How are you doing? I find myself oscillating between hope and frustration. I look at the news, and promptly crave a distraction. I’ve always hoped that this website serves as a helpful resource. If it provides a ray of sunshine or a healthy escape, even better.
Today, I offer you my go-to recipe for granola bars. These bars are delicious and easy to make with basic pantry ingredients. They can pass as a quick breakfast, and they make a perfect snack.
These granola bars have spared me from some hangry moments lately. They’re satisfying, just sweet enough, and stick with me for a few hours. Granola bars to the rescue!
I’ve finally found some ingredients to work with, so I’ll be back with more recipes soon. Please let me know what you’re looking for, and I’ll try to come up with something good.
Granola Bar Ingredients
Old-fashioned oats or quick-cooking oats will work here (steel-cut oats will not). Old-fashioned oats lend a more chewy, “rustic” texture. Quick-cooking oats disappear more into the bars. If desired, you can briefly blitz old-fashioned oats in the food processor to achieve the texture of quick-cooking oats.
Mix-ins of your choice
Here’s where we add more flavor! See below for options.
Nut butter helps hold these bars together, and offers protein, healthy fat and fiber. You could use peanut butter, almond butter, or even pecan butter. For a nut-free option, sunflower butter will work.
Honey or maple syrup
These natural sweeteners also help bind the bars together, and make these bars deliciously sweet (though not too sweet). Or, make date paste from fresh Medjool dates. Dates offer additional fiber, while honey or maple syrup do not. See the recipe notes for details.
Cinnamon, salt and vanilla extract
These add extra flavor to your bars. Technically, you could omit any or all of these, but the bars are more enticing with them. Salt enhances the flavor of all the other ingredients—cut it in half if you’re sensitive to salt.
Two cups of mix-ins add flavor, texture and more nutrients. Choose from any combination of the following:
- Nuts: Pecans, walnuts, almonds, or peanuts would all work well.
- Seeds: Pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds are good options. You could use up to 1/4 cup flax seeds or chia seeds—these seeds absorb moisture, which is why I suggest limiting the quantity.
- Chocolate: Mini chocolate chips are cute. If using regular chocolate chips or roughly chopped chocolate, blitz them for a few seconds in the food processor to break them into smaller pieces. Since chocolate is sweet, limit it to 3/4 cup or less.
- Coconut: Shredded or flaked coconut will work here. Unsweetened is best, since these are bars are sweet enough as is.
- Dried fruit: Dried cranberries, cherries, raisins, apricots, etc. Since these are sweet, limit them to 3/4 cup or less. Any fruit larger than a raisin will need to be broken up a bit more—either in the food processor or chopped by hand.
Granola Bar Variations
Here are some variations on this granola bar recipe that I’ve come up with over the years. I love them all!
- All Pecans: You can use use 2 cups pecans as your mix-ins, and you could even make pecan nut butter to match (here’s my recipe for pecan butter). Nut lovers, this would work with walnuts (presumably) or almonds, too.
- Almond Chocolate Chip: Use sliced almonds and mini chocolate chips, or blitz whole almonds and chocolate chips in the food processor before using.
- Almond Coconut: Use equal parts almonds and coconut flakes or shredded coconut.
- Cranberry Orange: Use a combination of dried cranberries, pecans, pepitas and fresh orange zest. Since this variation contains a lot of dried fruit, it’s the sweetest of them all.
Granola Bar Tips
These granola bars are quite simple to make, especially if you have a food processor (affiliate link).
Chop up your ingredients, if large.
These bars hold together best when the ingredients are quite small. If using almonds, you’ll want to either start with pre-sliced almonds, or chop them up in the food processor or by hand (same goes for all nuts). It’s easy to throw all of your mix-ins into the food processor and blitz a few times.
Press the mixture down as firmly as evenly as possible.
Air pockets will cause problems. Use a sturdy, flat-bottomed jar to make sure the mixture is pressed down completely. You might then press down with your hands to ensure it’s not trying to sneak up the sides or corners.
Let the mixture rest for one hour or longer before using.
