Homemade Lärabars: Apricot Almond Bars

Homemade Larabars: Apricot Almond Bars

Last week, I snuck off to Atlanta for a magazine conference. And for once, I thought to bring back-up snacks for my travels. They provided sustenance in the mornings, when breakfast ten floors down seemed so far away, and kept me calm when our flight home took a sudden detour from Chicago to Indianapolis during dinnertime.

Eating well, and often, is so ingrained in my daily life that I forget how crucial it is until I leave my kitchen behind for a few days. I rarely mention it here, but I’m hypoglycemic. Skipped meals, simple carbs and junk food turn me into a shaky, miserable, mumbling mess… and if you ask my mother, a monster. I’m at my worst when I’m hungry, and my most cheerful best when I’m well-fed. That’s why this food blog’s motto came to be “celebrating whole foods”.

dates and almonds

I tried my first Larabar earlier this year, so I won’t assume that you have experienced one yet. Larabars are “energy” bars made with real ingredients like dates, nuts and other dried fruit or add-ins like chocolate. Their ingredients list is remarkably short, and they are surprisingly delicious for packaged food. Somehow their sum is greater than their parts.

Being a curious person (see also: cheap), it didn’t take me long to try making them myself. I’m glad I did, because these little square snacks made all the difference for my mood during the trip.

dates, almonds and apricots

I can’t claim to be an expert on Larabar flavors, but I have sampled several of my man’s favorite flavors, like cherry pie and apple pie. He’s the one who got me into Larabars and Trader Joe’s tart dried apricots in the first place. I’ve also tried a few of Larabars’ cleverly named date and nut combinations—cashew cookie and pecan pie—but those aren’t my favorites. The best ones, in my opinion, include some sour fruit and/or citrus zest to counteract the dates’ drab honey flavor.

For this batch, I used dried apricots to brighten up the fruit mixture, which are more affordable per ounce than, say, dried cherries. I chose almonds for the nut portion; their nutty sweetness provided complementary flavors along with protein and substance. Lastly, I added a pinch of sea salt because sea salt makes everything better (from savory dishes to oatmeal, smoothies and chocolate desserts, try it). My version isn’t offered by Larabar, so you’ll have to make your own if you want to try it. Plus, I think mine are less expensive even with organic ingredients.

Homemade Larabar recipe

Final verdict? The apricot-almond version got a thumbs up from my Larabar expert. They gained skeptical approval from my mom, who asked for another when we were sitting on the Indianapolis runway. I shared one with our editor, who has already emailed me for the recipe; another editor asked me if I sell these things. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have. I’m done with the store-bought kind!

How to make homemade Larabars

4.6 from 7 reviews
Homemade Larabars: Apricot Almond Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
 
Homemade Larabars made simply with dried apricots, almonds and dates. These are easy to make and cost less than store-bought Larabars.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup almonds (or other nuts, raw or roasted but definitely unsalted)
  • 1 generous cup Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup dried apricots (or other dried fruit like cherries, cranberries or dehydrated apples)
  • pinch sea salt
  • (optional add-ins: small amounts of lemon zest, lime zest, nut butter or cocoa powder)
Instructions
  1. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper or wax paper. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until they are chopped (stop before they start turning into nut butter). Pour them into a bowl.
  2. Process the pitted dates, dried apricots and sea salt until the dried fruits are mashed into a paste. They may try to ball up in the processor, in which case you'll want to stop and break up the mixture with a spoon before continuing.
  3. Break up the fruit mixture and add the nuts to the food processor. Process until the chopped nuts are incorporated evenly into the fruit mixture. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish, and use your hands to press it into an even layer.
  4. Chill the baking dish in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, then use a sharp knife to cut the fruit-and-nut blend into squares or bars (I cut mine into 16 squares). Wrap each bar tightly for individual servings (see notes). These bars should last for a couple weeks at room temperature, but store them in the refrigerator or freezer for prolonged shelf life.
Notes
  • Recipe created with guidance from The Kitchn and Damy Health.
  • For more flavor ideas, check out Larabars' official flavors.
  • My parchment paper wrappers didn't stick together well, but looked really cute when wrapped with brightly colored washi tape. Plastic wrap or plastic bags would be easier.
  • If you want to change up the shape, try rolling the fruit-and-nut mixture into balls.
  • Sorry, I don't know how to make these without a food processor. This affordable Cuisinart food processor is a worthy investment.

