Honey Nut Granola Bars are crunchy, nutty, and sweetened just enough to hold together and taste delicious. Makes a perfect portable breakfast or snack.
When you think granola bars, you may think healthy, but a lot of granola bar recipes use quite a bit of sugar. Of course, sugar helps make it stick together, but let’s not get carried away. This one is simple without a lot of extra ingredients that would take away from the taste of honey and oats.
Granola bars are tricky. You want a bar that stands up to cutting without falling apart, which gives you granola and not granola bars. Therefore, in this recipe I use just enough brown sugar to hold everything together.
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Let me tell you about the other ingredients:
- Old fashioned oats are known for reducing cholesterol and they are rich in antioxidants.
- Almonds can reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar levels, and reduce blood pressure – just to name a few.
- Walnuts…Did you know walnuts are rich in antioxidants and is an excellent source of omega-3? Walnuts are beneficial for your heart, your skin, and hair. You should check them out and eat a handful a day and reap the benefits.
- Oat flour can be made simply by placing oats in a blender or food processor and grind or pulse until fine. I grind my own because it’s cheaper and I only grind what I need.
- Sesame seeds are known for reducing cholesterol and are heart healthy.
- Salt brings out the flavor of the other ingredients. You can substitute kosher or sea salt, but if you do, double the amount.
- Oil – I know a lot of people freak out about using oil in granola bars, but I have made them with safflower oil, vegetable oil, and coconut oil, in varying amounts until the result was the texture and taste I was after. I love the flavor of coconut oil but vegetable or safflower oil can be used instead. If you lower the amount of oil, you will have a crunchier result, but it will impact the flavor.
- Brown sugar is used to help bind the bars and keep them together. I use the least amount to do the job. I’ve tried it with none and up to 6 tablespoons baking numerous batches, and found 6 tablespoons to work the best. If you want no refined sugar added then my Easy Homemade Granola has only honey. Bars need a little extra help to keep them together. For a crunchy, clumpy granola, give my Pumpkin Spice Granola a try.
- Vanilla is my favorite of all extracts and it gives these bars an incredible flavor.
To toast or not to toast the oats and nuts prior to baking. I have tried it both ways and found that toasting brought out the flavor of the oats and also made the bars retain their shape. Mixing the oats with oil creates a crispy texture which attributes to a crunchy bar.
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The size of the nuts matter…(stop laughing)
I roughly chop the almonds because the bigger the nut, the bigger the crunch. It’s also appealing to the eye to see big chunks of almonds. As for the walnuts, I like them finely chopped to allow them to blend in with the other ingredients because they’re softer which contrasts with the crunchier almond. If you want a super easy gadget to chop the nuts, I suggest you get a food chopper. Just place the chopper over the nuts and push down the top. There’s a zig zag designed blade that chops quickly and turns as it lifts allowing to chop in a different direction. This one gets rave reviews and the price point is appealing. When preparation is easy, it motivates you to prepare.
Here’s a recap for a successful granola bar that holds itself together…
- Use/make oat flour as the fine texture acts like a glue.
- Use just enough brown sugar to hold the bars together and to give it flavor.
- Press down on the granola with the bottom of a measuring cup or a silicone spatula work best. You could also place a piece of parchment big enough to cover the top and press down with your hands. The important thing is to press down, press down, and press down, before and after baking.
- Let the bars cool about at least 15 minutes before slicing allowing them to harden. I recommend slicing before completely cooled because they will be hard. Use a sharp knife to slice into bars.
- Store in an airtight container. If stacking, place a piece of parchment in between to prevent sticking together.
- This recipe can easily be halved by using an 8×8 baking pan.
I’ve made these too many times to count, adjusting the ingredients to get a perfect bar that holds up to cutting and storing. My goal was to make them flavorful without being candy sweet and to only include pure ingredients. I feel I’ve accomplished this goal and now I’m sharing them with you.
Make these bars for you and your family. They are far better than anything you buy at the market, and you’re worth it. Enjoy.
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats
- ¼ cup oil - coconut (melted), safflower, or vegetable
- 1 cup almonds, roughly chopped
- ½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 cup crispy rice cereal
- ½ cup oat flour*
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt or ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup honey, (preferably local)
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment or greased foil with an overhang of an inch on both sides. This will make it easier to lift the granola out of the pan to slice into bars.
- In a large bowl, combine oats and oil, stirring to coat. Transfer on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, shaking the pan once halfway through baking.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
- Transfer toasted oats back into bowl and combine with nuts, rice cereal, oat flour, sesame seeds, and salt.
- In a small saucepan, over medium high heat, combine honey and brown sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture starts to bubble. Remove from heat.
- Stir in the vanilla. It may sizzle and that is okay.
- Slowly pour the honey mixture over the oats, stirring as you pour, coating the oats well.
- Transfer mixture in prepared baking dish and press it down firmly to compact it evenly. Press down on the granola with the bottom of a measuring cup or a silicone spatula. You could also place a piece of parchment big enough to cover the top and press down with your hands. The important thing is to press down, down, down.
- Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until lightly brown and the edges are golden. Check after 20 minutes as ovens vary. Use the same measuring cup as before or silicone spatula to press down firmly on the granola to compact it.
- Let the granola cool at least 15 minutes before slicing. After cooled, lift the granola out of pan by the parchment or foil overhang. Slice into 12 bars using a sharp knife.
- Store in airtight container. If stacking, place parchment in between bars to prevent sticking.
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