Easy Vegan Scotcheroos (No Bake!)

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Stack of four homemade vegan scotcheroos made without corn syrup or butterscotch chips

Did anyone else grow up eating Scotcheroos or Special K Bars? They’re crispy, salty-sweet, peanut butter cereal bars with a chocolate butterscotch topping. And yes, they’re just as good as they sound — totally decadent and (regrettably) shareable!

We’ve given these classic, NO-BAKE treats the ultimate MB remix with a naturally sweetened, gluten-free base and a fudgy, vegan chocolate “butterscotch” topping. Simple methods, just 9 ingredients, and no corn syrup or butterscotch chips required! Let us show you how it’s done!

Crispy rice cereal, coconut sugar, vanilla, salt, coconut cream, chocolate chips, maple syrup, peanut butter, and vegan butter

What is a Scotcheroo?

Scotcheroos were born on the back of a Kellogg’s Rice Krispies box in the 1960s. Classically made with chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter, and Rice Krispies, these treats became especially popular in the Midwest.

Since then, the recipe has been adjusted and published across cookbooks and blogs. The following is our take on the chocolaty, peanut buttery cereal bar!

How to Make Scotcheroos

Our healthier take on scotcheroos has no corn syrup in sight yet tastes just like the classics. How? Maple syrup to the rescue!

Stirring together maple syrup, coconut sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla in a saucepan

When you heat it with coconut sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla, then stir in crispy rice cereal, you get a naturally sweetened, peanut buttery cereal base that holds together beautifully when pressed into a pan.

Stirring crispy rice cereal with a maple syrup, coconut sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla mixture

Then it’s time for the chocolate “butterscotch” topping (without butterscotch chips!). Instead, the butterscotch flavor comes from a magical combination of vegan butter, coconut cream, coconut sugar, vanilla, and salt.

Pouring a melted vegan butter, coconut sugar, and coconut cream mixture over chocolate chips

We combine it with chocolate chips, let it all melt, and then pour the mixture over the peanut butter base. After an hour (the temptation to hurry the process will be REAL), the chocolate layer will be set and it’s ready to slice into bars!

Spreading a melted chocolate ganache mixture over a peanut butter cereal base

We’re SO excited for you to try these Scotcheroos! They’re:

Crispy
Salty-sweet
Decadent
Nutty
Snack-able
& Classic, yet healthier!

These no-bake treats are the answer to Scotcheroo nostalgia, afternoon snack cravings, chocolate + peanut butter dessert needs, and so much more!

More No-Bake Treats

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Stacks of homemade vegan gluten-free scotcheroos

Easy Vegan Scotcheroos (No-Bake!)

No-bake Scotcheroos with a crispy, peanut buttery cereal base and fudgy, chocolate “butterscotch” topping. A decadent and (regrettably) shareable treat. Vegan, gluten-free, and no butterscotch chips or corn syrup required!
Author Minimalist Baker
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Close up shot of a stack of vegan gluten-free scotcheroos
3.60 from 5 votes
Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 16 (Bars)
Course Dessert/Snack
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 4-5 Days

Ingredients

BARS

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter (we recommend a natural, drippy one // find our favorite brands here)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups crispy rice cereal (not puffed // we used Whole Foods 365 brand // ensure vegan/gluten-free as needed)

TOPPING

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (dairy-free/vegan // we like Enjoy Life)
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter (we like Miyoko’s)
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream (we like Savoy)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 generous pinch sea salt

Instructions

  • Line an 8 x 8-inch (or similar size) baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.
  • BARS: In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the maple syrup and coconut sugar. Heat, stirring continuously, until the coconut sugar has dissolved, about 1-2 minutes. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and mix again until well combined and warmed through, another 2-3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large heat-proof mixing bowl and add the crispy rice cereal. Mix gently until fully incorporated.
  • Transfer the bar mixture to the parchment-lined baking pan, spread, and press into an even layer.
  • TOPPING: Add the chocolate chips to a small heatproof bowl and set nearby. To your now empty saucepan (or a separate clean one) add the vegan butter, coconut cream, coconut sugar, vanilla, and salt. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula or spoon until the coconut sugar is melted and the mixture is just beginning to bubble on the edges, about 3-4 minutes. Once lightly bubbling, remove from the heat and carefully pour the hot butter mixture over the chocolate chips. Cover the chocolate chips with a lid or plate and let sit for 5 minutes, then mix well with a spatula until glossy and smooth.
  • Pour the chocolate mixture over the rice bars and spread to evenly cover. Then chill in the refrigerator for ~1 hour, or until the chocolate is set and no longer shiny. Carefully remove from the pan and gently peel away the parchment paper. Cut into bars (we recommend 16) and enjoy! Leftovers keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Video

