Big Little Recipes

No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars Get the Oreo Treatment

July 30, 2019

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. Psst—we don't count water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (specifically, 1/2 cup or less of olive oil, vegetable oil, and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. Today, we’re leaning into one of the greatest ingredient combos of all time.

All I really need to know in life, I learned from The Parent Trap. The 1998 Nancy Meyers remake came out when I was in elementary school, where, admittedly, I learned a lot too. But The Parent Trap taught me the big stuff:

It taught me that my freckles were endearing, not embarrassing. That I didn’t actually want to go to summer camp. That I could, in theory, have a long-lost twin sister living in England. And that peanut butter and Oreos are two ingredients meant for each other.

Lindsay Lohan’s two characters, Annie and Hallie, bond over their favorite preparation—dunk Oreos in a jar of peanut butter—and decades later, I still think it’s very good. But I’ve come to like something even better: no-bake peanut butter bars.

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Top Comment:
“So delicious. These PB Oreo bars are so convincing. I think people forget the power of the classic chocolate sandwich cookie...sweet, bitter, wet. Makes for the perfect crust and topping. x”
— Eric K.

While you can’t make the recipe in a camp cabin, you can make it without an oven or stove. Which are two of my favorite qualities in a dessert come peak summer. Oh, and it’s only four ingredients (not counting butter or salt, check out our Big Little rules above).

This is all possible thanks to the Oreos. Because we’re using them not one, not two, but three different ways:

Photo by Rocky Luten. PROP AND FOOD STYLIST: Sarah Jampel.
  1. Crust. A crumb crust doesn’t have to be made with graham crackers. It can be made with Saltines or pretzels or, in this case, Oreos. Grind them until they’re as fine as cornmeal, then add melted butter to bring everyone together. To keep the crust from being too sweet, we’ll ditch some of the cream fillings. But don’t throw them out—they’re going to come in handy for the...
  2. Peanut butter fluff. Use creamy peanut butter, not unsweetened (sometimes labeled as “natural”), which would encourage separation and be not sweet enough. (Did I mention we aren’t adding any sugar here? We aren’t.) Cream cheese adds structure and heavy cream helps with aeration. But those plus peanut butter don’t quite taste like dessert, which is where the Oreo creme fillings come in.
  3. Faux streusel. Here’s the easiest streusel you’ll ever make: Grab a handful of Oreos, crumble them into uneven pieces, and drop those on top of the peanut butter bars. These not only look snazzy, but they add more crumbly-crunchy texture to the whole dish.

Like many summery things, these are best when they’re cold, straight from the fridge. I like pairing them with iced coffee, which I’m not sure if Annie or Hallie’s parents would approve of. But you and I can do whatever we want.

What’s your favorite recipe with peanut butter and Oreos? Tell us in the comments!
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  • Christine Butterscotch Clements
    Christine Butterscotch Clements
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    Eric Kim
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Christine B. August 13, 2019
I've always loved your posts, Emma, and using the Oreo fondant to sweeten the filling - and stabilize/thicken it too slightly I'd imagine - is genius. Outside the box.

Sincerely, the girl for whom "THE MOST STUF" Oreos finally had enough fondant. I love fondant.
Emma L. August 13, 2019
Thank you, Christine!
Eric K. August 1, 2019
So delicious. These PB Oreo bars are so convincing. I think people forget the power of the classic chocolate sandwich cookie...sweet, bitter, wet. Makes for the perfect crust and topping. x