Vegan Scotcheroos (Special K Bars)
Vegan scotcheroos, also known as special K bars, are an irresistibly delicious dessert! The sticky-sweet, light and crispy peanut butter bars are coated with a creamy chocolate topping. It’s a healthier twist on the classic Midwestern treat, made with no corn syrup and no butterscotch chips. They’re also no-bake, gluten-free, oil-free, and super easy to make. Think Rice Krispies treats, but oozing with peanut butter and chocolate flavor!
If you’re from the Midwest, you know exactly what scotcheroos are. If you’re not, I’m about to introduce you to your new FAVORITE dessert. Seriously, these no-bake dessert bars are almost too delicious. They’re dangerously addictive and the pan will be gone before you know it. Each bite is somehow better than the last. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! 😉
Think: ultra sticky, caramel-y sweet, crispy yet airy peanut butter Rice Krispies Treats. If that isn’t enough to have you drooling, they are also smothered in a creamy chocolate topping. Believe it or not, this is actually a healthier take on the original special K bar recipe, because it’s made without corn syrup and no refined sugar. Instead, we’ll use brown rice syrup and coconut sugar. These sweeteners have a subtle butterscotch flavor, making them the perfect addition to this mouth-watering treat.
These vegan scotcheroos are:
- No-bake, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and oil-free
- Sticky and sweet, creamy and caramel-y, yet light and crispy
- Made with 7 ingredients // healthier scotcheroos than the original recipe
- Easy to make and ready in about 1 hour
- Non-vegan approved and a total crowd-pleasing dessert
- A go-to dessert for potlucks, parties, or any celebration!
What is the difference between scotcheroos and special K bars?
This popular chocolate and peanut butter dessert goes by two names: scotcheroos and special K bars. The names are typically used interchangeably, but there is a small difference between the two treats. Simply put, scotcheroos are made with rice krispies/brown rice crisps while special K bars use special K cereal.
What are scotcheroos?
Traditionally, scotcheroos are peanut butter Rice Krispies Treats with a chocolate and butterscotch topping. They’re made with corn syrup, sugar, peanut butter, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and crispy rice cereal. Fun fact: the original scotcheroo recipe was written on Rice Krispies cereal boxes all the way back in the 1960s.
What are special K bars?
Similarly to scotcheroos, special K bars are typically made with corn syrup, sugar, peanut butter, chocolate, and butterscotch chips. However, instead of crispy rice cereal, they contain Special K cereal.
What are healthy scotcheroos made of?
These vegan scotcheroos taste very similar to the classic recipe, but they’re made with healthier ingredients. For instance, corn syrup is replaced with brown rice syrup and refined sugar is replaced with coconut sugar. Additionally, the chocolate topping contains peanut butter instead of butterscotch chips (which are nearly impossible to find as a vegan).
- Cereal: There are several options to choose from when it comes to the cereal in this dessert recipe. You can use brown rice crisps/crispy brown rice cereal, traditional Rice Krispies cereal, or Special K cereal. Personally, I think Special K cereal creates the best texture.
- Brown rice syrup: Brown rice syrup is a thick sweetener that gives these scotcheroo bars their sticky texture and subtle butterscotch flavor.
- Peanut butter: Creamy peanut butter is used in both the base layer and the chocolate topping.
- Coconut sugar: Coconut sugar, as opposed to refined cane sugar, helps to sweeten these dessert bars.
- Dark chocolate: This treat is not complete without chocolate. If you’re no fan of dark chocolate, choose a dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate or milk chocolate variety instead.
- Vanilla: I’m a firm believer that pure vanilla extract makes all the difference in desserts. So, naturally, we’ll add a teaspoon to the sticky cereal crust.
- Salt: Just a dash is used to balance out the sweet ingredients. If your peanut butter is already heavily salted, you can use less salt than the recipe calls for.
How to make chocolate peanut butter crispy bars
For the full ingredients list and step-by-step instructions, scroll down to view the recipe card below.
First, melt the brown rice syrup and coconut sugar together in a large pot. Mix together, cooking for 2-3 minutes or just until the sugar begins to dissolve. Add peanut butter, vanilla extract, and a dash of salt. Then, remove from heat and immediately stir in the cereal. Mix to evenly coat the cereal.
