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chewy granola bars

September 8, 2011

Let’s take a little departure here from super-seasonal foods to talk about granola bars. Considering the fact that they’re the perfect back-to-school lunchbox treat (or heck, mid-afternoon coffee-break-at-work treat), it’s a great time to try making a homemade batch.

I’ve been searching for years for a good homemade granola bar recipe. When I was in college, I went through a period where I was hooked on Nature Valley Oat & Honey bars, but I started to get frustrated with how easily they’d crumble into a mess of oats with the slightest bump in your backpack. My tastes have changed with age, too — I can’t stomach the intense sweetness of the commercial chewy brands anymore. Many of the recipes I’d tried didn’t hold together well, or seemed better suited to crumbling into yogurt as granola…

(you know where this is going)

…UNTIL I found this recipe! Of course I should have known, considering the origins, that it would be a keeper. The beauty of this granola bar recipe is its adaptability: use whatever nuts, seeds, and/or dried fruit you have on hand (I usually do a combination of walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, and currants). Toss in some chocolate chips if you’re in the mood (I usually am). Use nut butter, or not (though I have yet to try it without the peanut butter).

I’ve decreased the sugar even a little further, and they’re still really terrific. The oat flour binds everything together to give just enough cohesiveness and chew…they’re sturdy bars, dense, and chock full of good-for-you ingredients. Miss A adores them. They’ve been my go-to edible gift for new moms, since they’re packed with nutrients, protein, and come in a super-portable package.

And, they were the perfect treat to make for our annual camping trip to the Adirondacks in August — except that we ate them all before we even left the house. Oops! Next time, I need to freeze a batch ahead of time.

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Chewy Granola Bars

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted from King Arthur Flour

One tip: you really do need to let these cool fully before attempting to slice them. If I bake them during the day, I let them cool until just warm, then pop them in the fridge to chill down before slicing. Even better, sometimes I make them in the evening and let them cool on the counter overnight — they’re ready to cut in the morning. They store well in the fridge for up to a week, or can be wrapped and frozen.

Ingredients

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/3 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (I use 1/3; use more if you like things sweeter)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (optional, though I’ve never tried it without)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup (I like maple syrup)
2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola
1 tablespoon water

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″x8″ pan with parchment paper (I don’t even bother to grease it). Set aside.

Stir together all dry ingredients (oats through fruit & nuts). Separately, in a microwave-safe bowl, combine the melted butter, honey or maple syrup, oil and water. Add the nut butter if using, and microwave for about 1 minute at 30% power to soften (this makes it easier to mix into the liquid ingredients.) Whisk together to combine, then stir in the vanilla.

Pour liquid mixture over dry ingredients and stir to thoroughly combine. Transfer the mixture to the baking pan, using the back of a spoon (or your hands) to firmly press the mixture into the pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Let cool completely in the pan.

Use the parchment paper as handles to lift the baked mixture out of the pan, then slice into bars with a sharp knife.  (If the mixture seems to crumbly, try chilling in the fridge for 20 minutes or so.)

I store the bars stacked in an airtight container, preferably in the fridge. They also freeze well.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2011 7:40 pm

    I just made the very same granola bars, for the very same reason. I included dried cherries and walnuts in mine.

    • November 18, 2011 5:08 pm

      I made the granola recipe…I seriouly think it is the best one ever. I used dried cranberries, raisins, and a few chocolate chips. Oh,I threw in a few slivered almonds also. I ate these as the bars, but also crumbled some on top of vanilla yogart for breakfast, and it was fabulous. Cheers to a GREAT granola recipe. Katherine Strong

  2. September 9, 2011 10:28 am

    I love making homemade granola bars though admittedly, I don’t make them nearly often enough. I made a more indulgent version from King Arthur Flour for S’mores Granola bars earlier in the year and they were fantastic.

  3. September 9, 2011 7:04 pm

    Wow. These sound excellent and I love that they have oat flour instead of wheat. Score!

