Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars have the flavors of a classic childhood sandwich with a twist! These easy homemade bars start with a peanut butter oat base that gets topped with a quick homemade strawberry jam and topped with a peanut butter oat crumble. Sweet and nutty, these peanut butter and jam bars make a great dessert bar or a sweet breakfast treat.
The base and crumble are packed with peanut butter, and sandwiched around a perfectly sweet strawberry jam layer that’s made with a mix of quick homemade jam and store-bought jam for the best flavor.
Oats are added to the base and topping for a bit of extra texture, making them like a chewy, thick peanut butter and jelly granola bar. They are perfect for an afternoon snack or to bring to a bake sale or potluck.
If you love PBJs, try these Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies (Thumbprints). Or, for another classic sandwich in dessert form, these Fluffernutter Cookies or Peanut Butter Marshmallow Fluff Fudge (Fluffernutter Fudge).
Why You'll Love This Recipe
PB&J - Who doesn’t love a PB&J? These bars have all of the classic flavors of the childhood favorite with extra texture and chew.
Easy - These bars have three components, but the oat crumble topping uses the same dough as the crust! The jam is also semi-homemade, with the option to use store-bought jam only for the filling.
Versatile - Eat these delicious pb&j bars for breakfast, a snack, or dessert! They are perfect any time of day, and you can substitute your favorite flavor of jam to make these bars your own.
- Rolled oats. These get partially ground down and mixed into the base, and some get left whole to mix into the topping. The oats provide great texture to the peanut butter and jelly bars.
- Strawberries. Fresh or frozen strawberries can be used. These should be as flavorful as possible.
- Strawberry jam. The jam adds extra texture and flavor to the homemade strawberry jam, and also helps keep the structure.
- Cornstarch. Used to thicken the quick jam, and is necessary to the final outcome.
- Peanut butter. Creamy peanut butter like Jif or Skippy should be used in this recipe.
See recipe card for full ingredients list and quantities.
Substitutions and Variations
- Add ⅓ cup of chopped peanuts to the topping for added crunch and nuttiness.
- Use blueberries or raspberries in place of the strawberries.
- Experiment with other nut or seed butter to substitute for the peanut butter such as almond, cashew, or sun butter, though non-natural spreads work best.
- For a richer variation, substitute Nutella in place of the jam.
- Use frozen strawberries in place of fresh, if needed.
How to Make This Recipe
One: Hull and slice the strawberries.
Two: Cook down the strawberries and sugar, mashing them down as they cook.
Three: Mix the cornstarch and water, then add to the cooked strawberries to thicken. Then, stir in the extra strawberry jam. Cool completely.
Four: Pulverize some of the oats, then mix together the ingredients for the peanut butter base, then add to a prepared square pan.
Five: Press the peanut butter oat base into the bottom of the pan (getting to the edges), then par bake.
Six: Add the cooled strawberry quick jam and spread it to meet the edges.
Seven: Mix together the remaining dough with whole rolled oats until a crumble forms.
Eight: Sprinkle the crumble all over the strawberry jam, then finish baking. Cool completely.
- It’s best to use non-natural peanut butter like JIF or Skippy.
- If experimenting with other nut butter, allow the oils to separate and use only the thick nut butter.
- Use very ripe, sweet strawberries for the best flavor results.
- Allow the bars to cool completely before slicing in so the strawberry jam layer can be fully set.
While it is personal preference, grape and strawberry are classic in PB&J.
Rolled oats work best in this recipe for PB&J bars, but quick cooking oats can be used in a pinch.
While the combination of homemade and store bought jam creates the best texture and flavor, you could simply use all store bought jam.
Yes. Be sure to cool them on a wire rack (or so the base is lifted off of the counter) so the air can circulate. Keep the bars in the pan until they are completely cool. You need the strawberry layer to cool down and set up or else it can squish out while cutting into the bars if they’re still too hot!
Store the peanut butter and jelly bars covered at room temperature for up to four days.
To freeze, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then place into a zip-top bag and freeze for up to three months. Unwrap completely and thaw at room temperature before enjoying.
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Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
- Stand mixer with paddle attachment, or handheld mixer
- 8x8 inch square pan
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup rolled oats divided
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup peanut butter creamy, non natural
- ½ cup + 2 T unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ cup light brown sugar 100g
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 2 cups strawberries sliced
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ cup strawberry jam or preserves
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- Begin by preparing the strawberry layer. Hull and slice the strawberries, then add them to a saucepan over medium heat with the sugar. Stir occasionally and mash them down as the juices develop.2 cups strawberries, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Once the strawberries are sufficiently broken down and juicy, mix together the corn starch and water, then add to the cooked strawberries. Allow it to bubble for about 30 seconds, then turn off the heat and stir in the jam.1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water, ¼ cup strawberry jam or preserves
- Preheat the oven to 350℉ and grease and parchment line (with overhangs so it's easy to remove) an 8×8 inch square baking pan.
- In a food processor, pulse ¾ cups of the rolled oats until they become smaller. Sand texture is too fine, but you definitely want to break them down a bit.1 cup rolled oats
- Combine the flour, ground oats, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a handheld mixer), beat the butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar until combined. Add the egg and vanilla, mix until incorporated, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.1 cup peanut butter, ½ cup + 2 T unsalted butter, ½ cup light brown sugar, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- Add ¾ of the mixture to the prepared pan and press down evenly into all corners and sides. Bake for 20 minutes.
- While the base is baking, combine the leftover ¼ of the base mixture with the remaining ¼ of whole rolled oats and bring it together with a fork. You will have to break up the mixture a bit, but you want to keep the pieces crumbly.
- Spread the strawberry jam layer over the base, then sprinkle the oat crumble overtop of the strawberry layer.
- Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the crumble top gets slightly golden.
- Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then remove and cut into 9 or 16 pieces.