This healthier recipe for scotcheroos uses honey, coconut sugar, and natural peanut butter. Less of the junk, and still delicious!
I grew up on the traditional scotcheroo bars/special K bars. Call them what you will, but in my adult obsession with clean food, I just couldn’t stomach the idea of the ingredients in traditional scotcheroo bars (corn syrup, loads of refined sugar). So, in order for me to indulge in one of my favorite childhood treats, I set out to create a better-for-you recipe for scotcheroos.
I will shy away from saying these are “healthy” scotcheroos, but I am all on board with saying they are “healthier”. To me, healthy means the food is nourishing your body. These, my friend, do not nourish your body. But, they are delicious and much better for you than the typical scotcheroo bars. So, it’s time to indulge and dig right in!
How to Make This Recipe for Scotcheroos
- Add the honey and coconut sugar to a small saucepan. Heat the honey and coconut sugar over medium heat until the mixture comes to a low boil and all of the coconut sugar has been dissolved.
- Turn to low and add the peanut butter to the honey and sugar mix. Stir until combined.
- Add peanut butter mixture to brown rice crisps. Stir until brown rice crisps are fully incorporated into the peanut butter (tip: you may need to use your hands).
- Pour mixture into an 8x8 square pan and press mixture into an even layer.
- In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips. Stir chips every 30-45 seconds until melted. Mix the peanut butter into the melted chocolate. Pour chocolate on bars and spread evenly.
- Allow chocolate to fully set before cutting into bars.
- Cut bars and enjoy!
What Makes These "Healthier"?
ORGANIC BROWN RICE CRISPS (GLUTEN FREE) – I skipped the traditional Rice Krispies and used organic brown rice crisp cereal instead. Traditional Rice Krispies are made from refined white rice, aren't organic, and contain gluten (the gluten comes from the malt syrup used to sweeten them).
Using brown rice crisps keeps these more natural (brown rice is considered a whole grain/unrefined). I also make sure to buy organic to limit the pesticide exposure in my foods. Note: depending on the kind you buy, they are most likely sweetened with refined sugar, so they are technically not clean. But I let this slide since i'm all about balance.
PEANUT BUTTER – skip the Jiff and use natural peanut butter. Peanut butter should contain just the peanuts (or maybe peanuts and salt). And, due to the high amount of pesticides sprayed on peanuts, I go with organic here too.
SUGAR – instead of the traditional corn syrup and loads of white sugar, I used raw honey and coconut palm sugar. Both are considered unrefined. In addition, I use much less sugar than a standard recipe for scotcheroos.
CHOCOLATE TOPPING – traditional scotcheroo bars are topped off with melted chocolate chips and melted butterscotch chips. This healthier recipe for scotcheroos uses allergy friendly chocolate chips (think less ingredients + dairy free) and a scoop of peanut butter opposed to butterscotch chips.
There are no good options for butterscotch chips out there, so to keep the chocolate topping “creamy” I added in a scoop of peanut butter to the melted chocolate chips. That way, as the melted chocolate hardens on the top of the bars, the final result is still a little bit creamy.
Recipe Tips and Substitutions
In order to keep this recipe gluten-free, dairy free, and better-for-you, I don’t recommend a ton of substitutions, but here are some in case they are needed, or if you find yourself short on some ingredients.
ORGANIC BROWN RICE CRISPS – using gluten-free organic brown rice crisps keeps these gluten-free and limits any toxins from the rice. Both One Degree and Barbaras are good options. However, you can use any variation of crisp cereal.
PEANUT BUTTER – I don’t recommend using almond butter as it’s just not as creamy as peanut butter. You could try cashew butter though, as that is super creamy. I use organic, natural peanut butter, but any peanut butter should work. Costco has the BEST organic/natural peanut butter.
RAW HONEY & COCONUT PALM SUGAR – adding in the coconut palm sugar helps to balance the honey flavor. You could use regular sugar, but this would not be refined sugar free.
I also recommend raw honey as regular honey goes through more processing. If you don't have raw honey, regular honey will still work. And if you are vegan, you could for sure use maple syrup.
CHOCOLATE CHIPS – I use organic, allergy friendly chocolate chips. Either dark chocolate or semi-sweet will work. I like Equal Exchange Organic Chocolate Chips, Nestle Toll House Simple Delicious Chocolate Chips, or Hu Dark Chocolate Gems (if you want to splurge... they aren't cheap, but they are clean!). If you aren't dairy free, any chocolate chips will work.
How to Store Leftovers
Leftovers should be stored in an air-tight container. You can store them at room temperature, or in the fridge.
I recommend eating within 2-3 days to enjoy the scotcheroos freshness.
More Better-for-You Desserts
If you make these "healthier" scotcheroo bars, please let me know what you think! Leave a comment and a star rating below and/or share a photo on Instagram and mention @CleanPlateMama.
Healthier Scotcheroo Bars (GF+DF)
For the Bars
- 3 cups gluten-free brown rice crisps cereal (if not gluten free, any rice crisp cereal will work)
- ½ cup raw honey
- ½ cup + 2 TBSP coconut sugar (also called coconut palm sugar)
- 1 heaping cup natural peanut butter
- ⅛ tsp. sea salt (if your peanut butter does not contain salt)
For the Chocolate Topping
- ¾ cup dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips (if not dairy free, any variation of chocolate chips will work)
- ½ TBSP natural peanut butter
- Prepare to make bars by adding brown rice crisps to a large mixing bowl.
- Next, add the honey and coconut sugar to a small sauce pan. Heat on medium until the coconut sugar is fully dissolved and small bubbles start to form in the mix. Stirring occasionally during this process.
- Turn heat to low and add peanut butter and salt to honey/sugar and mix until combined and smooth. Note: final peanut butter mix will be thick.
- Pour peanut butter mix in bowl with brown rice crisps. Mix until crisps are fully incorporated. If needed, use your hands to mix together.
- Press mixture into an 8x8 or 9x9 pan.
- Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl or sauce pan. If using the microwave, melt in increments of 30-45 seconds, stirring in between, until melted. If using the stovetop, heat over low heat, stirring frequently until chips are melted. Mix in the 2 TBSP peanut butter to melted chocolate and then spread over bars.
- Allow chocolate to fully set before cutting into bars.
- Don't push the peanut butter and crisps mixture too firmly into the pan - if you condense the mixture too much when putting in the pan your bars will be really hard.
- You can double the recipe for a 9x13 pan.