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Copycat Payday Bar Recipe, if you’re a fan of PayDay Candy Bars made of caramel and peanuts, you’ll love this copycat dessert recipe!

Payday Bar

Copycat Payday Bar Recipe is a delicious combination of sweet and salty. The caramel has a fudge-like texture and consistency. Although there is peanut butter in the nougat-caramel-fudge part of this dessert, the bars don’t have a particularly strong peanut butter flavor.

The peanuts add a nice crunch and a little salt to the bars.

If you’re not going for the Payday copycat, you can certainly add other nuts. Pecans or almonds would be lovely. Furthermore, M&Ms or peanut M&Ms would be tasty and add some festive color to the dessert.


 Payday Bar

Copycat Payday Bar Recipe

There are two main steps to this recipe. The first is making the caramel. Secondly, mixing the ingredients together.

While making the caramel isn’t difficult, it does take a little time. I have found that it takes more time to make the caramel in the oven. However, there’s less chance of scorching it than on the stovetop.

This is my easy method. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a non-stick baking dish. Cover it tightly with aluminum foil. This dish needs to fit inside another dish. I use a 9×5-inch loaf pan for the sweetened condensed milk and set the loaf pan inside a 9×13-inch baking pan. Bake it at 400° F for 1 hour. Remove the pans and allow the mixture to cool before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

A note of the peanut butter. Just like chocolate chips, peanut butter chips are made to hold their shape while baking. Therefore, I don’t recommend using peanut butter chips in this recipe. I recommend using real peanut butter. However, you can use smooth or chunky peanut butter. Your preference.


 Payday Bar

These Copycat Payday Bars make a lovely gift for teachers, neighbors or friends. If you want to dress them up for gifting, coat them in dark or white chocolate. Read How to Melt Chocolate here. You can even top with sprinkles for a festive touch!

Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary based on products used.

Payday Bar

Copycat Payday Bar Recipe

Copycat Payday Bar Recipe is my homemade version of a PayDay Candy Bar. It's super easy to make and has soft caramels and salty peanuts. #copycat #recipe #peanuts #caramel #peanutroll #dessert #snack #homemade #easy #fromscratch
Author: Paula
4.78 from 18 votes
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 14 minutes
Servings: 30 slices
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  • 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 cups peanuts roasted and salted
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups marshmallows mini-marshmallows will melt faster
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter creamy (I don't recommend peanut butter chips)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar sifted


For the caramel

  • Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  • Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a shallow non-stick baking dish. Cover it tightly with aluminum foil. It needs to fit inside another dish. I use a 9x5-inch loaf pan for the milk and set it inside a 9x13-inch baking pan.
  • Pour water in the larger pan until it reaches about halfway up the inside pan with the sweetened condensed milk in it.
  • Bake 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool. (You can do this step hours beforehand.)
  • Line a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Add 2 cups of peanuts and spread them out evenly over the bottom of the pan.

For the bars

  • Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with non-stick aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  • Spread 2 cups of peanuts evenly over the bottom of the pan.
  • In a heavy-bottom saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until they're melted.
  • Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the caramel and the peanut butter.
  • When the mixture is completely combined and smooth, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the confectioners' sugar.
  • Quickly pour this mixture over the peanuts and smooth it with a silicone spatula. Sprinkle the remaining peanuts evenly over the top and press them into the caramel with the spatula.
  • Allow the bars to set for 1 hour on the countertop or about 30 minutes in the refrigerator before slicing.
  • Use the parchment or foil to remove the bars from the pan to a cutting board and cut into squares or bars with a sharp knife.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to one week.


Calories: 253kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 45mg | Potassium: 222mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 130IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 1mg
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  1. 4 stars
    Tastes great, the center was too soft, I’ll cook the sweetened condensed milk longer next time, I think that’s the problem why it’s too soft

  2. 5 stars
    I’m sad. I don’t think I cooked the caramel long enough, my s.c. milk was chunky an I didn’t set time so I tried to correct on the stove top, it worked to smooth out but I don’t think I cooked it to the “soft ball” stage long enough when adding everything. I’m new to this caramel an candy making but when I made caramel corn homemade same thing happened with not cooking it long enough, the Carmel was not the hard an crunchy like she’ll like I hoped for. Please help lol

  3. I am confused, you say to pour milk into shallow baking pan and cover tightly with foil. but you said you put milk in loaf pan , how is that shallow?

    1. Using 1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, it isn’t thick in loaf pan. To prevent it from scorching, I caramelize it in a water bath. (Sit the loaf pan in a 9×13-inch pan that has water in it.)

  4. Hi, have you ever tried melting a bag of the Kraft caramel bits or regular caramels for the caramel part of the recipe? I am thinking it might be a little too thick, but thought I’d ask. Thanks!!

      1. 5 stars
        Paula, I made these for Christmas using a bag of the Kraft caramel bits, melted. I did some research on how much caramel a can of sw condensed milk yields, so the caramel bits were just right. Looked just like the picture and tasted great. Some of the peanuts fell off the top and didn’t stick, but I also thought it could also have been that I just put too many on top!

    1. I also was looking at a jar of caramel topping at the grocery store today and thought that might be an idea. Do you know about how much caramel the 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk yields after cooking it? I am thinking it might be a little less. Can’t wait to try the recipe one way or another!

  5. 5 stars
    These are soooooo good! Mine are a bit soft though. Is there a way to make the center a bit more firm?

  6. 5 stars
    These are setting as I type. I boiled a can of condensed milk for 2 hours to make the caramel. I can tell these are going to be epic.

  7. 5 stars
    Oh Paula – you found my weak spot! I can turn down just about any candy there is, but PayDay bars are my weakness!! Thank you for this recipe and for sharing on Meal Plan Monday!

  8. Instead of making the caramel can we use the caramel that comes in the can, Nestle’s La Lechera Dulce de Leche?

  9. I’m confused on the directions. For the Caramel, step 5 is foil 9×9 pan and add 2 cups peanuts. Then step 1 for the bars says line 9×13 with foil and 2cups of peanuts. What size pan do you make the bars in?

4.78 from 18 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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