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Creamy & crunchy Scotcheroos are a Midwest favorite that are a mashup of rice krispie treats, peanut butter bars, and peanut butter fudge in one no-bake dessert that everybody loves! Crunchy Rice Krispies cereal and a sticky peanut butter mixture are pressed into a pan, then topped with butterscotch and chocolate topping in these no-fuss bars!
Easy Scotcheroos Recipe
Growing up in the Midwest, I remember eating Scotcheroos at every potluck and bake sale I think I ever went to. Scotcheroos have been around since the 1960’s when a recipe for them was printed on the back of a cereal box. But they aren’t your ordinary Krispie treats!
Scotcheroos are super popular in Iowa. Multiple Iowan friends mentioned them to me when I asked them what the most iconic Iowan dessert so I could include it in my American Eats series where I’m exploring the flavors of the good ol’ U.S.A. one state at a time.
I was actually born just across the border in Nebraska and the two states (well, a lot of the Midwest actually) share many of the same favorite recipes and flavors, so Scotcheroos take me right back to my childhood!
What is a scotcheroo?
The base of a Scotcheroo is a chewy-crunchy-soft layer of crisp rice cereal folded into a sticky-sweet concoction of peanut butter, sugar, butter, and corn syrup. So even though they look and remind you of rice krispie treats, Scotcheroos are different because there are no marshmallows involved. Done right, and the bars stay soft and chewy.
Then they are topped with melted butterscotch and chocolate chips for a wonderful and unique flavor combination that turns these from peanut butter chocolate bars into Scotcheroos. The chocolate-butterscotch layer firms back up after sitting a while and provides a great textural contrast to the bottom layer.
How to Make Scotcheroos
- Prep the pan: Grease a 9×13 pan with butter or line it with a parchment paper sling to make it easier to remove the bars when they are done. Set it aside.
- Make the peanut butter mixture: In a large saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and peanut butter over medium low heat. Stir with a long-handled wood spoon just until the peanut butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved, but don’t let it come to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Add the Rice Krispies: Gently stir in the Rice Krispies until the cereal is evenly coated in the peanut butter mixture. You could also use cornflakes, Chex, or even Special K if you don’t have rice krispies available or just want to try these bars with another cereal.
- Pour into the prepared pan: Don’t wait on this because the bars will want to start to set up pretty quickly. Gently press the scotcheroos into an even layer, but don’t try to pack them in hard.
- Microwave butterscotch and chocolate chips until melted: In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips, heating them in 20 second bursts and stirring between each burst until the chips are completely melted and smooth. This usually takes about 60-80 seconds. You could also do this in a double boiler over simmering water.
- Pour the melted chocolate over the Rice Krispies: Spread them into a thin layer to cover the top of the bars. Cool until it’s set (usually about 20-30 minutes) and then cut into squares and serve.
Are scotcheroos gluten free?
They can be made gluten free by choosing to use the gluten-free version of Rice Krispie cereal. But be warned that Kellogg’s Rice Krispies are not gluten-free, so you will have to read labels.
If you’re looking to avoid gluten due to an allergy, then watch for “malt flavoring” on the ingredient list, which is the ingredient in rice krispies that contains gluten since it is derived from a barley grain. Also, be careful of cross-contamination, otherwise, none of these ingredients would normally contain gluten.
How long are scotcheroos good for?
If kept stored in an airtight container at room temperature, then you can expect your dessert bars to last up to about a week and still be great! Of course, this is assuming you can get them to last that long in the first place. They might be gone much sooner: they’re too irresistible.
Can scotcheroos be frozen?
Yes, they can be frozen! I recommend that if you plan on freezing them, to first cut them into serving sized pieces before freezing so that you can grab and go when you’re hungry or packing a lunch bag.
Why are my scotcheroos so hard?
Usually, the biggest reason why your scotcheroos could be hard is a direct result of overcooking the mixture. If you bring the pan to a boil, you could cause the sugar to crystalize and become harder than intended.
Another reason is if you try to press them too hard into the pan and compact them. Mostly you just want to spread them out to the edges of the pan and that’s good enough.
More Midwest favorites you should try
- Puppy Chow – everywhere else calls it Chex Mix Muddy Buddies, but in the Midwest we call it Puppy Chow.
- Blarney Stones (Peanut Butter Squares) – this is another Iowa classic that is rarely seen anywhere else.
- Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats – the extra effort of browning the butter makes next level rice krispie treats.
- Strawberry Rhubard Crumb Bars
- Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies
- Easy Homemade Granola
- Chocolate Walnut Fudge
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 cups Rice Krispies
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup butterscotch chips
- Butter a 9×13-inch pan or line it with a parchment paper sling. Set aside.
- In a large sauce pan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and peanut butter. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves and the peanut butter melts. Don’t let the mixture come to a boil.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Add the Rice Krispies and gently stir to coat the cereal in the peanut butter mixture.
- Pour into the prepared pan, gently pressing into an even layer.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips. Heat in the microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring between each interval until the chips are melted and smooth, about 60-80 seconds. This can also be done in a double boiler
- Pour over the Rice Krispie and spread into a thin layer to cover the top of the bars. Cool until set, then cut into squares.
- Freezing and Storage: Scotcheroos will stay good in an airtight container on the counter for up to about a week. Or they can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before serving.
More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series
Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Maine • Maryland • Massachusetts • Montana • New York • Oregon • Puerto Rico • South Carolina • South Dakota • Texas • Utah • Wisconsin