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Mom’s Special K-Bars, well kind of. These are the healthier version, but they’re actually so much more delicious. Think crisp, chewy, sweet, and peanutty cereal base topped with semi-sweet salted chocolate. All made with simple, wholesome ingredients: organic corn flakes, honey, pure maple syrup, natural peanut butter, chia seeds, vanilla, and dark chocolate. These bars are heavy on the peanut butter and chocolate, with a nice salty-sweet combo. They’re also gluten-free, vegetarian, and even no-bake too! Every last bite is truly delicious.

Mom’s Special K-Bars |

Anyone whose known my mom over the last 30 years knows about her K-bars. They’re everyone’s favorite dessert. Chocolate peanut butter chewy goodness. Yes, my mom was known for these bars. Especially in the summer because she’d make them for all the birthday parties, family dinners, and every last summer picnic.

Her bars were very retro, old school, and oh, my gosh, very addicting. Actually, now that I think about it, they really weren’t her bars, my Nonnie used to make them too. Ask any of my older siblings, k-bars and chocolate chip cookies were part of the weekly rotation of sweets back when we lived in Cleveland.

We all loved them.

Mom’s Special K-Bars |

The weird thing is that once we moved to Colorado, they just never tasted quite the same. Still good, but almost dry and just not as special. Slowly she stopped making them and when we all started to cut down more on the use of sugar, we kind of cut these out.

But I’m here to announce that they are back, and quite possibly better than ever.

Mom’s Special K-Bars |

The details are extra, extra simple

I used the very same process as my mom, I just used better-for-you ingredients.

The first step, grab some corn flakes. Use gluten-free if needed. I get mine at Whole Foods or there’s a Thrive Market link to some in the recipe. Add the corn flakes, ground chia seeds, and natural creamy peanut butter to a super large bowl. The ground chia seeds are totally optional, but they add a nice vanilla flavor and additional health benefits (healthy omegas and lots of fiber).

Then, boil together some honey and maple syrup. I use honey + maple in place of the white sugar and Karo syrup that mom’s original recipe calls for. Boil the mix for 2 minutes, then pour over the bowl full of cereal and peanut butter. Mix everything together until all is evenly coated.

Spread the mix out into a baking dish, then throw it in the fridge while you melt the chocolate.

Mom’s Special K-Bars |

For the peanut butter – simply use peanut butter. As in just peanuts and sea salt. No Jiff or any other kinds of no-stir peanut butter that contains oil and/or sugar. You just want a natural peanut butter. This will give you the best flavor and texture.

But I mean, of course, if all you have is Jiff or Skippy, it all works!

Mom’s Special K-Bars |

Finish them up

Melt the chocolate with a little peanut butter to keep the chocolate from getting too hard. Then spread the mix out over the peanut cereal layer.

And then you’re done. And trust me, you might want to double the batch because these disappear fast. Everyone from my mom and dad to (very picky) Asher is obsessed with these. Asher has asked me to make them twice this week alone.

Mom’s Special K-Bars |

Lastly, if you’re wondering why they’re called Special K-Bars? It’s because back when my Nonnie used to make them she used Special K cereal. Over the years my mom switched to corn flakes. They really are a family favorite. It’s that combination of chewy, salty, sweet, chocolate, and peanut butter. It’s magically delicious!

Mom’s Special K-Bars |

Looking for easy summer desserts? Here are a few ideas: 

Homemade Vegan Peanut Butter Twix Bars

Caramel Butter Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting

Retro-Style Chocolate Sheet Cake

Strawberry Pretzel Ice Cream Cake

No Churn Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

6 Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake.

Lastly, if you make my Mom’s Special K-Bars, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Mom’s Special K-Bars

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings: 24 bars
Calories Per Serving: 215 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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  • 1. Line a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper. 
    2. In a large bowl, combine the corn flakes, chia seeds (if using), and 1 cup peanut butter.
    3. In a pot, combine the honey, maple syrup, and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and pour the mix into the corn flake/peanut butter bowl and stir well. Spread the mixture out onto the prepared pan, packing it in tightly. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, melt together the chocolate and 1/4 cup peanut butter in the microwave. Spread the chocolate over the corn flake mix. Return to the fridge to set, about 15 minutes, then slice. The chocolate will not be totally set, but slicing is easier this way. Keep in the fridge.
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    1. Thanks for giving the recipe a try and sharing your feedback Lisa, sorry to hear these were not enjoyed. xTieghan

  1. Hello! Trying these now – is the sea salt for sprinkling/finishing at the end only? Thanks! My mom says we should be using Rice Krispies, so we’ll see what she says once they’re done! She’s a fan, too, though!

