It’s peanut butter jelly time. Enjoy all the delicious salty-sweet flavor of a pb&j with these scrumptious peanut butter and jelly bars loaded with nutty pb flavor and a thick layer of fruity jam.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars
It’s peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time, PEANUT BUTTER JELLY, peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat, now where you at… OKAY, before I go on, please tell me you know what I’m referring to. These peanut butter and jelly bars unlocked this specific childhood memory of this ridiculous song (if you are curiousyou can listen to it here, but I warn you it is really quite grating to adult ears). Every time I hear peanut butter and jelly together in a sentence I am transported back to an elementary school playground, and the famous ballad “It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time” plays in my mind.
That’s the power of pb + j, baby. It’s an iconic nostalgic flavor combination that we all love because it takes you right back to your childhood.
And these peanut butter and jelly bars taste like snack time on the jungle gym. You’re going to love them.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars Ingredients
These peanut butter and jelly bars are made with a buttery, melt in your mouth peanut butter shortbread and a thick layer of your favorite jam. Like most shortbread recipes, this peanut butter shortbread is super simple and only calls for a handful of on-hand ingredients. Here’s your grocery list:
Butter: Good butter is the key to a flaky and delicious shortbread. We recommend splurging on a box of really good butter for the best results. We usually use unsalted butter because then you can control exactly how much salt is going into your cookies bars.
Peanut Butter: Well this seems obvious. Hehe. I’ve tried this recipe with natural peanut butter and Jiff and both will work just fine!
Granulated Sugar: I’ve tried this recipe with both brown sugar and granulated sugar, and either will work!
Vanilla Extract: Make sure you’re using pure vanilla extract for the best results. A little goes a long way and will really make your peanut butter and jelly cookie bars taste gourmet.
All Purpose Flour: Regular ol’ all purpose flour will do the trick in these peanut butter and jelly bars. Make sure you’re properly measuring your flour by spooning it into your measuring cup and leveling it off to make sure that you are not overmeasuring it!
Salt: All sweets need a little salt to cut the sweetness and deepen the flavor profile.
Jam: Feel free to use your favorite flavor of jam in these peanut butter and jelly bars. We highly recommend using Bonne Maman’s delicious preserves for the best results.
How to make the best peanut butter and jelly bars
I love these peanut butter and jelly bars because they’re super easy to make and come together in just 45 minutes. They’re easy enough for novice bakers, but these three tips will guarantee you the perfect peanut butter and jelly dessert every time.
Do not overmix the shortbread dough: The key to tender, buttery shortbread is a crumbly dough. The more you mix your shortbread dough the more gluten will develop which can lead to a tough cookie crust. The dough will be dry and crumbly before it goes into the oven, but I promise it will bake up into a scrumptious and soft peanut butter shortbread.
Use high quality jam: The jam layer in these peanut butter and jelly bars is THICK. And a low quality jam or jelly simply will not taste as good as a thick layer of a scrumptious jam made with real fruit and high quality ingredients.
Under bake the bars: If I could tell people my number one baking tip it would be to always under bake your baked goods. Baked goods continue to bake as they cool down so if you take your treats out of the oven when they are already fully cooked they will actually be overcooked by the time they cool. You’ll know these pb and j bars are done when the jam is bubbling and the edges are the light golden brown, but the middle is still slightly raw.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 x 9 pan with parchment on all sides and set aside.
In a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, peanut butter, sugar, flour, salt and vanilla and beat until the dough starts to come together, about 2 minutes. The dough will be crumbly, but this is what you want!
Press 2/3 of the shortbread dough into the prepared pan in an even layer. Top with the jam and spread into an even, thick layer. Crumble the remaining shortbread over the jam, making sure you leave some spots of jam poking through. Bake the bars for 25-30 minutes or until they are just golden brown.
Allow the shortbread to cool before cutting into desired size and shape! Enjoy!