No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars

As a momma to six kiddos (Yes, I know.  They’re the cutest kids you’ve ever seen), I realize summer time is a delicate balancing act that can easily come crashing down around you if you lack any of the following necessities:

  1. Food…..and mountains of it! — Not only are you feeding your family but also the endless supply of friends and neighbors who know you keep mountains of food at your house.
  2. Entertainment — This comes in so many different forms depending on a child’s age and interests, but it all boils down to one critical point:  if your kids get bored, they come and find YOU!!!
  3. Work — Everyone home 24/7 = Everything a mess 24/7 if everyone doesn’t do their part to survive.  
  4. Time — It can be 15 minutes or it can be a whole afternoon but those moments of time you spend together as a family is what your kids will remember when they reminisce about the Summer of 2013.
Last week, as I battled to keep up with Necessity #1, my kids were begging me to whip up their favorite Chewy Granola Bars.  However, it was hot outside and there was no way I was turning on the oven. You see, I live in a beautiful 120 year old home here in Minnesota but it loses a bit of its beauty every summer due to the lack of central air.  We have window units but they are so hideously loud and ugly that we wait as long as we can to install them.
My lack of A/C got my recipe brain churning and I played with my original recipe to create a no-bake version.  Success!  You get to stay in the attic in a few more weeks monstrous window A/C units.
The kids and I had so much fun creating all the different variations of this same recipe base.  I made one double batch of the base, but used these five different mix-ins to create all our favorites.  Actually, I created SIX varieties, because my oldest son only likes plain granola bars.  Have fun with this base and mix in all the great stuff your own family loves!  I’m sure you can come up with amazing variations that will make mine seems as boring as my son’s plain ones :)

**I have received many questions about using coconut oil instead of butter, and agave instead of honey, so I created a revised recipe using those substitutions!  Just click here for the instructions and tell me what you think.  I can’t tell the difference! 

No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars
(recipe makes a 9×13 pan)
recipe by Carole Jones of My Kitchen Escapades
2 cups quick cooking oats (or pulse whole oats in a food processor a bit)
1 C rice crispy cereal
1/4 C shredded coconut
1/4 C butter
1/4 C honey or agave
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix -In variations listed below

1.  In a large mixing bowl, mix together the oats, cereal and coconut.  Set a small saucepan over medium high heat and melt the butter.  Add the honey, brown sugar and salt.  Stir together then leave it alone as it comes to a boil.  Once the boil has reached all the way around the edges of the pan, begin timing.  Allow this mixture to boil for 2 minutes and 15 seconds.  During this time, you may need to turn the heat down a bit so it doesn’t overflow, but be sure it keeps boiling.
2.  Add the vanilla then pour the mixture over the oats, using a rubber spatula to get all the sugar mixture out of the pan.  Mix the ingredients together until the oats are completely coated.  Add in your desired mix-in then press very firmly into a lightly greased 9×13″ pan.  If you like your bars thicker, you can use a smaller pan or double the recipe and use the same 9×13 pan.  If you do not press firmly enough, the bars will fall apart when you eat them.  Place them in the fridge for 20 minutes then cut to size.

Chocolate Chip
Add 1/2 C of mini chocolate chips to the finished mixture before pressing into the pan, allowing it cool just a bit or you will end up with melted chips.  Sprinkle on a few extra chips over the top after they are pressed into the pan.

White Chocolate Cranberry
Add 1/3 C of white chocolate chips and 1/3 C of Craisins to the finished mixture before pressing into the pan, allowing it to cool just a bit first or you will end up with melted chips.

Candy Bar
Add 1/3 C of Heath bar pieces, 1/3 C of mini M&M’s and 1/3 C of chopped pretzels to the finished mixture before pressing into the pan.

Peanut Butter
Add 2 Tb of peanut butter to the finished sugar mixture before pouring it over the oats.  Once mixed with the oats, add 1/2 C peanut butter chips before pressing into the pan.

Raisin Nut
Add 1/3 C of chopped raisins and 1/3 C of chopped pecans to the finished mixture before pressing into the pan.

Need some more outstanding No-Bake recipes?  Here are a few of our favorites!

