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Homemade Payday Bars

These chewy Homemade Payday Bars are amazingly easy. All you need is a microwave for a delicious sweet and salty, no-bake dessert that you can whip up in minutes! 

Make Your Favorite Peanut Candy Bars at Home!

Calling all peanut butter lovers. You can make a homemade version of your favorite Payday candy bar that tastes just like the real deal!

This homemade candy recipe is just the best. There’s no baking or temperature-taking involved, and you mix up the ingredients in one bowl, pour, and set. Plus, it’s delicious. But if you adore peanuts and peanut butter as much as I do, that much is a given!

These no-bake peanut butter bars are filled with fluffy, sugary marshmallow centers set between crunchy layers of roasted peanuts and finished with sea salt. The perfect amount of chew, and just the right amount of crunch. Plus, the flavor is to die for!

Close up top view of homemade PayDay candy cut into bars.

What is a Payday Bar?

If you live in the US, chances are you’ve had, or at least heard of, a Payday candy bar! Maybe you’ve seen them on Halloween, or in the grocery store check out line. An original Payday bar is made from salted peanuts wrapped around a center of sweet caramel that’s a bit like nougat.

As it turns out, these bars are super simple to replicate at home using a few pantry ingredients!

The ingredients for homemade PayDay bars.

Ingredients You’ll Need

This candy bar recipe only needs six ingredients. Here’s a quick summary of what you’ll need, and be sure to check out the recipe card for the full amounts:

  • Peanuts: For that authentic Payday bar salty-sweetness, I use salted and dry roasted peanuts. Other nuts can be used as well, see the section later on for variations!
  • Peanut Butter Chips: Because no one ever says no to more peanut-y flavor in this house! If that’s not the case with your family, caramel chips, or even semi-sweet chocolate chips are also an option.
  • Butter: Salted or unsalted butter will both work to give the nougat-like center extra richness and smoothness. 
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk: Make sure you’re buying the sweetened kind, and not just regular condensed milk.
  • Mini Marshmallows: Or regular marshmallows chopped into mini-sized pieces.
  • Flaky Sea Salt: Make sure to use flaked sea salt, as table salt will not work in this recipe. 
Peanuts laid in the bottom of a baking pan.

How to Make Homemade Payday Candy Bars

Making these classic peanut butter candy bars at home is easier than you might think! They’re the perfect no-bake candy that you can make and keep for an easy sweet snack or dessert. 

Prep: Start with a greased 9×13 pan. Spread half your peanuts into the dish in an even layer.

Melt: In a good sized microwave safe bowl, melt the peanut butter chips with a few tablespoons of butter, and stir until smooth. Add in the sweetened condensed milk, followed by the marshmallows, then pour the mixture over the peanuts.

Finish and Chill: Gently press the rest of your peanuts into the marshmallow mixture. Sprinkle some flaked sea salt overtop and then chill the slab in the fridge for a bit before cutting it into squares. Voilà, homemade Payday bars!

Top view of a slab of homemade PayDay candy cut into bars.

Tips and Tricks

This recipe happens to be pretty straightforward, but here are some extra tips when making these homemade candy bars:

  • Use a Large Bowl: The first time I made these peanut butter bars, I made the mistake of using a smaller bowl to combine the ingredients. Word from the (now) wise: mini marshmallows take up more space than you think! Err on the side of caution and get out a big-sized bowl for melting and mixing.
  • Wrap in Parchment: If you’d like to wrap these bars for gifting, use parchment paper as a first layer so that the wrapping won’t stick. This also goes for storing – if you’re stacking the bars, be sure to separate the layers with parchment paper to avoid a particularly sticky scenario.
  • Can I Use Regular Peanuts?: Roasted peanuts are especially crunchy and have a nice toasted flavor. But if all you have is regular salted peanuts, these will also work!
Close up of a homemade PayDay bar with a peanut and marshmallow center, sitting on top of the other bars.