    1. Hey Carly,
      Yes, you will want to do a sprinkle of sea salt at the end:) I hope you and your mom love the recipe! xx

  2. I am excited to make these but was wondering when the vanilla powder is added and can you substitute vanilla extract. Thank you

    1. Hi Candice,
      The vanilla is added in step 3 and yes you can use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. I hope you love this recipe! xTieghan

  3. 5 stars
    I made these for a party and my guests were so happy! I added ground flax seed to chia seeds and cornflakes and they absolutely loved it! thank you so much!

    1. Hi Amber,
      Happy Friday! I am so excited that you enjoyed this recipe, thanks a lot for giving it a go! xT🌼

  4. 5 stars
    Loved the flavor but I’m stumped as to why the honey maple syrup seemed to pool in pan. I added more cornflakes and it helped but it still seems a tad wet. No one is complaining I’m just confused. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hi Diane,
      Happy Friday! I am so excited that you enjoyed this recipe, thanks a lot for giving it a go! Sorry, what do you mean it made a pool? Was it not mixed well enough? xT🌼

  5. 5 stars
    We LOVED these! I made them with sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter because my husband has a peanut allergy but they were fantastic.

    1. Hey Ali,
      Thanks for your comment! So glad to hear that this dish was a winner, thanks a lot for giving it a go! 🌻xTieghan

  6. I couldn’t wait to make these, but I did something wrong. They are gooey on the bottom. But, they taste good.

    1. Hi Allison,
      Thanks so much for trying the recipe! Was there anything you adjusted? The bottom should be sticky! Let me know! xx

      1. Hi Gayle,
        You can use honey in place of the maple syrup. I hope you love the recipe!! Let me know how it turns out:) xx

    1. Hi Diane,
      For this recipe, I like to use just peanuts and salt, but any kind of peanut butter that you like will work! I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xx

  7. 5 stars
    These look so healthyish and sensational! I did substitute WF Cornflakes for Cascadian Farms Vanilla Crisp Cereal sweetened with fruit. I was talking to my daughter and forgot to put honey and maple syrup in pot to heat, but added with cereal. -Ended up heating cereal with syrup and honey. No problem and thankfully ended up great! Thanks Tieghan!

    1. Hey there,
      Awesome!! Thanks a bunch for making this recipe:) I am so glad it was enjoyed! Hope you’re off to a great Monday! xxT

    1. Hey Jackie,
      Awesome!! Thanks a bunch for making this recipe:) I am so glad it was enjoyed! Hope you’re off to a great Monday! xxT

  8. This recipe sounds delicious! I would love to make this but my daughter has a peanut allergy. Can you use any other nut butter?

    1. Hi Naureen,
      Sure, you could use another nut butter or even sunflower seed butter. Please let me know if you give the recipe a try, I hope you love it! xx

  9. Tieghan, Can you please share how you created those magical eye-appealing swirls a top the chocolate? Thanks

    1. Hi Laura,
      I just swirled through the chocolate with a toothpick. Please let me know if you have any other questions!! xx

  10. Tieghan, I love chia seeds in my smoothies and chia pudding. But I’ve never had ground chia. Can I wurl them in my bullet or do you buy it ground?

    Thanks, Mary

    1. Hi Mary,
      I buy my chia seeds already ground from my local grocery store. Please let me know if you have any other questions! xx

  11. You have to be from the Midwest to really appreciate these. Yes in Ohio you used Special K. In MI, esp Battle Creek where my Mom grew up, Rice Krispies and are called Scotcheroos. Yes a beloved family tradition since the 60s. So why not Healthasize it and enjoy again. PS Dr Kellogg who invented Corn Flakes was a friend of my grandparents. Mom knew both Kellogg brothers growing up.

      1. Hi Val!
        I just swirl the chocolate with a toothpick:) Please let me know if you have any other questions!