Comments

  1. says

    Well Crystal, the obvious is the Raisin Nut recipe I already have listed :). Put in any of your favorite dried fruits or nuts. We love chopped dried apricots and craisins together.

  2. kelly says

    hi i can not have honey at all its a life and death thing what can i use in replace of this please? many thanks

  3. says

    Kelly- you could try using corn syrup but I have never tried it with corn syrup. If you do, come back and let me know how they turned out. I would also add some additional vanilla since corn syrup has no flavor and honey has tons!

  4. says

    Lynn-yes, you can leave it out but try it in the bars first. It is more for the texture of the bars than flavor. I can’t taste the coconut directly but it does help give them a nice chew.

  5. says

    These sound great especially for kids snack at school. What is the best way to store them and how long would you say they stay fresh. Thinking about making a couple batches at once.
    Thanks Amy

  6. says

    Amy- they stay well if you individually wrap the bars tightly in plastic wrap. Be sure you really press down on them when making them so they will be firm enough to last without breaking once they are wrapped!

  7. Anonymous says

    These wouldn’t hold together very well for me, despite the fact that I pushed down as hard as I could to make the bars keep their shape. I’m thinking about adding more butter, sugar, honey next time to make it stickier. Any suggestions?

  8. says

    My guess would be to first cook your mixture longer by one minute. If the sugar mixture doesn’t come to the proper temperature as it boils, it won’t harden enough as it cools. Try that first!

  9. Anonymous says

    thank you my family loves these. i have waited the few minutes for them to cool but my chocolate still melts. what ia a good time to wait without ruining them. also i forgot the coconut and they still turned out. that was good because my husband is not big on coconut.

  10. says

    Wait a couple more minutes or just sprinkle them on the top of bars once they are in the pan. Be sure you try the coconut next time! Gives a good chew without the taste of coconut so your hubby will never know :)

  11. Anonymous says

    Just made these. They are amazing. I added sunflower seeds before putting them in the pan. Also tried mini marshmallows and melted semi sweet chocolate over top(rock road style). Really sweet. Really yummy. Thank you so much.

  12. Toni says

    You can substitute coconut oil for the butter. You can also use organic brown rice syrup instead of brown sugar. You could possibly use the brown rice syrup to replace the honey for those who are allergic. These types of granola bars are very forgiving…you can experiment and still get tasty results!!

  13. says

    Are you talking about my original recipe? It was a basis that I began playing with it and thought they would stay together a bit better without being baked using less oats. You can certainly play with my version! That is what cooking and baking is all about!

  14. says

    These are GREAT!! Made my first batch today and used mini choc chips and mini M&Ms! The kids love them. I’d like to use them in school lunches. Do you have an idea of how long they will keep? Or how to store? I wrapped individual bars in plastic wrap and then put them all in a ziplock bag. I’m assuming room temp is okay?

  15. says

    Heather-so glad you loved them! If you wrap them individually, they will last around a couple weeks. They won’t spoil, just become more stale as time goes on.

  16. says

    Made these last night and so good! To make sure they were pressed down really firm I put a sheet of wax paper over the top then used a small loaf pan and pushed it down on top all the way around. Cleaner and quicker than using my hands.

    I plan to make some with almonds next time.

  17. Anonymous says

    can you please tell me how you have to ‘press’ them? i mean how do you do it and what exactly is the technique what’s the exact type of equipment needed? I’m really confused but i want to try your recipe really bad. the pictures you included were really motivating- that they would turn out delicious. So please help :-)

  18. says

    Special equipment needed: your hands :). I use lightly damp hands to press the bars quite firmly into the pan. Some have used plastic wrap over the top and then their hands or another pan to press down.

  19. Anonymous says

    Ohh, i see. what do i do after pressing it? should i cover it with something like plastic wrap before putting it in the fridge or just put it in as it is.( not covered and in the square pan)….one more thing- you see, in the place i live, that kind of rice cereal is pretty hard to find and i’m having difficulties with other recipes that include even more varieties of different ingredients. it’s all so confusing. is it possible you substitute anything for it? something easier? or if not can you tell me some other good rice cereal names that go GOOD with the recipe? thanks!

