Old Fashioned Peanut Squares

Old fashioned peanut squares are a classic treat made with a soft, buttery shortbread crust with a sweet butterscotch filling mixed with crunchy peanuts. The sweet and nutty flavor is irresistible! 

Three peanut squares on a white rectangular plate.

With a hint of nostalgia, these old fashioned peanut squares are an easy treat perfect for after school snacks, holiday dessert platters or to share with friends as an edible gift!

The crust will remind you of a buttery shortbread and the filling of classic peanut brittle. If you are a peanut lover you will love these chewy bars as well as my decadent nut bars and nut cookies, too! 

This peanut candy is sweet and salty while also being crunchy and chewy. It’s a homemade confection that you will make over and over again! 

Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • Flavor and texture: Peanut squares are crunchy and chewy while also being sweet and salty with a buttery cookie bar base and topping made of peanuts coated in butterscotch!
  • Two classic treats in one: If you love classic holiday treats like buttery peanut brittle and shortbread, you will love the combination together in one bite sized treat.
  • Easy to make: With a simple prep time of less than 30 minutes, most of the time is hands off as the chewy peanut squares chill. 

Recipe Ingredients to Make Peanut Squares

Ingredients to make peanut squares in separate bowls.
  • Shortbread base: All-purpose flour, unsalted butter at room temperature and brown sugar.
  • Butterscotch baking chips: Find these in the baking aisle of your grocery store.
    Maple syrup: I prefer to use maple syrup for both the taste and it adds a chewier taste to the brickle part of the bars. 
  • Water and vegetable oil: This is needed to help melt the butterscotch chips into a smooth consistency.
    Peanuts: Salted peanuts without any skin.

How to Make Old Fashioned Peanut Squares

Make shortbread base: In a medium bowl mix together the flour, softened butter and brown sugar. Press the mix into the 9 inch square baking pan lined with parchment paper and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes.

shortbread base in a square pan.

Melt butterscotch chip mixture: In a medium bowl add the butterscotch chips, maple syrup, water and oil and melt everything together using a bain marie.

Melted butterscotch chips in a bowl.

Stir in peanuts: Add chopped peanuts to the melted mixture and pour it over the base. 

Peanuts added to the melted butterscotch mix.

Bake, cool and serve: Bake for 6 minutes. Let it cool then freeze for at least 30 minutes before cutting into squares and serving. Enjoy!

Peanut squares in a square baking pan.

Substitutions and Variations for Old Fashioned Peanut Squares

  • Caramel: Caramel chips can be used instead of butterscotch chips. The flavor profile will be slightly different as butterscotch is made with brown sugar and caramel with white granulated sugar. 
  • Chocolate topping: Drizzle the squares with a chocolate topping for decadence! Melt dark chocolate, white chocolate or milk chocolate then drizzle over top the squares.
  • Chocolate dipped: You could also cut the bars into squares then dip the bottom in melted chocolate. 
  • Pretzels: For additional texture, break up pretzel sticks and sprinkle over top of the bars after you pour the butterscotch filling over top of the base. 
  • Salty: Add some flakey sea salt on top of the squares for a beautiful look to them! 
  • Extra topping: For even more topping on your chewy peanut shortbread squares, reserve some shortbread base mixture and sprinkle on top before baking. 
Three peanut squares on a white plate with a jar full of butterscotch chips in the back.

Expert Tips

  • Follow baking time and temperatures: Just like any homemade candy or confection it is imperative to follow baking times and temps otherwise your squares will be too hard to bite into.
  • Line pan: Line your baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy removal.
  • Chop peanuts: If you like smaller pieces of peanuts in your squares, chop them first before adding to the butterscotch mixture.
  • DIY bain marie: Place a heat proof bowl over a sauce pan with about 4 inches of water. Pick a bowl that is large enough to fit inside the pan but does not touch the water.
  • Cool before cutting into squares: Otherwise it will be a gooey mess! 

How to Store Old Fashioned Peanut Squares

Store these old fashioned peanut butter squares in an airtight container or slice them into slices separating the layers with parchment paper to prevent sticking and place them in the freezer. They will last up to 3 months.

Three peanut squares on parchment paper with the rest of the squares in the back.

