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Homemade Granola Bars Are Healthier, Cheaper + Easy to Customize: 2 No-Bake Recipes

Ditch the store-bought and prep these in 20 minutes or less

Granola bars have become ever-present in our busy lives: We take them on the go, drop them in lunchboxes and crumble them over yogurt. But those store-bought bars often get a bit pricey and have a few ingredients that may leave you feeling less than energized. Wouldn’t it be nice to create your own granola bars, packed with good-for-you ingredients and ready in minutes? Well, turns out you can — we have two no-bake recipes that prep in under 30 minutes. We’ll also talk how to build your bars the way you like, storing tips and even how to make them fit all dietary needs. Here’s how to make homemade granola bars like a pro.

Why homemade granola bars are better

You might already know that many granola bars lining the supermarket shelves are pretty pricey as well as sugar laden. “Store-bought granola bars are not only loaded with sugar, they contain all kinds of additives and preservatives that wreak havoc on our health,” explains Whitney Cardosi, nutrition coach and founder of Wellness with Whit.

Homemade granola bars, however, offer some key advantages. “Granola bars and protein bars make excellent homemade snacks. Not only do they taste better, they are so much more nutritious!” says Cardosi. How? Well, you control the ingredients, ensuring a healthy and delicious bite. You can also customize them to suite your preferences and dietary needs using wholesome ingredients. Additionally, making your own granola bars doesn’t take much effort, time or money, making them a perfect make-ahead snack for busy days.

The health benefits

In their simplest form, granola bars can be a powerhouse of health benefits. Oats, the base ingredient, provide a fantastic source of fiber, keeping you fuller for longer. Add-ins like nuts and seeds also offer healthy fats, protein and essential vitamins and minerals. Dried fruits and dark chocolate additionally provide natural sweetness, compared to refined sugars.

Just got a new can of oats? Try our other recipe for Viral Baked Oats.

Building your homemade granola bars

ingredients in bowls used for making homemade granola bars
carlosgaw/Getty

We had a lot of fun building our own granola bars and you will too with this helpful guide. Below you’ll find all the essential components of healthy granola bars and how to customize each one. “And be sure to add a healthy pinch of salt to balance out the sweetness!” emphasizes Cardosi.

1. Start with oats

Oats make up the foundation of most granola bars. “Make sure you’re using organic, non-GMO oats so you avoid common farming chemicals like glyphosate,” advises Cardosi. “And make sure they’re whole oats so you can achieve the perfect level of chewiness.” You can choose from rolled oats, quick oats or even steel-cut oats for a chewier texture (learn more about eating uncooked oats).

2. Stir in a binder

This ingredient holds everything together. Honey, maple syrup, runny nut butters or melted coconut oil remain popular choices. They offer flavor, natural sweetness and help the bar hold its shape. If using nut butters, Cardosi recommends those “without added oils and sugars.”

3. Choose nutritious add-ins

This is where the magic happens! Nuts like almonds, walnuts and pecans add protein and healthy fats. Seeds like chia seeds and flaxseeds also come with omega-3s and fiber. Dried fruits like cranberries, raisins or chopped dates add natural sweetness. And don’t forget shredded coconut, chocolate chips or vanilla extract for flavor.

4. Bake vs. no-bake

You have options! Baking your granola bars creates a firmer texture; however, the no-bake method offers a quick and easy solution (my personal favorite). But both methods work well, so experiment.

Tips for making homemade granola bars

Making homemade granola bars on the first try might seem difficult, but don’t worry. We gathered tested tips to ensure yours turn out great. First, we recommend toasting your oats beforehand. This adds a deeper, nuttier flavor to your granola bars. We spread ours on a baking sheet and baked at 350°F for 5-7 minutes, stirring them around halfway through.

Once you combine your ingredients, avoid over mixing so your bars remain firm and don’t crumble on you. And finally, press your mixture firmly into the baking pan. This ensures the bars hold their shape after cutting. I used a spoon, but you can also use a flat-bottomed measuring cup to get it even.

And before any snacking, Cardosi reminds to “chill your bars for AT LEAST an hour before pulling out to cut.”

2 no-bake homemade granola bars recipes

Classic Chocolate Chip

homemade granola bars with chocolate chips and drizzle against black background with nuts
Anthony McGovern/Getty

Nothing beats traditional flavors like this recipe from Love and Lemons. They’re easy to prep in 5 minutes and naturally gluten-free! Mini chocolate chips allow for a more cohesive mixture, but if you don’t have them, chopped chocolate also works.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup very creamy natural peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • ⅔ cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Heaping ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 2½ cups whole rolled oats
  • ⅓ cup mini chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbs. pepitas, crushed peanuts or cashews

Directions:

  • Active Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings
  1. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper. Then, in a large bowl, stir together the peanut butter, honey, vanilla and salt until smooth.
  2. After, add the oats, chocolate chips and the pepitas (or nuts). The mixture might seem dry at first, but keep stirring and it’ll come together. Stir to combine, then press firmly into the pan. Use a second piece of parchment paper and the back of a measuring cup to help flatten the mixture. Chill for at least 1 hour, then slice into bars.

Fruit and Nuts

homemade granola bars with dried cranberries and raisins on white background
Evrymmnt/Getty

For a more adventurous flavor, try this recipe from Well Plated. It includes flaxseed, cinnamon, nuts and dried cranberries. Prep it in 20 minutes with quick oats for a tender bite.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup creamy peanut butter or almond butter
  • ½ cup honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups quick oats
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  • ¼ cup wheat germ or additional 2 Tbs. oats
  • ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1¼ cups mix-ins of choice (dried cranberries or raisins, chopped toasted nuts etc.)

Directions:

  • Active Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12 bars
  1. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper so that two sides overhang.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the peanut butter and honey, until smooth. Then, remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla. Let cool for several minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the oats, flaxseed, wheat germ, cinnamon and salt. Roughly chop any mix-ins that are larger than a chickpea, then stir in.
  4. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Once combined, the mixture should feel somewhat sticky, but not liquidy and should easily hold together when pressed. If it seems too sticky (this can vary based on your nut butter), add more oats. If it’s dry, drizzle in a bit more honey.
  5. Press the mixture into the pan very firmly so that the bars stick together. Then, refrigerate for 1 hour so they set. Using the paper “handles,” lift the bars out of the pan onto a cutting board. Finally, slice into bars of desired size.

Storing your homemade granola bars

“Cut your bars into squares or rectangles and store in an airtight container with parchment paper between each layer to avoid sticking. Your bars will hold up in the fridge for about 5-7 days or about 2 months in the freezer,” says Cardosi.

For longer storage, you can also freeze them in a sealed container for up to 3 months. To thaw, transfer them to the refrigerator overnight.

Dietary changes

One of the best parts about homemade granola bars is they cater to all dietary needs. For gluten-free bars, use certified gluten-free oats and also gluten-free add-ins like quinoa puffs or chopped nuts. Or if you’re dairy-free, use a dairy-free binder like melted coconut oil or maple syrup. And for you vegans, use maple syrup or also agave nectar as a binder. Plant-based protein sources like nut butter or pumpkin seeds also make great substitutions.


For more healthy snacks, try some of these recipes below:

Homemade Protein Bars Are Healthier, Cheaper + So Easy to Prep in 5 Minutes

Homemade Nut Butter Recipes for Protein-Packed Treats Ready in 10 Minutes

These Egg White Frittata Bites Are a Tasty Protein-Packed Treat + Bake in 15 Minutes!

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