No Bake Granola Bars with Clean Ingredients

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No bake granola bars are a great snack that are kid-friendly and perfect for packing into a lunch box. Because the recipe uses clean eating ingredients, you can feel good knowing that your kids will be snacking well!

The kids are heading back to school and moms everywhere are facing the “what to pack in their lunch” dilemma. The truth is, kids just want a lunch that tastes good and makes them feel like they are “part of the crowd” in the lunch room.

pan of no bake granola bars with 3 on a plate next to the pan

HEALTHY LUNCHBOX SNACKS

Most kids have no idea what lurks in those seemingly harmless packages of sugar and chemical infested “treats”.  And as a kid, they probably don’t care all that much anyway. They just want to be like their friends. Nobody wants to stand out from the crowd at that age. It’s the same way with every generation.

I was reminded of this when I saw Mini Chef watching one of his friends pick through her after-school snacks to get to “the good stuff” first. While it was a healthy treat, I sat there watching him quietly wish she would share her goodies with him. It brought back my own school lunch memories so vividly, that I just knew I had to come up with a no bake snack bar that he would love to have in his lunch bag. So I set off to create a really yummy, super-duper delicious, no bake recipe made with real food ingredients.

This is an easy recipe that makes quick snacks or a quick breakfast using healthy ingredients. It uses cocoa nibs, though you could replace those with chocolate chips if you prefer.

No Bake Granola Bar Recipe Options

You have two choices with this healthy snack. Quick oats or traditional oats. You will get a different texture, depending on what you use. Quick oats will be more like the commercial granola bars that kids are used to. Traditional oats will be a chunkier, chewier bar.

You also have a choice in type of nut butter you use. Try peanut butter, almond butter or even sun butter.

But no matter how you make them, they are a great snack for school lunches and much better than anything you can pick up at the grocery store.

Quick oats – This will give you a finer, chewier texture that is less toothsome. It will give you more of a cereal mixture.

Traditional oats – These will give you a chunkier bar because it will be more of a chunky granola mixture that gets pressed together.

GRANOLA BAR INGREDIENTS

  • Oats – You can use either traditional (old fashioned) oats or quick cooking oats. The traditional oats will give you a chewier texture while the quick oats will blend in with the other ingredients more. If you are making these for kids, you might try the quick cooking oats first. They give a texture that is more conducive to what kids usually like. But if your kids are used to eating whole grains, then the traditional oats will be just fine.
  • Nut butter – You can use any type of nut butter (or seed butter) you prefer. In fact, if your child’s school has strict rules for nut allergy kids, then something like sun butter will work well here too. Pick the nut butter you like best for flavor. Just be aware that if you choose peanut butter, that will then become a predominant flavor. Almond butter is a milder flavor that will showcase the flavor of your mix-ins more.
  • Mix-ins – Mix-ins are what give you granola bars that extra zing. Feel free to play around with what you add in here. You don’t have to use the same ones I did. While I love this particular combination, there are many other possibilities out there that would be equally delicious. Try other dry fruits, chopped nuts, dark chocolate chips or even seeds like chia, flax or even sesame.
  • Sweetener – Using a sticky sweetener like honey will give you a slightly sticky granola bar. I have found that the benefits of the flavor and sweetness level of the honey make a little bit of stickiness worth it. But if you have a child with texture issues or want something that is just slightly less intense in sweetness, you can also use maple syrup. And if you really want to cut down on any stickiness at all, you can use half maple syrup and half dry sweetener such as Sucanat or coconut sugar. You can also use a piece of parchment to really press down on your granola bars without getting your hands sticky. If it sticks together once pressed, it will hold together in a lunchbox.

TIPS ON MAKING GRANOLA BARS

  • Chop – The best texture in a no bake granola bar happens when your chunky ingredients aren’t too big. Feel free to chop ingredients as needed. This will help the bars stick together better and give them a better texture for eating as well.
  • Press – Make sure you really press everything down. Compression is the key to everything sticking together.
  • Set – Let the bars rest before you cut them. Give them an hour or two minimum, to let everything set and stick.

THE GRANOLA BAR PAN

The shape and size of your pan will effect the size and even number of bars you end up with. I’ve noted my pan size above. But if you want more bars that are smaller or thinner, use a slightly larger pan. Just make sure you chop things small and press them really well so they don’t fall apart.

Ingredients

2 cups old fashion oats

½ cup dried cranberries, fruit juice sweetened

⅓ cup raw cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 pinch sea salt (optional)

⅓ cup coconut oil

⅓ cup honey or brown rice syrup

1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

¾ cup raw, creamy almond butter or sunflower butter for nut free

Optional – Add a pinch of salt to truly bring out the sweetness. A little goes a long way.

Optional Additions

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Other dried fruit like raisins

How To Make No-Bake Granola Bars

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, cranberries, cocoa nibs and cinnamon. Stir well.

In a small pot, combine the oil, honey, vanilla extract and almond butter over medium heat. You want to warm this enough to combine the liquids well. But DO NOT BOIL! Stir constantly to avoid any simmering. This warmth is strictly to get everything to combine as well as to make it a bit more fluid for mixing with the oats.

Pour the nut butter into the mixing bowl and mix well to completely coat the oats.

Press mixture into an oiled or parchment paper lined baking dish. (Mine -pictured above- was 9 x 4 1/2)

Freeze for 2 hours.