Transfer the sticky cereal mixture to a parchment-lined 9×13-inch dish. Firmly press the cereal across the base of the dish.
Next, melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter together. You can do this in a small pot, double boiler, or microwave. Spread the melted chocolate in a smooth layer over the crust.
After, transfer the bars to the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour. Once the chocolate topping has set, slice into 16 bars and devour.
Tips for perfecting these peanut butter chocolate rice crispy bars
There are a few potential ingredient substitutions for these vegan scotcheroos. Check out the recommendations below:
- Cereal: You can use brown rice crisps, crispy brown rice, rice krispies cereal, or special K cereal. I highly recommend special K cereal because I think it provides the best texture. However, very strict vegans may opt for certified-vegan brown rice crisps instead.
- Peanut butter: The peanut butter can be swapped with almond butter or cashew butter. If you need a nut-free scotcheroo recipe, use sunflower seed butter instead.
- Brown rice syrup: I highly suggest sticking with brown rice syrup, but regular corn syrup will also work. Do not replace the brown rice syrup with maple syrup, because that will not work out well. Maple syrup has a thinner consistency, and the bars will not hold together or have the same flavor. Honey is a possible substitute, but I advise against it. The flavor just does not compare to brown rice syrup.
- Dark chocolate: You can decrease the sugar content of this dessert by using stevia-sweetened chocolate chips instead of traditional chocolate chips.
How to slice the bars into clean and crisp squares: Run a sharp knife under hot water for 5-7 seconds, then wipe the knife completely dry with a kitchen towel or paper towel. Slice the bars, wiping the knife clean between each cut. The warmth of the knife will help you create crisp, clean slices. This trick can be used for any type of baked good, including brownies and cake!
How to store the scotcheroos: Transfer leftovers to a sealed container. Keep them at room temperature or inside the refrigerator. The bars are also freezer-friendly. They will keep for up to 3 months inside the freezer. Once frozen, allow them to thaw for an hour at room temperature before enjoying.
More no bake dessert recipes
- No Bake Vegan Brownies
- No Bake Cookie Dough Bars (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
- No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Healthy)
- No Bake Turtle Brownies (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
- No Bake Brownie Bites
- No Bake Almond Butter Cookies
- No-Bake Pecan Pie Bars (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
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Vegan scotcheroos, also known as special K bars, are a delicious no bake dessert! The sticky-sweet, crispy peanut butter bars are topped with a rich chocolate layer. It’s a healthier twist on the classic Midwestern treat, made without corn syrup and no butterscotch chips. They’re vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and so easy to make!
- 1 cup brown rice syrup
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 cups brown rice crisps or Special K cereal (gluten-free if needed)
- 1 + 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- Prep the Dish: Line a rectangular baking dish (preferably 9 x 13 inches) with parchment paper.
- Cereal Layer: Melt brown rice syrup and coconut sugar together in a large pot on the stove, mixing for 2-3 minutes or just until the sugar starts to dissolve. Add peanut butter, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix together. Remove pot from the stove and immediately stir in the cereal. Mix until all of the cereal is evenly coated. Transfer the sticky cereal mixture to the baking dish. Evenly press the cereal across the base of the pan and set aside.
- Chocolate Topping: Melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter together in a small pot, double boiler, or microwave. If microwaving, heat in 30-second intervals (stirring between) until the chocolate chips are melted. Be careful not to burn the chocolate. Pour melted chocolate over the crust and spread in a smooth layer.
- Chill: Transfer bars to the refrigerator. Chill for 1 hour or until the chocolate has set.
- Serve: Once the chocolate has set, slice into 16 bars and enjoy!
- See the tips section of the written post for ingredient substitutions.
- Keep the scotcheroos stored in a sealed container at room temperature or inside the refrigerator. They will also keep for up to 3 months in the freezer. If frozen, let the bars thaw at room temperature before enjoying.
- Serving Size: 1 bar
- Calories: 348
- Sugar: 26g
- Fat: 16g
- Saturated Fat: 5g
- Carbohydrates: 43g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 8g
Keywords: vegan scotcheroos, vegan special k bars
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