This quick and easy recipe for chocolate peanut butter bars with sweetened condensed milk features a peanut butter cookie base and a chocolate filling studded with peanuts and chocolate chips, combining layers of flavor and texture in every bite. Bonus - they are also gluten free! Simple to make with pantry ingredients, they are a perfect treat for your next chocolate craving or a special occasion.
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If you've been following me for awhile - or had a chance to look at the desserts recipe index, you know that I'm a big fan of the classic combination of chocolate and peanut butter.
So after creating this easy no-cook maple homemade sweetened condensed milk, I wanted to make a simple cookie bar with it and was drawn to the chocolate peanut butter combo - again.
Instead of the graham cracker crust you find on these types of layered bars, you'll find a three ingredient peanut butter cookie as the base - which makes this cookie gluten free.
And simply adding cocoa powder to the sweetened condensed milk makes a lovely chocolate flavored filling.
To add crunch and even more peanut butter and chocolate flavor (nope, you can't have too much...) there are layers of peanuts and chocolate chips between the cookie base and the chocolate-milk layer.
So four layers with an optional peanut butter drizzle (just peanut butter and a little honey) is all you need for these chewy layer bars.
I'd love for you to try your hand at making these delicious – and surprisingly easy – chocolate peanut butter bars with sweetened condensed milk, too!
It takes just a few simple ingredients, a few minutes of preparation, and a few minutes of baking to be rewarded with a delicious bar that's sure to be a hit with the whole family.
Ingredients & Substitutions
You only need eight normal pantry ingredients to make this recipe. You do not have to use homemade sweetened condensed milk, but if you do they will be just slightly less sweet than with commercial brands.
Even with the brown sugar in the cookie base, sweetened condensed milk, and dark chocolate chips, these are not a super sweet cookie bar anyway, so do what works for you.
- Natural peanut butter - either creamy or crunchy will work.
- Brown sugar - I haven't tried this with any other types of sugar. Coconut sugar would probably work, though will affect flavor I'd think.
- Egg - I didn't test this with the flax egg substitute, though I think it would work.
- Baking soda
- Sea salt - or table salt.
- Dark chocolate chips - this is my favorite, but you can use any kind of chocolate chips or a combo of chips.
- Peanuts - in the photos you will see whole and half peanuts, but I now recommend chopping them before layering - it makes the bars much easier to cut.
- Sweetened condensed milk - either homemade with maple syrup or a commercial brand will work.
- Cocoa powder - I love using cocoa powder for a strong chocolate flavor without any added sugar.
- Optional drizzle - more peanut butter and a bit of honey.
- 13x9-inch baking pan, either glass or metal.
- Parchment paper - it makes removing the bars SO easy.
- Large bowl or stand mixer
- Small bowl and whisk
How to make Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars with Sweetened Condensed Milk
Detailed quantities and instructions are included in the full recipe box below, but here are a few extra tips to help with each step:
Step 1: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13x9 inch baking pan with parchment so it comes up the long sides. Grease any sides showing. Make the base cookie layer and press into the prepared pan.
Step 2: Scatter the peanuts in an even layer over the cookie base. Repeat with the chocolate chips.
TIP: Break up the cookie base into pieces to lay all over the bottom of the pan before pressing to make it easier to distribute the dough evenly (like in the step 1 photo above).
Step 3: Combine sweetened condensed milk and cocoa powder with a whisk in a small bowl.
Step 4: Pour the milk-chocolate mixture evenly over the layers in the baking pan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, just until edges are starting to brown.
It's important to not overbake them or they will be dry and crumbly.
Let the bars cool in the pan for about 30 minutes. Remove and cut into bars.
Drizzle with optional glaze: Simply mix a couple tablespoons of peanut butter with a tablespoon of honey, scrape it into a plastic baggie, clip the corner (very small), and press out the mixture over the bars.
I chose to do this after cutting because I felt the drizzle would cling to the knife. Once cut and drizzled, I froze the bars in a single layer in a 13x9 container to further protect the drizzle. You could refrigerate them as well, if you were going to serve them within a few days.
Here are some different ways you can adapt this recipe:
- Use different chips - milk, semi-sweet, dark, or a combo. Add in white chocolate or even peanut butter chips.
- Layer differently - I prefer the milk-chocolate mixture on top to hold all the nuts and chips, but you can do it the opposite way - layer the milk on the cookie base and then sprinkle the chips and nuts, pressing down lightly to help them adhere to the milk layer.
- All peanut butter - Not into chocolate? Add 1/2 cup of peanut butter to the milk layer instead of the cocoa powder and omit the chocolate chips or replace them with peanut butter chips.
- Add candies - chop chocolate peanut butter cups (or other candy bar that would go with the peanut butter) and sprinkle on the nut-chip layer, or add coated chocolate candies for a bit of color.
Refrigerate the bars for up to a week in an airtight container. Or freeze in a single layer in a 13x9 inch container with a lid for 2-3 months.
More Recipes Like This
Looking for other recipes that use sweetened condensed milk? Try these:
- Foolproof Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Recipe
- Amazing No Churn Chocolate Ice Cream
- Incredible No-Churn Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (+ Mint Variation)
- Caramel Coconut Shortbread Cookie Bar Recipe
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars with Sweetened Condensed Milk Recipe (Gluten Free)
- 13x9 inch baking pan
- 1 cup natural peanut butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups chocolate chips, any kind*
- 1 cup peanuts, chopped
- 14 ounces (1 can) sweetened condensed milk homemade or commercial brand
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13x9 inch baking pan with parchment (leaving some up sides to use as handles to remove bars after baking) and grease any exposed sides.
- In a large bowl or a stand mixer make the cookie base by combining the peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, baking soda, and salt until smooth.
- Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. TIP: break up the cookie base into pieces to lay all over the bottom of the pan before pressing to make it easier to distribute the dough evenly.
- Scatter the peanuts in an even layer over the base. Repeat with the chocolate chips.
- In a small bowl add the sweetened condensed milk and then whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Pour the mixture evenly over the layers in the baking pan.
- Bake 20-25 minutes, until the edges are just starting to brown. Do not overbake.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Cut while still warm.
- Optional drizzle: combine the peanut butter and honey in a small bowl. Scrape mixture into a baggie, clip the corner (small!) and press it out, drizzling it over the cut bars. Refrigerate or freeze to set drizzle.