These peanut butter and jelly bars have a base layer of peanut butter oat cookie topped with peanut butter cheesecake, homemade strawberry jam, and a peanut butter oat crumble. They’re chewy, creamy, gooey, crunchy, and a delicious twist on a childhood classic!
Peanut butter and jelly cheesecake bars
Your favorite lunch box sandwich just got a major upgrade. And I think peanut butter and jelly is a delicious combo that isn’t showcased enough in baking! The creamy peanut butter against the tart jam, all coming together with a soft and sweet bread. One bite instantly takes you back to when you were a kid.
That’s why I wanted to create a really fun rendition of this classic combo. They have a soft base, creamy center, fresh strawberries, and a crunchy crumble topping.
All these layers may seem daunting, but it’s actually super easy to make! Especially with a little cheat I used for the base and top layers.
These bars are made up of 4 parts:
Part 1: Soft peanut butter oat cookie – This layer is the base to these bars and is made up of a few simple ingredients. It turns out soft and peanut buttery, but strong enough to withstand all the layers stacked on top.
Part 2: Peanut butter cheesecake – Spread on top of the shortbread is a creamy layer of peanut butter cheesecake. It’s only made up of 5 ingredients and comes together super quick.
Part 3: Homemade strawberry jam – This is a recipe I constantly use because it never fails. It’s easy to make and tastes WAY better than what you can buy in stores.
Part 4: Peanut butter oat crumble – The topping is probably the easiest step…mainly because we use leftover dough from the base layer to make it! By the time you’ve made it to the top layer, the oat crumble is already ready to go.
How to make super easy homemade strawberry jam
After making this strawberry jam, you’ll never use store bought again. You only need 2 ingredients (plus water) and about 30 minutes to reach the best jam. It’s the perfect consistency and bakes beautifully in these cheesecake bars.
To start, add 2 cups of strawberries, 1 cup of sugar, and 1/2 cup of water to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer once it starts to bubble and continue to cook for about 30 minutes.
At first it will steam quite a bit, then a pink foam will start to form as it begins to boil. Continue stirring and gently mash the strawberries as they become soft and tender.
The jam will simmer for 25-30 minutes, producing tons of steam. This is all the water evaporating out, allowing the jam to become thicker and thicker.
After 30 minutes, you’ll notice the pink foam start to disappear and the jam will turn a deep red. It should have also reduced to about 1 cup. Dip your mixing utensil into the jam and watch how it slides off. If it coats the spoon and slooowly drips off, it’s ready.
Pour the hot jam into a glass measuring cup, leaving you with 1 cup of jam. Let it sit at room temperature to thicken and cool while you make the bars.
Can I use store-bought jam?
Yes you can, just make sure it’s jam and not preserves or jelly (I’ve made this mistake before). Jam is the perfect consistency because it will thicken as it bakes in these bars, allowing all the layers to stick together when sliced.
Making the base layer and oat crumble
The base layer is a really simple soft peanut butter cookie made just like any other cookie dough! Here’s the ingredients you’ll need:
- all-purpose flour
- old fashioned rolled oats
- unsalted butter
- brown sugar
- creamy peanut butter
- vanilla extract
Mix together all of the dry ingredients and set aside. Then, cream together the butter, sugar, and peanut butter. Mix in the vanilla and egg and then the dry ingredients.
The base layer will need to be par baked, meaning it will bake in the oven for a few minutes before baking with the rest of the layers. This is to ensure it bakes all the way through.
Press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of an 8×8 baking pan greased and lined with parchment paper. Allow the paper to hang over the edges so you can lift the bars out later.
Leave the remaining dough in the bowl and mix in more flour, oats, and sugar. This transforms the dough into the crumble topping…so two layers in one! It’s the best way to save time and ingredients for a dessert that consists for 4 layers.
Place the crumble in the fridge to firm up while you finish off these bars.
What is the best peanut butter to use?
This recipe calls for standard creamy peanut butter. This would be something like JIF or Skippy. It should be no stir to ensure the bars don’t get too oily.
Quick and simple peanut butter cheesecake batter
Once the base layer has baked for 8 minutes, start on the cheesecake layer.
But before that, make sure the cream cheese is a room temperature. This ensures the batter turns out nice and smooth.
Mix together the cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar until smooth. Then, mix in the egg and vanilla and you’re done! It’s that easy.
Assembling the peanut butter and jelly layers
Spread the cheesecake on top of the cooled shortbread layer. If it’s still a bit warm, that’s OK. Just make sure it isn’t piping hot otherwise the cheesecake will melt.
At this point, the jam will be at the perfect consistency. It should be thickened but still thin enough to easily spread. Gently spoon 3/4 cup all around the cheesecake layer (see pictures above) and then carefully spread it even.
Take the crumble out of the fridge and rub small chunks between your fingers to get that crumbled look. Use up all the dough to completely cover the jam layer.
Now bake! It’s ready when the peaks of the crumble start to turn golden brown.
The importance of chilling the bars
Allow the bars to cool at room temp for about 20 minutes, then transfer to the fridge uncovered.
This is a VERY important step because it allows the cheesecake and jam layers to set. If you slice into them too soon, the layers will run everywhere and you’ll be left with a puddle of peanut butter and strawberry.
They should chill for at least 2 hours. When they’re ready, run a knife along the sides that are touching the pan and lift the bars out using the parchment paper.
If the bars start to bend when you lift the paper, set it back down and continue chilling the bars. These bars should be very easy to lift out and hold together.
Slice into 9 or 16 bars, depending on how big you’d like them, and dig in!
How to store peanut butter and jelly cheesecake bars
Place the bars in an air tight tupperware container and store in the fridge. They will keep for up to 1 week.
For more delicious peanut butter recipes, check out my:
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Peanut Butter Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches
- Peanut Butter Banana Muffins (GF/DF)
- Peanut Butter and Jelly No Churn Ice Cream
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Make sure to tag me @butternutbakery on Instagram and comment below if you make these Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars. To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can use the button on the recipe card, the buttons above or below this post, or on any of the photos above. Happy baking!Print