These refined sugar free Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars are a family favourite! Delightfully indulgent, no-bake squares packed with nutty peanuts and crisp rice cereal and topped with a smooth peanut butter laced dark chocolate.
If you asked me what one recipe I remember most from my childhood, these Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars are definitely that one.
I learned how to bake making these bars. The first week of December, without fail, my grandmother and mom would hoist me up on a small yellowing stool by the kitchen counter, and we would all batch bake treats for the holidays.
Nana would heat butter, peanut butter, and golden corn syrup in a pan on the stove, while mom and I mixed together shortbread dough, rolled it into logs, and chilled it in the fridge. Then we’d get to work chopping peanuts and measuring out crispy rice cereal, which nana would cover with the fragrant nutty syrup.
With tiny hands, I would help press the sticky layer into the pan and then gleefully lick the sweet peanut butter off of my fingers. While the base cooled, we would move onto other treats: marshmallow squares, shortbread cookies, mince pies, or – the classic Canadian Christmas goodie – raisin-studded butter tarts.
I learned how to bake by observing – soaking up everything I could as my family puttered around the kitchen and quality checking a few beaters and spoons as I saw fit. Certainly no one got ill on my watch!
Today I’m sharing this family recipe with you. Why? So that when the time comes (or perhaps it already has), you can share the joy of baking with someone small too.
What makes these chocolate peanut butter bars different
I know. You’ve seen a million and a half recipes for Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars scattered around the internet. Perhaps you even have a recipe for these already in your arsenal. So why on earth would you bother to make mine?
This is an old family recipe (which we know are always the best kind!), so it retains all of the love, care, and old-school flavour you expect from your nana’s recipes. The only change I’ve made is to make it refined sugar free. All of the good stuff remains in tact.
Both sugar and corn syrup are used to sweeten and bind the original recipe, but I’m omitting both of those in favour of agave nectar. You could use honey if you like, but I find agave is a bit more neutral. I’ve done it with both and they’re equally delicious!
The main difference my bars have over the others? The dark chocolate peanut butter topping. It truly makes these bars “the best.”
Most recipes for Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars call for peanut butter in the base layer and then a topping of semi-sweet chocolate and oil. I don’t know about you, but during the holidays, I like to bake as high-quality treats as I can. So we’re using the best quality dark chocolate and smooth natural peanut butter in the topping for that classic, dreamy flavour and extra kick of nuttiness.
It’s basically like topping the bars with a melted Reese Cup. You’re welcome.
Finally, if I’m going to call this a peanut butter bar, there had better be some serious PB action going on. We’re talking roasted chopped peanuts in the base for extra crunch; smooth and creamy natural peanut butter in the sticky sweet syrup; and that bonus Reese-Cup-like chocolate layer on top.
You’re going to think you died and landed in chocolate PB heaven.
How to make the best crispy chocolate peanut butter bars
I think the best bits about this recipe are the fact that the ingredient list is fewer than 10 items, and they’re completely no-bake. There’s a bit of heating and whisking on the stove, but for the most part, your fridge and freezer do the work for you. Christmas baking usually involves a lot of, well, baking, so these Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars are a nice reprieve when you need a little break from your oven!
Here’s how to make them (see the recipe card below for the full method):
- Make the peanut butter syrup for the base by melting together butter, natural peanut butter, and agave syrup in a pan.
- Whisk in a little vanilla and salt for seasoning, then pour it over a combination of chopped roasted peanuts and brown rice crisp cereal.
- Toss the dry ingredients in the syrup until well coated then press the mixture into a prepared baking tin. Freeze while you make the chocolate PB topping.
- In a double boiler, melt together good quality dark chocolate and peanut butter until smooth and luscious.
- Pour the chocolate topping over the frozen bars, smooth out to the edges, and then refrigerate until set.
- Slice and top with flaky sea salt for a salty-sweet touch.
I really hope you enjoy baking (or no-baking!) these Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars with your loved ones this holiday season. They’re a super fun, stress-free, and totally delicious recipe that everyone will go nuts over!
Trust me when I say that these bars are always the first to disappear off the holiday cookie table.
Looking for more refined sugar free Christmas desserts?
- Gingerbread Cake with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
- Grapefruit & Thyme Mascarpone Tart
- Mandarin Orange Cake
- Irish Coffee Blondies
- Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Pretzel Crust
- Chocolate Raspberry Bars
If you make this recipe, let me know by snapping a picture and tagging me on Instagram @naturallysweet_kitchen. I love seeing your creations and sharing them in my Stories. Or let me know you love these crispy chocolate peanut butter bars by leaving a comment and rating below!
The Best Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
No-bake refined sugar free Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars packed with peanuts and crispy cereal, topped with a peanut butter laced dark chocolate.
Crispy Peanut Butter Layer
- 85 g unsalted butter
- 125 g smooth natural peanut butter
- 180 ml agave syrup
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 60 g brown rice crisp cereal
- 150 g unsalted roasted peanuts roughly chopped
Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer
- 120 g good quality dark chocolate roughly chopped
- 85 g smooth natural peanut butter
- Flaky sea salt for decoration
Crispy Peanut Butter Layer
- Grease and line a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) baking tin with non-stick paper, leaving a bit of paper overhanging the sides for easy removal.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, peanut butter, and agave syrup and whisk together over a medium-low heat until smooth.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and salt. Add the cereal and peanuts and stir well until all the dry ingredients are coated.
- Transfer to the prepared tin and smooth out to the corners, pressing down to fill any gaps. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes and then chill for 30 minutes in the freezer.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer
- Create a double boiler and add the chocolate and peanut butter to the bowl. Melt together and stir until smooth.
- Remove the chilled peanut butter layer from the freezer and pour the chocolate over top. Working quickly, spread the chocolate to the edges and smooth the top. Place the bar in the fridge for at least 2 hours (or overnight) to set. Slice into 12 equal pieces, top with pinches of flaky sea salt, and serve.
- These bars will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- If using salted peanuts, omit the salt in the recipe.