Sara's "Granola Bars"

By • May 23, 2011 • 60 Comments



Author Notes: My friend Sara is a great cook, and she's forever amazing me with her deftness at making something transcendent out of a few simple ingredients. She doesn't tend to favor elaborate, cloying desserts -- more than once she's ended a dinner party with a plate of her homemade "granola bars." They're chewy and rich, a jumble of nuts, cereal, seeds and dried fruit barely held together with almond butter and honey (no baking involved). She's not shy with the salt, which I think really sets these bars apart. Last week, she shared the recipe with me, and now I'm sharing it with you. These are great to have around, as a dessert or a snack.Merrill Stubbs

Makes about 30 2-inch bars

  • 1 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup raw sliced almonds
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 3 cups brown rice crispies (you can substitute regular rice crispies or puffed rice)
  • 1 cup dried apricots, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds. (Sara recommends toasting them all separately because of different burn rates -- I found that the pumpkin seeds took the least amount of time, at 7 minutes, and the sunflower seeds the most, at about 15 minutes.)
  2. When all the items are sufficiently toasted, toss them with the brown rice crispies, sliced apricot and cranberries in a large bowl.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat the almond butter and honey just to get melty, not cooked. (This is your glue and if it boils or even comes close, it gets hard and yucky.) Stir in the salt and cinnamon, then pour over the oat and nut mixture and stir. You want to get everything incorporated and 'glued' together without crushing the tender crispies.
  4. Turn into a 9x13 baking dish lined with parchment and press the mixture evenly and firmly -- again, try not crush the crispies too much. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours. Cut into 2-inch squares before serving.
Jump to Comments (60)

Tags: can be made ahead, Healthy, no bake

Comments (60) Questions (5)

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Stringio

2 months ago Kathryn Porterfield 1

I cut back to 2 tsp of salt but it was still too salty, so next time I will use just one. I have substituted 1/2 the nut butter with coconut butter or coconut manna and it is delicious! Also maple syrup or agave for 1/2 the honey. I press them into a jelly roll pan so they are thinner and easier to cut. Using them for healthy munchies in our upcoming wedding welcome bags.

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3 months ago sticksnscones

I think I've finally found the quintessential granola bar! I added large flaked coconut & toasted flax seeds to mine. I cut back the cinnamon to 1 t. & added 1 t. vanilla.
I was low on honey so used 1/4 brown rice syrup.

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5 months ago fmacmac

I've made these several times now and always cut way back on the salt - they still taste great.

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5 months ago Mickey0627

I made these exactly as the recipes states. They are very good, but a bit too salty. I used 1 tablespoon FINE sea salt. Would it have been better with COARSE sea salt? The almond butter I used was also salted. Besides making them with less salt next time, are there any other suggestions?

Merrill

5 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I would definitely use unsalted almond butter, and maybe cut back 1/2 the salt?

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5 months ago Kgiersch

Wonderful!

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6 months ago BONGO

These are the best bars ever - and I agree, the salt adds an extra "hhmmph" factor. My first batch (a huge one by the way) was with puffed quinoa instead of rice crispies, cashew nuts, peanuts, pistachios, dried banana, dried mango and cranberry - the cement was peanut butter + a little tahini + a mix of honey/maple syrup/rice syrup. Everything went perfectly, from toasting to binding to fridge and cut. Next time, I might stick to less exotic dried fruits as I thought they didn't fit perfectly in. Also I kept the bars in the fridge all the time, so no crumbling at all and my boyfriend even said they were getting better with time. Now I just want to do them again and experiment with nuts and such... Thank you very much for this great & easy recipe !

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6 months ago Molly Crehan

Any ideas to replace the almond butter? Maybe sunflower butter? Nut allergy, sadly.

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4 months ago mammabear1015

try tahini paste instead..it has kind of a nutty flavor and is made with sesame seeds

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4 months ago mammabear1015

You can actually make your own Tahini Paste, it's rather easy. Here is a good recipe:

Use is 1 cup sesame seeds to anywhere from 2 tablespoons of olive oil to 1/2 cup depending on how thick or thin you want it. 1 cup sesame seeds makes about 2/3 of a cup of Tahini, depending on how much olive oil is used.

Lightly toast the sesame seeds over low heat about ten minutes, stirring often, don’t worry about getting a lot of color on them, like you would if toasting nuts. They’re fragile and burn easily, so watch them carefully.

