Chocolate-Frosted Peanut Butter Cookie Bars {Aka: School Lunch Peanut Butter Fingers}

You know, because we don’t have enough peanut butter on this site.  Or chocolate.  Or cookies.  I can almost guarantee once you make these for the first time you will become addicted and have to make them all the time.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it makes a ton (they’re baked in a large sheet pan).  That can be both dangerous and helpful. Mostly helpful.  If I have to feed a crowd, this is my go-to.  They honestly are SO fast.  The dough comes together in about 5 minutes and they only bake for about 10.  And then you can feed a gazillion (okay slight exaggeration) people when you’re done and they will all love you. I originally got this recipe from two friends (thanks Carolyn and Alisa!) and it seems to be one of those recipes that just ‘goes around’.  Apparently this was a common treat in school lunches back in the day and I’m starting to feel majorly ripped off that all I got was soggy pizza.  If anyone knows the original source, I’d love to know, but it seems to just be traced back to either everyone’s grandma or everyone’s lunch ladies! Let us cook.

These start off like most good things do: with butter and sugar.

In goes yummy nummy peanut butter.  Smooth or chunkified, totally up to you.

Then some eggs

(and there’s some vanilla in there too)

Then toss in the dry ingredients

You should have a nice soft dough at this point; a little softer than a normal cookie dough.  Definitely take a big ol’ bite of that.

And then add some oats.

That’s it for the dough- just press it into a big rimmed cookie sheet.  (By the way, have I ever told you how much I love these pans??  They come with lids.  Brilliant.  Makes baking stuff like this and then storing or transporting sooo easy.  Love love love them.) I usually line mine with foil because I have a thing for covering pans in foil.  If I can avoid washing a pan, I’m all for it.  Pop that pan in the oven to bake- they only take about 10 minutes.

While those are in the oven, rinse out your bowl real quick and whip up the frosting.  Oh my gosh this frosting is so good.  It’s melty and buttery and chocolatey and so many other good words I can’t think of right now.

You’ll want to put the frosting on when the bars are still warm, and just after the frosting itself is done.  Otherwise it stiffens up and becomes hard to spread.

Mmmm…giant pan of soft cookie…

This next photo is borderline ridiculousness.  Dumping melted peanut butter on top of a giant peanut butter cookie and below a layer of ooey gooey chocolate frosting is completely unnecessary.  It’s also very delicious.

You can skip this step, or embrace it, depending on how wild you’re feeling that day.

Then pour on that frosting, or rather “plop” on the frosting.  Like I said, do it right after you make it and while the bars are still warm so it spreads on easily and doesn’t break your cookie.

Since I took forever taking pictures my frosting isn’t as smooth and glossy as it will look for you.  Yours will be beautiful, I promise.  I also picked up some of those peanuts from below.  It’s all good.

That’s all there is to it, well except for the eating part which is the most important.  Once the bars are cool, they are super soft cookie squares with chocolate that melts in your mouth.

You can also eat these slightly warm, and they’re amaaazing.  They’re so soft and the chocolate frosting is more like melted chocolate fudge so you’ll want to grab a fork.

These have so much flavor and richness that they also work great with a scoop of ice cream, and heck, throw some hot fudge on there too just for good measure.  In fact, this is how we eat them most often at our house.  Because a scoop of ice cream makes just about everything better.


  1. This exact recipe has been in my family for years.. It came from the school lunch lady in springville Utah along long time ago! We love it!

  2. I remember these being served with our school lunches when I was a kid. I got my recipe from my Grandma, and it is very similar to yours. These are always a big hit & one of my most requested recipes!!!

  3. Mmmm!! I have hot fudge stuff in my pantry! This will be a must have treat for today! Anything to use Ice cream for in an excessive heat warning!! Thank you for sharing this.

  4. These are A-MAZING! My recipe for these came from a Ward Cookbook, which gives credit to Stephanie Wilkey. But they taste just like the peanut butter bars that they used to serve us for school lunch. Whoever or wherever they came from they are super delicious!

  5. My grandma used to make these…except instead of the frosting, she just threw some semisweet chocolate chips on top right when it came out of the oven. Once they melt, spread and eat! Probably not as tasty as the frosting recipe here…BUT, it works great to make this super quick/simple recipe even more so (plus less dishes)!

  6. I am a strong believer that you can never have too much peanut butter + chocolate, or cookies! And to have them all in one is just divine.

