These Old-School Oh Henry Bars Are Chewy, Chocolate-Peanut Butter Heaven

published Dec 11, 2019
Oh Henry Bars

Oh Henry Bars are an old-school bar cookie with a buttery, chewy base-layer of oats, peanut butter and brown sugar, topped with a chocolate peanut butter ganache and sea salt.

Makes24 bars

Prep30 minutes

Cook20 minutes to 25 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Credit: Olive & Mango

Oh Henry Bars, for the uninitiated, are an old-school bar cookie with a buttery, chewy base layer of oats, peanut butter, and brown sugar, topped with a milk chocolate-peanut butter ganache. I top mine with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt in order to cut the sweetness of the bars (and because chocolate + peanut butter + salt = perfection). Moreover, the salt adds a bit of crunch, which is lovely with the soft, fudgy topping and toothsome bottom. To me, Oh Henry Bars taste like a chewier, more superior Reese’s cup, and because I am a die-hard Reese’s fan, it goes without saying that I adore them and keep them in a steady rotation in my home.

I didn’t, however, grow up with Oh Henry Bars. I was first introduced to them when I met my now-husband’s family over two decades ago at Christmas — his mother had a pan of them waiting for us when we arrived. My mother-in-law didn’t put peanut butter in her base layer, or salt, and she used semisweet chocolate in her topping, but I loved them just the same and was over-the-moon happy, years later, when she shared the recipe with me.

Credit: Olive & Mango

The Origins of Oh Henry Bars

Funnily enough, I needn’t have waited for my mother-in-law to warm up to me in order for my Oh Henry bar-making to commence. When I began examining the provenance of the bar, I discovered countless Oh Henry Bar recipes identical to hers.

The first thing I learned is that these bars are likely a homemade version of an Oh Henry candy bar, which contains peanuts, milk chocolate, and caramel (the chewy oat layer of the bar cookie does give off a sticky, caramel vibe, due to the addition of corn syrup). I also learned there’s a Kellogg’s Rice Krispies version of an Oh Henry bar cookie that looks a lot like a Scotcheroo. I did not, however, learn anything about how or when the candy bar might have morphed into a cookie bar.

But you know what? I’m okay with that, and I’m hoping you will be too. This bar cookie — like all the best ones — is perfect for bringing to a potluck, particularly around the holidays. And it’s ideal for cookie boxes. All the ingredients are likely already in your pantry. If they’re not, there are some easy substitutions you can make. For instance, I like to use salted full-fat European butter, but regular unsalted butter plus a half teaspoon of salt can easily take its place. My recipe calls for smooth peanut butter, but my mother-in-law always uses crunchy. Moreover, I like dark corn syrup for the extra caramel-y flavor it provides, but light will work fine. And as I mentioned, I love peanut butter with milk chocolate, but you may be a tad more sophisticated than me and prefer it with dark chocolate, and that is 100 percent okay.

Credit: Olive & Mango

In short, Oh Henry bars are hard to screw up, easy to assemble, and super delicious. My only ask is that you make them often, for both your family members and for those strangers that might be accompanying them home this season.

Oh Henry Bars

Oh Henry Bars are an old-school bar cookie with a buttery, chewy base-layer of oats, peanut butter and brown sugar, topped with a chocolate peanut butter ganache and sea salt.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Makes 24 bars

Nutritional Info


For the base:

  • Cooking spray or butter, for coating the baking dish

  • 16 tablespoons

    (2 sticks) salted, preferably high-fat butter, such as Plugra

  • 2/3 cup

    creamy peanut butter, such as Skippy

  • 1 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup

    dark corn syrup

  • 1 tablespoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 4 1/2 cups

    instant rolled oats

For the topping:

  • 1 cup

    milk chocolate chips (6 ounces)

  • 1/3 cup

    creamy peanut butter, such as Skippy

  • 1/4 cup

    heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons

    dark corn syrup

  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling


  1. Make the base: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray or butter. Line the bottom of the baking pan with parchment paper.

  2. Cut 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) salted butter into small cubes place in a large saucepan. Add 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter, 1 cup packed light brown sugar, and 1/2 cup dark corn syrup. Cook over medium heat, until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 3 1/2 minutes. (Alternatively, place everything in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high in 30-second bursts, stirring after each burst, until smooth.)

  3. Remove from the heat, add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and stir to combine. Add 4 1/2 cups instant rolled oats and stir until evenly coated. Transfer to the prepared baking pan and press into an even layer. Smooth the top with your hands (they’ll get sticky) or an offset spatula.

  4. Bake until lightly browned and you can see small bubbles popping all over it, 20 to 25 minutes. Tap the pan lightly on the counter if the edges have risen up in order to flatten them. Let the pan cool on a wire rack while you prepare the topping.

  5. Make the topping: Place 1 cup milk chocolate chips, 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter, 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 2 tablespoons dark corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate melts and the topping is smooth, about 2 1/2 minutes. (Alternatively, place all of the ingredients in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high in 30-second bursts, whisking after each burst, until the mixture is smooth.)

  6. Slowly and carefully pour the topping over the base. Using a small offset spatula, spread it into a smooth and even layer. Refrigerate until the topping it set and pressing it lightly with a finger does not make an indentation, about 3 hours.

  7. When ready to serve, run a paring knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the slab. Remove the slab from the pan and peel off the parchment paper if needed. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and cut the slab into 24 squares, or whatever size treat suits you fancy. Serve cold.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The bars can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to a month. Serve them chilled, but not frozen.

Storage: The bars will keep tightly wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for about 1 week, and can be frozen for up to 1 month.

Crunchy peanut butter: Using crunchy peanut butter instead of smooth would add a lovely, extra peanut-y vibe to the bars.