Salty-Sweet Peanut Butter Cup Bars

This recipe is so easy, it feels like cheating. It's one of those treats you can turn to in the most harried days of the Christmas hustle and bustle. In about 5 minutes you can have a weighty pan of candy made, and after a short chill in the fridge, they're ready to be sliced up and packaged for gift giving.

You're probably aware by now that I'm a HUGE fan of salty and sweet together, especially when peanut butter and chocolate are involved. I love Maldon flake sea salton these bars, but Fleur de Sel or any other sea salt would be wonderful too. Or, if you'd rather keep things sweet, the salt can be omitted - but I urge you to think about it first. Or perhaps taste-test one lightly salted piece before adding it to the entire pan.

You can package the bars in cellophane bags tied with pretty ribbon, or place them  in cupcake liners and gift them in a pretty holiday tin. They're potent, so I usually cut them no larger than 1x3-inches.

Peanut Butter Cup Bars
[click for printable version]
Yields 12x8 or 13x9 dish
Prep: 5 minutes, total time about 45 minutes

The peanut butter portion of these bars is almost cookie-like, thanks to the addition of graham cracker crumbs to the batter. If you're short on time, buy graham cracker crumbs and chopped peanuts already prepared from the grocery store.

1 cup/226 g unsalted butter
1 cup/250 g creamy peanut butter
2 cups/180 g graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup/ 4 oz. finely chopped peanuts
2 1/2 cups/320 g confectioners' sugar
1 cup/6 oz. chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
Maldon flake salt, optional

Line a 12x8 or 13x9-inch dish with parchment paper with two sides overhanging, or butter the pan generously.
In a 2 quart microwave-safe mixing bowl, combine the butter and peanut butter. Microwave at full power for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, or until melted. Blend together. Mix in crumbs, peanuts and sugar until the mixture is stiff. Press firmly into the prepared pan.

In a small bowl, combine chips, and shortening. Microwave at full power at 30 second intervals, until the chips and shortening are melted and can be stirred smooth. Pour over the peanut layer and smooth the chocolate evenly with an off-set spatula. Refrigerate until set, about 40 minutes.

Lift the candy from the pan by the two overhanging parchment edges. Sprinkle the chocolate with two or three pinches of Maldon flake salt, if using. Cut the bars into pieces and store in a container that seals air-tight.

Stove-top directions: If you don't have a microwave, then this candy may be prepared on the stove-top instead. Melt the butter and peanut butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until smooth. Melt the chocolate chips and shortening in a small saucepan over medium-low until smooth.

link Salty-Sweet Peanut Butter Cup Bars By Published: Salty-Sweet Peanut Butter Cup Bars Recipe


  1. Oh my those look incredible! Salt makes everything better :)

  2. Loving this recipe. So Pinned!

  3. These look delicious! I'm also a huge fan of the peanut butter-chocolate combination!

  4. These look delicious! I'm also a huge fan of the peanut butter-chocolate combination!

  5. These look great and I plan to make them ASAP-- one question: I have both "natural" creamy PB, which is 100 percent peanuts, and the far more delicious and completely unnatural creamy Jif PB. Which one do you recommend using?

  6. I wonder the same as Ellie... if one could use all natural peanut butter, and omit the butter? This looks so simple and delicious!

  7. Hi Ellie and Grace!

    Both nut butters should work well. The oils in natural peanut butters tend to separate easily (which is why palm oil is so often used in traditional butters - no separation ) but I don't see that being a problem with this recipe. The graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar are absorbent and binding, so the bars should hold together well. They will perhaps have slightly less of a crumbly texture than bars made with tradition PB, but I think that's a good thing. My only tip - give the natural peanut butter a good stir before measuring.

    Best of luck with the bars! I hope you love them!

  8. Oh my, these look a bit like millionaire shortbread, but so so much better!

    Nothing is better than peanut butter in my eyes, I'll definitely be trying this out! My boyfriend loves things like this two - extra Christmas present? I think so.

    Hazel Jane xx


  9. There's really nothing better than chocolate and peanut butter. Especially with flakes of sea salt on top.
    I know what I'll be making for Christmas!

  10. Oof these look so good! Never thought to add crushed biscuit to the base before, genius idea

  11. These look great and my bf is gonna love them! I was wondering though, if I could omit the vegetable shortening or substitute it with something else?

  12. Hi Kierra,

    You can omit the shortening completely. The shortening helps prevent the chocolate chips from scorching in the microwave as it cooks, so you might want to reduce the microwave power by 50%. You could also melt it over low heat on the stove top while keeping a sharp eye on it.

    Thanks for asking!

  13. These sound so delicious and easy! (Even though we have no microwave. Time to break out the double boiler!) They may have to make an appearance at my holiday cookie swap later this month....

  14. This year I decided to give homemade gifts to friends this Christmas, and I've been looking for a great and easy recipe for chocolate candy. I think I found it; these look amazing and I'm sure taste great, I just love the chocolate, peanut butter, salt combination! I usually make my own peanut butter; it's so easy, natural and cheap! I was wondering if could I use my own homemade peanut butter in this recipe. Mind you that I have to refrigerate the peanut butter when I make it, and if I use it with these candies would it be OK to leave them out of the fridge since I will be giving them as gifts.

  15. Hi Markella,

    Using homemade peanut butter should yield the same results as using store-bought natural peanut butter - unless, for some reason, your recipe homemade recipe contains a lot of oil. In that case, you'd need to add more graham cracker crumbs to help the peanut butter layer bind. The bars will keep for up to a week stored in an air-tight container at room temperature. They'll keep slightly longer if refrigerated.

  16. Definitely making these. I spy a 1, 2 and now 3 ... how many delicious treats can we expect??? :) Also looking forward to see what kind of gingerbread house you will do this year.

  17. Love the giant flakes of sea salt on top, the perfect balance!

  18. Hi ,
    These look amazing, i'm definitely going to try this.
    But I was looking at the recipe, do i really use 2 cups of Graham crumbs should be like 170grams, or did you really use 90 grams ( i guess the weight of un-crushed crackers)
    Thank you so much for all your effort.

  19. Hi Bryant - Thank you for bringing this to my attention! 90 grams is a typo - it should be double that - around 180 (according to my scale). I know 2 cups of graham crumbs sounds like a lot, but it makes the mixture thick and packable. The peanut butter portion is almost cookie like and crumbles slightly between the teeth.


  20. Perfect treat for me! :D thanks for sharing :)

  21. Follow-up: I made these using natural peanut butter and it worked out really well. Thanks!

  22. These look so so GOOD!!! I'm all about the salty-sweet combo, and these are now on my "to-make" list! Thanks for sharing!


  24. Look fabulous. My grown up daughter asked me to make these for Christmas when she comes home. One question: do you recommend salted or unsalted peanuts? Thank you kindly.

    1. I love these with salted peanuts. If your daughter loves salty-sweet then I recommend salted!


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