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This recipe was originally published on May 12, 2018 and was updated on October 20, 2020. This O’Henry Bars Recipe is full of the classic flavors we all know and love! Peanut butter, butterscotch, and melty chocolate all pair perfectly in this no-bake crispy rice cereal treat!
Consider these no-bake dessert bars a grown-up cooler cousin of classic Rice Krispy Treats. Peanut butter + butterscotch chips + chocolate chips = decadently rich dessert bites.
Ingredients for this recipe:
- Crispy Rice Cereal
- Corn Syrup
- Peanut Butter
- Vanilla Extract
- Butterscotch Chips
- Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
O’Henry Bars vs Scotcheroos
Much like puppy chow and/or muddy buddies, O’Henry Bars and Scotcheroos are one dessert in the same. It’s simply a matter of regional location that provides the context and name. Like saying “soda” versus “pop.” These O’Henry Bars are similar to the original Scotcheroos recipe that was printed on the side of a Rice Krispies box in the 60s. They’re chocked full of peanut butter, butterscotch, and chocolate chips.
How to make the best O’Henry Bars Recipe
- Make the syrup. By boiling the sugar and corn syrup. Then stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until smooth.
- Make the topping. While the syrup cooks. It’s just a matter of melting the butterscotch and chocolate chips.
- Make the cereal layer. By pouring the peanut butter syrup over the crispy rice cereal and stirring to coat. Then press it into a baking pan.
- Spread the topping. All over the cereal layer. Add a little swoop, a little swirl if you’re feeling it.
Why are my O'Henry Bars hard?
These cereal treats can become hard and tough for a few reasons. One is that you’ve cooked the sugar syrup for too long. It should be cooked until the sugar is just dissolved. Then immediately taken off the heat. The longer it cooks, the more the sugar caramelizes and the harder the bars will be.
Another culprit of tough treats is refrigeration. In the original copy of the recipe I have clearly states to never, ever refrigerate the bars. This sets them up too firmly and they’ll never fully soften again. Best to avoid the fridge altogether.
Lastly, if the cereal layer is pressed into the pan too aggressively, the bars will be tough. It's important to work quickly but gently when pressing the cereal into the prepared pan.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- No bake dessert. These bars come together in a snap and don’t require an oven! There’s a little bit of cook time on the stove, but if that is supervised, these are definitely a kid-friendly treat!
- They last forever. If you don’t eat them all, that is! They’ll stay fresh and delicious in an airtight container on the counter for up to a week!
- They travel well. And even ship well! They’re a great dessert option for gatherings or even in a holiday gift box.
- Peanut butter + chocolate. Need I say more?! The only thing better is the addition of the butterscotch chips! It’s like the holy trinity of no-bake dessert bars.
- 9x13 baking pan
- Heatproof spatula
- Sauce Pot
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup corn syrup
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 cups crispy rice cereal
- 12 ounces butterscotch chips
- 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Spray a 9x13 baking tray with baking spray and set aside.
- In a medium sauce pot bring the sugar and corn syrup to a boil, heating until sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Cool slightly before pouring over rice cereal. Using a rubber spatula coated in baking spray, stir to coat cereal. Gently press into all corners of the pan to create an even layer.
- Meanwhile, in a medium microwave safe bowl, heat the butterscotch and chocolate chips together in thirty second intervals, stirring after each turn, until chips are melted and smooth. Pour over cereal bars and cool to room temperature. Do NOT refrigerate.
- When bars are cool, cut into 1-inch squares and store in an airtight container for up to one week.
- Do not refrigerate the bars, as that will make them harder than rocks!