  7. When did you guys start OBB Our Best Picks? So fun!!! I just bought a couple of those pans from Gygi’s about two weeks ago!
    And, no, there are not enough recipes here for chocolate or peanut butter, and definitely not enough cookies.

    1. You know, it’s always been sort of hiding there! We’re trying to get it all finished up (as in, filled up with all of our fave things) and then we’ll point out that it’s actually there! lol

      1. I don’t think I can stop myself from clicking over there and getting that purdy turquoise immersion blender today 🙂

  8. Yum! I have everything for it right now to make it. I consider it healthy since it has oats in it and peanuts are protein!

  9. How did you know I was trying to find a recipe for tonight that made a lot and was chocolately but less common than chocolate chip cookies? These will be perfect! Thank you! A sweet friend of mine, the one who actually introduced me to this blog, makes peanut butter bars like this and I’ve been missing her, so this will be a fun way to pretend she around again. 🙂

  10. I love these too–big hit every time I make them! I also do the chocolate chips on top, as opposed to the frosting–but I am a milk chocolate girl. 🙂 YUM-O!! I’ll have to try your frosting sometime–when I find myself with a little extra time, and no choc. chips. 😀

  11. I wish my monitor was “scratch and sniff”….and I will never know how you dont weigh 750 pounds, with all these incredibly awesome recipes you keep posting.

  12. I make goodies for our ward mission meeting every Wednesday, and this is what will be made tonight. What a great recipe!

  13. OMG! My mouth is watering just looking at these pictures! Tomorrow is my birthday… maybe I’ll make this instead of getting cupcakes!

  14. Everyone keeps commenting on how these taste like something served at school lunch…well I wish I had gone to a school, like that!! These look better than anything I ever ate at school:)

  15. So I gotta say that I am so glad you posted this recipe! It has been a family favorite since I was a little girl. My grandma worked for an elementary school in Bountiful, UT and that is where she got the recipe. We always called them Butterfingers. So Sara, this recipe came from school lunch and my grandma!

  16. Two of my favorite things (peanut butter and chocolate). I would make these today since I’m getting ready to go to the store, but I’m also going out of town for four days starting tomorrow morning. I will make these when I get back home. Yum!

  17. ha! to echo what everyone else said, these are totally school lunch peanut butter fingers! my great grandma was a davis county utah lunch lady, and her recipes is very similiar. our recipe has a boiled icing instead though. we are going camping tonight and i think i will try your version out.

  18. Thank you! I have been looking for this recipe. Favorite part of school lunch. I just need to find the recipe for those chocolate cookies dusted with powder sugar.;)

  19. Man they never served anything like this where I went to school but I will for sure be making these to pack for my daughters lunches this school year. =0)

  20. I grew up on that recipe (as well as for school lunch). It’s always been my go to! I love it but was interested to see that yours is exactly doubled from my recipe! Guess I can now get twice the yumminess from a sheet cake now 🙂

  21. OK, I hope I am not being rude (wait, I know I am but I guess it is worth the risk) but seriously, how do you not weigh 400lbs? I’m just say’n…….and really I want to know because I can’t even have these things in the house without gaining 10lbs.

    1. I work out a lot- just to break even! haha. I always joke that the staff at my gym must wonder how a person can work out as much as I do and not have the body of the super model. Little do they know I go straight from the gym to the kitchen, haha.

  22. You. Are. Killing. Me. I have gestational diabetes and have been lusting after the mississippi mud brownies ever since you posted them. Now I’ve got another thing to add to my list. 3 more weeks!!!

  23. Just made these (instead of a b-day cake for me) and made daughter said I make the best chocolate (frosting) ever. I should probably give the credit to you, but I’m not telling her! Thanks for the best chocolate ever!

  24. I saw this and got up and made it! It was perfect for cub scouts! I used a fluted cookie cutter and cut out cookie sized pieces! Thanks!

  25. Just tried these (gluten free of course!) I used 3 cups of the bette hagman GF flour mix (6 cups rice flour {brown works better in baking} 2 cups potato starch flour and 1 cup tapioca starch) and Bob’s red mill gluten free oats. They were a big hit, had a good texture and tasted great! I love that I can almost always adapt your great recipes for my family 🙂 Thanks!

