"Easy" just might be one of the most overused words on my site. In fact, I just did a search and I'm up to 112 posts and counting that mention easy in them at some point.
But I'm okay with that. As a mom of five school-aged children (as of Wednesday, not sure whether to cheer at that or cry), I'm very big on recipes that are simple and easy. And these no bake peanut butter bars are exactly that. We're talking 5 minutes and done, simple and easy at its best!
If you've been an Unsophisticook reader for any length of time, you've probably also noticed that I love recipes that are customizable, and these no bake bars are no exception. Once you know the basic recipe formula, you can create dozens of variations -- you really can't go wrong! At least I haven't yet...
No Bake Peanut Butter Bars Formula
There are three main ingredients in these no bake bars, and two of the three can be customized:
all-natural peanut butter -- choose from peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, etc., just make sure it's the all-natural variety, or even better, all-natural and organic.
liquid sweetener -- honey, maple syrup or agave nectar are all great choices, but please, only the real versions of each of these ingredients.
old-fashioned oatmeal -- also known as rolled oats, be sure to choose this variety, NOT steel cut or instant oats.
The basic formula is 1 cup of PB, 3/4 cup sweetener, and 3 cups of oatmeal. To this mixture you can add up to 1 1/2 cups of the mix-ins of your choice. Some of my favorites:
dried fruits -- raisins, cranberries, apricots, unsweetened coconut, cherries, etc., coarsely chopped for larger pieces.
nuts -- peanuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc.
sunflower seeds -- shelled, of course.
chocolate chips -- we like the mini chips best, but any will do.
ground flaxseed -- good source of omega-3s and adds protein.
I typically choose 2-3 ingredients from the list above and add 1/2 cup of each to the mixture. I know that dried fruits and nuts can get pricey, so be sure to hit the baking aisle at Walmart to pick up the Great Value brand for these ingredients -- I've never been disappointed by the quality and the value is fantastic!
For the bars pictured, I used almond butter, honey, rolled oats, dried cranberries, and unsweetened shredded coconut, and oh man, are they ever delicious! My kids eat them both for breakfast and as an after school snack, and I eat them pretty much any time I can get my hands on them. Sadly, they rarely last that long.
With so many possibilities, you could make a different version of these no bake peanut butter bars every time you mix them up! And I'll be completely honest -- sometimes they don't even make it into the pan because the mixture is so tasty right out of the pan.
What flavor combination would you like to try first? I'd love some new suggestions!