Notes

*Prep time includes cooling for 1 hour.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with natural, unsalted peanut butter and Nature’s Path organic brown rice cereal.

Nutrition (1 of 16 servings)

Serving: 1 bar Calories: 297 Carbohydrates: 34.8 g Protein: 5.6 g Fat: 16.6 g Saturated Fat: 6.8 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.6 g Monounsaturated Fat: 4.2 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 77 mg Potassium: 124 mg Fiber: 3 g Sugar: 22.1 g Vitamin A: 0 IU Vitamin C: 0 mg Calcium: 40 mg Iron: 0.1 mg

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  1. Franju says

    Anyone tried the recipe with almond or cashew butter instead of peanut butter? Just wondering how the flavour would blend with crispy rice cereal.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Franju, cashew and almond butter will probably work in place of the peanut butter as long as you enjoy the flavor of them!

  2. Irene says

    Grrr…was so looking forward to this. It turned into a crumbly mess as soon as I started to cut it into squares. I followed all the directions and used the suggested amount of sugar. It was cane sugar, not coconut, though it shouldn’t have made that much of a difference when melted. I pressed the rice mixture down in the pan a lot, so it was solid when it went into the fridge to chill. Now I have a whole thing of sweet peanut butter crispy rice cereal and broken chocolate. :( It does taste good. Maybe next time I will just add vegan marshmallows to get everything to stick together as it should.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Irene, sorry to hear these didn’t work out for you. Cane sugar does act differently than coconut sugar. It caramelizes faster and could have resulted in a thicker “syrup” mixture, which would have made the cereal layer more dry. Thank you for sharing your experience and honest feedback!

  3. Trixie B says

    I made these and family loved them. They were very crumbly tho and chocolate topping was too sweet. Seems I’m not alone in that. Nevertheless I have been told I must keep these in the dessert rotation so I’ll be making again w/ less suger

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Trixie, Thanks for sharing your experience! We’re glad you enjoyed them overall! Slight crumbling is normal (it doesn’t hold together as well as a rice crispy treat), but it shouldn’t be super crumbly – see video for reference. We find the base needs the full amount of sugar to hold together. Also, make sure to press it firmly, use a drippy peanut butter, and use a spatula to make sure none of the sticky peanut butter mixture gets left in the pan. You could try dark chocolate chips in the topping for less sweetness, but we can’t guarantee the result. Hope that helps for next time!

  4. Atara Dahan says

    Can I leave out the butter or swap it for something that’s not butter, margarine, or oil?
    Oily foods don’t make us feel so good.
    Or do you have any ideas for a different chocolate topping that doesn’t require oil/butter?
    Don’t care if it’s not “genuine”

    Also do regular rice crispies work?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Atara! You can just leave the butter out of the chocolate topping! Regular rice crispies will work. Hope this helps!

  5. Rachel says

    These were tasty but very crumbly. I didn’t have coconut sugar, so I subbed 1/2 white and 1/2 brown sugar. Next time I would take MB’s advice and reduce the overall amount of sugar when substituting. Because the bars were very sweet, I omitted the sugar from the chocolate. The bars are definitely best the day of baking–they lose their crunch in the fridge.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Rachel, We did some troubleshooting to try to figure out why they were crumbly. We weren’t able to replicate the issue, but have a few ideas: 1) using a peanut butter that’s too dry, 2) not pressing down with the spatula when spreading into the pan, 3) a sharp knife will help with a more clean cut/crumbliness, 4) if you reduced the amount of sugar in the base too, that would very likely cause it to be crumbly because the sugar adds stickiness, 5) if using a larger pan or less sugar in the topping, perhaps the chocolate didn’t spread enough and was too thin, causing them to not hold together as well, and 6) using a spatula to get the peanut butter mixture out of the saucepan is best to make sure none is left behind!