  20. Anonymous says

    These are yummy! But I thought they were a bit too sweet. I don’t know how to go about cutting down the sugar though, since it’s used as the liquid to hold it together. Thoughts?

  21. Anonymous says

    What is the goal temperature to bring the syrup to? We have an elevation of 5000 feet and it takes a while for things to boil.

  22. Anonymous says

    I made these tonight & saw the ingredient for vanilla but didn’t see any directions calling for it & completely forgot all about it, however these are still delicious and my kids are raving about them. We made white chocolate/craisin & chocolate chip and they both turned out great!!!!

  23. Anonymous says

    Do you think jelly/jam would work in these? Hubby said a PBJ one would be good but not sure that it would harden.

  24. Anonymous says

    Thanks for the recipe! Mine are in the fridge right now. Since I’m in fall mode, I made them with pumpkin seeds, cinnamon chips and cranberries. I can’t wait to try them!

  25. says

    Yum! Can’t wait to make these with GF rice cereal and oatmeal! My son can’t have gluten and I was planning to spend all weekend making snacks for him to bring to school. Since packaged GF granola bars are SO expensive these will be a great alternative! Thanks!

  26. Anonymous says

    Mine didn’t go so well…… added the sugar mixture and it just clumped up :( had to quickly make a little more sugar mixture and still did the same. eventually just mashed together and then pressed into pan….. Was very frustrating!!

  27. says

    These are so good! I just made my third batch. I can’t keep them in the house! Even my pickiest water loves them. Thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to see what flavors I can come up with…. I will never buy store bought again!

  28. Anonymous says

    Hi There!

    I just made these bars. I am really excited to try them. I used a 9×13 pan as the recipe called for. These seem very thin though. I followed the recipe. Is this how they are supposed to be. How many bars does it yield?
    Thanks!!1

  29. says

    Yes freezing works great! I just tried it last week. I wrap each bar in plastic wrap then put in a freezer ziploc bag. Took them out the night before and you’d never know they had been in the freezer.

  30. Anonymous says

    On my first attempt to make them I decided to add the 2TB peanut butter to sugar mixture after the boiling step. I’m wondering if anyone else had the sugar mixture harden quickly when trying to mix into oats/cereal mixture? Almost turned to toffee as I was stirring. Couldn’t get a lot of the oats mixed in. I planned to add mini chocolate chips too but decided to add to the top instead. Evenly poured on top then warmed in oven a couple minutes so I could spread chocolate over the top. They taste great but what did I do wrong?? A lot of oats fall off as you bite into bars since the mixture didn’t “mix” well…

    Thank you!! A great alternative to the cardboard tasting bars from store! :)

  31. says

    You could, but your result will be denser and possibly more dry. If you do, I would reduce the amount of oats compared to the rice cereal. Let me know how it goes!

  32. says

    No, you don’t but I really do recommend you try it once with the coconut. It adds a great texture to the bar without the flavor of coconut. Try it once before you eliminate it! Good luck.

  33. Anonymous says

    these turned out excellent! chewy like them but yummier then those synthetic shop ones. id recommend toasting the oats 5 mins to get rid of the floury taste. and i used cornflakes instead of rice crispies, which i didn’t have. 3 mins boiling time. pressed down hard using a plastic bag over my hand to pack it in. a smaller pan would work 9 by 9 inch max for a 0.5-1 cm thick 12 bars.

  34. says

    Jennifer- it sounds like you cooked the sugar mixture either too long or too hot. Try again and reduce your cooking time of the sugar mixture by at least a minute. Good luck!

  35. says

    My entire family loved these. I used sugar in the raw instead of brown sugar and ground up flax seed instead of the crispy rice cereal. They were delicious!

  36. says

    I store them in an airtight container and they are good for about 5 days. You can individually wrap each bar in plastic wrap and they will last longer.

  37. says

    Definitely, agave can be substituted for the honey, but I have no experience with fructose so I can’t say for sure. Come back and let me know how it works!

  38. Anonymous says

    Found this recipe and your blog via Pinterest. I made these yesterday and substituted coconut oil for the butter to make a dairy free version for a friend. Also added wheat germ, flaxseed meal, and sunflower seeds instead of rice cereal, since i didnt have any. Turned out scrumptious!

  39. says

    I just discovered this via Pinterest and I must thank you! I am so happy I’ll be able to make the kids a snack in the summer that does NOT involve oven use as well. I live in NE Wyoming and while it’s terribly cold all winter, the summers are scorching hot and we also do not have anything other than a noisy A/C unit.
    LOVE LOVE LOVE these :)

  40. says

    I store them in an airtight container and they are good for about 5 days. You can individually wrap each bar in plastic wrap and they will last longer.

  41. Becky says

    These are wonderful! I’ve made 3 batches today. : ) My husband says they are “perfect”, and all 8 kids keep begging for more. I don’t know they’ll make it into tomorrow! Thank you!

  42. says

    Hi, my picky kids wouldn’t eat these since they saw the oatmeal lol but my husband loves these as snacks for work. I was wondering though if you know about how long they last and the best way to store them? I wrapped them individually in saran wrap and then in a freezer bag. They are currently on the counter but wasn’t sure if they should stay like that or not. Thanks

  43. says

    Sounds like you cooked the sugar mixture too long Mindy. Cut the cook time down a chunk. I made them today and once it comes to a boil, two minutes 15 seconds works perfectly for me but you might need less time.

  44. Anonymous says

    Very simple and tasty; a real kid pleaser! I have not tried them with honey yet, but used the corn syrup I had on hand. I have also modified them a little as I found them to be a bit too hard. I reduced the boiling time to 1 minute 30 seconds from the time the syrup mixture begins a full boil. I also added about 1 tbsp more of both the brown sugar and corn syrup because the first time I made them the mixture was a little dry. This seems to have done the trick for me. I wonder if using honey changes the chewiness so once I actually buy some, I plan on trying your original recipe as is. So much healthier and cheaper than buying store bought granola bars!!

  45. Laurie says

    I never leave comments but these were so delicious I just had to! So chewy and tasty and simple! I don’t use quick oats and I didn’t even grind the whole oats and they tasted delicious! I will double the revipe for a 9×13 pan I like them thick. Thanks for posting this, I’ll be making these a LOT

  46. says

    Having never tried that substitution, I honestly don’t know but have been tempted to try it. I use agave instead of honey and actually prefer that substitution because agave has a much milder flavor. Let me know if you give the coconut oil a try!

  47. says

    Any idea on what the nutritional info is? I’m sure it changes once you add the additional toppings. Any info would be great. Thanks much for sharing.

  48. says

    Re the question about nutritional information — try myfitnesspal.com or calorie-count.com. You input the brand-specific ingredients that you use, and get a customized-to-you nutritional analysis of the recipe! Good luck!

  49. says

    These are amazing! I’ve been wanting to make this since I saw the recipe but never got around to it. The kids and I made these today and they are AMAZING! I didn’t have coconut (which is odd, since I always use it in baked goods) so we left it out…. I also added peanut butter plus some semi sweet chocolate chips, raisins, slivered almonds and some whole peanuts (next time, the peanuts will need to be smashed) and they turned out fantastic. The whole peanuts kept the granola bars from staying together when I smushed it all down… but that’s the only issue… that was all my fault. Totally making these again! Thank you for sharing a wonderful recipe.

  50. Tiff says

    I see the question has been asked, but I didn’t see a response to it…

    What is the goal temperature?? I also live in a very high elevation so knowing the target temp would be helpful.

  51. says

    Tiff – since I have never used a candy thermometer to make these, I can’t give you a temperature for sure. However, I would guess in the soft-ball stage (235-240) since that is the texture for the binding syrup.

  52. Anonymous says

    This recipe and/or the directions were horrible. As it was boiling I noticed it start to burn and immediately took it off the heat but it was too late. It smells awful and tastes worse and I obviously threw the batch away and was going to attempt another try but noticed where a drop spilled on my floor so I went to wipe that up and now I am left with a nice yellow STAIN on my kitchen floor that will not come out.

  53. says

    I’m sorry you struggled with the recipe. It sounds like you cooked the syrup on too high of a temperature and that stain is actually a burn from the boiling hot syrup. I hope you give it another try and turn your heat down some so the sugar doesn’t burn. They are worth another try!

  54. Anonymous says

    Oh my goodness these are so so so good! I made them with the coconut oil and they are a delight and easy! The key is to not use. High heat at all I start at 5 as my stove top goes to ten than once the bubble are just around the edges start time and reduce to a 3.5 and stir so as not to burn it! Hope this helps those who have had problems!

  55. ju says

    Thanks Carole for sharing! I am working out in the gym recently and looking for some kind of healthy snack or post gym snack to eat during office hour! I think this is it! I can refuse buying those high sugar protein bars!Definitly will try my own version and add in more nuts for healthy fat. Carole, can u pls create more yummy yet low fat and sugar snacks to satisfied our craving!
    Keep up the good work!

    • Carole says

      Thanks for your comment Judy! I will definitely work on your request and thanks again for stopping by!

  56. Jessica says

    My family doesn’t like coconut, do you have to put that in or is it simply for flavor and therefore can be optional?

    • Carole says

      Hey Jessica! It is there for a nice chewy texture. I am not a fan of coconut myself and I use it when I make these bars. They don’t taste like coconut but it adds such a nice chewy texture. I think you should try it once before ruling it out :)

  57. JML says

    we made these today. left out the coconut. made a double batch. taste GREAT! I used a 9×13 pan, put a sheet of wax paper over it and used the bottom of my measuring cup to press it all down well.
    will be trying nuts and dried fruit tomorrow

    • Carole says

      So glad they turned out so well and that you will be experimenting with different mix ins! Thanks for letting me know how they went – Carole

  58. Amanda P says

    Made these today. Mine were a little crumbly and the chocolate chips melted. But the flavor and texture were good. I had to make a few substitutions because I missing things. But I will be making these again!

    • Carole says

      Thanks for your comment Amanda! If they were crumbly, I would reduce your time boiling the sugar mixture a little bit. For the melted chocolate chips, allow the mixture to cool a bit before adding the chips, or use mini m&m’s. Mine melt a little bit too but mainly because I am too impatient to allow the mixture to cool :)

  59. Colleen says

    So going to make these our family loves granola bars and I hate buying them and this is a much healthier way. Thanks so much for the recipes

  60. Sherry says

    Carole, I must tell you that our family LOVES these granola bars. We are gluten free and dairy free so we can’t buy granola bars. I also like knowing what is in my granola bars. Every batch is different, i just throw in what I have in the cupboard. Sometimes I increase the coconut, add sunflower seeds, add chia, sometimes I use maple syrup instead of honey, they always taste fantastic. I have passed your recipe on to many friends who are now making these every week too. Thank you for the recipe.

  61. Nicole says

    Oh my goodness! We made these last night using coconut oil instead of butter and I was a bit leery about the outcome. These are perfect! They are chewy and just all around amazing!
    We added sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and non-dairy chocolate.
    Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  62. Jennifer says

    I loved these. I left out the coconut because my family doesn’t like it, and instead used a cup or so of granola. Then drizzled melted chocolate over the top. It was very good!

  63. kim says

    can these be made without rice krispies? if so how can I adapt or modify it? trying to leave it out the processed cereal part.. thanks.

    • says

      Kim- yes, you could make them with all oats but the result will be denser and drier. Maybe instead of doing a straight substitution, reduce the amount of oats you are subbing in for the cereal by a little bit.

  64. Becky says

    These are spectacular. My go-to recipe. I put little sprinkles in mine along with mini chocolate chips–coloured to match the season we’re in.

  65. Samantha says

    Hey, I just made these and they are cooling in the fridge. They look yummy !! But I don’t think they are going to stay together. I just tried cutting into them because they have been cooling for 30 minutes and they starting crumbling. I’ve read the comments and so I should leave the boiling mixture to boil for an extra minute?

    Thanks !!

    • says

      Samantha – I would be very cautious about boiling the mixture for another whole minute. You might end up with rock hard bars :) First, be sure you are pushing down very firmly on them when you put them into the pan. If that doesn’t solve your problem, then try adding 20 seconds to your boiling time. -Carole

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