These Gluten Free Peanut Butter Bars are a more wholesome twist on the classic Midwestern Peanut Butter Bars and make a healthy snack or dessert.
If you grew up in the Midwest or live there now, you know about Peanut Butter Bars.
They typically consist of a mixture of peanut butter, powdered sugar, and graham cracker crumbs spread on the bottom of a 9×13 pan and topped with a layer of melted chocolate. My mom made them and called them Peanut Butter Gems, and they were my absolute favorite. My high school cafeteria served a version dubbed Peanut Butter Confections.
Whatever you call them, they’re an addictive crowd-pleaser.
They’re so quintessentially Midwestern that they featured prominently in the novel Kitchens of the Great Midwest (which I named in my list of favorite books I read in 2015).
While I occasionally make my mom’s recipe, I wanted to create a version with more wholesome ingredients.
I made some significant swaps. Instead of graham crackers, I’m using a mix of quinoa and oats. Instead of powdered sugar, I’m using honey.
But this bar still lives up to the Midwestern Peanut Butter Bar hype.
One of our 11-year-old house guests ate one and said it tasted like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, which I take as the highest compliment.
Ingredients in Gluten Free Peanut Butter Bars
- Quinoa: I use white quinoa
- Oats: quick or old fashioned oats work here; just be sure they are labeled “gluten free” if you are avoiding gluten
- Peanut Butter: I use natural creamy peanut butter. You could also experiment with using almond butter, cashew butter, or sunflower seed butter
- Powdered Milk: If you don’t have (or want to use) powdered milk, you can swap in extra oats, crisped rice cereal, or unsweetened protein powder.
- Honey: You may also swap in maple syrup if you prefer
- Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips: You can swap in milk chocolate or dark chocolate chips instead
You might also like: Six Amazing Recipes With Peanut Butter
How to make Peanut Butter Quinoa Bars
Combine oats (either old-fashioned oats or quick oats), cooked quinoa (see the full recipe card below for instructions), natural peanut butter, dry milk powder, and honey in the bowl of a food processor.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can also mix the ingredients by hand in a bowl. Your bars will be chewier, but just as tasty.
If using a food processor, blend until the ingredients come together in a ball.
Using a rubber spatula, press peanut butter mixture at the bottom of a square pan, lined with parchment paper (I recommend this instead of using nonstick spray, because the parchment paper lining allows them to be easily lifted out to cut).
Top with melted semi-sweet chocolate and either freeze or refrigerate until firm. Remove from the baking dish to cut into squares.
Are all oats gluten free?
Oats do not naturally contain gluten but may have cross-contact with gluten if they’re processed in a facility or on equipment that also makes gluten-containing products. If you need to avoid gluten, look for oats labeled “gluten-free” such as Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Old-Fashioned Oats or Quaker Gluten-Free Quick Oats (affiliate links).
Can you make these bars vegan?
If you want to make vegan chocolate peanut butter bars, swap out the powdered milk or extra oats, gluten-free crispy rice cereal, or unsweetened protein powder. Use dairy-free chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life) for the chocolate topping.
What is natural peanut butter?
Natural peanut butter contains either just peanuts or peanuts and salt. Other peanut butter contains additional ingredients like oil and sugar. If you’re using natural peanut butter, these are best made with a variety that has salt. But you can also use regular smooth peanut butter in this recipe.
How to store these No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
The bars will slice more neatly when slightly softened (cutting bars are straight from the fridge or freezer will result in the chocolate layer cracking) . I recommend taking them out of the freezer or fridge and letting them rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes or until softened. Then slice these quinoa bars into squares, place in an airtight container, and keep refrigerated.
Can you freeze peanut butter bars?
Yes! You can either freeze the whole pan or freeze them once they’re cut into squares.
Want more great recipes with peanut butter?
- How to Make Homemade Peanut Butter
- The BEST No Bake Cookies
- 4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
- No Bake Peanut Butter Balls
Hope your family enjoys these bars!Recipe for Peanut Butter Quinoa Bars:
- 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed (equals 1 cup cooked)
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 cup oats, (quick or old-fashioned; be sure they are labeled "gluten free" if you are avoiding gluten)
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/2 cup powdered milk (see recipe note for substitutions)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Combine quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn heat to low, cover pot, and simmer for 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- Add oats, peanut butter, powdered milk, honey to the bowl of a food processor. Add cooled quinoa and process until it comes together into a ball. (f you don't have a food processor, you can simply mix these ingredients by hand!)
- Line a square baking dish with parchment and then pat mixture into pan until evenly pressed into pan.
- Melt chocolate chips in microwave on 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until fully melted. Spread melted chocolate over mixture in pan.
- Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve. Cut into slices (to avoid the tops cracking, set bars out at room temperature about 30-60 minutes or until softened, then cut into square). Place bars in an airtight container and keep refrigerated.
If you don't have (or want to use) powdered milk, you can swap in extra oats, crisped rice cereal, or unsweetened protein powder.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 bar
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 194Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 58mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 3gSugar: 14gProtein: 6g