Easy Homemade Granola Bars

Homemade Granola Bars

Let’s be real here for a second.

Granola bars are the breakfast of “I stayed up too late last night watching 30 Rock reruns and overslept, and now I am grabbing a granola bar and stuffing it in my coat pocket to eat on my way to work…and later because I did not eat enough for breakfast, I will probably fish out the pocket crumbs and eat them too.”

Granola bars are those moments around 12:30 when I’ve ignored how hungry I am for the last half hour and now I am standing at the kitchen counter, absentmindedly eating bar after bar while I desperately try to think of something to eat for lunch.

Homemade Granola Bars

Granola bars are a new mom’s best friend when all you ever have is one hand…to do anythingwith…and you are snarfing down five of them at three in the morning, while your baby literally sucks the nutrients out of you, and all you can think about is, “I wonder if Eric would hear me over the bedroom fan if I asked him to bring me three more…”

Granola bars are real life…kind of like this picture:

our kitchen

I was laughing to myself as I made these the other morning…there I was, making granola bars for the blog, setting up pretty pictures, and thinking of how to make these granola bars as attractive as possible, and simultaneously…

…my kitchen floor was covered with oats, which were sticking to my socks; no fewer than four cabinet doors and three drawers were open; the counter was literally covered with dirty dishes to the point that I had stacked a few on the top of the stove; and I was feeding a very screechy, teethy little boy his oatmeal breakfast, all the while shoving things out of the camera’s way and trying to get these granola bars in the oven before putting him down for his morning nap.


I just had to stop and take that picture. Inspired by a similar picture from one of my favorite blogs, I wanted to share that although Carpe Season’s pictures may make it look like we live in a Williams Sonoma catalog, so so much more often, our days are happy and messy and loud and busy punctuated by a few moments here and there of quiet and beauty.

Which is why granola bars are a necessity around here.


I started making these granola bars soon after Owen was born because of the aforementioned three a.m. feedings above. For my first few weeks of nursing, I ate my way through about four boxes of store-bought granola bars a week. Hear this: there is nothing wrong with store-bought granola bars, but after eating like 40 a week, I got kind of tired of how sweet most of them were. So, I turned to the ever-trusty Smitten Kitchen, made these granola bars, and haven’t really stopped since.

These granola bars are super easy to make, and can go from ingredients to oven in about twenty minutes. These bars are the picture of acceptance: you can use up your lingering half-used bags of nuts, the last of your raisins, sticking to the bottom of the carton, the few chocolate chips you haven’t eaten on spoonfuls of peanut butter. You can make these completely yours, more sweet, less sweet, with whatever ingredients you want. Love that. They are chewy and thick and a happy blend of salty and sweet. AND the best part is, they keep well for a week in the fridge or you can wrap them individually in wax paper and keep them in the freezer for those days when you just can’t seem to pull it together.

Homemade Granola Bars

(Note: I did nothing to change this recipe as it was originally written by Deb on Smitten Kitchen. I have toyed around with these some, but you just can’t improve on something this good. Usually I try to create or at least use other recipes as inspiration, but let’s call this a curating post…I just need you to know these exist, and I need you to make a batch, and then eat them all within three days like I do. The end.)

Easy Homemade Granola Bars

Easy Homemade Granola Bars

(recipe from Smitten Kitchen )

(yields one 8x8x2" pan of bars)

This easy granola bar recipe makes perfect salty-sweet chewy granola bars that are not too sweet. You can use any combination of dried fruit or nuts that you like. They come together quickly and can even be frozen.


1 2/3 c. quick rolled oats

1/2 to 3/4 c. granulated sugar, to taste (I use a scant 1/2 c.)

1/3 c. oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed until finely ground in a food processor or blender)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 to 3 c. dried fruits and nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces)*

1/3 c. peanut butter or another nut butter (optional)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

6 tbsp. melted butter

1/4 c. honey or maple syrup

2 tbsp. light corn syrup

1 tbsp. water

parchment paper

*Suggestions: dried cranberries, apricots, pecans, sunflower seeds, coconut, walnuts, sesame seeds, pepitas, dried pples or even chocolate chips. (My current favorite: 1/3 c. unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/2 c. chopped pecans, 1/2 c. chopped walnuts, 1/4 c. sliced almonds, 1 c. dried cranberries)


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides (to make a "sling"). Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners, water, and peanut butter if using. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing down firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it with your hands.)

Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.

Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)

Once cool, a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares. If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan of them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold (I've had to do this every time). To store: place bars in an airtight container, or wrap bars individually in plastic. Keep in the fridge. You can also freeze these in an airtight container; I've frozen them before individually in wax paper.

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35 thoughts on “Easy Homemade Granola Bars

  1. Hi! I just came across this post on food gawker and wanted to comment to let you know that I absolutely love your blog. Your writing style is awesome, and I plan to add you to my google reader right now! I also plan to make these granola bars and eat them all in three seconds. Have a nice weekend!

  2. Holy Cow! I have been making granola bars for my kids (1 and 3) for about a year and am just a little tired of them but I love their convenience and wanted to try something new. Plus with another baby coming in the summer, I will definitely need them for feeding time! I came across your blog on foodgawker as well and am laughing out loud reading this post. The picture of your kitchen could just as well be mine. I love it. I will probably be making these tomorrow and subscribing to your blog right now! Thanks for the laugh

    • Glad to hear it! Sometimes a shakeup of an old staple is just the thing…these totally got me through around-the-clock nursing….It’s good to know that my kitchen is not the only one that explodes on a twice daily basis…at least.

  3. Ooooooohhh…I LOVE this! Love the pics, your story, the honesty, and our mutual love for Deb and Smitten Kitchen. You can never go wrong with her recipes. Like ever. I’ll have to try these bars – they look amazing! Thanks for the shout out!

