Homemade PayDay Candy Bars

Delicious Homemade PayDay Candy Bars are both salty and sweet, taste just like the real thing, & are SO easy to make!

If you love candy bars as much as I do you will LOVE these homemade payday candy bars. They are chewy and delish. For more homemade candy, try Homemade Reese’s, and Caramel Candy.

Homemade Pay Days on a white plate

Homemade is better!

Contrary to popular opinion, PayDays are actually one of my favorite candy bars! I know it’s not a super common one compared to Snickers or Kit Kat, but I just love the combination of salty and sweet!

Although it’s quick and convenient to pick up a candy bar at the grocery checkout line, sometimes homemade versions of candy bars are just BETTER! There is something to making it from scratch without any of the “extra” ingredients in manufactured products.

Good news, this homemade version is honestly so simple, it’s totally worth the little bit of effort for that homemade taste!

Layer of peanuts in a glass dish

marshmallows in a caramel mixture.

Creamy layer in a glass baking dish

Homemade Pay Days in a glass baking dish

cut homemade pay day bars on a white plate

Making Homemade Payday Bars

PEANUTS. Pour half your peanuts into a greased 11×7 pan and spread so they cover the bottom.

FILLING. In a small pan melt butter and chips until well combined. Add condensed milk and marshmallows and stir until all mixed. Pour over peanut mixture.

TOPPING. Top with remaining peanuts and let cool (refrigerate if desired).

cut homemade pay day bars stacked on a white plate

recipe tips

  • Microwave Melting Method: You can use a microwave safe bowl to warm the butter and peanut butter chips in 30 second intervals. Just take the bowl out every 30 seconds and stir it to make sure nothing is sticking and/or burning. After it is successfully melted mix in the sweetened condensed milk and marshmallows.
  • Peanuts: Using roasted peanuts gives the payday candy bar more crunch and a little bit more flavor.
  • Pan Size: If you only have a 9×13 pan your candy bars will just be a bit thinner and may need less time to cool and solidify.

Wrap them to share! Delivering homemade candies to others can be a little tricky. Just make sure that whatever you wrap it in doesn’t stick to the candy. Wrapping it in parchment paper and then other wrappings allow for the candy to not stick, but also look nice.

close up of homemade pay day bars stacked on a white plate

Storing info

STORE homemade paydays in an air-tight and sealed container in a cool and dry place. You can store them in the fridge, or if it is cool outside keeping them on the kitchen counter should be fine too. You can keep them for up to a week before the bars get hard and inedible.

Typically you shouldn’t FREEZE caramel based candy bars because they become rock solid and don’t defrost very well. We also recommend not freezing these homemade candy bars

Homemade Pay Days process

For more easy homemade treats, try:

Homemade PayDay Candy Bar Recipe

4.46 from 53 votes
Delicious Homemade PayDay Candy Bars are both salty and sweet, taste just like the real thing, & are SO easy to make!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Servings 16
Calories 391 kcal
Author Lil' Luna


  • 3 cups salted peanuts
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups peanut butter chips
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk


  • Pour half your peanuts into a greased 11x7 pan and spread so they cover the bottom.
  • In a small pan melt butter and chips until well combined. Add condensed milk and marshmallows and stir until all mixed.
  • Pour over peanut mixture.
  • Top with remaining peanuts and let cool (refrigerate if desired).


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About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Recipe Rating


  1. Loving this!!! I’m so intrigued by the recipe— I’ve never tried anything like it! Which means I’m probably going to have to give it a whirl… 🙂 Pinned!

      1. Ooh Marcie you’re a doll 😍 but dear lifes too short too count calories or portion sizes on a treat!! Go on and have it! Just dont over indulge that’s all. . and use your judgement on what size to cut them in ❤ hope this helped lol

  2. Wow, is that what is in a Pay Day? No wonder they are so tasty. Thanks for the recipe. It looks simple and delicious.

  3. Do you think peanut butter would work in place of the chips? Or maybe it wouldnt set up? I got everything today, but thought it had said PB, so no chips.

  4. I made these but they never seemed to set…. so it is a gooey mess to eat them. :/ did I do something wrong?!

    1. I had the same issue. I know a lot of times with candy it needs to reach a certain heat point. Mine are very soft. They are tasty but soft. I was hoping to find the answer here.

