Oats and Quinoa Breakfast Bars

August 23, 2013
6 Ratings
  • Serves 16 bars
Author Notes

Quinoa is a versatile grain that packs a protein punch, and is perfect for any meal or snack. I adapted this recipe from Cook's Illustrated, and it's like a meal in a bar: full of grains and fruit, plus protein from quinoa and nuts. We love them for a grab-and-go breakfast or a midday snack. —CravingSomethingHealthy

Test Kitchen Notes

Although a bit crumbly, these bars had a great texture and combination of flavors. I especially loved the peanut butter caramel that binds the bars together. They set up quickly and I know they'll be gone just as fast! —Omeletta

What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup roasted, salted cashews, chopped
  • 1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup dried fruit, chopped (cranberries, raisins, apricots, etc)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups Multigrain Cheerios
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  1. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with foil so that the foil hangs over the sides. Spray with cooking spray and set pan aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large sauté pan. Add quinoa and oats, toss to coat with oil, and toast lightly. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Put oat mixture into a large mixing bowl, then add cashews, sunflower seeds, fruit, chocolate chips (if desired), and Cheerios. Stir well to combine.
  4. Pour sugar and water into a medium saucepan, stir lightly to combine, and bring to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat, without stirring, until sugar turns a light golden color, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to boil until sugar is a dark amber color (another 1 to 3 minutes). Stir only as needed.
  5. Immediately remove from heat, then whisk half and half, vanilla, and peanut butter into the sugar. The mixture will bubble vigorously, so be careful. Work quickly because caramel will start to thicken.
  6. Pour caramel over the oat mixture and stir well to combine. Immediately transfer granola mixture into the prepared pan and press and pack well into a flat layer. Be sure to press very tightly, or the bars will break apart.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Remove from pan by lifting the foil, and then cut into 16 bars. Wrap bars in wax or parchment paper, to keep them from sticking together.
  8. Refrigerate extra bars in an airtight container, or freeze.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Taylor Stanton
    Taylor Stanton
  • frizz
  • MichiganDave
  • Sandybird
  • jocelyn

26 Reviews

Taylor S. September 2, 2020
These are awesome. I stored them in the freezer, and the peanut butter caramel was a genius binder!
David March 18, 2020
A little late to the party on these - but turned out great. Wasn't sure about the cheerios - What am I going to do with an almost full box of Cheerios? So I substituted crushed up mini pretzels. The salt of the pretzels with the caramel works really well.
frizz August 8, 2017
I just want to clarify that the quinoa is uncooked, yes? It gets a little toast, but it's not actually cooked through. This would create the crunch the tester talked about, right? What would happen if I cooked the quinoa through first and then toasted it?
MichiganDave July 19, 2016
Can you please supply nutritional data for these? Thanks!
Sandybird April 19, 2014
Educate me please, as this has always confused me.
How on Earth does one toast quinoa that's been rinsed?? If it's wet from rinsing, won't it just steam, as opposed to toasting???
Kind of...But if you drain it really well and spread it on a hot pan, it actually dries out pretty quickly. Then it will toast. The rinsing step is probably more important that the toasting for quinoa because it has a bitter coating called saponin.
Maura April 14, 2014
Btw, condensed milk (sweetened or unsweetened) also works as "glue" without all the fuss of cooking caramel...
Maura April 14, 2014
"Multigrain Cheerios"??? Seriously??? What can I use instead?
jocelyn February 27, 2014
Btw, quinoa is actually not a grain. It's a seed and has more protein than any grain - contains all essential amino acids.
Betsy February 26, 2014
Do you use the quinoa UNCOOKED? thanks. sounds yummy!
CravingSomethingHealthy February 26, 2014
Yes - uncooked. Just rinse it, and make sure you pack and press them into the pan really well or they'll fall apart! Enjoy!
CravingSomethingHealthy November 12, 2013
I would just add extra oats in place of the cereal. I haven't tried this yet, but I understand you can pop sorghum (the grain), and it's like popcorn but without the kernel. That might be another option.
Chris November 12, 2013
If you don't want to use a cereal, what would you recommend to add to this recipe please?
CravingSomethingHealthy November 11, 2013
No - PB is totally optional. Enjoy!
caroline November 10, 2013
hello, do I need to use PB since I don't like it? Will it work without it? Thanks.
Laura November 9, 2013
I tried the oatmeal quinoa bars last night: the bars were too crumbly to cut. I tried the caramel sauce twice and am not sure I ever got it right. Any suggestions for a "glue" other than the caramel sauce?
CravingSomethingHealthy November 9, 2013
Hi Laura - Caramel can be finicky, but the real trick to making granola bars that don't fall apart is to press them like crazy. Use your fingers or a spatula and press and squeeze them as tight as possible. And then press some more. Maybe try honey and brown sugar for a glue...
Joanna W. September 16, 2013
These could also be terrific bound with tahini (for peanut allergy sufferers, particularly)
CravingSomethingHealthy September 16, 2013
That sounds delicious!
Deb D. September 15, 2013
Im in Canada, and ours have trisodium phosphate. Our FDA may not be as stringent as USA.. I wish it wasn't so.
CravingSomethingHealthy September 16, 2013
Interesting. Apparently it is approved for use as an acid buffer in some foods. Hopefully in much lower quantities than what I used to clean my deck last weekend :). Thanks for teaching me something new!
Deb D. September 15, 2013
Did you know there is trisodium phosphate in multi grain Cheerios? A degreaser!
CravingSomethingHealthy September 15, 2013
Great that you are reading food labels! Actually, Multigrain Cheerios has
TRIPOTASSIUM phosphate added as an emulsifier, not trisodium phosphate. It's used in many foods, but you can feel free to substitute any similar shaped cereal if you like.
Deb D. September 15, 2013
This is what general mills says about its use in food;f=108;t=000685;p=1
Leah A. September 14, 2013
I wonder if you could substitute maple syrup for sugar...
CravingSomethingHealthy September 15, 2013
I think you could use maple or agave syrup, or even honey, but I would either cut out, or cut back on the caramel sauce a bit, or they might be too soft.