Healthy Granola Bars, my old friend. When I have a batch of you on hand, my life feels a little more together. A simple baked granola bar recipe made with oats, honey, and your mix-ins of choice, these easy bars are here for you, whatever wildness the day may hold.
I cannot relate to the idea of being so busy you forget to eat.
Even on my most crazed days, my stomach checks in at regular intervals, and I can’t focus until I’ve met my body’s need for nourishment.
The quality of the snacks is where I need to pay attention.
Having healthy snacks like these homemade granola bars (or Energy Balls) on hand for immediate consumption satisfies my hunger for hours.
They are a much healthier option than reaching for a bag of chips or other processed snacks that will leave you hungry again a short while later.
I am not a dietician, but I know that if you are looking for granola bars for weight loss and only focus on which granola bars have the least calories, you can miss the point.
For a snack to keep you full and happy (and your hand out of the chip bag), it needs to have filling ingredients like fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
Otherwise, you’ll end up eating more overall than you would have if you would have simply selected a more satisfying (but higher calorie) bar in the first place.
These bars are truly sustaining!
I originally developed this healthy granola bars recipe for Ben and my long road trips.
Now, we take them on ski trips for a mid-mountain break, and I almost always have some in the freezer. It feels good to reach for a homemade bar instead of something from a box, and it is a serious cost savings too
If you’ve never made homemade granola bars, you are going to be pleasantly surprised by just how easy they are.
They save well (wrap and freeze them for up to two months), are more affordable than store-bought bars, and don’t contain the long list of unpronounceable ingredients.
Plus, your kitchen will smell like a bakery while these granola bars bake. Ahhhh.
How to Make Healthy Granola Bars
These bars are ultra easy to stir together, perfect for kids and on-the-go-breakfasts, and the ingredients are flexible to what you have on hand.
You can even alter the baking time to make the bars chewier or crunchier, depending upon what your family prefers.
Oats. Full of fiber, nutrients, and shown to help lower levels of “bad” cholesterol, oats are inexpensive with a powerful healthy punch. Their fiber content is one of the reasons these healthy granola bars (as well as their cousin, No Bake Granola Bars) will keep you full.
If you need your granola bars to be gluten free and appropriate for someone with a gluten allergy (such as celiac) make sure your brand of oats is certified GF so that there is no cross-contamination.
Nuts. Rich in omega-3s and a good source of protein, nuts make these bars both satisfying and super tasty. Use any nuts you love or have on hand: chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, peanuts—my favorite is a mix, like what you’ll find in Trail Mix Peanut Butter Granola Bars.
Pepitas. These little seeds are packed with antioxidants and add another dimension of flavor.
You can substitute pepitas for sunflower seeds or additional chopped nuts.
Unsweetened Coconut Flakes. Add irresistible toasty notes, without the need for excess sugar.
Peanut Butter. Hello, healthy fats and more protein for sustenance. You can use any nut butter here you enjoy. (Fellow PB lovers, don’t miss these Peanut Butter Protein Bars.)
The consistency of your bars will vary based on the brand of nut butter you use. If they seem too dry, add more peanut butter or honey; if they are too wet, add more oats one tablespoon at a time.
Honey. Rejoice for healthy granola bars no sugar! Storebought bars can contain three or four different forms of sugar. In these bars, you’ll find only natural honey.
Honey can be substituted with an equal amount of maple syrup or brown rice syrup. Either of these sweeteners is also a great way to make the granola bars vegan. For another vegan option, check out my Vegan Protein Bars.
Cinnamon + Pure Vanilla Extract + Salt. This trio makes these homemade granola bars even more scrumptious (truly, processed bars do not stand a chance).
Mix-Ins! One of the most fun parts of making granola bars from scratch is that you can make them any flavor. Try dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, and you certainly can’t go wrong with chocolate chip peanut butter granola bars.
Toast the oats, nuts, and seeds. This adds big flavor!
Warm the peanut butter and honey together until smooth. Stir in the spices.
Stir the toasted oats and nuts into the peanut butter mixture.
Press the mixture into a parchment-lined pan. Bake the healthy granola bars at 300 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool, slice, and ENJOY.
Chewy or Crunchy?
For Chewy Granola Bars. Pull out the bars after 15 minutes.
For Crunchy Granola Bars. Continue baking the bars 5 additional minutes, or 20 minutes total.
To Store. Store granola bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or refrigerate for 2 weeks.
To Freeze. Wrap bars airtight and store them in a ziptop bag in the freezer. Let thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
For grab-and-go snacks at the ready, make a double batch, wrap the bars individually, then pull them out of your freezer on demand.
Healthy Alternatives to Granola Bars
While I do think granola bars can be healthy when you are watching the ingredients, if you are looking to vary it up and try some other healthy snacks, here are some suggestions:
You’ll thank yourself for having these healthy granola bars around, whether your tummy growls like mine, or you are one of those people that has to remind yourself to eat lunch (but how?!).
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Granola Bars Healthy or Unhealthy?
While store-bought granola bars can be unhealthy and full of added sugars, these homemade granola bars are healthy in moderation. They’re a delicious and nutritious snack option compared to those that come in a package.
How Do I Make Granola Bars with the Least Calories?
If you want to ensure your granola bars are low in calories, watch what mix-ins you add. Make sure you use low-calorie mix-ins, and choose a nut butter with the least amount of calories.
What Can I Do with Leftover Granola Bars?
Crumble up leftover granola bars over yogurt, or try them over vanilla ice cream for a treat.
Healthy Granola Bars Video
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Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper so that two sides of the paper overhang the sides like handles. Coat generously with nonstick spray.
Spread the oats, nuts, sunflower seeds, and coconut flakes on a rimmed, ungreased baking sheet. Toast in the oven until the coconut looks lightly golden and the nuts are toasted and fragrant, about 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Meanwhile, heat the honey and peanut butter together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the mixture is smoothly combined. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
As soon as the oat mixture is finished toasting, carefully transfer it to the pan with the peanut butter. With a rubber spatula, stir to combine. Let cool for 5 minutes, then add the chocolate chips (if you add the chocolate chips immediately, they will melt).
Scoop the batter into the prepared pan. With the back of a spatula, press the bars into a single layer (you also can place a sheet of plastic wrap against the surface to deter sticking, then use your fingers; discard the plastic prior to baking).
Bake the healthy granola bars for 15 to 20 minutes: 20 minutes will yield crunchier bars; at 15 they will be slightly chewier. With the bars still in the pan, press a knife down into the pan to cut into bars of your desired size (be sure to pick a knife that will not damage your pan—I typically cut into 2 rows of 5). Do not remove the bars. Let them cool completely in the pan.
Once the bars have cooled completely, use the parchment to lift them onto a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut the bars again in the same place, going over your lines to separate. Pull apart and enjoy!
TO STORE: Store granola bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or refrigerate for 2 weeks.
TO FREEZE: Wrap bars airtight and store them in a ziptop bag in the freezer. Let thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature.