Chewy Granola Bars

I’ve been looking for this recipe forever. These Quaker granola bars are just about my favorite snack and I’ve been eating them my whole life. I like them because they are soft and chewy and not hard and tooth breaking like other granola bars I’ve tried. I also like the rice cereal in them because it makes them seem more like Rice Krispy treats with granola in them rather than boring old “healthy” granola bars. Healthy food isn’t inherently fun, Rice Krispy treats are always fun.

But have you noticed how expensive those granola bars are? Especially if you buy a box or two every week like I do. I’ve been on the look-out for a recipe, but haven’t found anything before now. All the recipes I saw were just granola, no rice cereal; they were hard, not chewy. That won’t do! But finally after some serious googling I found this recipe and it’s perfect. It’s exactly the same. In fact, it’s better because you know all the ingredients in it and there aren’t any preservatives and whatever else they put into pre-packaged food. Also? It’s about the simplest thing that ever was. No baking. It takes about 5 minutes to mix together and 15 minutes to firm up in the fridge.

These granola bars are so easy to make that I deviated from the original recipe to recreate my favorites: peanut butter/chocolate chip, s’more, and oatmeal raisin. There are endless possibilities for add-ins to these granola bars, so you can create your own favorite version.

Chewy Granola Bars

Each recipe makes enough granola to fill a 9×13 11×7 inch pan, about 18 bars. Since I wanted to make all three kinds (and don’t have room to store 54 bars), I halved the recipes and made them in 9×5 inch loaf pans. I found these to be perfect as I could just cut straight across and get perfect sized bars, 6-8 depending on how wide you want them. I found it easier to remove the whole slab of granola from the pan first (run a knife around the sides and turn it upside-down on your counter and it should come out pretty easily) and then slice it.

Chewy Granola Bars - Wrapped

I cut out strips of parchment and wrapped them up individually, which on second thought is pretty wasteful, but it looks cute if you wanted to give a bunch of these away as gifts or wrap them for your kid’s school lunch. Otherwise store in layers, in an airtight container with a sheet of wax/parchment between each layer.

Note about Granola: I had a really hard time finding plain granola. Maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place? I don’t know, I’ve never bought granola before. I wound up using this granola cereal because it was the only thing I could find at my grocery store. I liked it but it has a lot more fat/calories than I would have thought so I may buy this low-fat version for next time. The original recipe recommends this granola.

Update #1: I’ve started making my own low fat granola for the granola bars instead of buying it. I’ve included the recipe at the bottom of this post.

Update #2: I’ve now tested these using Brown Rice Syrup instead of brown sugar and it solves pretty much every problem anyone has ever commented about. It’s a bit hard to find, you’ll have to go to a store like Whole Foods or order online like I did, but it’s worth it. If you’ve ever had issues with these bars or just want to make healthier granola bars I highly recommend using it:

  • It’s healthier than sugar.
  • It’s not as sweet as brown sugar, so it’s great if you thought these bars were too sweet.
  • It’s a syrup already, so it’s much stickier and a lot less temperamental to cook with than sugar. If you ever had issues with the bars being too hard or not sticking together this will solve both problems.
  • The bars are even chewier when using brown rice syrup than when using sugar.

The one change to the recipe if you use brown rice syrup is that the bars should be placed in the fridge to harden and possibly stored there as well. I’ve noticed that on particularly hot days the bars may be too sticky and soft to hold together completely.

Other Possible Substitutions: Some people have asked about substitutions for certain ingredients. So far, I have tested all of these excerpt for the Golden Syrup. In all cases, use the same amount called for:

Lower Sugar Version: After some testing, I have added an even lower sugar version. They’re a bit softer and will crumble easier than the normal version but still taste great. I think they work best cut into smaller pieces rather than the long bars. See the chocolate chip granola bar recipe for more info.

Tips for perfect granola bars:

1. Start with a plain, low-fat, low sugar, granola for best results. If your granola is large or has a lot of big clusters, crush it up. Softer, chewy granola is best. Hard granola will lead to hard bars. This is why I like to make granola from scratch since I can reduce the cooking time to make it softer.

2. Basic Clover honey is best. Other varieties, especially raw honey, may wind up being overpowering.

3. No bake desserts can be quite temperamental. How long you cook the sugar mixture is very important and will be the difference between bars that stick together and ones that don’t. If you don’t cook it long enough the bars will be too soft, if you cook it too long they could be too hard. Set a timer for 2 minutes so you don’t over/under cook it. Stoves will vary, so if your bars come out too soft cook the sugar mixture a bit longer the next time. The goal is to cook it just long enough that all the sugar is dissolved but no more than that.

4. Make sure the dry ingredients are well coated with the sugar mixture. If you add in more ingredients than the recipe calls for (extra nuts, seeds, etc.) reduce the amount of granola and rice cereal to compensate. Everything should start sticking together as soon as you add the sugar mixture to the dry ingredients.

5. Use a sturdy spatula to spread the mixture into the pan and press down firmly to make sure the ingredients will sufficiently stick together. The bars should always be pressed to about 1/2 – 3/4 inch thick. You don’t want them thinner or they could be too soft. I always use two 9×5 loaf pans which are the perfect size and also makes them easier to cut up. I’ve been told the 13×9 pan that the original recipe called for is too large, so if you are using that size pan I would recommend increasing the ingredients by 1 1/2 or even doubling the recipe.

