No Bake Pretzel Peanut Butter Bars

$3.94 recipe / 0.16 per square
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.90 from 19 votes
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I’m not sure whether to hug or curse the person who invented no-bake peanut butter bars. This homemade version of a peanut butter cup is so ridiculously simple that you might never buy a packaged peanut butter cup at the store again. Especially since you can stash these in your freezer and just take one out to nibble on every now and then. IT’S JUST TOO EASY.

Front view of no bake pretzel peanut butter bars lined up in a grid

No-bake peanut butter bars have been around for eons. Well, decades at least. There are a million versions of this recipe out there, but mine have a slightly more even ratio between the chocolate and peanut butter portions, and I like to nestle a little mini-pretzel in the top for a little added crunch.

Oh, and most no-bake peanut butter bar recipes usually specify not to use natural-style peanut butter, but that’s what I use with mine and it works just fine! :)

What Kind of Nut Butter Can I Use?

I used a natural-style peanut butter made with just peanuts and salt for these peanut butter bars. If you’re allergic to peanuts you can use a different type of nut butter, like almond or cashew (although those will be quite a bit more expensive).

Just make sure you choose a nut butter that is quite firm when refrigerated and soft when room temperature. As long as it firms up when refrigerated, it will work for these bars. Oh, and make sure it has at least a little salt and is very well stirred before adding to the recipe. Too much oil and the bars won’t set.

Choose Your Chocolate

This recipe is also fairly flexible when it comes to the type of chocolate used. I used plain old semi-sweet chocolate chips, but you could have a little fun and use dark chocolate, or a different flavored chocolate chip if you’d like.

How to Store Peanut Butter Bars

You’ll want to keep these peanut butter bars refrigerated so they don’t melt. I suggest keeping them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator no longer than a week, or you can freeze them for longer storage (freezer bag, up to three months or so). To thaw, just let them sit out at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

A hand holding one no bake peanut butter bar close to the camera so you can see the side
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No Bake Pretzel Peanut Butter Bars

4.90 from 19 votes
These no-bake pretzel peanut butter bars are a ridiculously simple homemade version of your favorite peanut butter cups!
front view of no bake pretzel peanut butter bars lined up in a grid
Servings 25 1 square
Prep 15 mins
Refrigerate Time 2 hrs
Total 2 hrs 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 8 sheets) ($0.38)
  • 1/2 cup butter ($0.82)
  • 1 cup peanut butter (+ 2 Tbsp) ($1.38)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar ($0.07)
  • 1.5 cups chocolate chips ($1.19)
  • 25 mini pretzels ($0.10)

Instructions 

  • If your graham crackers aren't already in crumb form, use a food processor to blitz them into a fine crumb.
  • Place the butter and 1 cup of peanut butter in a bowl. Microwave and stir in 30-second intervals, just until they're warm enough to melt together. Stir until evenly combined. (Reserve the last 2 Tbsp peanut butter for later.)
  • Add the powdered sugar and graham cracker crumbs to the melted peanut butter mixture and stir until evenly combined.
  • Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper making sure some of the paper overhangs on the sides so you can lift the bars out of the dish later. Press the peanut butter mixture into the bottom in an even layer.
  • Add the chocolate chips and the last 2 Tbsp peanut butter to a bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Continue to microwave and stir in 15 second increments until the chocolate is fully melted and smooth.
  • Pour the melted chocolate over the peanut butter base in the baking dish and spread it smooth. Add the mini pretzels on top in even rows (I did five rows of five across).
  • Refrigerate the peanut butter bars for two hours, or until completely set. Once set, lift the bars out of the dish using the parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to cut them into squares between the pretzels. Enjoy immediately, refrigerate for later, or freeze for long term storage.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1squareCalories: 187.94kcalCarbohydrates: 17.3gProtein: 3.82gFat: 12.94gSodium: 108.91mgFiber: 1.41g
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Love peanut butter and chocolate? Check out my Peanut Butter Fluff Cups or “The One” Chocolate Mug Cake!

overhead view of no bake pretzel peanut butter bars lined up in a grid

How to Make Pretzel Peanut Butter Bars – Step by Step Photos

Graham crackers in a food processor

While you can actually buy graham crackers already in crumb form, it’s going to be less expensive to make crumbs out of whole crackers. You want a very fine and even crumb for this, so a food processor is probably the best option. You need 1 cup of crumbs, which should be about 8 sheets of graham crackers.

Graham cracker crumbs in a food processor

Whiz those graham crackers until they’r every fine and even.

Peanut butter and butter in a bowl

Add 1 cup peanut butter and ½ cup butter (I used salted) to a bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds or just long enough that they’ll melt together. Avoid heating it until it’s piping hot. That will make the later steps more difficult. Stir until the mixture is even and smooth.

Graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar added to the peanut butter

Add the graham cracker crumbs and 1 cup powdered sugar to the peanut butter mixture.

Peanut butter base mixture in the bowl with a spoon

Stir until it forms an even paste-like mixture.

peanut butter base spread into a parchment lined baking dish

Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper so that some of it sticks up the sides (this will help you remove the bars from the dish later). Spread the peanut butter mixture evenly into the bottom of the dish.

Chocolate chips and peanut butter in a bowl

Add 1.5 cups chocolate chips and 2 Tbsp peanut butter to a bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir will. Continue to microwave and stir in 15 second increments until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Avoid over heating the chocolate or it will begin to get grainy.

Melted chocolate being spread over the peanut butter base

Pour the melted chocolate over the peanut butter base and then spread it out until smooth.

