These chewy granola bars are chock full of good-for-you ingredients, and perfect for mid-day snack attacks. Mix up the mix-ins to your heart's content for your own custom bar!
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Of all the complicated things I've made or wanted to make over the years, I never thought I'd be stumped by the humble granola bar.
In my head, there should be nothing simpler than throwing some oats, nuts and dried fruits into a bowl with some kind of sticky substance. How could that formula result in anything but granola bar nirvana?
As it turned out though, getting the perfect flavor, texture and level of sweetness was kind of a process. And so was getting all those things in a granola bar that was healthier than the sugar-laden kind you get at the grocery store.
Since that was a primary reason I wanted to make granola bars at home, I really wanted to find that balance.
The first couple of recipes I tried were super-healthy. One was a no-bake recipe, sweetened mainly with dates, which wasn't bad but lacked a little on the taste and texture front.
Then I tried one sweetened mainly with bananas that was baked, but came out more bread-y than chewy, and again lacking somewhat in flavor (although this banana granola is my fave. I think I will make it my mission to transform it into a bar!).
From this, I finally understood that I would need to compromise a bit on the health factor to get chewy granola bars that my family would really want to sink their teeth into.
(I was forced to eat the previous test batches on my own, so no one was getting any health benefits but me, anyway!)
Finally I turned, as I so often do, to my spirit animal(blog), Smitten Kitchen. Deb's recipe, adapted from the King Arthur Flour website (an amazing source for reliable baking recipes if you didn't know), turned out to be THE ONE.
It's perfectly sweet-but-not-too-sweet, chewy, and most importantly, delicious.
Here are some tips for success:
Tips for Making the Best Chewy Granola Bars
- Pack the granola mixture very firmly into your pan before baking for the best binding. If packed too loosely the bars may be crumbly (though they will still taste great).
- Let them cool completely after baking, and then refrigerate for 30 minutes or so before cutting into bars. If they've hardened too much, just bring them back to room temp before cutting. This also helps prevent any crumbling.
- You may be tempted to replace the two tablespoons of corn syrup for something else, like honey. You can totally do that and they will taste the same. But the corn syrup does help with the binding.
That said, if you're used to hearing "corn syrup" continuously maligned in the press, please know that it is not the same as "high fructose corn syrup", which is the real sneaky problem with so many processed foods. For more info on the difference between the two, check out this post from the The Kitchn.
So there you go! These chewy granola bars are infinitely adaptable, so feel free to mix up your mix-ins!
Sound good to you? If you make this recipe, I would be THRILLED if you would take a pic and tag me on Instagram @ourhappymess!
Chewy Granola Bars
- 1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup oat flour (You can make your own oat flour by processing rolled oats in a food processor until finely ground)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup peanut butter
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/4 cup honey (or maple or corn syrup)
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon water
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line and 8 x 8 inch square baking pan with two sheets of parchment paper, criss-crossed across the pan so that the sheets extend over the edges on all four sides. Spray the parchment with non-stick spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, oat flour, salt, almonds, coconut, cranberries and chocolate chips.
- Add the peanut butter, melted butter, honey corn syrup and water and stir until well combined.
- Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Press the mixture down as firmly and evenly as possible. Placing a sheet of plastic wrap on top and pressing down with your hands or the bottom of a glass works well.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.
- Cool completely, then pop the pan into the fridge for 30 minutes or so. Lift the sides of the parchment paper to lift out the granola slab. Cut into 12 bars using a serrated, or chef's knife. (If bars are too cold to cut, just let them soften up a bit at room temperature before trying again.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature, or wrap individually in plastic wrap, and put in an airtight container to freeze.