Peanut Butter and Jam Cookie Bars

CATEGORIES: Bars and Brownies, Sara

Peanut Butter and Jelly is one of the world’s best flavor combinations.  These cookie bars are a family favorite and taking one bite into these blissfully sweet bars is like taking a big chomp into my childhood.  We made these a lot growing up.  In fact, I can still visualize the paper my Mom had with the recipe and a note that it was from our neighbor down the street, Sharon Mckenzie. They were a regular addition to summer pot-lucks, Christmas plates for neighbors, our weekly “Family Nights” and on lazy Sunday afternoons. It’s basically 2 layers of super soft peanut butter cookie dough sandwiching a layer of sweet berry jam, with a creamy, buttery vanilla glaze on top.

How I learned to Cook

People always ask me where I learned to cook. I really had to think about it at first since I can’t really pinpoint an exact point in my life where I became interested in all things culinary. I didn’t take a class, or watch a show, or read a book. I just…cooked. I always have. But as I reflect on my life and my past and all of the things that have made me into the person that I am, the answer to that question is crystal clear. I learned from my Mother.

She wasn’t a chef or even a super fancy cook. She just made good food. And she made it often. Growing up in our house, meal times were consistent, treats were plentiful, and the kitchen was the heart of our home.  My Mom always took time to include the “little helpers” even if it meant a less-than-perfect finished product and constant exposure to that just led to a natural interest for me. 

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Great Recipe to Make with Your Kids!

I mention this because this is one of those great recipe that’s really fun to make for (or with) your kids!  My little ones love squishing the dough in the pan or drizzling the glaze.  They can’t really be messed up too much so go ahead and invite a helper in the kitchen.

Making the Peanut Butter Dough

So these are super easy.  You’ll make a quick peanut butter dough and press part of it into the bottom of a 9×13 pans.  If you’re like me and you have 9×13’s that are a little bigger and ones that are a little smaller, I usually go for the smaller one.  I like to crumble pieces of dough on the bottom of the pan and then press them in evenly with my hands.  Parchment isn’t necessary here but I always use it so I can lift the whole pan of cookies out after they cool for easy slicing.

Spread on the Jam

You’ll then spread on a layer of jam.  You can honestly use anything you have in your fridge.  Really not a bad combo possible here.  I always go with raspberry or strawberry.  We really like jams that aren’t SUPER sweet; this one from Costco is one of our favorites.

Top With More Dough

Spread the jam over the bottom dough in a nice even layer. Take the remaining chunk of your dough and use it to cover the jam layer. I take small pieces and press them with my fingers to create flat little pieces of dough. You can also crumble it if you want, but I like the pressing method. Some of the jam will still show through when you’re done and that’s fine.  In this batch I’ve set aside just 3/4 cup of dough for the top, which is why you see quite a bit of jam popping through.  You can reserve anywhere from 3/4 – 1 cup.

Drizzle on Glaze

After they bake, you’ll drizzle on a simple, buttery vanilla glaze. 

My favorite are the edge pieces where the jam cooks up against the edge of the pan and gets kind of chewy.

It’s like a perfectly soft peanut butter cookie with a surprising sweet burst of fruit in the middle.

These stay super soft, by the way.  I forgot I hid one from my kids from this batch and found it almost a week later and it was still perfection.

Try these out and they might be your new favorite thing, too.

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Peanut Butter and Jam Cookie Bars

  • Author: Sara Wells

Description

Soft peanut butter cookie dough, sandwiched with sweet berry jam and topped with a creamy glaze. 


Scale

Ingredients

Peanut Butter & Jam Bars

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup strawberry or raspberry jam

Glaze:
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) real butter, melted
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tbs hot water


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream shortening and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Add peanut butter and combine. Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder and then add to dough until incorporated.

Reserve 3/4 – 1 cup dough for later use.

Take the remaining dough and press it into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 pan. I crumble it evenly all over the bottom of the pan and then press it in with my fingers. Crumbling it first helps to create an even thickness.

Spread jam on top. 

Take remaining dough and use your fingers to smash it into thin pieces and place on top of jam.  It’s okay if jam still shows through.  

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. The top should be set and just barely golden brown.  In my oven it’s always about 24-25 minutes.

When done, remove from oven and cool on a rack. While it’s cooling you can mix up your glaze.  Whisk the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla together.  Add water while whisking until glaze reaches desired consistency. 

Wait until they are completely cooled to room temp to glaze (or it really melts all over and falls to the center of the pan and forms a little pool in which you will impulsively dip your finger over and over again until the little pool is no more.)

Let glaze set and then slice into squares.


