Peanut Butter Jelly Bars {Gluten-Free, Vegan}

I often get asked if I grew up in a health-conscious household, nutritionally mindful if you will, and the answer is yes and no. Yes in the sense my mom cooked most nights and dinners entailed “real food.” When I say real food, I mean a lot of meat and potatoes. And green beans from the can. We ate a lot of those. But no in that it was the 80s and 90s, and I am sure many people out there can relate to the fact that my parents just didn’t know that much about nutrition. It was all about low fat and counting calories. I can only have compassion as it was a sign of the times. All of that being said, my lunch every day was Peter Pan peanut butter with Smuckers grape jelly on white Wonder Bread. Looking back now, I can’t blame my mom for feeding this to me on repeat. I was a picky child, and this was something I would eat. I can remember her sandwiches so vividly: the crusts were perfectly removed, and each bite was a pillowy combination of the tried and true delicious duo.

As a Healthified recipe writer, it has been so fun to recreate childhood classics with a more nutritious twist. These gluten-free peanut butter and jelly bars are a prime example. There are so many ingredients incorporated that actually add nutrients, allowing you to enjoy some favorite flavors in a healthier way.

The crust and crumble are primarily made out of chickpeas, peanut butter and oats. I have baked with chickpeas before, and love to hide them in brownies and blondies, but they really do help make a delicious dough. Chickpeas add plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals to these bars, and together with the peanut butter and oats, they will keep your blood sugar nice and stable. This is just one reason to keep chickpeas in your baking pantry. If you also like to bake without eggs, save the liquid from the can of chickpeas to make aquafaba, which is an amazing egg substitute in vegan baking.

I loved how the consistency of the dough was perfect for both pressing in the bottom of the pan and making a crumble for the top.

This recipe calls for 1/2 cup of jelly, any flavor that floats your boat. Me, I am a grape jelly girl, but I know there are a lot of strawberry lovers out there. I love the Chia Smash grape jelly that I get at Whole Foods, and knew when I was dreaming up these bars, it would be the perfect ingredient. It’s made with chia seeds, and while I have frequently made my own chia jam in the past, I am grateful to have found a short cut!

My first thought when I bit into a square was oh these aren’t very sweet. But then my immediate thought thereafter was and that’s a good thing. I love how the peanut butter and jelly flavors are the star of the show rather than sugar. Isn’t that what we are going for as Healthified bakers? Natural sweetness is the new sugar.

Planning and prep

This recipe is so easy, there is hardly and planning or prep involved, especially if you use store-bought jam. Of course if you are planning to make your own chia jam, you will have to do that ahead of time. If you are wanting to use chia jam, and short on time to do so yourself, and you don’t have this brand on hand, I would just stir together 1/2 cup of any pre-made jelly with a tablespoon or two of chia seeds and call it a day!

Peanut Butter Jelly Bars {Gluten-Free, Vegan}

A more nutritious spin on a childhood classic. These bars are primarily made with chickpeas, peanut butter and oats for a flavorful and filling breakfast or snack.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Cooling Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 35 minutes
Course Breakfast, Snack
Servings 9 servings


  • Food processor
  • 8×8 baking pan


  • 1 13.5oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup all-natural creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • ½ cup peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup homemade or premade jelly


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a couple of inches overhanging on two sides.
  • In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, maple syrup or honey, and vanilla extract. Blend until the consistency of a chunky paste. Add the peanut butter and blend again, scraping down the sides and pulsing as you need to.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, peanuts, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the mixture to the food processor and pulse a few times until a dough is formed. Transfer one cup of the dough to a small bowl and set aside.
  • Press the remaining dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the jam evenly on top, then crumble the cup of reserved dough on top of the jam. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, and the top is slightly golden brown. Cool completely in the pan for 1 hour before transferring to the refrigerator to completely cool 2 to 3 more hours (see note).


Cooling: You will be able to better handle completely chilled bars. If you are able to chill overnight in the refrigerator, even better!
Keyword Dairy-free, Egg-free, Gluten-free, Oil-free, Soy-free, Tree Nut-free, Vegan