Sweet and Salty Nut Bars

Sweet and Salty Nut Bars will be the latest and greatest addition to your holiday sweets menu. Made with a buttery shortbread crust, soft chocolate-peanut butter center, and topped with salty mixed nuts – they hold something for everyone!

Sweet and Salty Nut Bars

No doubt about it, these Sweet and Salty Nut Bars are perfect for the holidays! A cross between a cookie bar and a candy bar, they’re sure to be welcome on either cookie or candy tray. A crumbly shortbread crust is the base for a nutty chocolate-peanut butter fudge center. Then, it’s topped with more roasted, salted, mixed nut goodness. It’s the best of salty and sweet together.

Sweet and Salty Nut Bars

Make the Shortbread Crust

Begin the crust with 1/2 cup butter, brown sugar and flour. It’s such a simple combination of ingredients that make magic when mixed together. Start with a wooden spoon, and when the mixture clumps, use your hands to knead the mixture together.

After everything is combined and crumbly, pour the mixture into the bottom of a parchment-lined 8×8 inch square baking pan. Tamp the crust down into the pan with your palms or with the bottom of a flat measuring cup. Bake it for 12 minutes in a preheated 350F oven, and then cool completely.

Make the Smooth Peanut Butter-Chocolate Filling

Next, prepare the filling. It’s such an easy fix! Combine sweetened condensed milk, semisweet chips, and peanut butter. Heat on the stove top and stir until smooth.

When the mixture is smooth, add in mini marshmallows. Stir while cooking over medium heat. It will take a few minutes for the marshmallows to melt and incorporate. Just keep stirring!

Sweet and Salty Nut Bars

Add Salty Mixed Nuts

Stir in a cup of roasted, salted mixed nuts. Don’t go for ‘lightly salted’, we’re looking for well-seasoned mixed nuts with roasty flavor. The Planter’s mix I used has peanuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios (similar here).

Pour the chocolaty mixture over the prepared, cooled shortbread crust. It will begin to set up quickly, so smooth the top as best you can and then…

Sweet and Salty Nut Bars

Sprinkle the nuts evenly over the surface of the fudgy filling.

Sweet and Salty Nut Bars

Even the Top

Using flat palms, or the bottom of a flat measuring cup, tamp the nuts down into the chocolate filling. Allow the candy to set until completely cool and firm. You can also refrigerate the pan to speed setting.

Sweet and Salty Nut Bars
Sweet and Salty Nut Bars

Remove the slab from the pan by lifting it out by the parchment paper. Then cut it into squares. I portioned generous slices (16 total), however, these are rich. You could easily cut them smaller to double the yield.

Sweet and Salty Nut Bars

Salty-sweet-crunchy-nutty – what’s not to love? These travel well, and can be easily be packaged for gift giving. While they’re not exactly cookies, I think they’d be welcome at any cookie swap!

Related recipe: Easy Toffee Walnut Bars

Sweet and Salty Nut Bars

Heather Baird
These bars are a harmonious blend of sweet and salty, featuring a buttery shortbread base, luscious chocolate-peanut butter filling, and a generous sprinkle of roasted, salted mixed nuts on top. With their dual personality as both a cookie and a candy, they’re the ideal treat for holiday dessert gifts or gatherings.
Please note that salted butter is used in the shortbread crust. Unsalted butter can be used in its place. If you do this, add a pinch of fine grain salt to the flour mixture.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 29 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
1 hour setting time. 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 41 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16 pieces


  • 8×8 inch baking pan


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup salted butter room temperature
  • 1 can 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 1/4 cups roasted salted mixed nuts such as almonds, cashews, pistachios, and peanuts


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper so paper hangs over all four sides.
  • Combine flour, brown sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir, using wooden spoon, until large clumps form and then use hands to knead mixture together. Press dough into bottom of prepared pan; bake 12 minutes. Remove pan from oven and place on cooling rack to cool completely.
  • In medium saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, semisweet chocolate chips and peanut butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Add marshmallows and stir well. Cook until marshmallows melt and can be stirred into the chocolate- peanut butter mixture. Add 1 cup of mixed nuts; stir to incorporate. Pour mixture over crust and spread evenly using spatula.
  • Sprinkle remaining 1 1/4 cup mixed nuts on top of the filling while still warm. Gently press the peanuts into filling using fingertips. Refrigerate bars 1 hour or more before cutting. Bring to room temperature before serving.
  • Store bars at room temperature in air-tight container or covered in plastic wrap.
Keyword brown sugar, christmas candy, Christmas cookies, fudge filling, mini marshmallows, salted mixed nuts, shortbread crust, sweet and salty nut bars, sweetened condensed milk
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6 months ago

5 stars
These look wonderful! I am definitely going to have to add to my holiday cookie platter this year. I am just wondering about the paper cups you used – I have looked for square ones and haven’t been able to find them – do you happen to have a link for yours?

6 months ago
Reply to  Heather Baird

Good to know – thanks so much for the tip! 🙂