Healthy Scotcheroos – My childhood favorite made without corn syrup or refined sugar! You’ll love these gooey peanut butter rice krispies treats with chocolate topping just as much as the original. (Gluten free & vegan)
Want to know what I picked for my birthday treat this year? Scotcheroos.
They’re so nostalgic for me. There were a few years where I felt like my mom made a GIANT pan of these every week and they were always gone in a flash. Anytime I brought treats to church activities or get-togethers with friends, everyone was THRILLED when my mom’s scotcheroos were on the table.
I get it. Gooey peanut butter rice krispies treats topped with a layer of melted chocolate…what’s not to love?
My childhood version was made with corn syrup and white sugar, but I’ve re-worked the original recipe to be gluten free, dairy free, and using natural sweeteners in the gooey layer.
These “healthy” scotcheroos (let’s be honest, they’re still a treat) have all the sweet, delicious taste of the original, but I love that the ingredient list is a little more short and sweet.
I’ve also scaled down the recipe so you don’t have to bring a giant sheet pan full every time you make them 😉
WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE HEALTHY SCOTCHEROOS
CRISP RICE CEREAL. We’re gluten free, so we buy certified gluten free crisp rice cereal. Mostly that means brown rice cereal, which tastes nearly identical to the white kind. Barbara’s and Erewhon are two brands we buy often.
PEANUT BUTTER. I secretly love crunchy peanut butter the best for these, but my kids are “smooth all the way” kinda folks. Use what you like best, though I recommend a natural peanut butter (the drippy kind made with just peanuts or just peanuts and salt).
BROWN RICE SYRUP. Have you tried brown rice syrup? This thick, gently sweet syrup is made from just brown rice and water. It’s magic because it stays soft and can easily take on other flavors. (We also love it in our perfect soft granola bars!) I can find it for $5-6 at Sprouts, Natural Grocers, Whole Foods. It’s also available online. Can’t find it? No problem! See the FAQ.
PURE MAPLE SYRUP. To balance the flavor, I love adding some pure maple syrup. You could also use honey (not vegan) or agave.
VANILLA + A PINCH OF SALT. Vanilla does magical things here. I love what it adds to the gooey peanut butter layer! And that tiny pinch of salt? Makes a big difference. Don’t forget it!
COARSE SEA SALT FLAKES. In my mind, this is totally essential, but I’m a sucker for the salty+sweet combination! Coarse sea salt flakes add a touch of elegance and the taste is fantastic. If salty-sweet isn’t your jam, you can skip them OR my daughter loves these with sprinkles instead (these are dye free!).
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY SCOTCHEROOS.
The steps are super straightforward! Here’s how you make healthy scotcheroos:
- First, put the crisp rice cereal in a big bowl (so you have plenty of room to stir later).
- Line an 8×8″ or 9×9″ square baking dish with parchment paper (makes for MUCH easier clean up and cleaner cuts).
- Then, melt the peanut butter, brown rice syrup, and maple syrup together in a small saucepan just until they’re well combined and warm enough to stir easily (or you can do this in short stints in the microwave).
- Stir vanilla and a small pinch of salt into the peanut butter mixture, then pour the peanut butter mixture over your crisp rice cereal.
- Stir the peanut butter mixture into the crisp rice cereal till everything’s good and coated.
- Pour the peanut butter/cereal mixture into your prepared pan and use a spatula to pat it down firmly and evenly.
- In a clean saucepan, melt the chocolate chips with coconut oil until smooth and glossy. (Again, you can also do this in short stints in the microwave, stirring every 20-30 seconds)
- Pour chocolate over the peanut butter/cereal layer and smooth over the surface.
- Sprinkle with coarse sea salt flakes and refrigerate about an hour, or until set.
- Remove from the fridge and let rest on the counter for a few minutes before slicing.
- Store leftovers in the fridge!
FAQ + TIPS & TRICKS FOR PERFECT SCOTCHEROOS.
