This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you. Please read my policy page.
If you have a sweet tooth, prepare to meet your new obsession. Classic Scotcharoos are a common dessert popular in the Midwest that’s been around for ages. Think of it like an upgraded Rice Krispy Treat with peanut butter, butterscotch, and chocolate. Today, we’re making vegan Scotcharoo Bars with a few simple swaps.
My mother-in-law has been making Scotcharoos for her family for decades and everyone in the family is hooked. We’re so lucky that she veganized them for us! The recipe is so easy to make, sweet, chewy, caramel-y, great for parties, potlucks, holidays, or any occasion.
Honestly, what’s not to love about such a crowd-pleasing, quick indulgence? 9/10 people fall in love at first bite, and the other 1 is just trying to play it cool.
Nostalgic – Surely everyone enjoyed some form of rice krispy treat as a child. Whether you have fond memories of making them from scratch with your parents or just unwrapping them at lunchtime with glee, this quintessential American snack makes everyone feel like a kid again.
Easy – You don’t need to be a master chef to prepare this recipe. In fact, it’s great for getting kids into the kitchen with you, too! Let them help stir ingredients together and enjoy quality time together.
No-bake – Don’t bother preheating the oven this time around. All you need is a microwave to make this magic happen. This is especially handy during the summer when you don’t want to warm up the kitchen any further.
Gluten-free – Rice is the only grain involved here, which is naturally wheat and gluten-free. Double-check labels to make sure they’re certified if celiac disease is a concern.
Only 6 ingredients – This short ingredient list makes it effortless to throw everything together. If you have a well-stocked pantry, you might even have everything you need on hand already!
Key Ingredients for Vegan Scotcharoos
The list of ingredients is very short, so each one counts. Who said you couldn’t have healthy Scotcharoos?
Puffed Rice Cereal – The key ingredient for making the base of these treats, you can use plain Rice Krispies style cereal or brown rice puffed cereal, depending on your preference. In fact, you could double down on the chocolate factor and use cocoa rice cereal, too.
Sugar – Granulated white sugar or evaporated cane juice will do the trick here. If you wanted, you could substitute light or dark brown sugar for a bit of warm molasses flavor.
Peanut Butter – Creamy is preferred for a smooth, silky texture, but if you like your treats with more texture, go ahead and use crunchy. Look for natural, no-stir peanut butter with no hydrogenated oil.
Corn Syrup – This neutral, liquid sweetener helps hold everything together without altering the overall taste. If you’d prefer a more flavorful option, go ahead and use maple syrup or amber agave nectar for a change of pace.
Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips – Semisweet chocolate chips pair best for a universally beloved, classic taste. Level-up your treats with a more adult finish by using bittersweet or dark chocolate; though possibly harsh on its own, the contrast with such a sweet base is incredibly satisfying. Vegan chocolate chips are easy to find, just check the ingredients to make sure there are no hidden animal ingredients!
Vegan Butterscotch Chips – Vegan butterscotch chips are something of a specialty item, but they are becoming much more widely available! They can be found in many natural foods stores, some mainstream grocery stores, and many kosher grocery stores because of their parve status. But if you can’t find them in stores, you can always order them on Amazon!
History of Scotcharoo Bars
Not much is known about exactly who first created these irresistible treats, the recipe was first seen in print on a box of Rice Krispy Cereal in the 1960s. Thus, it stands to reason that the Kellogg’s company is behind the creation in the first place. They are most popular in the Midwestern United States, and especially Iowa.
They get their name from the unique addition of butterscotch, which turns them into more of a candy bar than cookie. They were originally made over the stove using a double boiler since microwaves weren’t yet a common household appliance, but that’s about the only way they’ve changed since then.
Fun Variations of Scotcharoo Bars to Try
Beyond the recipe as written, there’s a whole world of new culinary adventures to be had! Make it your own with some fun and easy modifications.
Don’t stop at plain old squares or rectangles. Give your treats a whole new shape by using a cookie cutter to make them into hearts, stars, or any other form you want.
Roll pieces into balls to make truffles, and dip them into chocolate. Just be careful because the sweet mixture is extremely hot.
Chop the finished treats into pieces and sprinkle them over ice cream.
Switch up the cereal; try cocoa puffs, cheerios, or corn flakes instead of puffed rice.
Add sprinkles on top for a colorful finish. Get festive to coordinate with any holiday!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long can you keep vegan Scotcharoo Bars?
Once cooled and cut, you can store the Scotcharoos in an airtight container, separated by sheets of parchment paper, at room temperature for up to a week.
Can you freeze Scotcharoos?
Yes, you can stash your Scotcharoos in the freeze for safe keeping if you’d like! Prepare them as before and they’ll last for up to 6 months in the freezer. Just make sure they come to room temperature again before serving. They’ll be hard and brittle while still cold.
Can I double the recipe?
This recipe is great for serving a crowd; absolutely, double away! Make sure you have two baking pans handy.
Can I half the recipe?
If you have fewer mouths to feed, it’s no problem to make fewer tempting treats. Cut the ingredients in half and use an 8 x 8-inch square baking dish instead.
What if I can’t find vegan butterscotch chips?
Okay, don’t panic. They won’t be quite the same, but you can just use more chocolate chips instead. I don’t think anyone’s complained about having too much chocolate. Maybe you can call them Choco-roos?
Have you ever tried Scotcharoos? These vegan Scotcharoo bars are chewy, caramely, chocolatey treats that are even more delicious than rice krispie treats and perfect for any party or pot luck. This recipe is a classic that has been passed down generations. Everyone loves these, and we make them vegan with some simple swaps!
Grease a 9 x 13 pan or Pyrex dish with oil or vegan butter and set aside.
In a large glass or metal bowl, add rice krispies and set aside.
In a medium saucepan add the sugar, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Place over medium heat on the stove and stir consistently as you bring to a boil. The mixture should turn completely smooth. As soon as bubbles start to form, remove from heat.
Pour peanut butter mixture into the bowl of rice krispies and carefully mix with a spoon. The mixture is extremely hot so be very careful not to touch it (it can burn your skin). Continue mixing until the rice krispies are evenly coated.
Spoon the rice krispie mixture into the greased 9 x 13 pan and press down to spread evenly. Coat hands with vegan butter or oil (rub between hands like lotion) so you can press it down without sticking. Or, cover with parchment paper and press down until it fills the pan and has a flat even surface.
Add chocolate chips and vegan butterscotch chips to a small bowl and melt by microwaving for 20-30 second increments and mixing between each. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the rice krispie treats in the pan and smooth evenly over the top with a spoon.
Refrigerate for 1 hour until chocolate is hardened.
If you try this vegan Scotcharoos recipe, let us know what you think by leaving a comment and rating below! Be sure to follow along on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for even more vegan recipe inspiration.
Vegan Scotcharoos recipe was veganized by my mother-in-law, Joyce Miller, who has been making these for her family gatherings for decades. Thanks, Mah! Photos by JJ Steele. Article written with support from Hannah Kaminsky and edited by Amanda Meth.
Whether you love it or hate it, we all have to go grocery shopping, and it can be a little intimidating when you first start eating vegan. Our beginner-friendly shopping list includes all the grocery essentials you'll need make many satisfying vegan meals! You'll also receive a blank shopping list you can customize yourself, plus our weekly e-newsletter with delicious plant-based recipes.