Easy Granola Bars You'll Make All The Time

We couldn't agree more with Tara Rylie of Rylie Cakes when she says, "I adore granola bars when on-the-go, but also feel like store bought granola bars are missing something." It is true that homemade granola bars are, well, better, with Rylie adding about the ones that come in wrappers, "They are either unhealthy, or super healthy, but then too chewy or tasteless." 

Given these observations, Rylie told Mashed, "I wanted to find my perfect version of the granola bar!" And we are so glad she did, with the mindful baker explaining, "I created a bar with clean ingredients that was packed with all the littles extras I love, like toasted coconut, toasted almonds, and of course, I added a few chocolate chips." 

We love that you can also personalize this recipe, making the bars less sweet by sticking with all-natural peanut butter, or, as Rylie explained "I like to use a little bit of nut butter — be it almond butter or cashew butter — because it helps add a depth of flavor to these granola bars."

Ultimately, once you try this easy, satisfying recipe, you will be just like Rylie, and want to make them all the time. As she told us, "I usually make a batch or two every month and then freeze them. That way, I can grab one when I'm heading out the door or when I'm in need of a quick snack at home but am short on time. They're just nice to have around."

Gather your granola bar ingredients

Your first step is to make sure you have the necessary granola bar ingredients — some might be hanging around your kitchen already. Gather almonds, coconut flakes, peanut butter, nut butter if you plan to use it, honey, coconut oil, vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon, old-fashioned oats, and mini chocolate chips. We won't blame you if you sample a few of those pre-assembly!

Meanwhile, as Rylie told us, "You can replace almonds with pecans, walnuts, or peanuts." This is really up to your preference, or as you experiment with the bars, you may find one nut is the most pleasing to you. 

Another way to customize this mouthwatering snack is to substitute vanilla extract with the almond version. As Rylie explained, "Almond extract pairs well with toasted almonds and nut butter, helping to accentuate their flavor profiles." She also noted, "Vanilla extract is a more subtle flavor. Almond extract has a strong and sweet flavor. Using almond extract will actually make these bars a bit sweeter than using vanilla extract."

Toast your almonds and coconut for the granola bars

Go ahead and line an 8 x 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and then set it aside. We will come back to that later. For now, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper — you'll place your chopped almonds on one of the pans, and the coconut flakes on the other. Both ingredients are to be toasted until they are brown and fragrant, but the almonds and coconut brown up at different rates, with Rylie telling Mashed the latter takes about five minutes, while the former takes about ten minutes.

You'll want to keep an eye on the oven and remove each pan when it's good to go. Let the ingredients cool, and meanwhile consider our question for Rylie. We wanted to know why she recommends toasting the almonds and coconut first instead of just combining these ingredients in the bars — and her answer was awesome. "Flavor explosion!" she told Mashed. But she also noted, "Toasting both the coconut and almonds adds so much more flavor to the recipe than just tossing them in raw. Plus, I prefer the texture of toasted nuts over raw nuts."

Start combining the granola bar ingredients in a pan

While your almonds and coconut are cooling, you'll combine your peanut butter, nut butter — again, only if you are using this ingredient — as well as honey, coconut oil, and vanilla or almond extract together in a medium saucepan, over medium to low heat. You don't want your peanut butter to clump up here, so Rylie recommends that home cooks stir the mixture occasionally until it is well-combined. Meanwhile, simmer the mixture for two to three minutes, and then, remove it from the heat. 

Next up is to add the rest of your ingredients, save the chocolate chips, because you don't want them to melt into the warmed-up ingredients! Consider that as the gluten-free baking expert shared, you have the option to make these granola bars vegan. She suggests using Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips. She also shared another vegan baking tip, telling Mashed, "Simply replace the honey with agave; it's that easy!"

Add your granola bar oats, coconut flakes, and chocolate chips

At this stage, once your peanut butter mixture is removed from heat, go ahead and add your salt, cinnamon, and the oats. Stir everything until it is combined. Time to employ those toasted, chopped almonds and the coconut flakes. Once again, stir everything until it is thoroughly combined. 

Now is the tough part — because you have to let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes. And then, sorry, but you'll need to soon refrigerate your granola bars for — so sorry — an hour before you can enjoy them. But before you get the mixture ready to stick it in the fridge, go ahead and add half a cup of those mini chocolate chips to you granola mix. You haven't snacked on all of them by now, right? No judgement here, just be sure to save enough for the recipe.

Spread the granola bar mixture in a square pan

Okay, so your chocolate chips are added, and the mixture is well-combined. Now, you will transfer the granola bar mixture to that prepared pan from the beginning, and press it down firmly. Rylie recommends using a small offset spatula to create an even layer, which will make for easier cutting once the granola bars have been refrigerated for an hour — or until they are nice and firm. You will need the bars to be firm, because once the (very long seeming) hour is up, Rylie says you should remove the bars and slice them into even pieces. 

We are loving how you can slice them to your preference, and depending upon how you plan to serve or use the bars. And, as Rylie explained, saving them for future enjoyment is as easy as, well, sampling a granola bar the second they are ready!

Cut the granola mixture into bars

These yummy, filling, sweet and savory granola bars can be cut into up to a dozen bars, depending upon whether you desire a larger or smaller on-the-go snack. Rylie has a few suggestions for storing your bars, noting an airtight container in the refrigerator yields firmer bars. "Store them on the counter for chewier bars," she advised Mashed. She recommends individually wrapping each bar if you plan on freezing your creation. "They last two weeks in the fridge," she told us, adding, "and a few months in the freezer." They also last a few minutes if you set the granola bars out on a platter right away and have grabby fingers lurking around the kitchen. 

The good news is that even if these bars are snatched up right away, they're simple enough to make again and again. And next time you prepare a batch, try experimenting with different nuts or nut butters. Enjoy!

Easy Granola Bars You'll Make All The Time
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Granola bars might just be the perfect snack. These homemade granola bars are healthier than many of the store-bought varieties, without sacrificing on taste.
Prep Time
25
minutes
Cook Time
10
minutes
Servings
12
bars
image of finished granola bars
Ready in 35 minutes
Ingredients
  • ½ cup almonds, chopped
  • ½ cup coconut flakes
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup nut butter (optional; can use all peanut butter)
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2-½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
Optional Ingredients
  • pecans, walnuts, or peanuts
Directions
  1. Line an 8 x 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place chopped almonds on one half-sheet pan lined with parchment and coconut flakes on another. Toast almonds and coconut until golden brown and fragrant. Coconut flakes will take approximately 5 minutes to toast and almonds close to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the oven and remove individual pans when ready. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium saucepan, stir peanut butter, nut butter, honey, coconut oil, and almond extract together over medium to low heat until combined. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally; remove from heat.
  4. Add salt, cinnamon, and oats, stir until combined.
  5. Add toasted almonds and coconut, stir until thoroughly combined. Let mixture cool for approximately 15 minutes and then add mini chocolate chips; stir to combine.
  6. Transfer granola to prepared pan and press down firmly with small offset spatula creating even layer. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.
  7. Remove granola from pan and cut into desired size and number of bars. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for firmer bars or on the counter for chewier bars. Individually wrap if freezing.
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