50 comments

  1. When I saw the title to this post, a million images filled my mind and I almost started to cry.
    For me, I remember Christmas time and family, a healthy Mom slapping Drew's hand away from the reserved dough saying "Stop eating that or there won't be enough to cover the top!" and then me sneaking a bite while she escorted him out of the kitchen.
    I also remember the rule that we couldn't give away the pieces on the outer edge of the pan, so we always got to eat the "crust." Good memories πŸ™‚

  2. I picked up a vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster at the thrift store today (bartered it down to $10!!!) and christened it with THIS recipe!

    They are cooling right now – I used raspberry jam (I have a massive jar I'm trying to use up-the Daring Bakers challenge this month should help with that, too!). Halved the glaze and squeezed it on with a ziploc baggie rather than spreading it – I can't WAIT to try them!!!

    Thanks for this recipe – if it's alright I'd love to show it off on my blog in the next few days, with a link right back here of course!

  3. Yum! I love PB and J and can't wait to try this recipe. Do you think I could use crunchy PB? I love your blog and have made a bunch of the recipes. So good and so easy! Thank you.

  4. I will have to try this. Looks yummy and I LOVE PB! I haven't been able to access your blog the last few days from my favs because you were under the daily bite. So I had to google best bites and add you to my favs again. I hope others aren't having problems. Love your blog. You do a great job. and your pictures… Please… They are out of this world! I so need to take you up on your offer.

  5. These look tasty for me and the kids. Voting – done! I love the food/cooking memories you shared about your childhood. I have a long way to go, but I hope to provide that for my kids too.

  6. I learned from my mom too. You know, I'm not a fan of PB&J as a sandwich at all, but turn it into dessert and it sounds wonderful. πŸ™‚

  7. Both my mom and grandma cooked from their senses and preferred to do it alone especially my grandma. As i got older I could help with peeling potatoes or making a salad but that was about it.

    Your bars are going on my must try list.

    Btw, I made the snickerdoodle ice cream and blogged about it! Thanks for sharing.
    ~ingrid

  8. So I know my mom won't ever comment on here but she made these for my family (and hubby) while I have been out of town and they all loved them and said they were DELISH.

    My husband seriously went out of his way to tell me about them. LOL, that's rare for him about treats.

  9. I think I seriously am addicted to Peanut Butter…I have tried something similar to this before and it was delious! I will have to try out your recipe with my homemade Strawberry Jam!

  10. Ahhhhhh, PB&J. They look wonderful and I can't wait to make these bars. Of course, we already go through peanut butter and jelly at a rate that is frightening!

  11. Hi, this may seem very obvious to everyone but may I be sure about the ingredient…when it states "1T or 1t" or anything, does it mean "one teaspoon", thanks. I just tried your pizza dough and sauce and I have to proudly say that its THE BEST pizza I have made and my family love it, THANK YOU!

  12. Hello,

    I'm new to your site, and PB&J Bars was the first recipe I tried. I took them to a party last night, and they were a huge success!

    Thank you for the recipe! I'll be sure to try some more. πŸ™‚

  13. Oh, my — I'm totally making these as soon as I step away from the laptop! (I'll be using gluten-free flour, but I bet they'll be delicious!)

  14. So…. am trying to find some yummy dessert recipes that I can make and safely package for our camping trip in a week….. do these need to be kept refrigerated or will they do okay sitting in a camper?

    Thanks!

  15. I just made these with my girls (5 & 3 1/2) and they are so delicious! Both girls were "ooh"-ing and "mmm"-ing and saying things like "Mom, these are SOOO good!" πŸ™‚ Thanks for the great recipe!

  16. These are my absolute FAVORITE bars EVER!! They never stick around more than an afternoon because if the kids don’t eat them all, I do.

    Curious, am I allowed to “Pin” this??

  17. If one wanted to bake this in a 9″ square pan, would it be best to halve the recipe, or just do it as suggested for a “smaller” 9″x13″ pan and expect thicker bars? I ask this because my 9″x13″ pan is standard, and further it is Pyrex. I don’t want to the bars to be too thin or too brown, etc. These look so good and I have never seen anything like them before. Nothing like a cookie bar, I say! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. you are welcome to try it with butter, but I’ve always made them as written. You might get a slightly flatter cookie that crisps a bit more but I’m sure it’s delicious!

  18. Could these be halved in a 9×9 inch baking pan? If so, would you just half all the ingredients or use them as they are to make a thicker bar? Thanks!

  19. I made these over the weekend and they were a huge hit! I was pleasantly surprised as the cookie was not overly-peanut-buttery (a word? lol). And my daughter who hates jelly/jam of any kind loved them. My husband wants me to try strawberry-rhubarb jam next. Thanks OBB!!

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