(Almost) Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Cup Bars

Once upon a time, a pin was born in the land of Pinterest. This pin promised a link of a 55 calorie Reese's treat with no sugar. It was a popular pin, and grew and multiplied by the thousands. 

The only problem with the pin was that it was wrong. It linked to my Reese's peanut butter cup bar recipe and there is nothing low sugar or low calorie about them.

I first heard of the pin from visitors like you who linked back to the Reese bars recipe on this site and noticed that it was loaded with sugar, sugar, and more sugar. That's because it is, and I never made claims that it was anything but completely unhealthy for you. At first I apologized for the errant pin, and then I tried to track it down. Unfortunately, comments don't repin with pins and there is no way to find every wrongly described pin. Plus, I think people found it a little creepy when I would track down their pins and comment on them.

I finally decided that if so many people were coming here for a sugar-free or reduced calorie version of the recipe I have pictured, I should just come up with one. So off to the kitchen I went. 

Now, I'm not a dietician or a diabetic. Let me state that right off. I make no claims to being an expert in the area of sugar-free or reduced calorie foods. I do like to eat, though, and I do know what a Reese's peanut butter cup tastes like. And that's what I tried to make with this recipe. It took some experimenting and I'm pretty pleased with how it tastes. In the notes after the recipe I also explain my ingredient choices so that if the ingredients in here don't work for you, you can hopefully modify it in a way that will.

A final note is that these bars as written are 125 calories for a roughly 2" square. Using a zero calorie sweetener brings them down to about 100 calories each. It is still more than the 55 calories that the incorrect pin states. Peanut butter itself has about 100 calories for 1 tablespoon so to make it 55 calories I'd either have to reduce the amount of peanut butter and have it not taste as rich or make the serving size ridiculously small. I decided not to do either. 

(Almost) Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Cup Bars

HeatOvenTo350 Published 02/08/2013
Lighter Peanut Butter Cups


  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Truvia baking blend (see notes)
  • 2 1/2 cups Cheerios (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons natural peanut butter (Just peanuts, no added salt or sugar)
  • 5 Sugar-free mini Hershey's chocolate bars (see note)


  1. Add Truvia to a blender and pulse until it becomes a powder. Pour into a medium bowl.
  2. Add Cheerios to blender and blend until powdered. Pour into bowl with Truvia and mix.
  3. Stir in peanut butter and melted butter and stir until combined. Pour into an 8x8 baking pan and press down.
  4. In a double boiler or microwave on low power, melt chocolate. Pour over the top of peanut butter mixture. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into 16 pieces and serve. (For a creamier chocolate topping, although it adds more calories, mix in a tablespoon of peanut butter to the melted chocolate.)
Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min (chilling time)
Each bar:125 Calories, 15 g carbs, 8.5 g fat, 2.75 g protein.


Why Truvia? 
After tasting a few sugar substitutes I decided on Truvia. I used a Truvia baking blend in this recipe, which does have sugar. If you are looking for a sugar-free instead of reduced sugar dessert, you can use 100% Truvia instead. I would just reduce the amount of sweetener used by a tablespoon. For other sweeteners, you might have to experiment a little to get the correct sweetness. 

 Why Cheerios? 
 It's not just because I have a baby and therefore Cheerios are all over my house. My original recipe has graham crackers in it. They provide structure to the bars. I didn't want to just mix peanut butter with a sugar substitute and call it a day since that isn't a Reese's cup to me and frankly it would be a gooey mess. So I looked around for a low sugar substitute for the graham crackers and came upon Cheerios. Using Cheerios, though, means these aren't 100% sugar free. They have about 2.5 g of sugar for the whole batch.

What if I don't like sugar-free chocolate?
If you would prefer not to use the sugar free chocolate but still want a sugar free chocolate flavored topping, try making this coconut oil substitution: equal parts coconut oil and cocoa, sweetened to taste with your favorite sugar substitute and a pinch of salt. You will likely have to melt the coconut oil or warm it a bit to mix everything in. This will set up rock hard in the fridge so it's not the ideal texture but it is another substitute you can use if you don't want to use sugar-free chocolate. It might be easier to let the peanut butter part of your treats set up in the fridge while making the coconut oil/cocoa mixture. If you let the coconut oil/cocoa mixture cool until a paste consistency you can top the treats right before serving. I found the calories in this substitution to be similar to the sugar-free chocolate when I was doing calculations online. 

