Fresh Strawberry Peanut Butter Bars


Fresh Strawberry Peanut Butter Bars are a decadent, yet fresh dessert that will squash any PB&J craving!


One of my favorite parts of the day occurs very early – we’re talking sub 6am here – when my Mom and meet to go on a walk around the neighborhood. She drives over from her house a couple blocks away, then waits in the driveway until I stumble out my front door still half asleep, and we pause to giggle at each others outfits as we head down the street.


Pants that are 3 inches too short for her, and Ben’s basketball shorts that come down below my knees for me – both with hair that rivals Medusa’s.


This usually isn’t a big deal during the colder months, when we’ve still got several hours left before the sun comes up, but then daylight savings time inevitably kicks in and puts our wretched fashion show on display for the whole neighborhood to see in the spring.


You should hear the dogs howl!


Anyway, the distasteful fashion isn’t why I adore the time of the day so much, rather, it’s the company. While putting a couple miles under my belt as the sun rises is awesome, mostly I just love being able to spend 30 minutes each day with my Mom.

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We talk about all kinds of stuff – work, family, plans, news, celebrities – and occasionally get to reminiscing.

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Last week we got to talking about foods my brothers and I hated growing up. Pork chops, succotash, (SUCKotash is more like it,) broccoli stems, ham loaf, and of course, cooked carrots, came to mind – but also, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

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It’s true. I freaking hated peanut butter & jelly sandwiches when I was growing up, and still do, actually.

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That sickeningly sweet PB&J combo makes my tongue recoil, and I much preferred to open up my lunch box as a kid to find a Bologna, Lettuce & Mustard Sandwich waiting for me inside.


Unless, of course, that PB&J combo comes in the form of a baked good with a sweet, summertime element, like Fresh Strawberry Peanut Butter Bars. Leave it to a baked good to change any deeply rooted distaste!

Luscious peanut butter cookie bars slathered with sweet strawberry preserves and topped with fresh strawberry halves, completely shatters my previously held hatred for mixing the flavors of peanut butter and jelly together.


Dense and not too sweet, the burst of fresh strawberry flavor in these bars totally won me over!


Fresh Strawberry Peanut Butter Bars

Makes 24 bars


Fresh Strawberry Peanut Butter Bars are a decadent, yet fresh dessert that will squash any PB&J craving!


  • 3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam (could use jelly or preserves)
  • 4 cups strawberry halves (about 1-1/2lbs)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl until well combined, about 30 seconds. Add sugars, baking powder, and salt, then beat to combine. Add eggs and vanilla, then beat to combine. Add flour, then mix until it's just incorporated.
  2. Turn dough out into a non-stick sprayed 9x13 baking dish, then spread it into an even layer with your fingers. Bake for 25 minutes, or until dough is set in the center. If the sides begin to brown too fast before the center is done, gently lay a piece of foil on top of the baking dish, and continue baking.
  3. Cool completely, then spread strawberry jam on top and top with strawberry halves. Cut into bars and serve. Store covered in the refrigerator.



This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

The juicy strawberry halves are just as thick as the peanut butter cookie dough underneath, and gives these bars the fresh, healthy-tasting twist I think I was always searching for in a PB&J sandwich.


But let’s not over look the peanut butter cookie! Chewy, and ultra-dense, it is the perfect base for these sweet, summertime bars. YUM!



Are there any foods you hated as a child, that you still hate to this day?

Totally still hate succotash. The lima beans are what get me!

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  1. Lindsey 05.15.2012

    Love PB&J – favorite combo as a kid and still is a top combo for me. Will never get sick of it. I have never liked ketchup!

  2. I love reading about what a great relationship you have with your mom, it’s so sweet! I hope that when my daughter is all grown up, that we will have that same kind of friendship :)

  3. That’s really funny, I hated Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches as a kid too! White bread with the creamy peanut butter always made me feel like I was choking, I just hated the texture and they made me want to vomit! I have come around to them a little bit more as I’ve gotten older, and I like peanut butter on toast…but these bars look delicious! :)

  4. Jen 05.15.2012

    This looks delicious, and I think you just showed me how to trick my boyfriend into eating more fresh fruit–thank you!

  5. Bailey 05.15.2012

    Ha! I don’t think that is eclectic at all! I gasped when you mentioned that bologna, lettuce, and mustard… those were the only sandwiches I would eat as a child and would have one for lunch almost everyday. LOVE!

  6. Jane 05.15.2012

    Love pb&j! But not too much “j” :) Hate salmon patties, and canned corned beef hash. My mom could NOT cook, and these were two things she made often…gag! The corned beef hash smelled like dog food when she opened the can…”shivers”…My daughter used to love pb&apple butter sandwiches(apple butter was made by grandma). She would eat them everyday when she was small :)

  7. katie 05.15.2012

    yum! those sound delicious! i love peanut butter desserts!

  8. erica 05.15.2012

    ooh, i love anything to do with strawberries!

    i have always hated japanese natto. my family loves it, but i just can’t eat it.

