Granola bars are a go-to snack in our household. But many pre-packaged granola bars from the grocery store are made with an insanely long list of mysterious ingredients I can’t pronounce (soy lecithin, vegetable glycerin, mixed tocopherols and maltodextrin – yummy!) Despite their reputation as a healthy snack, some have almost as much sugar as a candy bar, or contain partially hydrogenated oils (an ingredient that is strongly linked to heart disease and diabetes). Although there are certainly better brands out there using higher quality ingredients, those tend to be much more expensive. So what’s the answer? Make your own! This gives you 100% control over the quality of ingredients that go into your snacks. I promise, it’s a lot easier than you think. Once you taste these, it will be hard to go back to the pre-packaged variety.
I’ve tried a lot of different granola bar recipes over the last few years. Through trial and error, I’ve arrived at what I think is the easiest and best base recipe. This recipe produces the perfect texture – chewy, but also a little crunchy. The beauty of this recipe is that you can customize it based on your own preferences and what you have on hand: cranberry & pecan, raisin & walnut, peanut & chocolate chip… the possibilities are truly endless. The quantities for each ingredient are so simple (2 cups oats, 1 cup flour, 1 cup fruit, 1 cup nuts, etc.) that you’ll probably have them memorized after a couple batches. The recipe is also forgiving; it will come out fine even if your measurements aren’t super precise.
I can’t stress enough how EASY these are to make. As baked goods go, cleanup is pretty minimal too. Using the parchment paper keeps anything from sticking to the baking dish, and measuring the oil first keeps the honey/syrup from sticking to the measuring cup.
So let’s review – these are cheaper, healthier, and way tastier than pre-packaged granola bars. They’re hard to screw up, and easy to clean up. Give them a try and let me know how they turn out!
2 cups of oats
1 cup of whole wheat flour (you can also use All Purpose)
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup dried fruit (raisins, dried cranberries, etc.; you could also use chocolate chips)
1 cup nuts
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg and/or allspice (optional)
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Note: don’t replace the oil with apple sauce as you might for other baked goods, because you won’t achieve the same texture. If the oil really bothers you, you could replace half with apple sauce.
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Add the first 8 ingredients to a large bowl and stir well.
- In a smaller bowl, add oil, syrup/honey, vanilla extract and egg, and mix well. Pour mixture into larger bowl and use spatula/rubber scraper to blend thoroughly with dry ingredients.
- Place parchment paper in 9 x 13 baking pan, with enough excess paper to lift bars out of the pan after baking. Pour mixture into lined pan, pressing down evenly.
- Bake 25 to 30 minutes; bars should be lightly browned around the edges. Allow bars to cool in pan, then lift parchment paper and transfer granola bars to cutting board. Cut into approximately 16 bars.
*If you want to use even fewer dishes (can you tell I hate doing dishes?!), just mix the egg in the same measuring cup used for the oil and syrup/honey. You don’t necessarily have to mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, as long as you pour them evenly over the dry ingredients and blend well.