43 Click For Comments:

It's almost like the game of "Operator" we used to play in school...it starts as one thing, but by the time it spreads, it turns into something totally different! Thanks for putting in the time and energy to come up with this. We will have to try it since my hubby and one son are both Type I diabetics.

What a funny story. I didn't come here looking for sugar free Reese's, but the original recipe sure does sound good and I might just try that one instead!

what size hershey's bars. I've only ever seen the miniture sugar free hershey bars. I'm guessing that is the size you mean.

The original 55 calorie reeses recipe is on the following website: chocolatecoveredkatie.com. I found it on pinterst with the same description as the false one on your original recipe. Both look pretty good though!

I totally came here because of that mouthwatering pic and promise of no sugar and that they taste like reese's. I should have known better, right? I love your story -- a researcher/investigator after my own heart. And thank you for coming up with this recipe. I am diabetic and I am going to try it ... and will definitely come back and let you know how it went, AND start a new pin!

i really appreciate that you spent time working on a low-calorie alternative. i mean, it wasn't your fault the pin was incorrect, and you still went to the trouble! so nice. i can't wait to make BOTH recipes, as i am not diabetic but could stand to lose a little weight. thank you. :)

I wonder if a peanut butter substitute would work...I recently found PB2 and I'm obsessed. I've just been using it at a peanut butter fix, but i'm interested in trying it in the baking realm. Thoughts?

I just wanted to say how nice that is of you to try and fix that problem even though it wasn't your fault and people were probably giving you crap for not writing that pin! :)

Hilarious. Nice of you to come up with a fix. I'm going for the full sugar version first though!

You're waaaay nicer than me to go to all this trouble! And seriously creative, too. Both of these recipes sound amazing! Shame on those haters who can't understand the anonymous nature of a pin's comments.

Okay, I came to your site because of the same Pinterest FAIL... I looked at the ingredients and saw sugar and laughed (who the hell would say that on Pinterest?!!)..... but I was going to make them anyway because DELICIOUS! But I am so glad you made this updated version, amazing!!!!

You are made of awesomeness! You took the frustrated comments and made something good of it.

You might be able to get the calorie count down by making your peanut butter from a peanut butter powder like PB2. The process they use to make the peanut butter removes 80-90% of the fat but keeps the taste (I use it and it's delicious).

@Barbara Ensign - Yes, it is the mini chocolate bars. I've amended the recipe to be clearer.

@orchare and @Doreen Moran - I've never heard of PB2, but that's a great idea. Let me know if you try it.

Thank you so much for the recipe, I am a Diabetic and I do appreciate it very much, It was very nice of you.

Thanks for the (almost) sugar free version. I went to the original Pin a couple of weeks ago - very excited since I am diabetic! Made them for the family anyway and they were a HUGE hit and very very easy. I can't wait to try this recipe so I can enjoy :)

Funny story! Thanks for sharing, many times I pin something and then try to find a recipe that is not there. Your recipe looks great, I am going to give it a try and I am going to use PB2. :-)

You can try using PB2 for the peanut butter. It's a powdered peanut butter that you reconstitute with water. We love it. You control the consistancy. But better yet...45 calories for 2 tablespoons!!

This recipe is unfortunately unusable for non-Americans.

Truvia baking blend? Hersheys bars? Cheerios? I've not heard of any of these and certainly can't buy them.

International FAIL.

Do you think I can use a liquid sweetener instead of granule? I like to cook with Agave when doing sugar free. Thoughts?

I absolutely love that you made up a recipe to satisfy the wrong-pin-followers! That is awesome. Plus the recipe looks delicious. :)

@Jeremy Manning - I thought about agave but I'm not sure it would work texture-wise. You could try using it and increasing the amount of Cheerios to try to give more structure. Let me know if you try and how it works.