FAQs

Can I use corn syrup instead of maple syrup?

While I have not tested that, I think it may work. Your squares may be sweeter and have more of a peanut brittle crunch to them. 

Can I use another type of nut in these bars?

While peanuts will add the best sweet and salty flavor in the peanut squares, pecans or any other nut of choice could be used. I choose a roasted nut and chop it into pieces if it is larger in size. 

How are these different from peanut brittle?

Peanut brittle does not have a shortbread crust and is a hard candy broken into smaller pieces. While the topping on these squares may remind you of peanut brittle, they are chewier with a butterscotch flavor profile. These ‘peanut brittle’ squares are softer as well to ensure the perfect bite with the shortbread base.

Three old fashioned peanut squares stacked on parchment paper.

More Homemade Candy Recipes

Three old fashioned peanut squares stacked.

Old Fashioned Peanut Squares

Erika Marucci
Old fashioned peanut squares are a classic treat made with a soft, buttery shortbread crust with a sweet butterscotch filling mixed with crunchy peanuts. The sweet and nutty flavor is irresistible! 
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 16 minutes
Chilling time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 26 minutes
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 15 squares
Calories 342 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

For the Base

  • cups All purpose flour
  • ¾ cups Butter – unsalted, room temperature
  • ¾ cups Brown sugar

For the Filling

  • 6 ounces Butterscotch chips
  • ¼ cups Maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons Water
  • 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 2 cups Peanuts (chopped or left whole)

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F (180C). Line a 9 inch square pan with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl mix together the flour, butter and brown sugar. Press the mix into the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and let the shortbread crust cool for about 10 minutes.
  • In another medium bowl add the chips, maple syrup and oil and melt everything together on a bain-marie.
  • Add peanuts to the melted mixture (chop the peanuts if you prefer smaller pieces) and pour it over the base. Bake for 6 minutes. Let it cool, freeze for at least 30 minutes before cutting into squares and serve. Enjoy!

Notes

Store these old fashioned peanut butter squares in an airtight container or slice them into slices separating the layers with parchment paper to prevent sticking and place them in the freezer. They will last up to 3 months.
If you find that your shortbread crust needs  to be cooked for longer, bake it for an extra 5-10 minutes and the second bake an extra 5-10 minutes. Mine cooked at 10 minutes and 6 minutes, but ovens are different so you might need some extra baking time for yours.
The butterscotch topping isn’t very thick, so keeping it in the freezer is a good idea, but you can replace the maple syrup with corn syrup for a thicker butterscotch topping.

Nutrition

Calories: 342kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 7gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 133mgPotassium: 195mgFiber: 2gSugar: 23gVitamin A: 295IUCalcium: 41mgIron: 1mg
Keyword bars, peanut bars, peanut squares
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

8 Comments

  1. I made these this morning and they are so good! My oven runs cool, so I baked the shortbread base for 12 minutes. After adding the filling I baked for 8 minutes and it turned out perfectly! I will definitely make these again!

    1. I don’t think you can sorry! I’m in Canada and I can get them at the grocery store. Try substituting them for chocolate instead! that’s also a great combination!

  2. Wow, I have made many of your recipes over the years, and this was an epic fail.
    10 minutes was not long enough for the shortbread…..left it in for over 20’ish minutes. the nut/liquid when topped fell and would not spread because of the undercooked shortbread. I cooked it until it had a temperature of 145 (bain marie gave a temperature variance of 140-155) I usually cook shortbread for roughly 40 minutes, but have never had issues with your recipes, and do not like to go rogue on the first try. It is in the oven right now and have no idea how long I should cook it, as even 16 minutes does not sound long enough……Suggestions on what I did incorrectly?

    1. Hi Jane, sorry to hear it wasn’t enough time for you! Mine cooked in that time but definitely bake the shortbread crust for about 20 minutes. The butterscotch topping is supposed to be poured on top and shouldn’t spread. Let the shortbread crust cool before pouring the liquid. Bake it again for about 10 minutes and let the bars sit for 30 minutes before refrigerating or freezing. I recommend freezing. Hope this helps!

  3. Do we really only bake this for 6 minutes? Doesn’t seem to be long enough to bake the shortbread bottom.

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