  9. LaurenO 05.15.2012

    I never thought I’d come across someone who hated peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, too!! I love peanut butter and I’m fond of jelly, but good god, do NOT put them together!!

  10. Jim Simmons 05.15.2012

    Mac and cheese. maybe just haven’t found someone that made it great. PB&J, oh ya. love it. I do home made black raspberry or grape of those have to have things. bed time snack,good or bad.

  11. Tiffany 05.15.2012

    mayonaise! Yucky!

  12. Amanda Singleton 05.15.2012

    I’ve grown out of my childhood hatred for a lot of things, such as grilled chicken, steak, pork chops and tomatoes, but I still WILL NOT do peas or mushrooms. Yuck!

  13. Lauren 05.15.2012

    I love that you walk with your mom every morning. Such a sweet tradition!

  14. Stacey 05.15.2012

    Omg, my mom used to make me eat LIVER When I was little! That’s right, L I V E R !!!!! Ewwwww, it’s so disgusting I don’t even like to think about it :/

    • Julie 05.16.2012

      Mine did too! That’s what I was gonna list as my most hated – then I saw your comment. I haven’t touched it since I was a kid. I actually went so far as to plant a glass of water in our bathroom (which was just off the dining room) & as soon as I took a bite, I ran in there gagging & then poured the water in the toilet. I don’t know if she believed I actually puked or just figured if I was gonna go to that much trouble I shouldn’t have to eat it again, but we never had it after that! :)

  15. Sherrill Yoder 05.15.2012

    I’m an Iowa girl too and love succotash! Never did strawberry jelly with pb so this bar was a puzzler at first. Now looks yummy but calorie dense!

  16. So I think you need to put another slice of bar on top of the strawberries. That way it’s REALLY like a sandwich. Omg. I would eat my weight in these.

  17. jad18 05.15.2012

    Beets. I cannot stand the smell,texture or taste. We had a one bite rule in our house and I used to take a bite, pretend I had to use the bathroom and spit it out and flush it down the toilet.

  18. Krystal 05.15.2012

    Can I just tell you then I have followed you for quite some time now and you truly have became a master in food photography. Your photos are amazing – not to say they weren’t before, but I feel as if I have watched you improve so incredibly much. How did you learn how to take such great food shots? Did someone teach you, or did you just learn little tidbits here and there and put it all together?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 05.15.2012

      Thank you Krystal! Just learning tidbits from here and there, and paying attention to what I like about other food photography and why, then trying to replicate at home!

  19. Jeri 05.15.2012

    I am all with you girl! I hate PB&J, but this recipe looks aMAZING! and WHERE did you get that rubber spatula like beater for your KitchenAid????

    • Iowa Girl Eats 05.15.2012

      Shoot – I was going to mention it, actually! It is my #1 fave Kitchen Aid attachment:

      • Jeri Wendzel 05.16.2012

        Does it get the little bit way down at the bottom where there is that little bulge? I always end up with the sugar/butter mixture I’m creaming down there.

        • Jeri Wendzel 05.16.2012

          Do you know how it would compare to the Flex Edge Beater? I’ve heard that one is good, too.

          • Iowa Girl Eats 05.16.2012

            It does get down into the bottom – unlike the standard paddle attachment the mixer comes with. I’ve never heard of the Flex Edge, but I do really like the one I have!

  20. I love that y’all go for a walk every morning! What a treasured time.

  21. Lori P 05.15.2012

    Never did and never will eat cantalope. I just can’t stand it. I could about eat an entire watermelon in one sitting though!

  22. Nae 05.15.2012

    Wow these look great! Will have to give them a go before the end of the week (will have to find some fresh strawberries – it’s all but winter over here).
    Have to say I stumbled upon your blog only in the last week and you’ve given me inspiration, I’m trying to get fitter and the ‘run faster run longer’ post I found is helping me push it that little bit harder. I’m also heading out at 6am these days and it’s still quite dark but I’m loving it, no-one can see when I stop running and walk instead :)
    Thank you so much for that little boost!

  23. Famous Dave Anderson 05.15.2012

    Hi… I am new to your blog but a great studier of all things food. I am amazed by your food photography! What kind of camera do you use and lighting? It appears you’ve taken as many photography courses as you have studied food! I look forward to more of your blogs.


    Famous Dave Anderson, Founder of the World’s Best BBQ Joint and America’s Best Tasting Ribs!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 05.16.2012

      Thanks, Dave! I use a Nikon D3000 and use natural light whenever possible.

  24. Michelle Wollin 05.16.2012

    Tater Tot Casserole or Goulash. Oh and lets not forget Liver and Onions!!! BLECH!

  25. Jen 05.16.2012

    Any seafood, steak, & mushrooms still won’t touch them. I was the odd kid that loved salad, my nana’s homemade dressing is to die for, so I had my mom pack me salad for my lunchs!

  26. These bars are absolutely sinful! And I just love that you’re using fresh strawberries on these. Yum!

    And btw, gorgeous pink mixer. I have the same one :)

  27. Deborah 05.16.2012

    My parents tried to get us to eat brussel sprouts and the deep fried them! So gross, I remember how horrible the house smelled. Another one was meatloaf, can’t stomach it still to this day.