  26. Ooooh, these look amazing and I totally remember these at school lunches!!! My husband saw this post and is now requesting them. My waistline and diet are hating him right now!

  27. I am (was) a lunch lady and I worked in the bakery dept. We made these before the government jumped all over school lunches to ake them healthier.THATS a whole other story. Anyway, we didn’t use the chocolate frosting on top of the gooey peanut butter topping. Oh No! We dumped about 2 cups of chocolate chips on the hot gooey peanut butter topping while still hot, then spread the whole thing over the “crust”. If anyone wants our school recipe i do share. These are sooooooooo goooooood!

    1. I would love to have the school lunch recipe too. My school Redlands Senior High School in California, made these with a peanut butter frosting, no chocolate. I don;t remember whether they had any oats in them or not though. Thank you!!!

  28. I love your blog! We love peanut butter fingers! I have to admit, we use much, much more peanut butter over the cookie part. If I am in a big hurry, I just use store bought chocolate frosting but that is only if I am in a hurry. Love the idea of turning them into a peanut butter finger sundae!

  29. Oh, NUM! I had those bars at Cherry Hill Elementary in Orem, UT. I will never forget those culinary delights. It makes me feel old, but I’ll go ahead and say it, “they just don’t make school lunches like they used to”. We were blessed, indeed!

  30. Made this with my kids and they were in heaven every step of the way. These have topped their all time favorite chocolate cupcakes. Do you think these freeze well? I want to use them as bribes with the kids for as long as possible.

    1. Yes Lalani, I halve them quite often. The only thing that’s tricky is the egg. I’m sure you could actually just make them with 1 or 2 eggs, but I use 1 1/2. I just crack an egg and beat it with a fork really well and then only put half of it in the recipe. You can then bake them in a 9×13 pan, works great!

  31. Yet another recipe that I WANT to try so bad, but I just CAN’T. My poor little boy is deathly allergic to nuts, so we won’t be having these at our house! :(. I personally love PB/Chocolate!

  32. Um, yum. I totally remember these from school. Sadly, my kids have never had them at school!! Can you believe it?? I have made them in the distant past. I need to make them again. I like the option of adding ice cream and hot fudge!!! Yum-o-licious!

  33. I too have a child with a peanut allergy…I have used Sunbutter as a substitute for peanut butter in other recipes. He still doesn’t eat Sunbutter but at least we can get our “peanut” craving every now in then. It’s such a great alternative!!!

  34. This is the first time I’ve ever seen these cookies. And, no, I wasn’t homeschooled. But definitely deprived! I will try these soon. I love me some PB!

  35. I made these after your post! I used 1/2 white flour, 1/2 whole wheat flour. It gave them such a hearty taste! Thanks for this recipe. It is a hit!

  36. I have a recipe for peanut butter bars that never seem to quite turn out right. And what I always wished was that they would turn out like the ones in school lunch at school…they were the best! Thanks for the recipe, I can’t wait to try it!

  37. Just made these today. Couldn’t be bothered with very precise conversions to metric measurements, and also I cut down on the sugar, but they turned out very well, and very “American”, I imagine! Here in Norway, we normally cook everything to death so I couldn’t help myself; I left the pan in the oven for 5 minutes extra. But they are still soft and gooey inside – I guess it has something to do with my bars being much thicker than yours. I may have taken too lightly on converting the inches for the pan as well as the cups for the recipe … 😉

  38. Not sure what I did to ruin these… maybe it was the pan I used, but PLEASE tell me you try something you think will be fabulous and it turns out like a disaster?? If that happens to the pro’s, then I will keep on trying to get something right!

    1. Us?? No never. Everything we make is perfection.

      Ha! We’ve had our share of kitchen disasters. Try, try again!

  39. Oh my goodness. Seriously, this was meant to be! I have been craving these for a couple weeks, and just couldn’t find the ‘school lunch’ version that I was looking for. Lets be honest, when you’re 39 weeks pregnant and having a craving for something specific, there’s no point wasting time making something sub-par. I can not wait to make these! 🙂 Thanks again!

  40. Where has this recipe been all my life??? I made these and they were a huge hit. I couldn’t stop eating them. I have a recipe of a PB bar from the Lion house and they do not compare to these. They definetly reminded me of the one’s we use to get for school lunch. I am so glad now I finally have a good recipe!! Thanks so much.