  4. I just bought a huge box of old fashioned oats from Costco for the sole purpose if making granola bars. Will the old fashioned oats work in the recipe or do I need the quick cooking oats?

    • Good question, Rebekah! From what I understand, you can use the old fashioned oats but your finished granola bars might be a bit more chewy and you will see the whole oats in your finished product which isn’t really a problem, just a difference.
      .If you have a food processor or blender, you could grind up your old fashioned oats by pulsing them a few times to make smaller pieces (not so much to make a powder!)…this is essentially the same as quick oats.
      (However, for the “oat flour” ingredients, DO grind up your regular oats to a fine powder!)

      I got the best answer to your question mostly from this link: http://bakingbites.com/2011/05/regular-vs-quick-cooking-oatmeal-for-baking/
      but several other sites I looked at confirmed it.

      If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

  5. I’ve been making these a ton lately for midterm-studying snacks. My mom is also hooked on them and has been calling me with her new and wild combinations. I’ve managed to modify the recipe to make them vegan, gluten-free, corn-free, and refined sugar free.

    As always, thank you for the fantastic post! It was great to see some behind the scenes shots, too.

    • Glad to hear you’re enjoying them so often! Have you posted the gluten-free version on your blog? I’d love to pass them along to my sister and mom if so!

      • Haven’t posted a recipe, but it’s not that complicated. The main thing about making it gluten-free is using gluten-free oats. I haven’t, to date, found anything other than gluten-free rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill, and Just Oats). As you’ve stated in previous comments, this makes it a bit chewier, but it still works. Just make sure that you aren’t overloading the bars with too many fruits/nuts and pay close attention while cooking. I say the second part with hesitation because it may just be a concern for me. I think that my stove runs about 100 degrees off the marked temperature.

        I love rentals.

  6. AHahAhaha! This post was written the day before our second baby was born. I can’t even express how much the new mom paragraph hit home with me. It is so true.

    I was also a little heartbroken when my usually healthful, frugal self looked at our grocery bill and realized I had spent twenty (Yes, TWENTY) dollars on granola bars whose ingredients I couldn’t’ t even pronounce. That was two weeks ago. Those boxes are almost gone- hence the googling for granola bar recipes.

    Thanks & I’m so glad I found your blog.

    • So glad to know someone else out there can relate :) And I hear you on the pricey granola bar boxes – yikes! Hope you enjoy these homemade bars and that they help keep you sane with a new little one around :) Congrats!

  7. i made three batches of these and they taste amazing! the only think was i had a big problem with them sticking to the paper….any ideas why?? i really want to keep making these but having to cut the paper off made them fall apart :(

    • Oh no! I’m sorry – what a bummer! I’ve never had that problem myself, so I’m just sort of throwing out some suggestions here:
      *Are you greasing the parchment paper (and exposed sides of the pan) with cooking spray or butter? (I usually even go so far as to spray my cooking spray and then spread it evenly and into every corner with a paper towel).
      *Have you used this parchment paper before? – maybe try another brand? If you’re using “natural” parchment paper (like from Whole Foods), that often doesn’t have non-stick properties and might be giving you trouble.
      *Do you have any silicone pans? A friend of mine raves about them for this sort of thing…says her bars “pop” right out. I can’t speak to them myself…

      Let me know if any of this is helpful; if not, I’ll think and do some more research!
      Good luck! Glad you liked the granola bars.

      • i did spread every bit of it lol. i might try to get a silicone pan and see if that works. even though they fell apart everyone in my house is eating them all up lol

    • I had one other thought for you! I made 2 batches of these granola bars the other day. One was a lot browner on the top than the other – not burnt, just more colored, you know? And the more done ones sliced up like a dream; whereas, the lesser done batch was more sticky and crumbly. Are you letting them cook enough to brown on the edges and across the top?

  8. Don’t guys make granola bars? Or leave posts? … Anyway, great photos, and thanks for the recipe. My wife is pregnant with twins, we have a three year old. I made the bars this morning. These bars will definitely be consumed, and fast!

    • Way to man up, Rob, and not only leave a comment but make your pregnant-with-twin wife something to munch in :) Good luck increasing your numbers from 3 to 5! Glad you liked them!

  9. I made these as a test recipe, and after my co-workers and my husbands firehouse had them, I ended up making 5 batches of different flavors. Its an amazing recipe, one that’s permanently afixed to our fridge.

  10. Mine came out super crumbly and not stuck together well. Do you have this problem with them? The one ingredient I omitted is corn syrup (who uses corn syrup anymore, what with all the GMO-craziness)??? Could that be it?

    • Sorry to hear that! Mine have not come out super crumbly in the past, and I suspect you might be right: the corn syrup acts as a sort of glue. The corn syrup you buy in stores is slightly less terrible for you than high fructose corn syrup…it’s less sweet and doesn’t increase glucose levels quite as drastically from what I understand. So, used in moderation, like in this recipe, I think it can serve a purpose. However, if the addition of corn syrup still justifiably wigs you out, I’d suggest replacing it with an equal amount of honey or maple syrup. If you try this, I’d love to hear how it turned out!

      • I used an extra 2 tbsp of honey instead of the corn syrup, and after cooling in the fridge, the bars came out great. Love the recipe. Perfect breakfast on the go or afternoon snack.

  11. Liz,
    Thanks for the wonderful recipe! I made these for some new moms, and I couldn’t help but make some MORE for me and Dan!! Also, I doubled the recipe and it seems great. Keep up the amazing work!!!!
    Let’s catch up soon

    • Glad to hear it worked for you, Annie! We love this one too and always seem to have a batch around! Would love to see you this summer!

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