CAN I USE SOMETHING BESIDES BROWN RICE SYRUP? If you can, I really recommend trying to track brown rice syrup down. It’s GREAT for binding things together without losing its softness. If you can’t find it, you can use all maple syrup or swap in honey with the peanut butter. It doesn’t hold together quite as well, but will do in a pinch. (I’ve got more details in the recipe card)
GLUTEN FREE? READ THIS! You’d think crisp rice cereal would be gluten free, but most brands aren’t! Most use malt syrup, which contains gluten. Be SURE you’re buying certified gluten free crisp rice cereal. Barbara’s and Erewhon are two brands I use often. I get them at Sprouts, Natural Grocers, or Whole Foods. (You can also order from Amazon or Thrive Market if you can’t find them locally)
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER SCOTCHEROOS. For best results, I recommend storing leftover healthy scotcheroos in the refrigerator. I cover them well, or store them in an airtight container to help prevent them from drying out.
CAN I DOUBLE THE RECIPE? Absolutely! These healthy scotcheroos will fit into a 9×13″ pan when doubled.
CAN I USE SOMETHING BESIDES PEANUT BUTTER? If you’ve got a peanut allergy, you can swap in another favorite nut butter or seed butter (almond, cashew, sunflower seed butter, etc.). Texturally, it’ll be nearly identical, though the flavor will reflect whatever nut/seed butter you use.
HOW TO GET REALLY SMOOTH, CLEAN CUTS. Totally a presentation thing, but a few tips that really help you get nice, clean-cut edges on these healthy scotcheroos:
- Wait till they’re fully chilled, then let them sit on the counter for just a few minutes before slicing. (This will ensure the gooey layer is set and the chocolate won’t snap when you slice into it).
- Use a small, sharp knife (I love this serrated one–it’s under $9 and works SO WELL)
- Score the chocolate a bit before slicing through. Make a small, shallow line with your knife down the chocolate where you plan to go back and slice through. (Think of it as drawing a line in pencil that you plan to go over in pen later.) Scoring beforehand always helps me get nice, clean lines.
- Clean your knife off in between cuts. For REALLY perfect lines, clean your knife off in between cuts, either by running the knife under water or wiping it off with a clean damp washcloth or paper towel.
LOVE HEALTHY SCOTCHEROOS? I BET YOU’D LOVE…
- Toasted Marshmallow Rice Krispies Treats
- Gooey Chocolate Rice Krispies Treats
- Healthy No-Bake Cookies
- Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Corn
HELPFUL FOR THIS RECIPE:
Healthy Scotcheroos – My childhood remade without corn syrup or refined sugar! You’ll love these gooey peanut butter rice krispies treats with chocolate topping just as much as the original. (Gluten free & vegan)
For the Peanut Butter Crispy Layer:
- 3 cups crisp rice cereal (I use gluten free crisp brown rice cereal)
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/2 cup brown rice syrup (or additional maple syrup, honey, or agave)
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp. salt
For the Chocolate Layer:
- 8–10oz chocolate chips
- 2 tsp. coconut oil
- (Optional: coarse sea salt flakes or sprinkles, for garnish)
FOR THE PEANUT BUTTER CRISPY LAYER:
- Pour cereal into a large bowl (you want plenty of room to mix).
- Line an 8×8 or 9×9″ square pan with parchment paper
- In a small saucepan, melt peanut butter, brown rice syrup, and maple syrup over low heat, just until everything is melted and smooth. (Don’t bring to a boil)
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.
- Pour over the cereal and stir to combine well.
- Pat cereal mixture firmly down into your prepared pan and pat until the surface is level and well compacted. (This will help them hold together)
FOR THE CHOCOLATE LAYER:
- In a clean saucepan, gently melt the chocolate and coconut oil together until smooth.
- Pour chocolate mixture over the cereal layer and smooth out.
- Garnish with coarse sea salt or sprinkles as desired.
- Chill to set the bars at least 1 hour (better if you wait 2-3) before slicing.
- Category: Desserts
- Method: No-Bake
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: healthy scotcheroos, dairy free scotcheroos, refined sugar free scotcheroos, gluten free scotcheroos, vegan scotcheroos