Pay Day Bars

This recipe for homemade Pay Day Bars is a fun twist on the traditional candy! With gooey marshmallows and crunchy peanuts, it’s a decadent treat that everyone will adore.

pay day cookie bars stacked on a wooden board.

Pay Day fans, you have to try this treat! Dubbed “Pay Day Bars” in a late 1970’s church cookbook, these cookie bars have three layers: a soft cake-like base, gooey marshmallows, and a crunchy peanut/peanut butter topping.

Now, I wouldn’t go picking a Pay Day bar out of my kids’ Halloween bucket. I’m more of a Reese’s gal myself. BUT the textures and flavors of this bar are a delight—soft, gooey, crunchy, and crispy. I had to give some away to my neighbors so I wasn’t snacking on them all day long!

These are great for a picnic, potluck, outdoor bbq, or any other occasion for fans of this classic candy.


cake mix, marshmallows, peanut butter chips, and other ingredients.

Scroll down to the recipe card for quantities and instructions!

I’ve made this recipe with a white cake mix, too. Works great, just a little more pale on the bottom, of course.

How to make homemade pay day bars

For the base of the bars, stir together the yellow cake mix, oil, and egg. Press into a 13×9-inch pan that’s either greased or lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 12–15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown on the edges. Add the marshmallows and bake for 2 more minutes.

For the top layer, heat the corn syrup and butter in a saucepan until the butter has melted. Stir in the peanut butter chips and vanilla.

Then, fold in the peanuts and Rice Krispies.

Dollop the peanut mixture on top of the marshmallows (work quickly before it sets up) and spread gently with an offset spatula to the corners.

peanut mixture on in a glass dish.

Refrigerate for an hour or two. Refrigerating the bars will make them easier to slice (and you can eat them quicker that way!).

pay day bars on a wooden board with a glass of milk.

You can serve them either at room temperature or from the refrigerator. I find them a bit more gooey when at room temperature (in a good way).

Storage and freezing instructions

Store Pay Day Bars in an airtight container at room temperature. They will last for a week or two. You can also freeze the bars for up to three months.

More old fashioned bar cookies

pay day cookie bars next to a pay day candy bar.

📖 Recipe

pay day bars stacked on a wooden board.

Pay Day Cookie Bars

Published by Kate
Pay Day candy bar fans will adore this riff on the classic peanut candy!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 17 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 32 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 30 servings
Calories 252 kcal


For the base:

  • 1 (15.25 oz) yellow cake mix
  • cup (5⅓ tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows

For the topping:

  • cup light corn syrup
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 bag (10 oz) peanut butter chips (such as Reese's)
  • 2 cups Rice Krispies
  • 2 cups lightly salted peanuts


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13×9-inch baking dish with cooking spray or butter.

For the base:

  • In a large bowl, stir together the yellow cake mix, ⅓ cup melted butter, and egg.
  • Press into the prepared baking dish, and bake for 12–15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown around the edges.
  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle marshmallows over the top. Bake for an additional 1–2 minutes, or until puffy.

For the topping:

  • In a saucepan, heat the corn syrup and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter chips and vanilla until smooth.
  • Stir in the Rice Krispies and peanuts.
  • Spoon the mixture over the marshmallows and spread carefully (I like using an offset spatula for this).
  • Refrigerate until firm, 1–2 hours. Remove from the fridge and cut into bars. These are very rich!



Use Pillsbury or Duncan Hines cake mix. Betty Crocker has decreased the size of their cake mixes by 1–2 ounces, depending on the variety. 
The bars will keep for a week or two (or longer) at room temperature in an airtight container. You can also freeze them for up to three months.


Calories: 252kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 5gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 204mgPotassium: 78mgFiber: 1gSugar: 21gVitamin A: 242IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 45mgIron: 1mg
Keyword pay day bars, pay day cookie bars
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a star rating and comment below!

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Love these. Super delicious and a great bar to have when you’re hungry and need something quick.

5 from 1 vote

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