Chewy Granola Bars

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bars

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adapted from Rachel Ray

Snack, Dessert | Servings: 18 servings
Prep time: 0 | Cook time: 5 min | Total time: 25 min

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar or brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups plain granola
  • 1 cup rice cereal (Rice Krispies, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter chips

Process

  1. Line two 9×5 loaf pans or one 11×7 inch baking pan (see tip #4 above if you want to use 9×13) with foil or parchment. Lightly butter or spray the foil.
  2. Combine butter, honey and brown sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter is melted.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
  4. Add the granola and rice cereal into the saucepan and fold them into the sauce until evenly coated.
  5. Spread the mixture into the prepared pans and press firmly with a spatula to evenly fill. Sprinkle the chocolate and peanut butter chips onto the top of the granola and gently press them down with the spatula.
  6. Let sit for 15-20 minutes or until mostly cooled and set*; lift out of the pan and cut into bars.

*Recipe Note: If the bars are sticky but not quite holding together, place them in the fridge to harden for 10-15 minutes. I’ve noticed that on very warm days, the bars don’t always harden at room temperature, this is especially true if you use brown rice syrup.

Lower sugar version: Use low-sugar granola (see nutrition info below for recipe) and low-sugar brown rice cereal (found online and in health food stores). Reduce brown sugar and honey to 2 tablespoons each. If possible, replace brown sugar with brown rice syrup. Omit 2 tbsp. granola. Omit peanut butter chips, use 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips instead of regular size.

 

S’mores Chewy Granola Bars

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adapted from Rachel Ray

Snack, Dessert | Servings: 18 servings
Prep time: 0 | Cook time: 5 min | Total time: 25 min

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar or brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups plain granola
  • 1 cup rice cereal (Rice Krispies, etc.)
  • 2 tbsp. graham cracker crumbs (optional)
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Process

  1. Line two 9×5 loaf pans or one 11×7 inch baking pan (see tip #4 above if you want to use 9×13) with foil or parchment. Lightly butter or spray the foil.
  2. Combine butter, honey and brown sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter is melted.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
  4. Add the granola, rice cereal and graham cracker crumbs into the saucepan and fold them into the sauce until evenly coated. Very gently fold in the marshmallows.
  5. Spread the mixture into the prepared pans and press firmly with a spatula to evenly fill. Sprinkle the chocolate chips onto the top of the granola and gently press them down.
  6. Let sit for 15-20 minutes or until mostly cooled and set*; lift out of the pan and cut into bars.

*Recipe Note: If the bars are sticky but not quite holding together, place them in the fridge to harden for 10-15 minutes. I’ve noticed that on very warm days, the bars don’t always harden at room temperature, this is especially true if you use brown rice syrup.

 

Oatmeal Raisin Chewy Granola Bars

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adapted from Rachel Ray

Snack, Dessert | Servings: 18 servings
Prep time: 0 | Cook time: 5 min | Total time: 25 min

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar or brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 cups plain granola
  • 1 cup rice cereal (Rice Krispies, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Process

  1. Line two 9×5 loaf pans or one 11×7 inch baking pan (see tip #4 above if you want to use 9×13) with foil or parchment. Lightly butter or spray the foil.
  2. Combine butter, honey, brown sugar and cinnamon in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter is melted.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
  4. Add the granola, rice cereal and raisins into the saucepan and fold them into the sauce until evenly coated.
  5. Spread the mixture into the prepared pans and press firmly with a spatula to evenly fill.
  6. Let sit for 15-20 minutes or until mostly cooled and set*; lift out of the pan and cut into bars.

*Recipe Note: If the bars are sticky but not quite holding together, place them in the fridge to harden for 10-15 minutes. I’ve noticed that on very warm days, the bars don’t always harden at room temperature, this is especially true if you use brown rice syrup.

 

Applesauce Granola

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adapted from Fake Ginger

Snack | Yield: 3 cups
Prep time: 10 min | Cook time: 45 min | Total time: 55 min

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar* (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil or coconut oil
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees (F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small saucepan, warm the applesauce, brown sugar (if using), honey, and oil over low heat.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl stir together oats, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Stir the applesauce mixture into the oats, making sure everything is evenly coated.
  5. Spread onto baking sheet in a thin, even layer. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool completely.

*Recipe Note: If you’re using this granola exclusively for granola bars and want to reduce the amount of sugar in them, omit the brown sugar. This will help if you find the bars too sweet otherwise.

 

Nutrition info:

All values are calculated using the above Applesauce granola recipe.

These have 20-30 more calories and 1-2 more grams of fat than the store bought version, but I think they’re still worth it since you’re removing the unnecessary chemicals and preservatives.


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bars
Serving size: 1 bar
Calories: 121
Fat: 5
Carbohydrates: 18g
Fiber: 1g
Protein: 2g


Low Sugar Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bars
Serving size: 1 bar
Calories: 96
Fat: 4
Carbohydrates: 14g
Fiber: 1g
Protein: 1g


S’mores Chewy Granola Bars
Serving size: 1 bar
Calories: 131
Fat: 5
Carbohydrates: 21g
Fiber: 1g
Protein: 1.5g


Oatmeal Raisin Chewy Granola Bars
Serving size: 1 bar
Calories: 111
Fat: 3.5
Carbohydrates: 19g
Fiber: 1g
Protein: 1.5g