The oats need some time to soak up the moisture in the nut butter and sweetener. Chill the mixture for at least one hour (or as long as a day) before slicing.
Slice and store properly.
Use a sharp chef’s knife to slice these bars. I like to slice them into squares. Another option would be to slice them into bars like this. I think the squares are a little more sturdy. Be sure not to stack the bars on top of each other, or they can stick. You can store them flat, covered, or wrap them individually in plastic wrap or parchment paper.
Please let me know how your granola bars turn out in the comments! I love hearing from you.
Easy No-Bake Granola Bars
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes (plus 1-hour chill time)
- Yield: 16 bars 1x
- Category: Snack
- Method: No-bake
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Gluten Free
This granola bar recipe is so easy and delicious! These wholesome granola bars are naturally sweetened, gluten free, and the perfect healthy snack. Recipe yields 16 bars.
- 1 ¾ cups old-fashioned oats or quick-cooking oats
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt (if using regular table salt, scale back a bit)
- 2 cups mix-ins* (nuts, seeds, chocolate, shredded coconut or dried fruit)
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter or almond butter
- ½ cup honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Line a 9-inch square baker with two strips of criss-crossed parchment paper, cut to fit neatly against the base and up the sides. The parchment paper will make it easy for you to slice the bars later.
- Place the oats in a large mixing bowl**. Add the cinnamon and salt, and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Now we’ll blitz the mix-ins briefly in the food processor or blender (or, you can chop them by hand). Add any large nuts (like almonds or pecans) first and blitz for a few seconds. Then add the rest and run the machine for a few more seconds, until the ingredients are all broken up into pieces smaller than your pinky nail. Pour the mix-ins into the bowl of oats.
- In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, measure out the nut butter. Top with ½ cup honey and the vanilla extract. Stir until well blended. If you must, you can gently warm the liquid mixture on the stovetop or in the microwave, but make sure it’s close to room temperature before you pour it into the dry mixture (this is especially important if using chocolate, since it will melt).
- Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Use a big spoon to mix them together until the two are evenly combined and no dry oats remain. This takes some arm muscles, but you can do it! If the mixture was easy to mix together, that’s a sign that you need to add some more oats—sprinkle in more oats until you can’t incorporate any more.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared square baker. Use your spoon to arrange the mixture fairly evenly in the baker, then use the bottom of a flat, round surface (like a short, sturdy drinking glass) to pack the mixture down as firmly and evenly as possible.
- Cover the baker and refrigerate for at least one hour, or preferably overnight. (The oats need time to soak up some of the moisture so they aren’t sticky.) When you’re ready to slice, lift the bars out of the baker by grabbing both pieces of parchment paper on opposite corners. Use a sharp knife to slice the bars into 4 even columns and 4 even rows.
- Wrap individual bars in plastic wrap or parchment paper (if you store them all together, they will stick to one another). Bars keep well for several days at room temperature, a couple of weeks in the fridge, or several months in a freezer-safe bag in the freezer for best flavor.
*Mix-in options: Any combination of nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.), seeds (pepitas or sunflower seeds), chocolate chips or roughly chopped chocolate, shredded coconut and/or dried cranberries or cherries. For the bars shown here, I used 1 cup pecan halves, ½ cup pepitas, ¼ cup shredded coconut and ¼ cup roughly chopped dark chocolate. Keep in mind that anything larger than your pinky nail will need to be broken into smaller pieces. If you don’t have a food processor, chop them by hand.
**Granola bar texture: If you’re using old-fashioned oats and would prefer a more smooth, less chewy texture (shown in my photos), blitz your oats in a food processor for 3 to 5 seconds to break them up. Then, add them to the bowl.
Change it up: These bars can be sweetened (mostly) with Medjool dates, if you’d like to increase the fiber content. Soak 12 dates in piping hot water for 10 minutes, then tear them in half and remove their pits. Place them in a food processor with 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey and blend until completely smooth.
Make it gluten free: Be sure to use certified gluten-free oats.
Make it nut free: Do not use nuts (pepitas and sunflower seeds are good options) and replace the nut butter with sunflower butter.
Make it vegan: Use maple syrup instead of honey.