Not only is it easy to make homemade granola bars, but they're also a fun, kid-favorite treat.
Add your favorite mix-ins to this granola bar recipe like chocolate chips, almonds, and cranberries.
Or try sunflower seeds, pecans, shredded coconut, and cashews. Up to you!
You can also make substitutions so it's nut-free, sugar-free, vegan, gluten free, and a healthy snack.
How to make homemade granola bars
This is the basic granola bar recipe. Once you got it down, add different mix-ins, and customize it to your tastes and snacking needs.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line a 9x9-inch baking dish with parchment paper. Leave a few inches of the paper hanging over the edges so you can easily remove the granola bars.
Then spray the inside lightly with cooking spray.
3. Next, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
4. Sprinkle the old-fashioned oats and almonds over the baking sheet. Mix with a spoon or your fingers until spread evenly over the sheet.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the mixture toasted and lightly browned.
6. Remove from oven, pour the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl, and set aside to cool.
7. In a small saucepan, add honey, butter, and brown sugar. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted.
8. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and salt.
9. Pour mixture over the oat mixture. Stir until well combined. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
10. Stir in the cranberries and chocolate until completely combined.
11. Immediately press the granola into a square baking dish.
12. Add more chips on the top if you like.
13. Cover the baking pan with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
14. Remove from pan and cut into bars.
16. Store the bars in an airtight container.
What kind of oatmeal should I use?
This recipe calls for old-fashioned rolled oats.
Not instant oats. Not 1-minute quick oats. You want a whole oat that’s nice and chewy.
If you’re gluten free, make sure to buy certified gluten free oats like Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Old Fashion Rolled Oats.
Why aren't these no-bake bars?
Sure it's convenient to make no-bake granola bars. But I love the taste of toasty, crunchy oats, and nuts and that means baking.
Plus, cooking the bars enables the bars to hold together without using a lot of honey, maple syrup, and butter.
How to make nut-free bars
If you’re nut-free, leave out the almonds and add more cranberries and chocolate.
If you’d like to keep some of that crunch, add in your favorite healthy cereal.
Corn flakes would be perfect since they’re similar in shape and size to almonds.
A rice krispies type cereal would work, too. Or you can add gluten free Cheerios (plain or flavored) to the mix.
There’s no need to toast the cereal. Instead, add it in when you add the cranberries and chocolate to the recipe.
How to make vegan homemade granola bars
Honey: instead of honey you can use agave or maple syrup.
Butter: use a vegan butter spread or coconut oil that’s solid at room temperature.
Chocolate: use vegan chocolate like Enjoy Life Baking Chocolate Semi-Sweet Mini Chips. These are certified as vegan, dairy free, and gluten free.
These mini chocolate chips are yummy!
Can I make sugar free granola bars?
You can reduce the sugar if you use Swerve Sweetener, Brown.
I love using this natural, no-calorie brown sugar substitute as it cooks and bakes up just like regular brown sugar with no funky aftertaste.
You can also try:
If you want to go 100% sugar-free, you have to find a substitute for the honey, too.
So try a sugar-free syrup that's made with a natural sweetener like:
These syrups aren't as thick as honey, so use a little less.
What kind of chocolate should I use?
This is a terrific recipe for using up leftover chocolate from making cookies and other treats.
You can use dark, semi-sweet, milk or white chocolate chips, or mini-chocolate chips.
If you’re dairy free, gluten free, or vegan, I recommend Enjoy Life Baking Chocolate Semi-Sweet Mini Chips.
What other mix-ins can I use?
Have fun with this basic granola bar recipe and add different mix-ins such as:
- shredded coconut
- sunflower seeds
- chopped dates
- unsweetened coconut flakes
- dried cherries
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- crushed banana chips or plantain chips
- dried pineapple
- dried blueberries
- dried apricots
Can I add peanut butter or another nut butter to these?
Oh my gosh, of course you can!
Add 1/4 cup peanut butter or almond butter when you add in the vanilla and salt. Stir well to combine.
You can also use sunflower butter if you're allergic to peanut butter.
If you're trying to go sugar-free or lessen the sugar, look for Kroger Natural Creamy Peanut Butter. All it contains is peanuts and salt. That's it!
(You can find it at any Kroger affiliate grocery store.)
I use it in my Homemade Peanut Butter Cups and it's creamy and delicious.
How to cut the homemade granola bars
I have a friend who's a perfectionist and gets out a long straight edge ruler and knife to cut her brownies and bars.
But you can cut these any way you like – squares, rectangles, straight, crooked, even, or whatever.
All you need is a sharp knife.
How to store the bars
Store them in an airtight container or Ziploc baggie in the fridge or freezer. They should be good for a week in the refrigerator or a couple of months in the freezer.
If you're going to freeze a batch, place a sheet of parchment paper between the layers so the bars don't stick together.
Also, you'll need to let frozen bars thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes before snacking.
More tips for making the best granola bars
Butter: use unsalted butter not salted butter. It’s sweeter than salted butter and tastes better in my opinion.
However, if you only have salted butter in the fridge, eliminate adding any more salt to the recipe.
No honey? You can also use sorghum syrup, brown rice syrup, or agave nectar.
These syrups aren't as thick as honey, so use a little less.
Cranberry substitutions: If you’re not a fan of cranberries, you can substitute raisins or other dried fruit cut into cranberry-sized pieces.
More easy snack recipes
Looking for more easy snack recipes? Try these:
Chocolate fans will love this Easy Fudge Recipe.
This Easy Coconut Macaroons Recipe is gluten free and dairy free.
Muffins make terrific snacks. Try these gluten free Banana Oatmeal Muffins.
- 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup almonds, chopped
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips (white, semi-sweet, dark chocolate, or mini)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving a few inches hanging over the edge, spray lightly with cooking spray
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Add oats and almonds to the baking sheet and mix with a spoon or your fingers.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes until toasted and lightly browned.
- Remove from oven, pour into a large bowl, and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add honey, butter, and brown sugar.
- Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted.
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.
- Pour mixture over oat mixture and stir until combined.
- Let cool 5-10 minutes.
- Stir in the cranberries and chocolate chips until completely combined.
- Press into a square baking dish.
- Add more chocolate chips on the top if you like.
- Cover the pan with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
- Remove from pan and cut into bars.
- Store in an airtight container.
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Serving Size:1 bar
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 178Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 74mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 3gSugar: 19gProtein: 3g
Nutritional information is automatically calculated per the ingredients list. Serving size may not be accurate. Please double-check with your preferred nutritional app for the most accurate information.