Comments

  1. says

    Totally agree about the zest. I’m not the biggest fan of most of the LB flavors but the Lemon is my favorite and they are always better homemade. :) Love the mix of apricots and dates with this recipe.

  2. says

    Those parchment paper wraps are REALLY cute… and so is the square shape vs. the traditional rectangle or ball. So simple, but very unique!

  3. says

    i’m hypoglycemic, too. i have designated eating times and if i don’t eat by those times, i become a complete lunatic and find myself saying, “i’m sorry for the way i acted when i was hungry..” but everyone seems to understand, which is good.

    i have been a huge larabar fan for years. it’s funny that you don’t like the pecan pie flavor, because that happens to be my favorite. but, my other favorites are blueberry pie, apple pie, peanut butter cookie, and carrot cake.

    i love your version because it’s not already a larabar flavor and therefore can’t be lazy and must make these! they look delicious ;)

    • says

      It’s so nice to hear from someone who understands! I start panicking when I feel hungry. It’s become less of a problem over the years, I think because I have developed better eating habits. Please give these a try when you get a chance! I’ll have to try the blueberry flavor.

  4. says

    I haven’t tried Larabars yet, but this homemade version looks so good! I’d probably just end up eating the raw almonds as snacks due to laziness though haha.

  5. says

    I’m a huge lover of larabars!! I bet it would be fun to experiment with different concoctions!

    I’m not pretty when I don’t have snacks, it hits me hard. Nuts, apples or trail mix save me everytime!

  6. says

    Hello! Stacy from LÄRABAR here…what a great post and what beautiful, delicious bars you made! I wanted to reach out to say Ä-mazing job! Our brand has always been dedicated to simplicity, so we love it when creative folks like yourself appreciate how simple our bars truly are.
    As a token of our admiration, we’d love to send you a little gift. If you are game, please email me your mailing address and phone number (FedEx requires both for delivery), and we will send some goodies your way.
    Thanks and nice job!
    Stacy

  7. FL says

    Let me preface this with the fact that I love you. However, I am puzzled. I don’t really get why you’d make something that already only has five ingredients and is easier to just buy. Maybe I’m just lazy? Is this a cost thing?

    • says

      Hey Fiona, it’s always nice to know that you’re out there reading my posts. :) I guess there are several reasons for making something so simple at home. For one, I figured some readers would already be into Larabars and would like to know how to make them at home. I like easy DIY kitchen projects myself. For another, I pretty much refuse to buy processed food and energy bars, and these are so easy to make in bulk. And they are definitely cheaper—I can’t justify buying little bars of mashed up fruit and nuts for $2 each. I could’ve made energy bars with more ingredients, but these are so good, why bother adding more ingredients?!

  8. says

    These look delicious Kate! Based on your description of what it’s like to be hypoglycemic, I think I might be as well. I get shaky and headachey when I eat anything with refined sugar in it, and being hungry turns me into a monster! (Better not get the two of us together in one room without food, hey?) ;) I haven’t eaten a ton of Larabars simply because I usually tend to prefer my snacks with larger volume, but like you, I think the tart fruit and nut flavours are the best of the bunch!

    • says

      Hey Angela, you might be! I think hypoglycemia is on a spectrum like anything else, so it could be that we’re both borderline or have sensitive blood sugar levels. The good thing is that we have both figured out how to eat to avoid trouble! I like these homemade Larabars because they’re portable and somehow more enjoyable than snacking on a bag of dried fruit and nuts.

    • says

      Hey Marcie, the funny thing is that I’m not into dates, either. In this recipe, though, they really just lend a honey-like sweetness and help the mixture stick together, so you might like the bars as is. Figs might work, but they will be seedy! Please let me know if you try them either way.