Allow to cool off and then add them to the bowl of a food processor along with a 2 tablespoons of oil to start. You can also use a mortar and pestle.

Pulse until a paste forms, scraping down sides as needed and adding more olive oil to reach a consistency you like.


(Read more at http://www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice...)

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7 months ago Assonta Wagner

Made these today, SO SO good plain, but my kids and I decided to spread a little chocolatey goodness over the top and it turned into ridiculous good! If I could add a picture, I would!

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8 months ago Yazoolulu

I finally made these and they are so delicious. I cut the salt in half, but could have increased it with no problem - I guess it depends on the salt. I had no almond butter, so subbed tahini, and they taste a bit like halvah. These will be on regular rotation from now on.

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11 months ago LeeLeeBee

These granola bars are great! I toasted everything over the stove instead of in the oven, so it was easier to keep an eye on everything. I did decrease salt to 2 tsp, which I found sufficient. I don't like super sweet things, but I didn't find these too sweet at all. My coworkers gobbled them down!

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12 months ago rapearson

These are very tasty, although I found them rather sweet for my taste. I also had some trouble with them staying together (I used 1/3 Rice Krispies, 2/3 brown rice puffs). I might try to use less honey somehow (while still binding them together) for my next batch.

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over 1 year ago Dimply Dots

About the refrigeration issue: it states to refrigerate for several hours to cool them down and help them set. They do not need to be stored in the refrigerator, only a sealed container on the counter is fine. They easily keep for a week on the counter in my experience. In regards to the salt issue, I'd add half, then taste and keep adding until it seems right to you. Depending on the type of salt, one tablespoon can be fine or seem too salty. One tablespoon of sea salt has worked great for me, but one tablespoon of kosher salt is a bit too much. These are really great granola bars and lend themselves well to substitutions.

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over 1 year ago Dimply Dots

Also if using Puffed rice, the almond butter and honey ratio is simply not enough to actually bind the ingredients together. It was fine when using rice crispies, but when tried with puffed rice I was left with a crumbly mess. At least it was a delicious crumbly mess. I'll save it by throwing it on some ice scream perhaps.

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over 1 year ago LiveItUp

What I meant was, once firm, why do they need to be stored in the refrig?

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over 1 year ago LiveItUp

Why do these need to be refrigerated?

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over 1 year ago fmacmac

These are truly outstanding; my husband has been known to eat several at one sitting, sometimes warmed in the microwave and served with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream.

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over 1 year ago Noelle Lennox Slusarski

These bars are outstanding.

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over 1 year ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Made these this morning for a gluten-free breakfast buffet. I used peanut butter rather than almond butter, and they are fantastic. They've earned a permanent spot on the rotation.

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over 1 year ago Rogan

What the...?! These are amazing. I ran out of space in my smaller pan so I used non-stick muffin pan and made little circular "bars" (make sure to push down firmly). I found this to be a less messy solution because there is no cutting. You just pop them out and wrap 'em up. My husband ate three late last night. I may have to hide them...

Merrill

over 1 year ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Genius!

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over 1 year ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Wonderful idea!

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about 2 years ago KateLynn

I've made these a few times now, and they are absolutely delicious. But, is a tablespoon of salt a typo? The first time the bars were so salty I could barely eat them. Now I add a half teaspoon, max. Anyone else find this odd? Or am I just super sensitive?

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over 2 years ago tbranscum328

Sounds great but I am allergic to rice. Can you recommend and alternative?

Merrill

over 2 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You just want something with a slightly different texture -- maybe a puffed corn cereal? You could also just leave out the puffed rice and up the other dry ingredients proportionately.

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12 months ago rapearson

puffed quinoa?

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over 2 years ago Franca

I had a hard time mixing therefore they didn't hold together the way I would like, but ooh the flavour. They are absolutely delicious! Love the contrast between sweet and salty. Definately a keeper

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over 2 years ago Kt4

I wonder if there's a way to make these so they don't require refrigeration :-? I'd love to make something like this for hikes & horseback rides.

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over 2 years ago Jenifer Mangione Vogt

I'm in awe of these!

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over 2 years ago Michelle Taylor

Wonderful bars! I can't stop eating them. So delicious and easy.

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about 3 years ago CathyB

Wow! These are amazing! I've been meaning to make these for weeks and I finally got around to it last night. I didn't have puffed rice or rice krispies (and didn't feel like running to the store), so I used whole grain Cheerios. They are still terrific. Thanks for a great recipe. Can't wait to try it with other nuts/seeds/dried fruit.

