Healthy snacks are absolutely possible, but even the least processed energy bar at the grocery store can’t come close to the flavor and texture of homemade granola bars. So here are healthy and delicious granola bar recipes that are easy to make at home, and give new meaning to the term superfood.
When your blood sugar plummets and a fresh apple is nowhere in sight, that smashed energy bar at the bottom of your bag is a godsend. It’s portable and mess-free, and will buy you time until your next meal. It may also contain alien ingredients like hydrolyzed collagen and soy protein isolate. Even if it doesn’t, it probably won’t taste all that good. But you’re desperate, right?
Luckily, as we learned when first reverse-engineering some of the most popular bars of the time, underneath the fancy packaging they’re no more complicated to make than Rice Krispies Treats. Yet they’re packed with super-healthy ingredients like chia seeds, almond butter, brown rice cereal—and completely free of all the things you don’t want, like preservatives and artificial sweeteners. Plus, they’re far cheaper to make than to buy, and you can customize them to your heart’s content.
So hikers and surfers, moms and kids, college students and office workers everywhere—roll up your sleeves and make a batch or two of the bars below on a lazy day off. Wrap them in plastic and pop them in the freezer for long-term storage, stash them in an airtight container on the counter for the week, or toss one into your bag, where it will be waiting for you at the bottom like a promise. These bars have power: Harness it.
Easy Homemade Granola Bar Recipes
Fruity and fiber-packed, these figgy bars were modeled on Lärabars, which are already made from all-natural ingredients. We removed the pecans from their original date-pecan-almond formula and added not only dried figs for a heartier chew, but brown rice cereal for a crisp contrast, and vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest, and the faintest zing of black pepper for a fantastic flavor. Swap in a seed butter for the almond butter if you prefer, and feel free to leave the pepper out for picky eaters. Get our Fig Granola Bar recipe.
Cuisinart FP-11SV Elemental Food Processor, $149.95 from Amazon
A food processor makes quick work of blending sticky, dense dates and pulsing harder ingredients to the right size for granola bars.
Related Reading on CNET: The Best Food Processor for 2020
This texture-rich bar is packed full of chia seeds, flax seeds, wheat germ, and crisp brown rice cereal, with cocoa, dates, and a whisper of vanilla for a little sweet chocolate flavor that’s not cloying or artificial. What you can’t taste, but will love knowing is in there too: tons of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, and antioxidants. Also pretty great? These don’t cost $2.50 and upwards a pop! Highway robbery never tastes very good, but superpowers are delicious. Just be sure to use softer, sweeter Medjool dates so their natural sugar and moisture content keep the bars from drying out. Get our Superseed Granola Bar recipe.
If you like a chewy, oaty, nutty granola bar, you’ll love this one, with pops of sweet-tart flavor from dried cherries, though you can swap in any dried fruit you like best. It’s not too sweet (just a little honey and brown sugar come into play alongside the fruit), but it is delicious (cinnamon and coconut flakes contribute additional layers of flavor), and it will give you plenty of energy to get through the morning or provide a pick-me-up in the afternoon. Get our Cherry Granola Bar recipe.
Goldtouch Nonstick Square Cake Pan, $29.95 from Williams Sonoma
An 8- or 9-inch square cake pan is also ideal for making uniform granola bars.
This follows a similar format as the oat- and nut-filled bar above, but adds a thin layer of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate for those who can’t quit cocoa. It’s still heaps healthier than store-bought chocolate-covered granola bars, but if you want, you could also choose to think of this as a super nutritious candy bar alternative… Get our Chocolate Covered Granola Bar recipe.
For those who want all the texture, these no-bake bars are packed with crunchy and chewy superfoods galore, including raw almonds, goji berries, chia seeds, and creamy chunks of dark chocolate. The base is a mix of oats and puffed brown rice cereal and they’re sweetened with honey, but you can use brown rice syrup to make them vegan. Get the No-Bake Superfood Granola Bar recipe.
Silicone Granola Bar Mold, $9.99 from Amazon
You can also find molds that make perfectly equal bars easy.
As long as you stick to the given ratios in each recipe and consider the texture and flavor of your individual ingredients, you can mix and match to really make these bars your own. Swap in different combinations of seeds, grains, nuts, dried fruit, and natural sweeteners like honey and agave, and use whatever nut butters or seed butters you prefer. Switch up the spices and feel free to add small amounts of nutritious powders like matcha or moringa, tasting as you go to make sure the flavors stay in balance.
If you want to make batches of granola bars ahead of time (and why wouldn’t you?), you can freeze any of these recipes for about three weeks, but ideally no longer than a month for best flavor and texture. Just let them fully cool and set first, cut them into bars, and wrap them individually in plastic (or a more eco-friendly option like Bee’s Wrap), then stash them all together in a plastic bag or freezer-safe reusable container. Take out as many bars as you want to eat on a given day an hour or more before you get hangry, as you’ll want them to come to room temperature before you take a bite.
Stasher Silicone Storage Bags, $9.99-$19.99 from The Container Store
Perfect for stashing them in the freezer or your backpack.
The original version of this post was published by Jill Santopietro in 2010. Updated with new images, links, and text by Jen Wheeler.
Header image courtesy of Westend61 / Getty Images