Many of you are probably familiar with some version of baked Peanut Butter Oat Bars. I pretty much grew up on them and make them for my family on a regular basis. They’re like a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, but a bit healthier. Today I’m gonna share with you a variation of the classic baked recipe – no-bake Peanut Butter & Jelly Oat Squares.
Here’s a little story behind this recipe.
Let me start by saying that my 2.5-year old daughter (Katie) is quite picky when it comes to food. She also goes through a lot of changes and the food she loved at one year old is certainly not what she likes right now. It’s not uncommon for me to think that I’ve found foolproof child-friendly recipe, only for it to be rejected the next day. I’m happy to say that these no-bake Peanut Butter & Jelly Oat Squares with Jam has not been rejected yet.
The recipe was born on one Saturday morning when I asked Katie what she wanted for breakfast. “Peanut Butter Oat Bars”, she said without a hesitation. Confident that I still had some left (I always make a big batch for a quick snack or a breakfast on the go), I opened up my pantry and reached . . . into an empty container. Of course, Katie insisted that those bars are the only thing she wanted and nothing else. So I decided to make a quick, no-bake, version of those bars right then.
Since Katie loves helping in the kitchen, she was even more thrilled when I told her she was gonna make the Peanut Butter & Jelly Squares herself. From mixing the ingredients by hand, to patting the mixture down in the pan, and spreading the jelly on top, she loved the entire process. Start to finish a kid-friendly cooking.
While you can make several different variations of this recipe, here’s the combo my family loves.
Tips for Making the Best Peanut Butter & Jelly Oat Squares
Oats – I’ve tested this recipe using both old fashioned rolled oats and quick oats, and both work just fine. I do prefer the quick oats though because the base is more compact and holds together really well (= no mess when I pack these Oat Squares for a trip).
Peanut butter – I shouldn’t even talk about peanut butter because I am kind of addicted to it. So, naturally, I think that these bars taste the best with peanut butter (smooth or crunchy). I did try making these Oat Squares also with almond butter and cashew butter, and they also turned out really well. However, there’s simply nothing like a combination of peanut butter and jelly.
Brown rice syrup – you can use any liquid sweetener you like – maple syrup, honey, agave … The reason I like brown rice syrup is that it has a very sticky, gooey consistency, and it isn’t overly sweet. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still very sweet, but has a flavor much different from other liquid sweeteners.
Jam – the Raw Peanut Butter & Jelly Oat Squares have a jam layer running through the middle for a little sweet-tart pop in every bite. I use strawberry jam with no added sugar for a not-too-sweet finish. I’ve also seen recipes for homemade chia seed jam, which I think would be lovely here.
Liquefy the peanut butter – peanut butter can be a stubborn ingredient when it comes to blending it with other foods. The solution is to apply some gentle heat. If you’re using a food processor for this recipe, you don’t have to worry about liquefying the peanut butter though. The food processor will do all the work for you.
Use a food processor – if you’re in a rush, use a food processor. You can mix all the ingredient by hand, but the mixture is rather sticky and not the easiest to work with. My daughter loves mixing all the ingredients, but it does take some time.
These no-bake Peanut Butter & Jelly Oat Squares are tender, gooey, savory-sweet, and insanely delicious. They also feature a lot of texture and and contrasting flavors. Not only does the sweet-tart jam balances the salty peanut butter perfectly, but if you use crunchy peanut butter you’ve got yet another contrast – crunch of the nut pieces against the smooth jam.
If you want to take the deliciousness to yet another level, serve these Oat Squares with chilled homemade almond milk. Yum!
Since the peanut butter-jam combination is quite rich, I usually slice these into small squares and keep them at a room temperature in an air-tight container. If you don’t think you can polish all of them within 4-5 days (that’s not a dare), pop them in the freezer for a longer storage.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Food Processor (Breville Sous Chef) | 2. Measuring Cup (2 Cups, Pyrex, Glass) | 3. Baking Dish (3 Quart & 2 Quart, Pyrex, Glass) | 4. Knife Set (6 Pieces, Utopia, Stainless Steel) | 5. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Bellemain, Stainless Steel) | 6. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel)
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