Cut the homemade granola bars with a sharp knife and store in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 2 months, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, so no air gets to them. Note that by the time lunch time comes around, these will no longer be frozen and will be perfect to eat at room temperature. (These keep in the fridge for about a week.)

Need Supplies?

The main thing you’ll need to make these no bake granola bars is an appropriately sized pan to press your bars into. Here are 3 suggestions. The one I used was very similar to the white dish on the right.

More Healthy Granola Bars

No Bake Granola Bars Recipe

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No Bake Granola Bars in a baking dish and on a plate.

No Bake Oatmeal Granola Bars

These delicious bars are a great way to beef up your lunchbox game!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 7 bars
Calories: 458kcal
Author: The Gracious Pantry

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashion oats
  • ½ cup dried cranberries, fruit juice sweetened
  • cup raw cacao nibs
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch sea salt (optional)
  • cup coconut oil
  • cup honey
  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup raw, creamy almond butter

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, cranberries, cocoa nibs and cinnamon. Stir well.
  • In a small pot, combine the oil, honey, vanilla extract and almond butter over medium heat. You want to warm this enough to combine the liquids well. But DO NOT BOIL! Stir constantly to avoid any simmering. This warmth is strictly to get everything to combine as well as to make it a bit more fluid for mixing with the oats.
  • Pour the nut butter into the mixing bowl and mix well to completely coat the oats.
  • Press mixture into an oiled or parchment lined baking dish. (Mine -pictured above- was 9 x 4 1/2)
  • Freeze for 2 hours.
  • Cut bars with a sharp knife and store in the freezer for up to 2 months, tightly wrapped so no air gets to them. Note that by the time lunch time comes around, these will no longer be frozen and will be perfect to eat. (These keep in the fridge for about a week.)

Notes

Please note that the nutrition data below is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bar | Calories: 458kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Sodium: 10mg | Potassium: 298mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 20g | Calcium: 119mg | Iron: 2.1mg


Recipe from the Gracious Pantry archives, originally posted 9/23/13.

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186 Comments

  1. Taylor Widler says:

    Do you have the nutritional information for these bars? I meant to try to figure out the calories when making them and totally forgot.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Taylor – No, sorry. But MyFitnessPal.com has a good nutrition calculator.

  2. I am new to your site and this is the first recipe I tried. They came out amazing! Way better than anything store bought. These were a great to go breakfast 🙂

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Amber – I’m so happy you enjoyed them! 🙂

  3. I have been trying to find more choices for my husband’s breakfast. He gets burned out on cereal and oatmeal pretty quick so I think this with a smoothie or homemade Greek yogurt will be a different choice. Thank you for sharing your brilliance, I can’t wait to try them.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jennifer – I hope he enjoys them!

  4. My family loves these granola bars!! I make them at least once a week using the base ingredients but change it up a bit by making various batches. I will add peanuts. Reduce the cinnamon, remove the cranberries and add raisins. We usually look at the granola bars at the grocery store and tweek this recipe to replicate them 🙂

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Leanne – How fun!!! I’m so glad you’re enjoying them! 🙂

  5. We all love these! I used clean pb instead since that’s what I had on hand! 🙂 These are sure to be a new staple in our house! Thank you.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Julie – My pleasure! I’m so happy you enjoyed them! 😀

  6. Rebecca Knight says:

    I’ve just made these but had to swap the cranberries for goji berries as I can’t seem to find unsweetened cranberries anywhere – grr! However they taste amazing and I will definitely be making them again.
    Almond butter is expensive in the UK so could you use peanut butter instead? X

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Rebecca – Absolutely!

  7. Stephanie says:

    This is delicious. My daughter and I made these today. I love them cold straight from the freezer. But question for you: How do you get these out of the dish easily? I used Coconut Oil Spray from Trader’s to oil it up, but they are hard to cut and to get out. Mine fell apart. Any suggestions?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Stephanie – If they are really sticking, the best bet is to line the dish with parchment paper. That way you can just lift them right out. So glad you like them! 🙂

  8. I just made these, they’re so good! The process made my house smell good too with the heated up vanilla. Thanks for sharing!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jenna – My pleasure! So glad you enjoyed them! 😀

  9. Vanessa - Natural Family Today says:

    Yum! These look awesome. We are going on a road trip in a couple of days and I think I will make these for the morning that we leave. They look like a great “grab and go” breakfast item. I shared this on my pinterest and facebook page 🙂

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Vanessa – Thanks so much! I hope you enjoy them! 🙂

  10. I’d love to know the nutritional info for this. Also would it be ok to add protein powder? Thanks!

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jodi – There are lots of online calculators you can enter the recipe into. I usually use MyFitnessPal.com. And in theory, you could add protein powder. But I’m not sure what that would do to the texture or if the bars would still hold together. You’d have to experiment a bit with that.

  11. Delicious!! Healthy and quick treat.
    I definitely am going to try with protein next time.
    These sure are hearty as well.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Matthew – So happy you enjoyed them! 😀

  12. Would agave syrup work in place of honey?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Peggy – It wouldn’t be considered clean, but yes, it would work. 🙂

  13. How many calories per slice? or the hold batch of granola

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Fabiola – I recommend MyFitnessPal.com. They have a good recipe calculator that will give you that information.

  14. I love your clean eating ideas and recipes. Do these bars actually have 458 calories EACH, or is that the total for the entire batch?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Kathryn – Thanks so much! If you cut this into 7 bars, then yes. That’s the ballpark figure on the nutrition. More of a meal replacement bar in that respect.

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