      1. 5 stars
        I had the same problem, I added about 3/4 cup of powdered sugar (about 2 Tbs. at a time) and mixed until it looked like it would set up without being dry…. hope this helps : )

    2. Same here .. think directions should hv stated how to long cook.. obviously stir until mixed is not long enough

    3. Mine didn’t either, they taste awesome. I just thought maybe they would have been a little more hardened. And I refrigerated them for 4 hours.

    4. I ended up leaving them sitting on the island all night. In the morning, they were perfect. So they must need to set out awhile uncovered.

  5. Lily, Thank you for the recipe. I’m going to make them as soon as I get all the ingredients. Thank you for the pictures; you did a great job. I don’t think I’ve made candy bars before, so they were a big help!

  6. Mine never set up and stayed gooey. Thoughts? I also was wondering if you sprayed the dish with any cooking spray or buttered it.

    1. Hmmm… did you end up refrigerating yours? And I can’t remember if I did spray them but I might have just to be safe. 😉

    2. 5 stars
      I had the same problem, I added about 3/4 cup of powdered sugar (about 2 Tbsp. at a time, you may not need that much) and mixed until it looked like it would set up without being dry…. hope this helps : )

  7. Is it really 3 teaspoons? That is 1 Tablespoon. Butter is normally measured by Tablespoons so is it supposed to be 3 Tablespoons or 1 Tablespoon?

    1. Weird. I just edited the recipe. I’m pretty sure it’s suppose to be 3 TB butter. Thanks for the heads up! ;D

  8. 4 stars
    These turned out great and are very tasty! The only reason that I took off a start is that I feel these instructions are a little incomplete.

    These bars definitely won’t set properly if you follow these exact instructions – I had to boil my mixture over medium heat for about half an hour to make sure it was going to set into a chewy candy. It should be very thick and slow to fall back together when separated in the pot.

    I also found that the peanuts on the top (despite having pushed them into the mixture) almost all fell out when I cut it into squares. Next time I would probably only put the peanuts on the bottom (or mix them in)…it doesn’t look as nice with all of these peanut holes!

    Delicious recipe though, going to be a hit at Christmas for sure!

    1. Anita, I sure wish I had read your comments before I made these again. I knew there was something missing in the instructions. I’m sad That I wasted all those ingredients.

  9. All of these Pay Day recipes seems to be a waste of time. I have compared all of the different recipes and their ingredients and have tried this 2 years in a row for Christmas baking They do not set up. They are runny and a mess. Refrigerating does not help at all.

  10. 5 stars
    We tried the homemade payday bars tonight. My son requested melted drizzled chocolate on the top. We’re waiting for them to harden but they look amazing. Did you have a scorched pan when you melted the butter, peanut butter chips, condensed milk, and marshmallows? I think next time we’ll do the double boiler method. 🙂

    1. Yes, you need to constantly be stirring, otherwise it could burn a little. Double broiler works too 🙂 Chocolate drizzle sounds yum!!

  11. 5 stars
    These were amazing! I read the comments and modified accordingly, they set perfectly. I used the small can of sweetened condensed milk, 3 cups of mini marshmallows not 2. After they melted I stirred until it felt “sticky” (about 5 more minutes). Also be sure you are using the correct size pan. 11×7. I pressed the peanuts into the top and only a few fell off when eating, same as a Pay Day bar. Maybe chopping them up first then pressing them in would work too. They were a hit with my guys today. I’ll be making them again!

      1. 4 stars
        Ok, here is what I did, and they were bang on! :
        3 loose packed cups of marshmallow instead of two, heated everything in stages until fully melted and incorporated. Once the marshmallows began melting, it was fluffy peanut butter consistency.
        Then I poured over a half crushed layer on peanuts that is on a casserole dish that is lined with parchment then sprayed with Bakers Joy.
        Now, here is where it really made a difference….
        I coated the top while still hot with half crushed mud again, really pressing them in, then let it cool for a second before I pulled the whole thing out of the dish and plopping it in a deep cookie tray. The parchment paper on the bottom, the candy bar middle, then took another parchment paper and pressed it over the top. The bars wound up about two inches thick… Full of peanuts, and set up perfect. Chewy, able to be cut into bars…. If you add less peanuts, they still retain shape.
        I tried them without the casserole dish step, but it just turned into a peanut version off a rice krispie treat. Letting them set a moment in the dish so the sugar bit could set up helped the layer effect.

