No-Bake Granola Bars are always a big hit with my kids as an after-school snack or in their school lunchbox! These homemade granola bars are so much better than the ones in the box and they are much healthier as well! Each granola bar turns out soft and chewy every time and the recipe includes five different flavor options so you can make them exactly how you want. Go grab the ingredients from your pantry and let’s get cooking!
As a momma to six kiddos, I realize summertime is a delicate balancing act that can easily come crashing down around you if you lack any of the following necessities:
- Food…..and mountains of it! — Not only are you feeding your own family but also the endless supply of friends and neighbors who know you keep mountains of food at your house.
- 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!!!
- Work — Everyone is home 24/7 which means everything is a mess 24/7, unless everyone steps up to do their part to survive.
- Time — Some days may only be 15 minutes, while others will be a whole afternoon, but those moments of time you spend together as a family matter. They are what your kids will remember when they reminisce about their summers at home.
Why I Love No-Bake Granola Bars
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 “charm” 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 possible to install them.
Because my home lacks A/C, my recipe brain began churning and I played with my original granola bars recipe to create a no-bake version. It was a great success! And as a result, those monstrous window A/C units get to stay in the attic for a few more weeks.
The kids and I had so much fun creating all the different variations of this no-bake granola bars recipe. I made one double batch of the base and we used these five different mix-ins to create all our favorite flavors. Actually, I created SIX varieties, because my oldest son only likes plain granola bars. Have fun with this base recipe and mix in all the great stuff your family loves! I’m sure you can come up with amazing variations for these no-bake granola bars that will make mine seems as boring as my son’s plain ones.
What Are No-Bake Granola Bars?
No-bake granola bars are a type of snack or dessert that is made by combining oats, rice krispies, and other ingredients with a binding syrup that is cooked on the stovetop. The mixture is then pressed into a pan and allowed it to set in the refrigerator or freezer. No-bake granola bars do not require baking, so they are a quick and easy snack to make. They can be personalized by adding nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, or other mix-ins. No-bake granola bars can be a healthy and convenient snack for the whole family.
No-Bake Granola Bars Ingredients and Supplies
- Quick cooking oats
- Rice krispies cereal
- Shredded coconut
- Butter or coconut oil
- Honey or agave nectar
- Brown sugar
- Kosher salt
- Vanilla extract
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Large mixing bowl
- Medium saucepan
- 9 x 13” pan
How to Make No-Bake Granola Bars
If you can mix a few ingredients together and bring a mixture to a boil on the stove, you can make these homemade granola bars. Simple is the name of the game with this recipe.
Time needed: 15 minutes
How to Make No-Bake Granola Bars
- Prepare the dry ingredients
Mix together the oats, rice krispies cereal, and coconut.
- Make the syrup
Combine the butter, honey or agave, and brown sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil for 90 seconds. Add the vanilla extract.
- Combine the syrup with the dry ingredients
Be sure the dry ingredients get completely coated in the syrup and work quickly while the mixture is still warm.
- Add the chosen mix-ins
Use the ingredients that you like. Toasted nuts, dried fruit, mini chocolate chips, chopped pretzels would all be delicious.
- Press the mixture into a greased pan
This needs to be done very firmly or the bars might fall apart. Go over them multiple times, pressing down all over.
- Cool the bars
Placing them in the refrigerator until the granola bars are set up and makes sure they are firm before cutting them into individual bars.
- Cut into individual bars
Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the pan into individual bars.
- Store them in the pantry or refrigerator
Wrap them individually in plastic wrap, or store them together in an airtight container. They are safe to keep in the pantry, but I like to keep them in the fridge to make them last longer.
No-Bake Granola Bars FAQs
There are three secrets to making homemade granola bars stick together. First is the syrup used as the binder. It has to be cooked to the right temperature or the ingredients will only fall apart. Second, the bars have to be pressed together firmly when they go into the pan. Don’t be shy. Press down all over the pan multiple times and smash it down. And lastly, the granola bars need to cool completely before cutting them into individual bars. That syrup has to be cool to hold all the ingredients together.
Yes, they certainly can be! Their main ingredient are whole grain oats, and if you add some toasted nuts and dried fruit, they are a wonderful healthy snack. Now, that is not to say that all granola bars are good for you. When you start adding chocolate and other candy-type ingredients, they can quickly become more of a candy bar instead of a granola bar.
Can I make no-bake granola bars with coconut oil instead of butter?
Yes, I often make that substitution but do not use a straight 1:1 ratio. The recipe calls for ¼ cup of butter. If you are going to use coconut oil, reduce that amount to 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon. If you use the full ¼ cup of coconut oil, the no-bake granola bars will turn out too oily.
Can I use agave nectar instead of honey?
Not only can you use agave nectar for the honey, I actually prefer this recipe made with agave. The honey is delicious, but it has a strong flavor that can overpower the other ingredients so that is why I like using agave nectar instead. It is a straight 1:1 substitution for this recipe.
Why do I have to use quick oats instead of rolled oats?
It is mainly because any time I made this recipe with old-fashioned rolled oats, the bars fell apart too easily. The smaller size of quick oats makes for stronger, more stable no-bake granola bars. If all you have are old-fashioned oats, just pulse them a few times in the food processor and you are good to go!
How to store no-bake granola bars
After the bars are cooled and cut into individual servings, store them in a quality airtight container, or wrap them individually in plastic wrap. They are perfectly safe to keep in the pantry but I do like to store them in the refrigerator so they last longer. I’ve also stored them successfully in the freezer but be sure to wrap them individually if you choose this storage option.
Healthy No-Bake Granola Bars Recipe Variation
When I first published this recipe back in 2013, I received so many requests to revamp the recipe to make it a bit healthier using coconut oil and agave nectar in place of the butter and honey. It took me a few test batches to get the recipe down but here are the changes to make for the healthy no-bake granola bars varation:
- Use coconut oil and reduce the amount down to 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon.
- Use agave nectar in place of the honey with a straight 1:1 substitution.
- Reducing the boiling time of the syrup to 90 seconds. If you go longer than that, it will get too hard.
- Skip the chocolate chips or mini M&M’s and instead go for toasted nuts and dried fruits as the mix-ins.
Looking For More No-Bake Recipes?
If these no-bake granola bars were just what you were looking for, be sure to check out these other delicious recipes. Go grab them now before you forget!
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- 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
- 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. If you have a candy thermometer, you want to bring the mixture to 235 degrees.
- 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 them to size.
Healthier Recipe Variation
Eliminate the butter and use 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon of coconut oil. Substitute agave nectar for the honey. When boiling this mixture, reduce the time to 90 seconds.
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.
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.
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 them into the pan.
Add 1/3 C of chopped raisins and 1/3 C of chopped pecans to the finished mixture before pressing into the pan.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 3 minutes
- Category: Breakfast
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1 bar
- Calories: 192
- Sugar: 12 g
- Sodium: 80 mg
- Fat: 8 g
- Saturated Fat: 5 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 1 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 28 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 3 g
- Cholesterol: 8 mg
Keywords: No bake granola bars