Mini pretzels being pressed into the melted chocolate

Press the mini-pretzels into the melted chocolate in rows. I did five rows of five across. Make sure to leave a little space between each because that is where you’ll cut your bars.

No Bake Pretzel Peanut Butter Bars being cut

Refrigerate the peanut butter bars for at least two hours, or until they are solid. Lift them out of the dish using the sides of the parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to cut them into squares between each pretzel.

peanut butter bars in a freezer bag

You can keep your peanut butter bars in the refrigerator for about a week, or freeze them for longer! They thaw pretty quickly at room temperature, so you can get that peanut butter chocolate fix whenever you’d like. ;)

front view of no bake pretzel peanut butter bars lined up in a grid
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  1. I impressed myself and the kiddos today with these. The pretzels were the cutest addition! We love everything PB and chocolate. Some bars cracked a bit during the cutting process. I attribute it to using crunchy PB. Will try with the smooth one next time. Thank you for another show-stopping recipe.

  2. These PB/Choc/Pretzel Bars are OUTSTANDING!! I have made theses more than a few times already, and have brought to 2-BBQs this summer so far.

  3. Absolutely amazing! I’m candy-addicted and was looking for a slightly healthier (or at least cheaper) alternative to snacking on Reese’s all the time. These are a LIFE CHANGER! I used half the butter to make it a little lighter, and they still turned out excellent in my opinion. Great snap on the chocolate, and they hold their shape even at room temp.

  4. I made these for my daughter’s birthday and everyone loved them! Quick and easy!

  5. I made this recipe exactly as given and it was delicious! Next time I will try using a 9″ pan so they come out thinner because these are more like candy than a bar, and I not really bars, but more like candy, and there’ll be more of them as I’ll cut them the same size. As recommended elsewhere, it’s easier to cut them before completely hard. Excellent presentation!

  6. super popular when I fed them to myself, then my family, then my friends, then some other friends. Yeah, I’ve made it a few times. Like someone said below, taste similar to a Reese’s cup.

    3 changes:
    –I used broken pretzel pieces instead of whole mini-pretzels. Worked fine! I preferred this because I can change the size of the pieces based on occasion/how many people are being fed
    –I refrigerated for a bit (about an hour) then cut so that the form held but it wasn’t so much work to cut through. Then back in the fridge ’til serving time!
    –I put my little nephew in charge of smashing the graham crackers into a powder (no food processor and a child needing to be occupied). Great success!

  7. Yum! I enjoyed these, with a few variations:

    – Kiddo nixed the pretzels. The end result reminds me a lot of a Reese’s cup.
    – I used semisweet chips because I was concerned this might be overly sweet. Tasty, though milk chocolate would also work great.
    – I used freezer paper, wax side up. That turned out to be a little unwieldy, but regular wax paper would peel off just as nicely.
    – I highly suggest making this with a kid if you can. It’s a great weekend project, and you’ll need someone to lick the chocolatey bowl and utensils!

    Next time I’m going to try swapping some of the graham crackers for crushed corn flakes for more of a Butterfinger style. We’ll see how it goes!

  8. I made these with milk chocolate chips and a half stick of butter (by accident!) and they turned out awesome! I highly recommend cutting your parchment paper skinnier so the sides don’t get so irregular and waiting 10 min before trying to cut them so they don’t break.  Gonna continue with the 1/2 stick of butter next time, add some salt into the crust, and try with dark chocolate chips!

  9. These turned out great! They reminded me of a (maybe healthier?) scotcharoo. But don’t skip the parchment paper like I did – they stuck to the bottom a little.

  10. I made these Sunday afternoon, they were quick and easy to put together and cooled in just the time listed. They are so delicious and such a treat, without feeling like a sugar overload (yes there’s some in there, but the peanut butter and pretzels counteract it nicely). I was able to share with several people and they all really enjoyed them. I can’t wait to make them again!

  11. These were good and disappeared early. I don’t want to buy reese’s because they use GMO ingredients (glucose from GMO beetroot I think). This is a fast and handy homemade alternative. I suggest using a type and brand of chocolate you really like because it will show in the final product. The one I used (the one I had in the cupboard) was good but a bit too bitter for my own taste, so next time I’ll try with my favorite dark milk chocolate. Also I thought about 3 possible alternatives (because I love pb in all its combinations):
    -adding a caramel layer for a snickers-like twist. Maybe an easy one like from toffee chips or toffee candy
    -no chocolate and a marshmallow fluff layer in its place (fluffernut)
    -no chocolate and a jelly layer on top like with no bake cheesecakes (pb & jelly, strawberry is my fave)

    The latter two might not fare well in the freezer though.

  12. As we prepared to make this yesterday, we realized we were out of graham crackers. So we substituted Rice Krispies crushed in a baggie. The recipe turned out wonderfully with a nice crisp texture, and the mini pretzels we used on top made the recipe gluten-free. All eight of us had second helpings.

    Next time, we will remove these from the refrigerator and let them sit about 10 minutes before trying to cut them since a few of them cracked. We are planning to try crushed gluten-free pretzels instead of graham crackers, which will add just a touch more saltiness to the overall flavor balance. Great recipe!

  13. These look so pretty! Going to surprise my sister with these when I visit next month. Also- I’ve been obsessed with adding salty pretzels to graham cracker crusts lately once I saw it used in a no-bake cheesecake. Such a smart flavor/texture combo. Can’t wait to test this recipe out, thanks :)

    P.S. I think I’ve seen peanut butter bars on a cave painting or two from eons ago =P