recipe only calls for five simple ingredients?!
The pretzel topping you see above in the picture is an optional sixth ingredient. Pretzels add dimensional crunch to this recipe but skip this topping if you prefer a smooth and creamy chocolate peanut butter bar.
Below are some tips to follow so you too can make these Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars quickly and with ease. Let’s dive into the recipe so you can start sharing these fantastic dessert bars with everyone you love!
No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
What Ingredients And Equipment Will I Need For This Recipe?
- Graham Cracker Crumbs – You’ll need 16 sheets of graham crackers for this recipe. Place the sheets into a Ziploc bag, seal it tightly, and use a rolling pin to crush the crackers into fine crumbs. The graham cracker crumbs add texture to the peanut butter base.
- Peanut Butter – DO NOT use natural or crunchy peanut butter for this recipe, instead use a creamy Jif or Skippy brand. Because the oils and peanut butter are separated with a natural brand it is hard to reach a creamy consistency. I made this mistake in the past and it took forever to get the base of the peanut butter bar mixed properly and lacked a creamy texture.
- Powdered Sugar – Because powdered sugar contains an anti-caking agent like corn starch it improves the flow of the peanut butter base while adding appropriate sweetness. DO NOT use regular white sugar.
- Butter – Adding melted butter to the base of the peanut butter bar allows the cracker crumbs, peanut butter, and powdered sugar to culminate perfectly. Tip: For the chocolate topping, add an additional two tablespoons of melted butter to the melted chocolate chips. This will make it easier to cut into the bars after they’ve chilled in the refrigerator.
- Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips – Because these bars are sweet and rich already, use semi-sweet chocolate chips to cut down on some of that sweetness. Semi-sweet chips include 35-55% cocoa while milk chocolate chips contain only 10% cocoa meaning the sweetness factor goes way up! Also, it’s recommended to use the Ghirardelli brand. It’s pricier because it’s high-quality chocolate, but you can taste the difference.
- Mini Pretzels – Optional topping.
- Ziploc Bag – Place the graham cracker squares in this bag.
- Rolling Pin – Use this to roll over the Ziploc bag to crush the graham crackers into a fine crumb.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons – Be sure to measure the peanut butter, butter, sugar, and crackers accurately.
- Mixer – If you own a mixer this will help get the thick ingredients mixed thoroughly. If you don’t own one use a spatula and never underestimate the power of using your hands!
- Mixing Bowl
- Parchment Paper – Place a large piece of parchment paper down into the pan and make sure there is excess paper outside of the pan. Once the bar has chilled in the refrigerator you’ll use the excess parchment paper to lift the bar out of the pan so you can cut it up into squares.
- Glass Dish or Pan – A 9 x 13 glass baking dish will work perfectly for this dessert. For thick bars use a 9 x 9 pan.
- Sharp Knife – Use the sharpest knife you own to cut the chocolate peanut butter bar into squares.
How To Make No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars, Step-By-Step
Step 2: Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, peanut butter, and melted butter in a large bowl or mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients well using a mixer or wooden spatula. I also used my hands to mix the ingredients. The peanut butter base will be thick.
Step 3: Line a 9 x 13 pan or a 9 x 9 baking pan (for thick bars) with parchment paper. Make sure there is excess parchment paper on the sides of the pan so you can lift the bar out after it has chilled in the refrigerator.
Step 4: Press and spread the peanut butter mixture into the pan evenly lined with parchment paper.
Step 5: Melt two tablespoons of butter with 12 ounces of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave or over the stove. Mix until melted and smooth. If using the microwave, melt and stir in 15-second increments. Add the chocolate on top of the peanut butter layer. The chocolate topping will be semi-thick. Be sure to spread the topping evenly over the peanut butter bar.
Step 6: Add the (optional) pretzel topping now. Allow the bar to set up and chill in the refrigerator for approximately 90 minutes.
Step 7: Remove the pan from the refrigerator. The bar should easily lift out of the pan by pulling up the excess parchment paper from the sides. Using a sharp knife, cut the bar into squares and enjoy!
Pro Tips For Making Old-Fashioned Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars
While this recipe isn’t old-fashioned, these old-fashioned tips remain tried and true! Some of these were mentioned earlier but are important enough to repeat.