  4. September 9, 2011 10:47 pm

    hi~ love ur blog! what type of fruits and nuts did u use? could I just use a fruits and nuts medley from costco?

    • September 10, 2011 11:23 am

      Hi – I usually use a mix of whatever I have in the pantry (dried cherries, currants, raisins, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.) — go for whatever mix you have on hand!

  5. AGS permalink
    September 13, 2011 2:39 pm

    Hi! I am in Ithaca, too! My 2 year old loves granola bars, but the sugar content makes me cringe. These sound perfect. Do you think the consistency would change drastically if I used honey or agave instead of granulated sugar?

    • September 14, 2011 9:35 am

      Hi there! I think I’d probably try increasing the honey/maple syrup that’s in the liquid ingredients slightly, and cutting out the granulated sugar all together. I’d love to know how that works (if you’d be willing to report back!) Yes, my almost-two-year old loves these — I hope yours will too!

  6. September 14, 2011 2:08 pm

    ive conquered granola, not yet bars–i seriously need to though, because i can’t keep shelling out the cold hard cash for lara bars! eep!

  7. September 14, 2011 7:20 pm

    I didn’t even notice the seeds and such in the first picture. Usually when granola bars have too many seeds, raisins, etc, they start looking dry and crumbly, but these look like they held together really well. Delicious.

  8. September 28, 2011 9:43 pm

    One day, at culinary school, while I busy making rack of lamb, two pastry students pulled a baking sheet of granola out of the oven behind me. The smell was heavenly, but I was too busy to ask for the recipe. Now I have one. Yay!

  9. October 7, 2011 6:13 pm

    nice ! i love it🙂 bonjour de paris

  10. ger permalink
    October 10, 2011 5:10 pm

    Hi, this recipe’s great! I used Bob’s Red Mill whole rolled oats, and flour, organic bulk cranberries and jumbo raisins, and walnuts, and Smart Balance peanut butter..and the parchment paper is also fantastic – no sticking at all. Thanks ger

  11. Mamag permalink
    October 17, 2011 10:50 am

    Have you ever tried putting chocolate chips in them? Just wondering if they’d melt. I know its not the healthiest addition, but my kids love granola bars with chocolate chips.

  12. October 20, 2011 3:06 pm

    I made these with my two year old. We took your advice and added raisins, craisins, dried cherries, flax seeds and an assortment of nuts. I also decided to indulge and add some mini chocolate chips….well in the spirit of helping my little one decided to dump the WHOLE bag of mini chocolate chips while my back was turned. Haha! They turned out great(I did manage to take out a good deal of the chips before she stirred them all in)!!

    Thanks for the recipes. I’ve tried a couple and they have been great. Next on my list: the Squash/Vegetable/Peanut stew. Can’t wait!!!🙂

  13. December 8, 2011 4:36 pm

    Here I was smiling from ear to ear because I’d made the granola bars and then it hit me. I never added the peanut butter (GAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Then I saw the optional on the side and sighed with relief, tasted it and it still tasted good. I’m so bummed that I forgot to put the peanut butter in though because I made it for a friend who just had a baby and she loves peanut butter.😦 Although it does taste fan-freaking fantastic and I’m definitely making up another batch with the peanut butter tomorrow –😉

    • December 9, 2011 11:21 am

      @caroline, I also made them w/o the pb one day just to try it – and yes, happily, they’re just as good without! Glad you liked them.🙂

  14. Jodi Asadourian permalink
    December 21, 2011 8:30 pm

    I can’t wait to try making these over the holiday break. I’ve been looking for a homemade granola bar recipe for a while. Thanks!

  15. Joanna permalink
    January 20, 2014 1:07 pm

    Made 2 batches — one with peanut butter, chopped pecans, chopped almonds and broken up dried banana chips, and then for my non-nut-loving hubby I made a batch with chopped dried apricots, craisins, broken dried banana chips and white chocolate chips (no nut butters). Both are INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS! Thank you for the recipe. My family loves them!

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