My kids love granola bars and if we’re being completely honest, I do too. But when you have 4 little ones that want more than one bar at a sitting, and add me along for the granola ride, then you’re shelling out bigger bucks for these little things than you want to be. Therefore, I went looking for a recipe. And I found a couple that I really liked. I’ve still tweaked them and changed them, especially according to what we have on hand at the time. The basics, though, stay the same.
Funny how I don’t have a picture of the bars – we ate them up too fast!
2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (don’t use the instant/minute oats)
1 1/2 – 2 1/2 cups dry yummies (I’ve used peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and shredded coconut. You can use flax seeds, wheat germ, pepitas – or so I’ve heard.) The actual dividing up of these ingredients is up to you and depends on what all you want or have on hand. I almost always use the shredded coconut, some sort of seed, and some sort of nut in every batch. The total sum of all that you add should equal 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 cups.
3/4 cup – 1 cup sticky “glue” – let me explain!
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- Substitute more honey and brown sugar if you’re leaving out the peanut butter. Add a little more of all of them if you’re going heavy on the dry goods above. Less if you’re going light.
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (if you desire)
1 cup dried fruit or chocolate chips or peanut butter chips or m&m’s or reese’s candies ….
- I’ve used raisins, dried cranberries, and I’ve used those little bags of mixed goodies from the dollar store that includes a few dried fruits. I’ve even added at this point, some of the rice crispy kind of cereal – it’s a good filler and gives a little lighter texture.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray or use parchment paper to line a 9 x 13 casserole pan. Spread the oats and the dry yummies (oats, nuts, seeds, coconut) into pan. Toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, in a medium saucepan heat the sticky “glue” (brown sugar, honey, peanut butter, vanilla, salt, cinnamon – and a pat of butter if you desire, but that’s optional). Over medium heat stir continuously until brown sugar is melted and all ingredients are completely combined. If the mixture dissolves before the oats are toasted lower temp to low and continue to stir.
Once the oats are done, remove from oven, and lower temperature to 300 degrees. Pour the toasted oats mix into a large bowl (and I do mean large!) At this point I usually wipe out the 9×13 pan and prepare it (seems like I either doubled this recipe or it made more than I originally thought and I needed two pans – I can’t remember) with nonstick spray or butter or parchment paper. Then add the dried fruit (hold on the chocolate or peanut butter chips, though, they’ll just melt down) and pour the sticky mixture over them. Mix well. Pour mixture into prepared 9×13 pans. If you’re using chocolate or peanut butter chips press them into the mixture at this point. Press down with a measuring cup (spray the bottom of the cup to keep from sticking!) or the bottom of another pan (spray it too and then wipe it off before putting back in oven!) The pressing down firmly is really important if you want actual bars. I press down with all my strength! Place pan into oven to bake for 25 minutes. This will take some tweaking on your part. Too short a time and it’s a sticky fall apart kind of granola, too long and it’s so crunchy you’ll need to chop it up and use it as a topping or cereal!
Remove from oven, allow to cool completely in pan. Turn onto a wax paper or parchment paper covered cutting board and cut into squares or bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. (Ours lasts longer in the fridge, but never really lasts that long!) Any leftover fall apart crunchies we use as cereal – and, yes, even the kids eat it!
This is great to stick in baggies and hand out on trips: nutritious, yummy, and you know exactly what went into them. They are cost effective in that you can make such a large batch at a time and in that you have leftover ingredients to use on the next batch. If you have a smaller family – package them prettily and give to friends and family, store in fridge, or experiment with the above ingredients in smaller amounts. No matter how you do it be sure to enjoy them!