Tip #1: Use A Jif Or Skippy Peanut Butter Brand
Stay away from all-natural peanut butter when making this recipe. These are clumpy and have excess oil. The natural and crunchy peanut butter will also affect the texture of the bars.
Tip #2: Parchment Paper
Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper so you can easily lift the bar out after it has chilled in the refrigerator. This method makes cleanup easy too!
Tip #3: Add Melted Butter To The Chocolate Chip Topping
Be sure to add two tablespoons of melted butter to the chocolate chips. Melted butter keeps the chocolate semi-soft, which helps cut the bar into squares (easily and quickly) and prevents the topping from cracking.
Tip #4: Use Powdered Sugar Or Confectioner’s Sugar
Do not use regular white sugar. Remember, powdered sugar has cornstarch in it, which helps to form the peanut butter base.
Tip #5: Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
You want to copycat the best version of a Reese’s peanut butter cup, right? Be sure to use high-quality chocolate like Ghirardelli and use the semi-sweet flavor because it contains more cocoa.
Frequently Asked Questions For The World’s Best Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Can I Make These Peanut Butter Bars Ahead Of Time?
Yes! They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week in an airtight container.
Can I Freeze Them And How?
Yes, you can store them in the freezer. Put the bars in a Ziploc bag or double wrap them in plastic wrap and lastly with foil. If you own a vacuum sealer for food, that is the best way to protect them from freezer burn. Be sure to label the bars.
How Do I Defrost The Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars?
Take them out of the freezer the night before and allow them to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
Can I Use Oil Instead Of Melted Butter?
No! This recipe needs melted butter for a consistent, creamy texture that will complement the peanut butter.
Can I Double This Recipe?
You certainly can, but this recipe is rich and decadent, and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re making them for a huge crowd. A little goes a long way!
How Can I Make No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars Without Graham Crackers?
You can make these bars without graham crackers, but the texture won’t be the same. Consider replacing the graham crackers with oatmeal. Using a sharp knife, cut the oatmeal into more refined pieces (the best that you can), so it resembles the fine crumbs from the graham crackers. Or shortbread works well.
Can I Make Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars Without Powdered Sugar?
Yes! If you’re looking for a healthier version of these peanut butter bars, click here. Whether you’re shooting for low-carb, sugar-free, gluten-free, or following the keto diet, these variational recipes will help.
More Chocolate & Peanut Butter Variation Desserts!
- Rice Krispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Treats, aka Scotcheroos
No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
- Rolling Pin
- Ziploc Bag
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Mixer or Wooden Spatula
- Mixing Bowl
- Parchment paper
- 9 x 13 or 9 x 9 (for thick bars) Glass Dish or Pan
- Sharp knife
Ingredients For Peanut Butter Base
- 2 Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs, approximately 16 sheets.
- 2 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 1 Cup Peanut Butter (Jif or Skippy)
- 1 Cup Unsalted Butter, melted (2 sticks)
Ingredients For Chocolate Topping
- 12 ounces Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- Mini Pretzels (Optional Topping)
Instructions For Peanut Butter Base
- Place 16 sheets of graham crackers into a Ziploc bag. Seal it tightly and use a rolling pin to crush the crackers into fine crumbs.
- Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, peanut butter, and melted butter in a large bowl or mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients well using a mixer or wooden spatula. I also used my hands to mix the ingredients. The peanut butter base will be thick.
- Line a 9 x 13 or 9 x 9 (for thick bars) pan or dish with parchment paper. Make sure there is excess parchment paper on the sides of the pan so you can lift the bar out after it has chilled in the refrigerator.
- Press and spread the peanut butter mixture evenly into the pan lined with parchment paper.
Instructions For The Chocolate Topping
- Melt two tablespoons of butter with 12 ounces of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips in the microwave or over the stove. Mix until melted and smooth. If using the microwave, melt and stir in 15-second increments. Add the chocolate on top of the peanut butter layer. The chocolate topping will be semi-thick. Be sure to spread the topping evenly over the peanut butter bar.
- Add the (optional) pretzel topping now. Allow the bar to set up and chill in the refrigerator for approximately 90 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the refrigerator. The bar should easily lift out of the pan by pulling up the excess parchment paper from the sides. Using a sharp knife, cut the bar into squares and enjoy!
Final Thoughts On No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
I hope you find this recipe to be a real winner with friends and family! Remember, these bars are rich and decadent so cut them into appropriate sizes for your gathering. A little goes a long way!