Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Bars


As of yesterday, January 13th, I’ve trialed 18 new-to-me recipes this year! That doesn’t count the numerous, and I mean many, recipe re-tests to get things just right. In fact, these Triple Peanut Butter Cup Bars took me several tries. Every batch was delicious, but some were too crumbly, some a little too sweet, but these are just right for all of you pb-aholics out there. Oh, and yes, you can make them with almonds or even nut-free – options included!

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Bars - Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan Optional

365 Dairy-Free Recipe Challenge Update

These triple peanut butter cup bars are a success from my personal 365 New Dairy-Free Recipe Challenge for 2016. My goal is to trial at least 365 new-to-me recipes this year, and that doesn’t even count all of the retesting I am doing to perfect many of those dishes. I’ll be using the hashtag #365dairyfree here and on social media to share many of the trials, successes and flops!

My New Dairy-Free Recipe Trials for January 7th through 13th:

  1. Banana Nut Bread Baked Oatmeal (a few trials and success!)
  2. Spanish Fried Rice with Bacon and Sweet Potatoes (yum!)
  3. Thai Turkey Salad (Sun Basket)
  4. Steak Chimichurri with Winter Greens Salad (Sun Basket)
  5. Coconut-Braised Cod with Broken Rice (Sun Basket)
  6. “Milk” Sausage Gravy (success!)
  7. Gluten-Free, Vegan Cream Biscuits (almost there – sharing this with the gravy next week!)

Just barely eeked in my one per day! I need to up my game in the weeks ahead as I have some travel sneaking up. The ones noted as “Sun Basket” are a prize I won for a healthy recipe / food delivery service (most of what we got was paleo!) where they send you the ingredients and a recipe to follow. It was fun to try out and got me to experiment with some new dinner recipes – man were those salads big!

These Peanut Butter Cup Bars are actually the result of several testing batches of the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Granola Bars that I posted about last week in my 365 Recipe Post: Skinny Gluten Free Hamburger Buns. All rounds were delicious, but I wanted bars that were chewy, crispy, cohesive at room temperature and when chilled, loaded with peanut butter, and a little indulgent. I finally succeeded …

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Bars - Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan Optional

Special Diet Notes: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Bars

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, soy-free, optionally vegan / plant-based, and vegetarian.

For peanut-free almond butter cup bars, substitute almond butter for the peanut butter and use sliced almonds in place of the peanuts.

For nut-free sun-butter cup bars, substitute sunflower seed butter for the peanut butter (most versions will make them a little sweeter) and use another 1/2 cup of the crispy rice cereal in place of the peanuts.

For less nutty peanut butter cup bars, swap a simple melted chocolate drizzle or glaze for the peanut butter-chocolate frosting. Optionally swap the peanuts with 1/2 cup of additional crispy rice cereal.

Triple Peanut Butter Cup Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 9 squares
  1. Place the honey in a medium pot over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer and let bubble until it reaches about 245ºF (give or take 5 degrees), about 3 minutes.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in ½ cup of the peanut butter and the coconut oil until smooth.
  3. Stir in the crispy rice cereal and the peanuts. Stir in 1 cup of the quick oats. Stir in additional, as needed - I usually end up using 1¼ cups, but you might want to pack in more. All bits should be nicely coated.
  4. Press the mixture firmly and evenly into a greased 8x8-inch dish (do not use coconut oil to grease it!). Place the dish in the refrigerator to cool.
  5. Place the chocolate chips and the remaining 3 tablespoons peanut butter in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave another 30 seconds on HIGH. Stir until smooth. If not fully melted, heat in 15 second intervals, stirring in between, until just melted.
  6. Remove the bars from the refrigerator and pour on as much of the chocolate-peanut butter mixture as you like. You may have extra.
  7. Place the dish back in the refrigerator to set up, about 20 minutes.
  8. Cut into squares or bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week (they will be softer but should be cohesive), in the refrigerator (my favorite, I like them chilled), or they can be frozen. If frozen, let warm up a few minutes before digging in - they get a little crispy!
*Almost any liquid sweetener should work well - non-GMO light corn syrup or brown rice syrup are two options.

**If you want just a thin coating of the chocolate-peanut butter topping, reduce the ingredient amounts in the topping to 2 tablespoons peanut butter and ½ cup chocolate chips.
Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Bars - Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan Optional

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


  1. I am starting the New Year with cutting WAY back on sugar…I am such an addict! My body hates the stuff though…..These look delish and I am thinking if I just use LESS melted chocolate and drizzle it over the top….that might work ?

  2. Pingback: 24 Recipes with Coconut Oil - Wendy Polisi

  3. Do you have any suggestions for things that can be subbed for the coconut oil? We unfortunately have an allergy in our house. I’m super excited to try this and share with all of my peanut/pb addicts! Thanks in advance!

    • Thanks Sonali! The cod was a tasty concept and I loved the flavor, but I think the fish we received had been previously frozen (so gummy!) and the recipe was a little “chef written” in terms of missing some details (made on the fly), but I loved the idea and will certainly be trialing again. Happy to share the recipe with you!

  4. Congrats!!! I can’t wait to see the biscuits and gravy recipe! And thai turkey salad….YUM.

    These also look so good! I wish I didn’t live alone. I would eat the entire pan. I have no self control with peanut butter. 😀

    • Thank you Jessica! The cod food / recipe was from Sun Basket and truth be told, the recipe didn’t work out super well. I think it was written by a chef – haha. That said, I loved the flavors and it has made me want to trial and perfect it! Garam masala with white fish was surprisingly amazing.

  5. Wow, you are on a roll! I wish I could say I was even half as prolific in the kitchen lately… Or even a quarter, at that. These bars look like real winners, too!

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