  6. Paige says

    I really love the flavor of these!! Slightly less sweet than the ones I remember from my childhood, but for me that’s perfect. Mine came out a little crumbly, but I think that’s because I didn’t press them down into the pan well enough. Would make again!!

  7. Jennifer says

    I should have added that I made 1.5x the topping when I spread the base over 1.5x the space. I’ll try more peanut butter next time. Thanks!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Mary, ours didn’t fall apart when cutting, did you happen to make any modifications?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Rachel! Brown sugar is a touch sweeter than coconut, so if you like sweet stuff you could do 1:1, but reducing to 1/3 cup in the bars could work well. You can still use 2 Tbsp in the topping. Let us know how it goes!

  8. Diane says

    I usually like Minimalist Baker recipes and I own their cookbook. I also like sweets but these are way too sweet. I purchased the recommended 356 rice cereal and there is sugar in that too. I only eat organic so this turned into an expensive failure.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Diane, we’re so sorry you didn’t enjoy them! This is a sweeter/more indulgent recipe to mimic the taste of classic Scotcheroos. If you’d prefer to use less sugar, you can omit the coconut sugar from the topping. Or you could try reducing the amount of coconut sugar in the bottom layer, but we can’t guarantee it will hold together as well.

  9. Jennifer Doubt says

    These are indeed delicious! For my first batch I tried spreading the base over an 9 x 11 pan for a higher chocolate-to-rice ratio. They got great reviews at our house but they were pretty crumbly. I bet if I had followed the recipe, the thicker base would’ve held together better. :) Otherwise, do you think a bit less rice / more peanut butter mixture would make for a more solid foundation?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Jennifer, yes, more peanut butter should help with crumbliness. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  10. Gretchen says

    I made these this morning and they are delicious! I made them with smuckers natural peanut butter and regular Rice Krispies. The only change I made was to add a pinch of salt to the peanut butter mixture. Will definitely make these again.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed them, Gretchen. Thanks so much for the lovely review! xo

  11. Julie Earl says

    Hi! These look incredible, but my kiddos aren’t big dark chocolate/semi sweet fans. Do these taste like dark chocolate? If so do you have any tips for making the topping taste more like milk chocolate (were dairy free so I get if that’s too tall of an order!) always love your recipes so much!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Julie! These do taste like semi-sweet chocolate! We’re not sure how to make them taste more like milk chocolate while still keeping their structure, but let us know if you do some experimenting!

  12. Kali says

    I really want to try this recipe, but I would need to substitute the coconut cream. Could I use coconut oil instead? If not is there another suggestion?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Kali, we think coconut oil might be too oily! You could try using cashew cream instead. However, we haven’t tried them with cashew cream yet!

  13. Baiba says

    Hi Dana,
    A must-try-recipe, like, now! :)
    Unfortunately I don’t have access to good vegan butter/margarine and coconut sugar.
    Can I skip the vegan butter?
    Can I skip the coconut sugar or replace with dried molasses, brown sugar or honey?
    Thanks for your fantastic recipes!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Baiba, we’d suggest trying coconut oil + a little extra salt. It won’t taste as much like butterscotch, but should work well texturally and still be delicious! We’d recommend brown sugar in place of the coconut sugar. Let us know if you try it!

  14. Franju says

    Hi, It should like a great snack! Have you tried with less or no coconut sugar to reduce the total sugar content? Do you think the bars would still hold together or will they crumble if less or no coconut sugar is added? Thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Franju, we haven’t tried with less, but it might be okay! We wouldn’t recommend omitting it.

      • Franju says

        Thank you for your input. I made the recipe using 1/4 c. brown sugar instead of 1/2 c. coconut sugar in the crispy rice mix and it turned out Delicious! and still plenty sweet. Next time, I will try no brown sugar at all :)