    1. I’m in the same boat with 1/2 the other people
      These are easy to make but mine didn’t set either… Not even in the fridge.
      In think the problem is in the final step with the marshmallows and sweetened condensed milk.
      It needs to be stated to maybe cook a bit longer. I added the condensed milk and marshmallows mixed it in really good… However my marshmallows weren’t even melted… Maybe that is what’s going on with the others. Still taste good, I’ll just be eating it with a spoon. 🤣

  12. 5 stars
    Made your payday candy and my family loved it! Gone! My 20 something daughter will be making it to take to the shore with her friends. Thanks for sharing the recipe, it’s a keeper.

  13. Tried making your Pay Day bars, but came out soft instead of firm. They have been the refrigerator for over a day, may see what happens if I freeze them.

  14. I made this and it was good, but too sweet for a payday bar. I sliced it after some time in the fridge and rolled it and pressed more peanuts in it and it was perfect

  15. 5 stars
    I’m making these payday candy bars to take in the car on our trip from Florida to Illinois. I hope they travel well. I’m cutting them smaller and layering them in parchment paper and putting in zip lock bags. Not sure if they need to be in the cooler. I’m sure it will be the best part of our trip.

    1. That’s interesting..I am not sure why it didn’t?! Did you try sticking them in the fridge?

  16. I had the same problem that a lot of the others had, mine did not set up, I put them in the freezer for about 2 or more hours, then I took them out of the freezer and put them on the counter, I was going to cut them but when I came out about a half hours later, they had melted all over my counter, I had to scrape them off of the counter into a dish, they are very tasty, so we have just been eating them out of the dish, with a spoon, but I have to leave them in the frige

  17. 5 stars
    OMGOSH, Delicious! And so easy and fast to make!
    SOme posts read tHat theirs didn’t set-Up, so i was sure to follow directions to a t. I used real butter, and slowly added the sweetened condensed milk while constantly stirring. Took no time at all. Bars started to set-up while on the counter, but put them in fridge and about a half an hour later they were COmplete and ready to cut into pieces.
    P.s. i used a lot more peanuts than required!! 🙂
    Thanks for the recipe! I’m glad I found iT!!

    1. I am glad you found it, too!! Happy you shared that & that you liked them!! Thank you so much!!

    1. The marshmallows help it all stick together. I haven’t left them out, so not sure how they would turn out, without them.

  18. 5 stars
    First time making these, and I tasted a little bit of the mixture, omg it’s so good. If I would of known how simple this was I could just of been making these instead of buying store bought ones. For this time, they are being put in holiday baked goods gifts for friends and family. Thank you so much for posting this awesome and very simple recipe!

  19. Made these this week for the first time. Didn’t set up. Have been in the fridge over 24 hours and still not set up. Taste good but very sticky and messy.

  20. 5 stars
    OMG! I can’t believe how spot on this tastes like the actual candy bar! We have a wonderful nun that used to be at our church and she is recovering from covid 19. Payday is her favorite candy bar and I’m going to make a batch for her as soon as she’s feeling 100%! Thanks for sharing!

  21. 5 stars
    This might be one of the best things I’ve ever made. Soooooo good! Made a small batch, thanks for the serving adjuster provided. Absolutely divine!

  22. 5 stars
    I have made this recipe at least ten times for parties and get togethers. Everyone loves them. They go first.

    1. Sorry to hear they didn’t cool. Even putting in the refrigerator didn’t help them cool and set a bit more? Thanks for your feedback and for trying the recipe!

  23. 1 star
    Sounds great and all HOWEVER u might want to let people have a looksee at a sidebyside of the nutrition facts.. Because that unhealthy candy bar at the store to your wholesome good ones? Yeah no always the case… The junky store ones have no cholesterol your healthy one has how much? Oof right. And sodium.. Well under the 250+ your “healthy” one.. I could go on but id rather sit here and chuckle and enjoy my junkie store bought payday. 😊

    1. Hi Beth! Thanks for your feedback. I apologize if you got the impression that these were a “healthier version”. We don’t ever state that in our post…. just that they are homemade and really tasty and worth the work! When made homemade, you know exactly what is being put into these candy bars, even though it may not necessarily mean it’s the most healthy. 😉 We’re also fans of the store bought version. Both are tasty treats!!

    2. What a snarky remark. She never said they were healthier. You should go back and re-read what she wrote before making a comment like that. Enjoy that store bought Payday that’s been sitting on the shelf for years while the rest of us enjoy these fresh, homemade bars, WHICH I will be making this weekend, sodium and all!

    3. The flavor was delicious but they were really gooey. Didn’t hold up as a bar. Wouldn’t be able to serve them. I followed the recipe exactly and put them in the fridge.

      What happened?

  24. Sticky, gooey mess! Would not set up even after a few hours in the fridge. They just taste like crunchy peanut butter. Something’s missing.

  25. 5 stars
    We made them. They are delicious. Just trying to save them for a Christmas party. Try plastic bag, didn’t work. Would seal a meal work?

    1. So glad you enjoyed the candy bars! We usually recommend to store the homemade paydays in an air-tight and sealed container in a cool and dry place. You can store them in the fridge, or if it is cool outside keeping them on the kitchen counter should be fine too. You can keep them for up to a week before the bars get hard and inedible. So the seal a meal may work great!

  26. 5 stars
    I’ve made these for Christmas since I found this recipe 3 years ago. They’re delicious and get rave reviews. I reviewed it before and I need to do it again. First make sure you’re using the pan size as listed. Second continue to cook and stir after adding the marshmallows until the mixture thickens and feels sticky. Maybe 5 minutes. Press the top layer of nuts in and there won’t be many that fall off. They fall off of a PayDay bar too. I’ve never had an issue with the final result being set. Thank you for sharing this recipe! My family appreciates it!

    1. Thanks so much for you feedback and kind words! We’re so glad to hear you love the recipe and they have become a Christmas tradition!

  27. 5 stars
    This recipe is very simple. My first try was a huge success! It set in the refrigerator until completely cooled and cut beautifully. Thank you.

    My husband is a huge fan of the commercial “Payday” candy bar, and he loved this version!!! I keep them stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

    1. Yay!! I’m so glad they turned out well and that you and your husband love the candy bars. Thanks for sharing!

    2. 5 stars
      I just made these for the first time, they are delicious. Payday has always been my favorite. I have been disappointed in the store ones for years. These are great and I got to choose things like a good grade of peanuts and organic milk. Thank u so much for this recipe 😊

  28. 2 stars
    This recipe creates a good and very rich sweet snack. But it only vaguely tastes like a payday. I followed instructions to the T .
    It is too ‘peanut buttery’ for lack of a better term. Paydays are more caramel-like in my opinion.

  29. 1 star
    I made these exactly as directed and they didn’t set up at all. I got a 9×13 pan full of wasted ingredients… Bummer!!

  30. The flavor was delicious but they were really gooey. Didn’t hold up as a bar. Wouldn’t be able to serve them. I followed the recipe exactly and put them in the fridge.

    What happened?

  31. 1 star
    I followed the recipe exactly. Mine did not setup. What can I do to save this candy, if anything? Thank you

    1. I would suggest refrigerating them and see if that helps them set a bit. Sorry to hear it gave you trouble setting.

  32. This recipe is super easy and delicious! My only issue is the candy has not set up. It isn’t firm enough to cut and put on a plate. I read not to freeze but wondering if I should in order to share this dessert.

  33. Tried this recipe, taste great, very good, but, to eat them they were very tackie, what could one do to recipe so as not to be so messy.

  34. 1 star
    Too gooey . Very very greasy . Would never make it again. Like eating straight peanut butter. My receipt called for peanut butter not chips. No Carmel flavor to it. Very upset on how it turned out.

  35. I was reading the comments before making and wondering if, instead of using PB chips, you used butterscotch chips. One person said the bars tasted too peanut buttery.
    also, since it takes sweetened condensed milk, how about trying the caramel SCM instead? I have a very judgmental family when it comes to recipes. I need these to be perfect the first try.
    One more thing… I noticed that some people said their bars never firmed up. another person suggested that you cook the nougat for at least 5 minutes. do you think a candy thermometer would help? Maybe the mix has to go to a soft ball temp to harden? IDK because I rarely make candy. I’m dying to make these.

  36. I made this for my sons Christmas present. My question is what size can of milk did you use? I followed the recipe to a t but it didn’t firm up. So I think I used too much milk it came out as a fudge texture then a bar that your pictures show.

    1. I was looking at other recipes with same measurement of ingredients and saw where they used a 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk