- Lightly butter a 9”×13” glass pan. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, honey, and vanilla. Tip: If your butter isn’t softened, use a rolling pin and roll it between two sheets of wax paper. Or mash it with your hands while in the wrapper. Our secret.
- Add the oats, flour, and baking soda. Beat well until combined. Stir in add-ins by hand. Press mixture hard into pan. (You can use your hands!)
- Bake at 325 degrees F for 15-22 minutes until just golden brown on the edges. You will think they are too soft. They are not. Just remind yourself that there's not even any egg in the recipe, so you can't hurt anybody if you underbake.
- Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into bars. Let bars cool completely in pan before removing and serving. Store at room temperature or freeze.
The one drawback of this original recipe is that it tends to be a bit crumbly, especially if you overbake the bars even slightly. You can avoid that by melting the butter, honey and vanilla in a saucepan and cooking on low for 5 minutes after the butter melts, then mixing the liquid ingredients into the dry.
This recipe for healthy granola bars was one of the first favorites here at KS wayyyyyy back in 2009, and I’ve since improved it quite a bit since then as I republished Healthy Snacks to Go – no coincidence that it’s one of the most popular eBooks here!
Many people are surprised that you can whip up homemade granola bars as easily as a quick batch of chocolate chip cookies. There are endless variations to this recipe, and I can almost guarantee it will become a family favorite!
Lately it’s even more one of my favorites because my son is getting into making them for his own lunches and snacks to share with friends. Be still, my beating heart! A boy who can cook/bake is definitely a thrill as a mom and I know he’ll impress the right kind of girl someday. 😉
He’s also been able to exercise his creative muscles by playing with the variations including chocolate, peanut butter, gluten free, dairy free and more!
His own healthy granola bars have shown up as his birthday treat for his class at school, soccer snacks, and something his friend with a ton of allergies can actually eat. #proudmom
Let’s see what your kids can do with this simple recipe – either the making or the eating!!
Originally adapted from a recipe in Faith and Family Magazine.
Hi! I’m Katie, and I’m the chief mess-maker around here trying to journey to better stewardship of my family’s health and the environment – while balancing a budget and limited time (did I mention I have 4 kids?).
I’d love to share more of our family-friendly recipes, science geek research and uber-practical tips with you, and I have a mini eBook with our family’s favorite “party recipes” just for you.
If you like what you’ve read so far, I hope you’ll strap on your seatbelt and join us for the ride:
Transformations – Make your Healthy Homemade Granola Bars Different Every Time!
- Chocolate: Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder and skip the chocolate chips – or double up on chocolate!
- Nutty Butter: Use 1/2 cup natural peanut butter, almond butter or sunbutter in place of 1/2 cup of butter – divine!
- Want crunchy bars? Spread a full batch into a large cookie sheet or a half batch in a 9×13 pan. Press firmly and bake as usual. Cool completely and cut apart, then spread individually on a baking sheet or stone and toast again for ~10-13 minutes in a preheated 325F oven. Watch carefully for browning on the edges. Now, listen closely – do not touch. Got that? Wait until the bars are totally and completely cooled on the pan before removing, and you will have sturdy, crunchy granola bars to die for.
- Bars too crumbly? Follow the directions for a brief re-toast in the bullet point above and you’ll be thrilled with the results – just slightly crunchy on the edges and with triple the stick-together-ness of the original.
- Gluten free: Just sub GF all-purpose flour for the whole wheat and it works acceptably, but more crumbly. Another used a cup mixed sorghum and brown rice flour plus a teaspoon of xanthan gum.
- Dairy free: Coconut oil works fine in place of butter, especially in the nut butter versions.
- High protein: Add up to 1/2 cup of collagen peptides to the recipe to pump up the protein and other benefits!
- Less sweetener: Honey is expensive and the “unhealthy” ingredient in this recipe. When you heat the honey, you can definitely cut it down by at least 1/3 cup and everything still holds together. I also had success substituting natural applesauce for up to 1/2 cup honey, but the resulting bars weren’t very sweet. The chocolate chips were a necessity.
- Crumbs in the bottom of the storage bag? So yummy over homemade yogurt with fresh fruit!
- What else can you do with these? Do share!
I get at least 20 good-sized bars from this recipe. I figure it might be the equivalent of 3 boxes of Quaker chewy granola bars, so even though butter and honey are on the pricey side, this still works out to be nicely frugal and so much healthier.
Lunch-packing tip: Have the kiddos (or whomever) bring home the plastic baggie each day and just toss a new bar in. Easy way to save packaging and remember to take a bar every day! OR better yet, try reusable bags – I reviewed a bunch of them to help you find the best one!
More Healthy Bars!
The homemade granola bars aren’t the only easy, healthy snack bar at KS. Try these recipes for more variety:
Healthy Snacks to Go includes Popeye Bars, Protein Bars, and Homemade “larabars” (above). Here’s a free preview of Healthy Snacks to Go!
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