  28. My tastes have changed a lot so there’s nothing I hated as a child that I won’t eat today. However, there is one thing that I loved as a child that I won’t touch. In elementary school I ate so many Little Debbie Nutty Bars that I gag thinking about them. Blech! :)

  29. McKenzie 05.16.2012

    These look delicious! Like you I never understood the appeal of PB&J. I even tried again in college but prefer my sandwiches PB only.

  30. That is so nice that you get to spend so much time with your mom every day! I wish I could do that with my mom. Methinks she would not be too thrilled about driving an hour each way to walk with me though ;)

    These bars look scrumptious, as usual!

  31. I can’t even fathom hating pb & j!! I probably hated bologna equally as much as you loved it :)

  32. Carrie 05.16.2012

    The PB bars look great, but I had to write to tell you that I made your Kale Chips last night, and was blown away by how good they were!! Goodbye garlic bread, these tasted just like that without the bread!! Keep the good recipes coming!! Thanks for your hard work on the blog.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 05.16.2012

      Oh good – glad you liked them! Hope to make some more soon with the kale growing in my garden!

  33. Jen 05.16.2012

    What is that blue spiky looking thing on your mixer blade?

  34. Sarah 05.16.2012

    Lima Beans are for SURE disgusting! I will not eat for any reason mayo… sick!

  35. Erin 05.16.2012

    I love pb&j but have yet to make a dessert option with it. I really like the fresh strawberries on this.

  36. Kristin from MN 05.16.2012

    Two things I hated as a child that I now love – pancakes and vanilla ice cream (not together, although that doesn’t sound too bad). Oddly enough, my son likes lima beans. He requested we even plant some in our garden. I know, weird! :)

  37. jennyv 05.16.2012

    Love that you’re able to walk with your mom — those moments are priceless… Someday you’ll have to get your husband to take a picture of the two of you all disheveled (not necessarily to share with us but for you to have for years to come!)

    I LOVE PB&J… I just started to like jelly within the past few years. Prior to that it was always requested while I was in school to have a ‘pb folded’ — meaning one piece of bread, slathered with Jif, folded. That first bite in the middle was PB goodness! I’ve somehow moved from the white bread & Jif to Trader Joe’s sprounted 7-grain and all-natural almond butter or sunflower butter!

  38. Alice 05.16.2012

    I love PB&J! I have always, and will always, HATE JELLO! I can’t stand the texture. I mean, really, should food come in that many variaties of neon? OH, and tuna salad. I can’t get over the smell.
    Love the fresh strawberries on top of these bars. Will have to give it a try this weekend!

  39. Okay, those pictures this morning just aren’t fair! ;-)

  40. little bit 05.16.2012

    have I told you lately how much I LOVE you?? thanks for this recipe… I can not WAIT to make this! strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, mixed berries… YUM.

    actually, can you just air-mail me one of those tasty looking bars? for research purposes, of course. please?

  41. Brenda 05.16.2012

    I hate PB & J too. but these bars look awesome! maybe for the Memorial Day grill out! thanks

  42. Liz 05.16.2012

    This looks freaking fantastic! Absolutely delicious :)

  43. Allison 05.16.2012

    One food that I have disliked my entire life is cantaloupe. I just can’t stand the flavor. I can eat about two chunks without gagging, but then I’m done.

    I might add that Kitcen Aid attachment to my wedding registry. I would like one a mixing tool that goes to the bottom of the bowl.

  44. […] the American classic PB&J and throwing it out of the window, Kristin, from Iowa Girl Eats, has not only come up with a fantastic treat, but gets an A+ for  her beautiful […]

  45. Steph 05.16.2012

    I have been looking for a new dessert to try this weekend, and thanks to you I found just the one!

  46. CycloneMom 05.16.2012

    I LOVE pb&j. Growing up my Grandma always had tons of strawberries in her garden and made the best strawberry preserves. Nothing better than a pb&j after school. I still eat them, It used to be daily almost the past 9 years as a SAHM. My sister hates pb&j.

    Growing up I was a picky eater. I’ve gotten *a little* better, but hate most vegetables. The smell of cooked cauliflower about sends me over the edge.

  47. Julie 05.16.2012

    LOVE PB&J!!! Hate liver, raisins, brussel sprouts, peaches.

  48. Wow, these seriously look great. I’ve been looking for a recipe involving peanut butter and strawberries (I have a ton in my fridge!) Thanks for sharing!

  49. I love PB&J and always have! Peanutbutter toast (with or without jelly) most mornings for breakfast!

    Seriously I am pinning all of these photos!

    I’m waiting for your cookbook (with photography by you). Or your novel. You are amazing lady!!

  50. Rhona 05.16.2012

    OMG, I thought i was the only person on the planet that hated pb&j sandwiches. even today, the smell turns me off. i am glad i am not the only person as people always look at me like i am crazy when i confess i hate pb&j.
    this recipe looks good. i think i am slightly scared but i am wiling to try it. i have a guest coming this weekend so i might whip this up.

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