After trying many versions of no-bake chewy granola bars, I hit upon what I think is the ultimate combination - a bar that stays together and tastes great. These are the perfect after school and hiking/camping snacks!
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I really hesitated before publishing a granola bar recipe since there are a million out there. But in my quest to find a recipe for chewy granola bars that weren't too sweet, used real ingredients, were easy, tasty, and didn't fall apart, I think I've tried about half of them. (Half a million? OK, maybe not that many, but it sure seemed like it!).
Little did I know finding a bar that didn't fall apart ended up being a major consideration. A LOT fell apart. I mean, if it doesn't hold together, it's just granola, isn't it?
And recipes that simply used more sugar to hold them together were immediately chucked (some used 1-1/2 cups of sweetener in a 8" x 8" pan...). My goal was to make bars that would be better for my family than the sugar and preservative/weird stuff bars I could buy at the store.
So after about a year (see what I mean about it seeming like half a million?) I developed not just one but two recipes that we love! They are great granola bars that the kids like while still being healthy.
Both are chewy granola bars (versus the crispy, thinner bars), one is the no-bake version I'm sharing here and the other is a baked bar (get the baked granola bar recipe here). I like having both of these in my snack arsenal since the baked bar is a dense, filling bar using raw oats and the no-baked bar is lighter, made with puffed rice and homemade granola.
No Bake Chewy Granola Bars
So if you're like me and wishing for a healthier, easy granola bar, I think you will love this no-bake chewy bar! I usually make it in two flavors: Cranberry-Almond (my favorite) and Peanut-Butter with chocolate chips or cranberries, but as with all granola bars, the variations can be many.
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No Bake Granola Bar Tips
- You'll want to start with a large saucepan, because the bars are mixed right in the saucepan after melting the wet ingredients.
- Use homemade granola (this is my favorite super quick, naturally sweetened granola recipe) if at all possible to be more in control of the sugar content and ingredients. I've recently started making granola with quick cooking steel cut oats - they work the same as rolled oats in this application, but have almost double the fiber!
- Flax meal helps bind and adds healthy Omega-3's and more.
- For the crispy puffed rice-type cereal, you can use the standard crispy rice cereal if that's all you can find, but I encourage you to look around for brown rice varieties that have less or no sugar, like this brand. This would also be a great place to add different puffed cereals like Kamut, Millet, or Wheat for variety.
- You can grease the pan, but using parchment paper will allow you to pick the bars up out of the pan for easier cutting. Actually, since these aren't baked you could also use waxed paper to line the pan, too.
I think what I like the most about this no-bake granola bar is that it's SO easy. Ten minutes (maybe less if you get good at it!) and just a few items to wash. Love it.
When it's time to press the bars into the pan I wet my fingers with water to minimize sticking if using my hand. Otherwise I use a flat spatula to press the mixture. You will want to press has firmly as possible - this is one of the keys to bars that stay together.
Place in the refrigerator for about an hour before cutting into bars.
Here's a tip for cutting into 18 bars similar to the size of store-bought: cut six long rows on the 9" side and then 3 on the 13" side. Or 8 on the 13" side and one on the 9" side.
Like I mentioned, I usually alternate between the dried cranberry-almond version of these bars or a peanut butter-chocolate (or other nut butter) bar. Since the mixture is warm when you need to add the chocolate chips, I've developed a few tricks to help them stay together a little more (some will always melt as you can see in the photos, especially using the mini chips that I prefer).
Tips to keep chocolate chips from melting:
- Before starting the recipe, measure out the chocolate chips into a freezer-safe container and freeze them while you are making the bars.
- Mix all the other ingredients and let the warm bar mixture cool slightly (about 5 minutes) before adding only half of the chocolate chips. Stir only enough to get them somewhat distributed.
- Spread into pan and then sprinkle the remaining chips evenly on the top of the bars. Press them into the mixture with a flat or offset spatula before refrigerating.
I like to package the bars individually in baggies (that we reuse, of course- just train your kids to "save your baggies!") and keep them in an open container in the fridge for easy access.
They do seem to stay fresher when refrigerated (for up to a week). I usually put half in the fridge and the other half in the freezer for longer storage.
I sure hope you like these chewy granola bars as much as we do!
Ultimate No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup brown sugar*
- 3 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
Nut Butter Bar:
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/3 cup nut butter peanut, almond, cashew...
For Both Bar Variations:
- 3 cups granola crush any large pieces
- 1-1/2 cups crispy rice cereal or other puffed cereal
- 4 tablespoons flax seed meal
- 1 cup TOTAL add-ins ** see note
- Line a 13" x 9" pan with parchment or waxed paper (the pan can be lightly greased as well, but cutting and removing the bars won't be as easy).
- Combine the first ingredients of bar you are making (3 ingredients for regular bar, 2 for nut butter bar) in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine and melt together until smooth. Remove from heat.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly right in the saucepan (see article tips on adding chocolate chips - add them last).
- When everything is mixed well, scrape into the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Press the mixture down very firmly.
- Refrigerate 1 hour before removing from the pan, cutting into bars, and placing in baggies or an air tight container.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or the freezer for longer storage.
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped (important for them to meld into bar and not fall out) + 1/2 cup chopped almonds= Cranberry Almond Bars
- 1/2 cup peanuts + 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (1/2 cup seemed too much) + nut butter variation = P.B. Chocolate Chip Bars
- 1/2 cup coconut + 1/2 cup chopped apricots = Coconut Apricot Bars
- 1/3 cup white chocolate chips + 1/2 cup chopped cashews = White Chocolate Cashew Bars
- your favorite combo!
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