  41. Has anyone made these with 100% natural peanut butter, such as “Adams”? Just wondering if it would change the taste of the recipe? I’ve never cooked with natural peanut butter, but I like it on PB&J sandwiches b/c it’s so much healthier.

  42. Shoot, I just noticed it calls for “quick” oats and don’t have any. Can I use regular oats and just extend the baking time?

    1. I thought I didn’t have quick oats and used the regular, they were just a little more chewy and the baking time didn’t need to be extended or anything, so use them and enjoy!

  43. I just made these today for company tonight- but just had a taste. They are SO good! Love the frosting. I skipped the extra pb step and they are still so good. I used natural pb (Smart Balance) and cut the recipe in half- using a half-sized jelly-roll pan. When baking recipes get cut in half and call for 1 1/2 eggs, I always use 1 whole egg and one egg yolk- seems to work well.

  44. You know you are the devil for giving me this recipe. I once volunteered to be an election judge because I knew the voting location would be at a school and there would be an off chance go scoring one of these bars. It totally worked. Yeah. It was delicious and totally worth the 18 hour day I had as an election judge.

  45. i soooo wish i had went to the same school as y’all because we never had anything this yummy! lol! i have to say i made these for a pool party we went to & they were a HUGE hit. everyone loved them & asked for the recipe. making them again today but was wondering if i could by any chance leave out the oats? they were awesome w/oats but also wanted to try without. and this is by far the EASIEST & BEST chocolate frosting EVER! loved it & even made just the frosting the other day to top some mini fudge brownie bites i made. delicious! hugs & thanks for all the amazing recipes!

  46. I made these for a scout pack meeting and the parents and kids all raved about them. Thanks for the recipe. This will be a new favorite at our house! 🙂

  47. I was so excited to make these as chocolate and peanut butter and cookies are my ultimate favorite combination. Mine didn’t turn out, though. 🙁 I live in Albuquerque, at about 5,000 ft and am wondering if the altitude had something to do with it? I even baked them for 5 or so minutes longer because they didn’t look done at all at 10-12 min. Sigh. If you have any high altitude baking tips, it would be greatly appreciated!

  48. I made these tonight, I live in the Seattle area so the opposite altitude of the above post, and mine were really soft too. My kids and I loved them, but they tasted like delicious cookie dough rather than cookies. If I cook it like 18-20 minutes will they firm up? Or is that just the texture?

  49. I made these lastnight and they were divine!!! I don’t know if I did something wrong, but I couldn’t add all the oats. My dough was so thick I could only add one of the three cups. Are all the measurements right? It could have been the organic peanut butter I used, but other than that I did it all according to the recipe. I loved it and it still turned out great, thanks for sharing!

    1. I’m guessing it was your PB because I’ve never had that problem, but I’m glad they still turned out great!

  50. This is my first time to your site, you come highly recommended by a friend.

    I have been searching for this recipe for years, and I am so excited to find it! They have started making these at Golden Corral so I like to go there just to get my school lunch peanut butter bars fix! =0)

    Also, I can’t believe that the above lunch lady said they made them stop making these bars because they were unhealthy. It’s so ironic looking at the school lunches they serve now…pizza, chicken nuggets, corn dogs etc. You can’t get much more un-healthy than school lunch in my oppinion!

  51. Made these tonight for our special Sunday dessert and they were delicious! For the future I was thinking of cutting them all up in about the same size and freeze them for my kids school lunches and pull them out when I need them!

  52. My mother in law makes her famous peanut butter bars on special occasions and they are delicious! I do believe however that you have created an even better recipe that is to die for! I followed your recommendation to eat these with vanilla ice cream…YUM!! I had to send half the pan to work with my husband so I didnt eat them all! Tomorrow is going to have to be a strictly water and veggies day to make up for eating so many today!

  53. So I have these baking in the oven right now. I used what I consider a standard size cookie sheet and the dough filled the cookie sheet right up to the rim before it was baked. I double checked the measurements and am nervous I put it in too small a pan. Help! Is your “standard cookie sheet” a sheet cake pan? I measured mine and it is 12 X 16.

    1. Ya, it sounds like your pan is a little small. Hopefully it doesn’t spill over, just bake them a little longer!

    2. Ok… I ended up cooking them longer to account for my pan size and they are still great tasting. I don’t know how the consistency will hold up for tomorrow though. I am afraid they will get too hard.

