It is back to school week already around here and I am so excited. Of course, I’m going to go crazy without my little nerdlets around. I can’t wait to put my new-found love of meal prep to the test though. So many bento lunch ideas, healthy breakfast recipes, and easy weeknight dinners to go through this school year.
With teens in the house, it can seem like snack food disappears before you can put it away. It can be a pain to keep healthy snacks around the house for after school, between meals, and more. I love having healthy snack recipes that are super simple to put together in minutes.
These quick and easy no-bake peanut butter oatmeal bars are just that. They are finished in under 5 minutes, take only a few ingredients, and are absolutely delicious!
What Kind of Oats Do I Need for Oatmeal Bars?
I prefer to use old-fashioned oats in this dish. However, you can easily use any kind of oats that you have on hand. I often choose old-fashioned oats because that is what I have on hand more frequently. I tend to prefer them as they are a heartier grain and tend to hold up a little better for baking.
The main difference between old-fashioned or rolled oats and quick oats is how compressed the final product is. As you might expect from the name, quick oats are rolled out to a thinner final product so that the cook quicker. The old-fashioned oat is a less compressed, plumper final product.
In baking, you may want to slightly adjust your cooking time depending on the types of oats you are using. However, as this is a no-bake peanut butter oat bar there are no times to adjust.
Ingredients Needed for No-Bake Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
One thing I love about this recipe is the fact that you most likely have everything you need already waiting for you in your pantry! No matter what time of day this is an easy grab and go treat to make in minutes.
3 Tbsp coconut oil ( or butter)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 C natural peanut butter
2 1/2 C old fashioned oats
2 C milk chocolate chips
How to Make No-Bake Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
As you might have guessed by the name there is absolutely no baking needed to make these peanut butter oatmeal bars. You can do everything on the stovetop or even in the microwave in a pinch!
* Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons of peanut butter, vanilla, and the coconut oil (or butter) in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until both have melted and the mixture is smooth.
* Add oats to the melted peanut butter mixture and stir until completely combined.
* Spoon the mixture into a parchment paper-lined 8-inch x 8-inch baking pan. Smooth the mixture until it is level on top and it reaches all of the corners of your pan.
* Immediately add the chocolate chips over the top of the peanut butter and oat mixture. Allow the chocolate chips to sit for about 5 minutes and smooth with a spatula. If you find that your peanut butter and oat mixture isn’t warm enough to melt your chocolate chips you can pop the whole thing into a 350-degree oven for 2-3 minutes to soften your chocolate chips.
*Melt the remaining 1/2 C peanut butter in the microwave for 20 seconds. Stir the melted peanut butter until it is smooth and drizzle over the top of the chocolate.
*Place the baking pan in the refrigerator for 1 hour to let the bars completely set. Once the hour has elapsed you can pull the whole thing out of the pan using the parchment paper. Use a large, sharp knife to cut straight down (sawing can cause the chocolate to break up more) into the bars making 4 rows and cutting each row into 3’s. You can absolutely cut them smaller if you would like smaller bars or bites. They can be a little rich if you don’t eat a lot of chocolate and sweets.
The Best Toppings for No-Bake Oatmeal Bars
Many prefer to keep these bars as healthy as possible. Some even omit the chocolate topping the cut a few extra calories off of them. It’s ultimately up to you how you want your peanut butter oatmeal bars to look and taste.
More often than not I simply leave mine with the chocolate topping and call it a day. Sometimes I add crumbled peanuts. Other times I do a sprinkle of sea salt. You could even add a drizzle of caramel on top of your bars.
For today’s back to school bars, I wanted them to be a little special but still easily portable. I decided to just go with a drizzle of peanut butter mixed into the chocolate on top.
Can I Change This Dish to Match My Dietary Needs?
With a few exceptions, you can absolutely make changes to this dish to help better fit your dietary restrictions or needs. I prefer using natural peanut butter in this dish. However, you can use a variety of different nut butters if you can’t use peanut butter.
I used milk chocolate chips in this recipe. However, you can use cacao chips or dark chocolate if you prefer.
There are gluten-free alternatives to oats available such as rice bran, chia seeds, or ground up flax seeds. However, I do not do gluten-free baking so I cannot speak to how well these options would work in this peanut butter oatmeal bar. I do think that it may alter the texture slightly to not have the traditional oat thickness.
How Long Will Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars Last?
Honestly, these oatmeal bars never make it very long around our house so I don’t need to worry about storing them. We use a 8×8 pan which makes 12 bars. This is a great number for our family of four for meal prep. I store them just fine in our refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container. If you really want them to last you can keep them in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Just be sure to separate them with wax paper beforehand so they are easier to separate and thaw.
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