Granola bars were a big part of my childhood. The individually wrapped snack was a staple for any brown-bag lunch, study session or trip to the zoo. Fast-forward to today, and not much has changed. Except now, I’ve learned how to make these chewy sweet bars from scratch.
Homemade granola bars are great because you know exactly what ingredients are going into them. Think: no extra sugar, no high fructose corn syrup, no additives. So I feel a bit better about grabbing one of these (or our other Protein Packed Snacks) before I run out the door. Plus, it’s easy to bake up a batch-or two-and store them in the freezer for later.
Here’s how to make the best homemade granola bars:
3-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup chopped almonds
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sunflower kernels
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped dried apples
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Time Prep: 30 min. Bake: 15 min. + cooling
Test Kitchen tip: You can (and should!) personalize your mix-ins. For this recipe we’re using sunflower kernels, coconut and dried apples and cranberries for an extra flavor boost. You can mix and match almost any ingredients you like: chocolate chips, raisins, chopped nuts and other dried fruit and seeds. Get as creative as you’d like but keep the total amount to about 2 cups.
Step 1: Toast your oats (and almonds, too)
Begin by preheating your oven to 350°. While it gets nice and warm, you’ll want to pull out a 15x10x1-in pan. Coat it with cooking spray. Combine the oats and almonds in the pan and cook for 6 to 10 minutes, or until toasted. Be sure give the mix a stir every once in a while to ensure the mix is toasting evenly.
Step 2: Stir things up
Grab a big mixing bowl and combine the egg, butter, honey and vanilla. Then stir in sunflower kernels, coconut, apples, cranberries, brown sugar and cinnamon (or any other mix-ins of your choosing.) Once that’s combined, add the toasted almond-oat mixture.
Test Kitchen Tip: This is a great step for getting the kiddos involved. Use a bigger mixing bowl for less chance of mess.
Step 3: Press ‘n’ bake
Clear off that trusty 15×10 baking pan and grease it again with cooking spray to get ready for all that granola-y goodness. Then, spread the mixture evenly and firmly press your glossy granola into the pan. You’ll want to wet your hands with water or oil to prevent the mix from sticking.
Test Kitchen tip: Don’t feel like dirtying your hands? Grease the bottom of a measuring cup and use it to press down the mixture.
Bake for 13-18 minutes or until set and the edges are lightly browned. When it’s finished, cool on a wire rack before cutting into the bars.
The bars make a great grab-and-go breakfast or midday snack. Keep them fresh by storing in an airtight container. Wrap them individually first and they are ready to go!
For more brown-bag bites, check out our 32 Lunches to Spice Up Your Workday.