  9. Tammi Jones says

    I have made these bars in 2 different flavor combinations. Apricot almond, and pecan raisin. My family loved them both. I want to try cranberry pistachio. I also love the fact that they are healthy for you.

    • says

      Thanks for commenting, Tammi! That was quite a quick turnaround. :) Really glad you and your family are enjoying the bars. Your varieties sound great, and I bet cranberry pistachio would be wonderful.

  10. says

    I love this recipe and have made something similar with dried cherries and dates. I think I’ll try this with apricots next and they do make a wonderful snack. Thanks for sharing !

  11. Barbara Thukral says

    I too m hypoglycemic, so I so get what you are saying. I get just short of a monster before I take pity on my family (read:3 young kids + husband = no time for crabby mom), and then I just shut down. I have started to carry dried fruit and nuts, Larabars, or Kind Bars with me at all times. I’ll have to try these, they sound great! I bet a little cherry with the almond would be great as well. Hmmm, now you have me thinking of all kind of combos I will have to try.
    Ever had a Kind Bar? Same concept, whole foods, no additives. Perhaps you could mock up a recipe for those. :)

    • says

      I’m glad you can related, Barbara. I cannot imagine being hungry with three kids in tow! I hope you enjoy these homemade Larabars. I just tried a Kind Bar yesterday after you mentioned it. If I can figure out how to make them at home, I’ll let you know. :)

  12. says

    I am a huge advocate for larabars. When I travel or spend a long day out of the house, I make sure to have one available in my bag. Thanks for posting this recipe!

  13. says

    I’ve been trying to wean myself off store-bought energy bars. It’s rather serendipitous that I stumbled across this recipe of yours. I’m going to try it and thanks for sharing it.

  14. Rachel says

    Mmm, I’ve been on a homemade Larabar kick for a while now, and I can’t get enough! My favorite combinations so far have been Sour Cherry and Almond and Chocolate Coconut (tastes like what I want an Almond Joy to taste like!). My husband and I have been going crazy in the dried fruit section of Trader Joe’s the past few weeks thinking of good combinations– we have not tried Apricot yet, this is next on the list!!

    • says

      Oh boy, I’ll have to try chocolate coconut soon. Please let me know what you think of the apricot version! I can’t get enough of those dried apricots from Trader Joe’s.

  15. says

    I make a very similar energy ball/raw dessert using dates, hazelnuts and coconut, which is great if you want something sweeter or a replacement for a dessert: http://02acres.com/raw-brownie-truffles/ But I will definitely try these too.

    …and then it put a huge smile on my face when you said: ‘salt makes everything better’. It is literally my motto, and I completed the sentence in my head, before I had even read it :P High five for a pinch of seasalt.

    • says

      Alan, thank you for asking. Inspired Celebrations sounds like a wonderful event, but I really don’t have anything to sell and I get nervous in front of crowds. I hope to make it to the event, though.

  16. Heidi says

    What would you think of using wasabi flavored almonds with the apricots. I’m addicted to them and it would complement the fruit? That savory sweet taste .

    • says

      I never would have through to combine the two! I’m not sure how they would taste together, but you could try eating a dried apricot with a couple wasabi almonds to test it out before you mix them together in the food processor. If you do like the flavors together, you might still want to use regular almonds as well, so the wasabi flavor doesn’t overwhelm the mixture. Let me know if you try it!

  17. says

    These sound wonderful. I, too, am always trying to make homemade versions of store-bought bars. I just purchased kumquats today for the very first time and might try to add them into your recipe….maybe some dark chocolate too!

  18. says

    I am hypoglycemic as well and I know the importance of a really good granola bar. Too sweet and you might as well eat a Snickers, but it’s nice to have something enjoyable and portable. Thanks for posting this!

    Come visit me at Gingerlockskitchen.com!

  19. says

    Thank you so much for this recipe and inspiration! My son loves to pack bars in his lunch, and this seems like a great way for us to both customize and economize! I am really eager to add this to our repertoire.

