Must-Try Peanut Butter Cookie Bars: Nutty Goodness

Sneak Peek: These homemade Peanut Butter Cookie Bars look fancy with a thin vanilla glaze drizzled with chocolate. But don’t let that fool you. They are easy to make and scrumptious to eat. Don’t miss the helpful📌baking tips.

3 frosted peanut butter cookie bars on a plate ready-to-eatPin

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Are you a peanut butter lover looking for a beautiful peanut butter cookie? These are not the peanut butter cookies we made in home economics class in jr. high with a crisscross fork pattern on top. They also are not blondies with candy squashed into them or sugar-coated cookies with a chocolate kiss on top.

Instead, these sophisticated Frosted Peanut Butter Cookies Bars are worthy of a Christmas cookie tray or giveaway box. I like to serve them on a pretty crystal plate for something sweet after dinner or at a card party.

My mom always made these bars and I could never find the recipe online until now. These are THE BEST peanut butter bars ever!

–Casey

Pick me, pick me 🙋🏻 (why you will love this recipe)

These peanut butter cookies have a lighter texture than most brownies. Depending on your choice of peanut butter, they can be crunchy or smooth. The bars are crispy and chewy on the perimeter of the pan but gloriously soft and chewy in the middle. Choose an inside piece or one from the perimeter according to your favorite texture.

I can’t deny it. This cookie is RICH but not quite like peanut butter fudge! I recommend you cut them into small pieces for maximum enjoyment.

sliced peanut butter squares with spatulaPin

The frosting may look like a lot of trouble, but don’t leave it off. It’s what makes these bars festive. The random pattern requires no artistic talent. The squiggles and wiggles add homemade charm. In addition, the chocolate adds a “Reese’s peanut butter cup” flavor you will love.

If you are a peanut butter lover, jump over to these Chocolate Peanut Butter Pinwheels, or my PB2 Recipe for Peanut Butter Greek Yogurt Snack to get your next peanut butter fix.

Ingredients and common substitutions:

  • Butter: Substitute margarine if you prefer. Use unsalted butter if you have it. If not, it’s fine to use the salted variety.
  • Peanut Butter: Use creamy peanut butter or crunchy peanut butter.
  • Brown Sugar: Substitute dark brown sugar for light brown sugar. I have not experimented with granulated sugar or honey as a stand-in for brown sugar.
  • Eggs: I always use large-sized eggs.
  • Flour: The recipe specified all-purpose flour. It doesn’t matter if you use bleached or unbleached.
  • Salt: I use table salt or sea salt. If you prefer Kosher salt, add a pinch more.
  • Confectioners’ Sugar: (aka powdered sugar) No known substitutes other than pulsing granulated sugar inside a high-powered blender.
  • Chocolate: The recipe calls for semi-sweet chocolate chips or chocolate in a bar form. Bittersweet chocolate would be a good substitute. Use your favorite brand of chocolate.
  • Shortening: It is difficult to find another ingredient that fills in for shortening when making the chocolate drizzle. I’ve tried coconut oil (as seen in the picture). It’s fine in cool weather, but it’s too soft in warm weather. When it’s hot, don’t add fat; stick with chocolate only.

Read these kitchen secrets before you start:

📌Kitchen Secret📌– Pick those hard lumps out if you notice dark lumps in your brown sugar as you measure or mix it into the cookie dough. If you don’t, you may have a moth-eaten appearance in your finished cookies, as seen in the picture below.

cut PB bars with holes in texturePin
The tunnels were caused by tiny lumps of brown sugar that melted during baking.

📌Kitchen Secret📌 – If you make many bar cookies, you need this trick. I always use it with my Chewy Coconut-Pecan Bars, Easy Chocolate-Topped Shortbread Bars, and these Meyer Lemon Bars for Clumsy Cooks.

What is your reward for this extra step? You probably won’t have to wash the pan. Also, every piece can look perfect since you shouldn’t have difficulty getting the first piece out of the pan.

If you don’t have any non-stick aluminum foil on hand, use regular foil and spray it with oil. Parchment paper slings are another option.


📌Kitchen Secret📌 If you are nervous or have never tried drizzling chocolate, here are a few tips:

📌Kitchen Tip📌 – This recipe makes a lot, but it’s easy to make a half-batch except for the 3-egg dilemma. I find the easiest way is to break one egg into a cup. Whisk it well and only use half of it. Beef up your breakfast omelet the next morning with the remaining half egg.


How to make this recipe for Peanut Butter Bars:

combining peanut butter and butterPin
Combine peanut butter and butter until smooth in a large bowl.
adding brown sugar to butter mixturePin
Add the brown sugar and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
adding egg to mixturePin
Add eggs one at a time and mix until fluffy.
Adding flour and salt to cookiesPin
Blend in flour and salt.
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Stir or slowly mix in the flour just until it disappears.
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Pour the batter mixture into a prepared baking dish or pan. (Note: If you make the recipe as written, use a 9 x 13-inch pan for baking the cookies.) Bake at 350˚F or 180˚C. Bake time is usually 35-40 minutes. Be careful not to overbake and dry out the brownies. The whole batch will rise while it bakes, then fall when it’s done, similar to a brownie recipe.
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After 15 minutes of cooling, use a small rubber spatula, spoon, or knife to spread the frosting thinly over the top of the bars.
frosted peanut butter cookie barsPin
The frosting should be somewhat irregular and see-through.
Cut Glazed Peanut Butter Cookies Bars on a plate ready to eat.Pin
Drizzle with melted chocolate. Refrigerate before cutting the bars.

FAQ about Frosted Peanut Butter Cookie Bars:

How long will peanut butter bars stay fresh?

They will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days. Double-wrap and store them in the freezer for up to three months.

What is the best way to store them?

Store these cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If your house is warm, the chocolate will soften and get messy if you don’t keep the cookies chilled.


What readers are saying:

Your Peanut Butter Bars are the most delicious treats ever, I totally adore  them, I’m addicted. Thank you for the recipe.

Lesley F.

Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at saladinajar.com. If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.

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glazed peanut butter squaresPin

Peanut Butter Cookie Bar Recipe Drizzled with Melted Chocolate

Paula Rhodes
This is a peanut butter bar with a vanilla frosting and chocolate glaze-elegant enough for a holiday platter but easy enough for a lunchbox treat.
Share recipe love here. ⬇
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Desserts
Cuisine American
Servings 32 bars
Calories 177 kcal

Video

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup (258 g) peanut buttercrunchy or smooth
  • cup (151 g) butter, softened
  • 2 cups (440 g) light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (120 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon (3 g) table salt

Frosting

  • 1 cup (120 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons water

Drizzle

  • 2 squares (56 g) semi-sweet chocolate OR 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces
  • 1 teaspoon shortening (see discussion in the post)

Instructions
 

Brownie Base:

  • Preheat your oven to 350. °F
  • Combine1 cup (258 g) peanut butter and 2/3 cup (151 g) butter, softened in a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add 2 cups (440 g) light brown sugar, firmly packed and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and continue to beat for 1-2 minutes. Beat in 3 large eggs one at a time.
  • Stir in 1 cup (120 g) unbleached all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) table saltuntil well blended; spread batter in greased or foil-lined 13×9 inch baking pan.
  • Bake at 350 °F for 35-40 minutes, or until the center springs back when lightly touched with a fingertip. Allow cookies to cool for about 15 minutes in the pan.

Frosting:

  • Combine 1 cup (120 g) confectioners’ sugar with 1-2 tablespoons water in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Drizzle from a spoon over still-warm cookies. Swirl to make a random pattern.

Chocolate Drizzle:

  • Combine 2 squares (56 g) semi-sweet chocolate OR 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces and 1 teaspoon shortening into a small zippered, plastic bag for one minute on MEDIUM power in a microwave. Knead with fingers to make sure it is all melted. Return to microwave for a few additional seconds if necessary. Chips may take a little longer.
  • Snip a small tip from one corner and drizzle over the white glaze in a random back-and-forth pattern. When cool, use a sharp knife to cut into 36 rectangles. (I like them best cold out of the fridge.)

Nutrition

Serving: 1bar | Calories: 177kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 111mg | Potassium: 85mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 141IU | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword peanut butter cookie bars, peanut butter brownies, frosted cookies, chocolate, peanut butter bars
HELP OTHERS find this recipe. Leave a 5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating at the top of the recipe card if you enjoyed it. No comment is required.

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18 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My mom always made these bars and I could never find the recipe online until now. These are THE BEST peanut butter bars ever! So glad I can pin this because I’m always losing her recipe.

    1. I’m so glad you like these. Me, too.

  2. 5 stars
    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. My mother used to make these in the 70s. I remembered that the recipe was from a set of Family Circle cook books that she had, but she had long ago gotten rid of them. I never thought I’d find the recipe again, but I put a description in google and your post came out on top. So glad that I can make these again.

    1. Hi Melissa,
      Fantastic! I love hearing this–makes it worth all the trouble. Enjoy.

  3. Jeannette says:

    these look SO great!! bookmarking them now!!

  4. Those darn nuggets of sugar…. I’m sure they were still good – they look fantastic! I love how the drizzle design makes them look so festive.

  5. These look wonderful!

  6. Such a pretty bar! My mother-in-law used to type all her recipes on little cards with an old manual typewriter!

  7. steph (whisk/spoon) says:

    whoa–those look super good. even better than the TWD ones.

  8. the urban baker says:

    wow…those look spectacular! i will make you something fabulous if you make me these!! even trade!

  9. Betty @ scrambled hen fruit says:

    These look fabulous and are going on my list of holiday goodies for sure. Thanks! I’ve found that I have to sift all of my brown sugar these days, even if it’s freshly opened. Either brown sugar is lumpier now, or I’m just noticing it more!

    1. I thought it was just me because the brown sugar I wrote about came out of a freshly opened bag.

  10. OMG! I am making these for my husband and little guy they love PB! These look and sound fantastic!

  11. YUMMMMMY!
    This recipe goes at the top of my to-make list, especially with finger foods needed for Christmas parties that are just around the corner. I usually prefer milk chocolate in my cookies…. What do you think? Maybe I will drizzle half the cookies in semi-sweet and half in milk chocolate.

    1. Der, milk chocolate would be GREAT!

  12. So pretty…I love things with a drizzle on them…it always just looks extra special with a drizzle!

  13. Now that looks so good! I am going to have to try this recipe very soon!

  14. TheKitchenWitch says:

    Laughing at “moth-eaten.” I use that phrase, too! Beautiful photo at the top, Paula! Woo-hoo!