  54. I totally forgot about these! Its been like 15 years since elementary, and when I made these tonight – it was like taking a bite into my childhood! Too bad you will probably never see these in a school again – too much sugar and peanut allergies . . . boo. 🙁

    I can’t wait until my hubby gets home for work and tries these – he will think I am the best wife ever!!!

    1. Yay!! Peanut butter bars “like the school makes” are my daughter’s absolute favorite and I’ve never been able to duplicate them at home for her. This recipe looks like it might be it. Can’t wait to try it.

  55. This really did taste like ones we would get with our school lunches, which was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks so much for sharing! 😀

  56. I have made these a ton and to help with the texture issue I have found (by accident) if you cook them half way then stir up and press back into pan they have more of a bars mixture rather than soft cookie. Oh yeah and the frosting is way better than just chocolate chips and peanut butter.

  57. Oh, I used to LOVE lunch lady peanut butter bars! I haven’t had one since I was little (thank you, Quail Hollow Elementary) but I saw some when I was in Macey’s today and remembered I’d seen your recipe here. I came straight home and made them, and they are wonderful. A 2/3 batch exactly fit my 15 inch sheet pan, and they were super easy to put together. I was a little skeptical about the ten minute baking time, but they came out perfect. Crisp edges and bottom, but so soft and moist inside. My gosh, what a treat. I’ll have to take some over to my sisters and see if they remember eating them in school. Thanks a mil!

  58. I was LOOKING for a recipe that was like the bars I used to have in elementary school (Cannon AFB, Clovis, NM)I used to LOVE them. Been looking for the recipe for years, and yours looks the closest, although I think they might have used melted chocolate instead of frosting, cause the top was firm. I seem to remember the inside having rice crispies instead of oats, but I will try this recipe, it looks delicious!

  59. The BEST dessert that I’ve had a potluck in YEARS! I couldn’t stop eating them and took some to go too! It was so hard to not eat the entire pan. I am going to make this for my office and I know that they will love it. I wasn’t sure when I saw it in the pan, it just looked like any other bar. Wait until you sink your teeth into them…… SO DELICIOUS!!

  60. I just saw a similar recipe on another site, so I checked out yours to see if you have one posted, and great, you do! But, I am hoping to make these today, and now I am a little worried. The other recipe called for half the flour, oats, and almost everything, but it was still in the same size pan. They didn’t look overly thin, so how thick are yours? My pan is a jelly roll pan, so I think it is 12 x 16 instead. Thanks!

  61. Just made these. If people weren’t watching, the pan would be gone, and I would be lying in a heap on the floor so full I couldn’t move.

  62. Yay! I have been looking for this recipe for years!!! These are exactly like they served us at Hamden High School in Connecticut! Best Part of School! THANK YOU!!!

  63. Big fan! I have your cookbook! So my husband said for Father’s Day he wanted these, so I was happy to see that you had the recipe on you site. But what I really want to talk about is how AMAZING the chocolate frosting is! Omg! I have never made fchocolate frosting from scratch before! I have been missing out. My life is complete now. It took all the will power I had not to eat it out of the bowl while the bars were baking!

  64. I made these today for a playdate and gave half the pan to my neighbor…I was just noticing the picture with the oats…yeah, totally didn’t add those, and they’re still fantastic. The other mom walked in and said, ‘those look just like something they served at my cafeteria!’ seriously, I missed the good lunch boat I think!

  65. This is a great recipe and I have made it many times. After a few issues, there are a couple of things I do for success. I line the pan with foil, it makes it easier to remove the bars. I bake it until it has a moist crumbs attached when testing with a toothpick, as it finishes baking outside of the oven. I also allow the cookie layer to cool completely, as a too warm cookie, topped with hot peanut butter, can cause the cookie to sink in spots. After I top it with the melted peanut butter, I put the pan in the fridge for a few minutes to firm it up, before topping with the frosting, which helps these layers stay separate. I have to add additional hot water to make the frosting spread nicely, as 1/3 cup just makes a lump, no matter the humidity level. To make the presentation beautiful, I remove the bars using the foil as a sling, and cut off the high edges, then cut these into skinny bars, as they are super rich. Thanks Sara for the great blast from the past!

  66. My mom *was* a school lunch lady and has always made incredible cookies (she is 94 now, I visited her last week, we made cookies!). BUT we never made these! My daughter is a pb addict so I can’t wait to make these!

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