  20. says

    I just made a similar recipe but mine were coconut almond! And I totally get you about getting hangry (hungry angry) sometimes. I literally have to take a snack wherever I go these days :)

  21. says

    I love recipes like this. Buying protein bars and snack bars can get super expensive. I love trying out new recipes at home for my hubby and I. I can’t wait to try this recipe – looks awesome!

  22. says

    Although I have not yet had the chance to try Laerabars (they are difficult to impossible to find in Europe), a company called NAKD does very similar sounding raw bars made from only nuts and dried fruit (typically a base of dates and cashews). Like Laerabars, they are pretty pricey and mainly stocked in health-food stores (though I did spot them at Heathrow Airport the other day). Before long I started to make my own – so easy to make, much cheaper and endless flavour combinations!

    The NAKD bars in fact include percentage figures for their ingredients so you can actually replicate them to a T. But I have also started developing my own combos – coconut and dark chocolate for a healthier take on a mounds bar; blueberries, vanilla bean and oats for a ‘blueberry muffin’ bar or indeed dark chocolate and orange. I have yet to try a combination with apricot but bet that they would work well too – they certainly look very delicious!

  23. says

    I love making bars at home and have so many versions of DIY granola bars; some totally raw/vegan with just dates, nuts, seeds and other vegan but with a sauce to bind things but regardless, these look amazing and I looooooove apricots. Huge win for me with these!

  24. sam says

    I would love to make these, but what kind of processor are you using? If I imagine to confront mine with dates and dried apricots I already see it smoking.
    Do you use a special processor? Thanks for your answer.

    • says

      Hey Sam, good question. I used a hand-me-down KitchenAid food processor (7 cup) that is nothing fancy, but it does work well. Hope it works in your food processor, too.

  25. Gayla says

    I made these last night and pulled them out of the freezer this morning … they were really crumbly and difficult to cut into bars, mostly on the outside of the square … it’s probably because I had too large a pan and had to just form them to half of it, not sure. However, this morning I just took a “square” of it, rolled it in a packed ball shape to keep it together, wrapped it up, and had it for a snack today … it was pretty good.

    • says

      Gayla, it sounds like your bars were too spread out in the pan and/or not squished down enough. I’m glad you’re enjoying them in ball form, though.

  26. Cora says

    I was recently diagnosed as hypoglycemic and totally understand turning into a monster. Kind of scared me that I could be like that until I found out there was a reason. Since then I have kept Larabars around my house and I love them! My local grocery store unfortunately doesn’t carry very many flavors and very expensive! I was so excited to try this out but was sad when I it might be more expensive for me to make them:( not sure if it’s because my grocery store is more expensive than most but to make this recipe it cost me around $14 whereas a box of larabars is around $5. I would love to try other ingredients out, perhaps something a little less expensive? If you figure any other recipes out I would love to hear about them :) thanks for posting this!

    • says

      Hey Cora, I’m glad you can relate. I’m sorry the bar ingredients were expensive. I chose to use almonds and dried apricots because they are generally less expensive than some of the alternatives, but I’m sure my almonds and apricots from Trader Joe’s were less expensive than yours. I wish I knew what to suggest! Sounds like Larabars are cheap where you live, at least.

  27. KimS says

    These were very very tasty. Mine were also a bit crumbly. I tried to squish them down…they looked like the right thickness,etc. I’m not sure what might make them a little more sticky. It’s hard to know what a cup of dates are–like do you pack them down or chop them up and pack them down…. I did something kind of like your picture, but maybe a few more dates would have added a little more stickiness. Or maybe getting the almonds just a tinsy bit closer to a paste.

    • says

      Hey Kim, I’m glad you enjoyed the flavor of the bars. I’m sorry yours were on the crumbly side. Perhaps my dates were a little gooey-er than yours? I changed the recipe to call for a “generous” cup of pitted dates. Hope that helps.

  28. says

    Hi Kate, I was looking for new homemade recipes. I’m a huge fan of homemade things! After reading this recipe, I think I found the right thing I was looking for. This Laerabars looks so yummmy… Also your pictures describe things perfectly. Thanks for sharing this with foodies!