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about 3 years ago Sharonzell

These are very delicious! We made a few substitutions (walnuts for almonds, mango/ coconut for the other dried fruit, and added some golden flaxseed), but they disappeared quickly. We will be making them again!

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about 3 years ago djangosmama

I made these bars with what I had in the house: chocolate chips, unsweetened coconut, peanuts, raisins, almonds, and pumpkin seeds. The chips melted when I added the "glue," but turned the granola bars into a chocolatey goodness I didn't expect!

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about 3 years ago RoundLake Cook

Made these over the weekend and they are phenomenal!

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about 3 years ago goodie

how would you make them without the rice crispies?

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about 3 years ago edamame2003

i made these and they are delicious. they just don't stay together as a 'bar' and i'd like to pack them as a snack for my son. is there anything I can do now to get them to stay together?

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about 3 years ago thirschfeld

what kind of almond butter? I made these and they are sticking together great. I made them last Wednesday and have had them in the fridge and they are as good as the day we made them. I am thinking, since some others have had them fall apart, that you used a ground natural butter, probably had to stir it to combine the oil back into it. I used an organic almond butter with cane syrup extract and palm oil. It resembles Jif and I think it makes for a better glue. I just wonder if this might not be the issue.

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about 3 years ago Jenifer Mangione Vogt

How long can you store these? How do you store them? In the fridge? Thanks!

Merrill

about 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

They should keep in the fridge for several days. Or, you could try freezing them (see my other comment below).

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about 3 years ago luciana Braga

I libe in Brazil and i can't find almond butter, can i chance for normal butter?
Tks, luciana

Merrill

about 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

If you don't have almond butter, peanut butter or another nut butter should work fine. I wouldn't recommend regular butter for these.

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about 3 years ago Jenifer Mangione Vogt

Hmmnn...wondering if it would be OK to just buy the nuts/seeds already roasted to save time? Or, will that make a big difference in flavor/outcome? I'm a newbie at cooking so all thes little nuances are still pretty foreign for me. (I love this blog and am learning so much :-)

Merrill

about 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

What a nice comment! You could buy pre-roasted nuts and seeds, but the flavor will be better if you do it yourself.

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about 3 years ago seshirkey

I actually did this last night. My store was seriously lacking in "raw" anything so I got roasted sliced almonds and roasted unsalted sunflower seeds. They didn't have any pumpkin seeds so I substituted some flax seed that I had at home. I also swapped out the cranberries for dried cherries and tossed in a few mini dark chocolate chips and they turned out AWESOME! I wouldn't sweat it if you can't find unroasted seeds.

Also, the almond butter I used was super raw, and not terribly creamy, and I think they're holding together alright, but next time I'm going to try the more creamy kind for a better "glue".

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about 3 years ago thirschfeld

Made these on Wednesday and we love them. Both girls think they belong in the granola bar hall of fame.

Merrill

about 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Sara's bars are good!

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about 3 years ago Pam Riesenberg

Very close in taste and texture to granola bars made by Whole Foods. Loved them, very addictive but had an issue with the bars falling apart on me. I did use just a little less honey than the recipe called for. Do you think that's the problem? Is there another ingredient that would "glue" the bars?
Pam R.

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about 3 years ago nancila

this happened to me with another, very similar recipe...and we found out that it's even better as a topping on yogurt! so now my family insists on it!

Merrill

about 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

As Sara mentioned, sometimes you may even need a little more of the almond butter/honey mixture to hold the dry ingredients together. You could maybe try substituting agave for the honey.

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about 3 years ago Waverly

For storage purposes, do you think these would do alright in the freezer?

Merrill

about 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, I think they should be fine if they're well-wrapped.

Mcs

about 3 years ago mcs3000

Making 'em this weekend!

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about 3 years ago bakeaholic

Could you substitute peanut butter for almond butter?

Merrill

about 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I don't see why not!

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about 3 years ago nancila

i have substituted it with peanut butter, but prefer the almond. the peanut butter has a way of overtaking all the other flavors; the almond seems to let the seeds and fruits shine.

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about 3 years ago mbj913

I made these with peanut butter and dried cherries and they came out well. I mightbtr a sesame seed variation next time.

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about 3 years ago thirschfeld

These are so saved.

Lorigoldsby

about 3 years ago lorigoldsby

Yum...I think my husband will love these as a breakfast bar!