Leanne, I'm sorry you couldn't make the bars but seriously? Obviously the blogger is from the States and used ingredients that she was familiar with. Do you make sure that the ingredients to your recipes can be found in all countries before you post them? I highly doubt it.
I am sure that they sell sugar free chocolate where you live. Hershey is just a well known brand. Cheerios are a crunchy oat cereal. Truvia is the name of a sugar substitute. It is similar to stevia but a little different.
Maybe instead of complaining you should make a suitable "International" version.

I bet you could use PB2, which is a powdered peanut butter by Bell Plantation. It is only 45 calories for 2 tbsp. You just add water to make it the consistency that you want. It would really bring the calories down.
You can buy the PB2 on Amazon. :)

Thanks so much for taking the time to make a recipe that people were looking for! Super cool of you! And both recipes sound really good, I'll have to try them both!

Thanks for coming up with this recipe! Cray how things happen. We are going to try the sugar one also.

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Could you use crushed Rice Krispies in place of the Cheerios? I'm gluten-intolerant, and can't eat those tasty little O's...

You're so nice! Thank you for the recipe.

@Anonymous - I guess my reply didn't post. Yes, I think Rice Krispies would work just fine. You might have to use slightly more or less to get enough crumbs to make these bars set.

My husband LOVES reeses cups, and we are trying to eat ALOT healthier. So I got all the stuff and made this last night. WIN. So easy and so good. Thank you for this recipe.

Do you think Almond butter would work instead of peanut butter??

I've found that almond meal works really well in place of the graham crackers/cheerios (same consistency and low carb). Thanks for the recipe!

Thanks so much Katie and the other person for listing substitutes for the cheerios. I had wondered about oatmeal as it's inexpensive and sugar free. Katie how much almond meal did you use? Also, if anyone tried the rice krispies can you post how much and how they turned out. Thanks to Nicole for starting this recipe, hats off to you sister!

Holy cow. First this poor woman has one of her recipes- on HER OWN BLOG- incorrectly labeled on Pinterest, and then receives nasty and hateful comments. Then she comes up with an alternative, just to help everyone out, and now she is receiving backlash for not ensuring that the ingredients for her recipe ON HER OWN AMERICAN BLOG are available in countries around the world. Seriously, people. If you don't like the way she does it, start your own blog and figure out a better way.

I came originally through the first pin, then found this recipe. I am diabetic, so I thank you for taking the time to work out a recipe that's (almost) sugar-free! My husband loves peanut butter cups, and he's eating the way I have to even though he's not diabetic (bless his heart!), so I'm going to try them for him.

Revolting! I'd rather give in to the sugar version and have my foot amputated than gag down another one of these bland, tasteless dog biscuits.

Agree with this reviewer! Chill out Leanne! International blogs don't use US conversions, nor do many of them translate into English. Also...turn on your brain and look up these items online to find appropriate substitutes.

To Michelle, who asked about almond butter instead of peanut butter...

I know this is a late response and you probably won't see it, but I have to ask: If you're trying to replicate a Reese's PEANUT BUTTER cup, why would you use almond butter? Granted, you could use any nut butter, even Nutella if you wanted a chocolate version and it would work fine. But it wouldn't taste like a Reese's.

I would interested in trying this with Almond flour (almond meal or ground almond) with some natural peanut butter. I am on a VERY low carb diet, so almond flour and natural PB are for sure me. I have to get something to sweeten it with, then I will try it. Being rural, it might take a bit.

Hello From the Land of Pinterest. I will probably try the full fat version first, but I wanted to thank you for going through the trouble to make a healthier version. Your story is exactly why I try to be a responsible pinner... I always go back to the original link to pin or at least check it out before I repin. Thanks for the recipes!

I love this story! Just to let you know, I created a "Pinterest WIN" board just for this post! I try very hard never to post a pin without following the links, and several with false claims end up on my fail board. I don't blame the original bloggers, you can't help what assinine things people will post about it! So this was a nice follow up! I have a feeling I will become a regular follower now!

Would Rice Krispies work instead of Cheerios?

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