  29. tracy says

    My husband is not a Larabar fun. I like them occasionally. I followed your recipe and used dried cherries instead of the apricots which he hates:(). Used almonds and pistachios half and half and those bars DISAPPEARED!

  30. Olga St. Pierre says

    Hi Kate,

    I am definitely going to try this recipe and play with dry fruits. My question is this. My youngest daughter is allergic to all nuts. Do you have any suggestions on how to make these bars as delicious and substitute the nuts for something else? Thank you very much in advance. Olga.

    • says

      Hi Olga, that’s a great question. The only substitute that comes to mind is perhaps seeds like sunflower seeds? I hope that works for you.

  31. Kim says

    Hi Kate,

    I finally got around to making these for some friends with a new baby….but, after tasting, I had to make a second batch so we could keep the first one at home to eat :) Thanks for another tasty recipe – we live in Lawrence, and I love knowing that one of my all time favorite bloggers is so close (hope that’s not weird)!

    • says

      Thanks, Kim! So glad you’re enjoying my recipes. These Larabars would be such a great gift for new parents—I’ll have to remember to give some to my friend who is expecting. That’s awesome that you live in Lawrence. Somehow I haven’t made the trip since I moved here! I’ll have to find an excuse to visit soon.

  32. Deidre says

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! It was a lifesaver on our recent vacation. My daughter is gluten-free and my son has taste/texture issues due to Aspergers, which can make finding places to eat a bit difficult when not home. My husband and children adore these bars and that makes it the perfect,”Let’s wait a bit before we eat” snack. Our favorites are the apricot-date version and when we add dried sour cherries. I will continue watching your blog for more brilliant ideas. ^_^

    • says

      Thank you, Deidre. I’m really glad you and your family enjoy the bars! I’ll try to come up with more gluten-free snacks soon.

  33. Danielle says

    Just made these…OH MY! So good! I am excited that I can save money on Larabars by making my own! Can’t wait to try other combinations/flavors :D

  34. says

    Hi Kate, I do still buy Larabars even though I also make energy bars myself. I don’t always keep stocked up on the homemade kind, and I know the packaged bars will last for a long time, while I’m not sure how long my homemade bars will last. I like to keep one or two Larabars in my purse or the console of my car for when I need something right away after I skate. I just made some apricot energy bars and they were really good although quite tart. I did end up adding a couple of tablespoons of honey. Your idea of combining the apricots and dates is a good one for getting bars that are flavorful yet not too tart.

    • says

      Thanks, Mary. I love tart apricots but I can see how they might be a little too tart without dates. The dates also seem to help the bars stick together.

  35. Lauren says

    Perfect post swimming workout snack! In the batch I did (and because I was lacking in apricots) I used a cup of medjool dates, half a cup apricots and half a cup dried cherries and found it was really delicious! Trouble is, I gotta hide ‘em from my teammate now!!

  36. says

    I’ve always loved tucking a few raw almonds into a dried apricot for a quick snack. I’m excited to try your recipe. Love your parchment paper and washi tape idea. So cute!

  37. says

    Hi, I just made this on the weekend, and they are delicious!! I used organic Turkish apricots and California dates, and (I think) local almonds from the farmers market, though I’m really not sure if they can grow almonds so far in the north. (Northern B.C. Canada) Anyway, these bars rock! Only problem, the dried fruit broke my mom’s food processor! I don’t know how the heck that happened.

  38. Billie says

    So good! I make tons at once and freeze them. They work so well for snacks on the go and for my kids’ lunches. thanks!

  39. Maria clara says

    I want to try this recipe… But what do you think if i use prunes instead of dates ? Would it be the same amount?
    I am enjoying your blog very much, love the picture/ process!!!
    Thank you!!!
    Mclara

  40. Caitlin says

    Would you be able to use fresh fruit instead of dried? And are dried pitted dates the same as just normal dates? Or would I have to soak them?

    • says

      Hey Caitlin, fresh fruit won’t work. The bars won’t stick together and they’ll get moldy. Dried pitted dates are regular dates, but be sure to remove the pits before adding them to the food processor.

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