Granola bars are one of the most convenient foods. They’re full of whole ingredients that are packed into a portable snack ready to go with you wherever, whenever.
Sure, there are a bunch of bars you can find at the store, but there are a ton of benefits to making your own. You can control the sweetness, come up with your own combinations of flavors, and control what ingredients you're adding into your bars. Once you master a versatile recipe like this one, the sky's the limit.
While some granola bars are meant to be crunchy, I like mine chewy and this recipe does not disappoint. For the fruits, nuts, and seeds I’m using dried cherries, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and coconut flakes, but you can use whatever combination you’d like. And, another great add on is everything in this recipe happens to be gluten-free.
Tips and Tricks for Making Chewy Granola Bars
The signature of these granola bars is their soft and chewy quality. This is in large part due to the inclusion of corn syrup. Just two tablespoons makes all the difference in creating this craveable texture. This recipe can be made without the corn syrup and will still be delicious, but the bars will be firmer crumble a bit more.
There are a few tricks to getting these bars to hold their shape.
- The wet ingredients—honey, coconut oil, almond butter, and corn syrup—are simmered together for about one minute. These ingredients are the “glue” in the recipe and heating them up ensures they coat the dry ingredients evenly.
- Lining the pan with parchment paper is a must. Not only does it make cleanup a breeze, but it allows you to easily move the whole slab of granola onto a board in one piece for cutting.
- When turning the granola out into the baking pan, press down firmly to compact the ingredients as much as possible.
- Once the granola is baked and cooled to room temperature, popping the sheet pan into the fridge for at least 30 minutes ensures that they’ll hold their shape while you cut them into bars. Don’t skip this step!
Mix-Ins for Homemade Granola Bars
This recipe uses 3/4 cup almonds, 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup dried cherries, and 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes. Use whatever combination of mix-ins you’d like as long as the total amount is around 2 1/2 cups. If any of your ingredients are on the larger side like almonds, pecans, or dried apricots give them a rough chop before adding them in.
Here are some ingredient ideas to spark your creativity:
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pecans
- Dried fruit: cherries, apricots, cranberries, raisins, apples
- Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, chia, sesame, flax
- Grains: puffed rice, quinoa (uncooked), wheat germ
- Other ingredients: coconut flakes, chocolate chips, M&Ms or other candy
Tips for Adding Mix-Ins
Pretty much anything goes with the mix-ins, but there are a couple things to keep in mind.
- Use raw nuts and seeds since they will get “toasted” during baking.
- Unsalted and unflavored so you can control the final flavor.
- If using chocolate chips, combine everything else first and wait a few minutes for the mixture to cool before adding the chips. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a bowl of melted chocolate-coated granola!
Granola Bar Swaps and Substitutions
Other elements of this recipe are also customizable to suit many dietary or preference needs.
- Swap almond butter can be swapped for any other nut butter of your choice.
- Use sunflower seed butter to make this recipe nut free.
- Either creamy or crunchy nut or seed butter will work just fine.
- Instead of coconut oil use unsalted butter.
- In place of, or in addition to, ground cinnamon try nutmeg or dried ginger.
- This recipe calls for old fashioned oats, but quick cooking will work if that’s all you have—just don’t swap in steel cut or extra thick rolled oats.
How to Store and Freeze
Store these granola bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. If you’re in a humid climate, store them in the fridge. Here is a guide on how to choose the best food storage containers for all of your kitchen needs.
To freeze the granola bars wrap the bars individually in parchment paper before placing in a zip top freezer bag. When you’re ready to enjoy one, just leave it at room temperature and it’ll be defrosted and become chewy again in about an hour.
When to Enjoy
These homemade chewy granola bars are great for a breakfast on-the-go or an anytime snack. Heading on a road trip? Perhaps a hike? Maybe just an afternoon pick-me-up for you or the kids. These bars are a great way to get quick fiber and protein in a compact bundle.
More Grab-n-Go Snack Recipes
- Crunchy Banana Nut Granola
- Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Energy Balls
- Cherry Almond Granola With Vanilla Crumbles
- Oatmeal Almond Butter Breakfast Cookies
Homemade Granola Bars
The almonds, dried cherries, pumpkin seeds, and coconut flakes can be replaced with whatever dried fruits, nuts, seeds or other mix-ins you’d like. Just be sure the mix-ins total about 2 1/2 cups.
This recipe can be made without the corn syrup, but it will result in bars that are firmer, less chewy, and a bit crumblier.
Special Equipment: 9x9 inch pan
- 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup oat flour (or 1/2 cup old fashioned oats pulsed in a food processor until finely ground)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup raw almonds, rough chopped
- 3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup dried cherries, rough chopped
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/3 cup creamy almond butter
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven and prepare baking pan:
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough overhang on 2 opposite sides to form a “sling.” You will use the overhang to lift the bars out of the pan once they have cooled.
Combine the dry ingredients:
In a large bowl, stir together the oats, oat flour, salt, and cinnamon until well combined.
Prepare the mix ins:
Add the chopped almonds, pumpkin seeds, chopped dried cherries, and unsweetened coconut flakes or 2 1/ 2 cups of mix-ins of your choice to bowl with oat mixture.
Simmer wet ingredients:
In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the almond butter, coconut oil, honey, and corn syrup using a heat proof spatula.
Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Continue to simmer for 1 minute, stirring constantly to ensure the nut butter does not burn. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
Combine and shape granola bars:
Pour the wet ingredients over the oat mixture. Use a rubber spatula to combine until everything is fully coated.
Transfer the granola mixture to the parchment-lined baking pan. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the mixture and use your hands to spread and press it evenly into the pan. Using the bottom of a cup, firmly press the mixture down until it is even, flat, and compact. Remove the top piece of parchment.
Bake granola bars:
Place the bars in the oven and bake until the edges just begin to turn golden brown, about 25 minutes.
Remove pan from the oven place on a cooling rack for about 30 minutes. Then transfer the pan uncovered to the fridge for another 30 minutes.
Cut and enjoy:
Use the parchment sling to transfer the granola to a cutting board. Using a chef’s knife, cut into 12 bars (one cut down the center and 5 cuts across).