Variation Ideas

The best part about making your own candy bars? You can make them 100% to your liking! Here are some ways to change up these homemade Payday bars:

  • Chocolate Dipped: Melt chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler to coat your peanut candy bar.
  • Rainbow: Instead of white mini marshmallows, use colorful ones for a fun, rainbow twist.
  • Chocolate Chips: Make the marshmallow center with melted chocolate chips or even caramel chips, instead of peanut butter chips.
  • Different Nuts: It may not technically be a Payday bar without the peanuts, but you do you, boo. Sub out the peanuts for other roasted and salted nuts like hazelnuts or almonds.
A bite missing from a homemade PayDay bar, with more bars in the background.

Storage Instructions

Store your dessert bars airtight in a cool and dry location for up to one week. If you live in a particularly warm climate, you may want to keep them in the fridge. Just take them out a few minutes ahead of serving so they’re not overly chewy!

If you’re planning on stacking these bars, I definitely recommend separating the layers with parchment paper to keep the bars from sticking. 

Do These Freeze Well? 

These copycat Payday bars won’t freeze or defrost particularly well. If you make a batch with leftovers, though, they’re perfect for gifting and sharing!

Three homemade PayDay bars stacked on top of one another, surrounded by the other bars.

More Easy Candy Recipes

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Three homemade PayDay bars stacked on top of one another, surrounded by the other bars.

Homemade Payday Bars

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Shelly
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 30 bars 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: No-bake
  • Cuisine: American


These chewy Homemade Payday Bars are amazingly easy. All you need is a microwave and no oven, making them a great sweet and salty, no-bake dessert that you can whip up in minutes! 


  • 16 oz salted dry roasted peanuts
  • 2 cups peanut butter chips
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (10.5 oz) bag mini marshmallows
  • 12 tbsp flaked sea salt


  1. Spray 9×13 pan with baking spray or grease with butter. Sprinkle 1/2 peanuts in the bottom of the pan, reserving the other half for later
  2. In a large microwave safe bowl, heat peanut butter chips and butter in 30 second increments on 50% power. Stirring after each until melted.
  3. Pour in you sweetened condensed milk and microwave on high power for 1 more minute. Stir until smooth and combined.
  4. Fold in marshmallows to peanut butter mixture until evenly coated and then pour over your peanuts in the pan.
  5. Press the remaining nuts into the marshmallow mixture. Sprinkle with flaked sea salt and chill for about an hour.
  6. Cut into squares.


Original recipe from the kitchen of Angie Bonfanti.

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64 comments on “Homemade Payday Bars”

  1. Where do we buy peanut butter chips in Australia? never seen them could you use normal peanut butter?

    1. I wouldn’t use normal peanut butter only.. maybe mix it with some white chocolate so it sets up better. peanut butter only won’t set up.
      Maybe you could try ordering online?

  2. Hello from Chile!! I have a question… here we don´t have peanut butter chips… can I replace them (and the butter) with normal or chunky peanut butter? I hope you can help me… these bars looks amazing!

    1. You could do that, but they won’t set up as firm. You could add some white chocolate with your peanut butter.

  3. Found these on Pinterest and made them for work and they were a huge hit!! Thanks so much for sharing. Now going to check out the rest of your recipes! 😀

  4. Katie | The Hill Country Cook

    Whoa. My husband will love me. And please, no more talk of running. It’s making me tired. 😉
    P.S. Whenever you’re having a bad day of “training,” even if you just end up putting on the sports bra, or walking around the block, my motto is “A bad day at the gym is better than no day at the gym.” Fo’ real, yo. #highfive

  5. Renee - Kudos Kitchen

    I have this exact same recipe that I posted back on December, 2011 on my blog. I got my recipe from a dear friend years ago except mine used the stove top and not the microwave oven. I found it interested that there has been recent surge in traffic to my post about them. I always wonder about such things. Glad to know that yours were just as tasty as mine. Yours look yummy. Good luck with your triathlon.

  6. Kelly Senyei | Just a Taste

    Ohhhh boy. This recipe is going to get me into some serious trouble in the skinny jeans department.

  7. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    Oh my gosh you brave woman, good luck with the training for the triathlon! You’ll be happy you did it when it’s over, I think that’s the “fun” part they’re all referring to. 😉

  8. Stephanie @ Macaroni and Cheesecake

    Love pay day bars! And I absolutely love how easy these are to make! And that’s exciting you signed up for a mini triathalon-you can do it!:)

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