Learn how to make healthy, homemade, gluten free granola bars that are crunchy and just like a Nature Valley knockoff. They're super easy to make and they use all organic ingredients you probably have in your pantry. Once you have these, I'm guessing you'll never go back to the store-bought option.
On our way to a completely real traditional food diet, I've been swapping out processed foods and cutting down our sugar intake with homemade versions. We first started with homemade sourdough bread (and this chocolate sourdough bread variation that's to die for) and then moved on to snacks like these easy 5-minute homemade crackers and this homemade granola bar recipe.
These are a crunchy granola bar (think Nature Valley copycat recipe), perfect for snacks, breakfast on the go, backpacks, or anywhere you need a quick bite. These make a large pan and are so much more frugal than going to the grocery store. Because, I don't know about you, but I always manage to buy more than what I ran in for.
I got this homemade granola bar recipe from my mother and made a few small tweaks with the ingredients to make it healthier. It's quick to make and oh so yummy.
Ingredients Needed for Homemade Granola Bars
- Rolled Oats – It's important to use regular oats here and not quick oats.
- Pecans – finely chopped nuts give these homemade granola bars that added crunch that's reminiscent of Nature Valley.
- Maple Syrup – Hooray for less refined sugar! (You all know the amazing health benefits of maple syrup, right?) Maple syrup acts like the perfect “glue” or binder holding the bars together which also means you need less brown sugar for the overall recipe.
- Brown Sugar – We use a bit of brown sugar in the recipe, but less than other recipes call for because of the additional maple syrup. The brown sugar gives these bars just that hint of molasses which is so delicious.
- Coconut Oil – Yay for a dairy-free option on these homemade granola bars! (See below for substitutions if you don't have coconut oil.)
- Vanilla Extract – Because is a granola bar even a granola bar if it doesn't have vanilla in it?
- Sea Salt – The perfect combination of sweet and salty in this recipe! You could also finish the bars off with a little bit of course sea salt on top for that added boost of flavor.
- Cinnamon & Nutmeg – The perfect combination of spices to round out all the yummy flavors.
How to Make Homemade Granola Bars
Unlike some other homemade granola bars, this recipe will need to be baked to get that classic Nature Valley crunch we all love.
Gather and measure out all your ingredients (oats, maple syrup, coconut oil, brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, and nutmeg – see photo above).
Slightly melt the coconut oil and finely chop the pecans.
In a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), add the dry ingredients then drizzle the wet ingredients over the top. Stir gently (or mix on low) until everything is incorporated and oats are no longer dry.
With a large spatula, press granola firmly into a 17×11 inch sheet pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Let cool 1 hour before cutting and removing from pan. (Granola bars will continue to firm up as they cool.)
Don't be tempted to use another size pan. The ingredients are carefully measured and changing the pan size will alter how these turn out. Be sure to press very firmly on the granola mixture, it should be really thin and flat.
Granola Bar Variations
We all have our own preferences when it comes to granola bar flavors. Because these granola bars need to be baked to have a nice crispy texture, the add-ins need to be minimal.
Some of my favorite options are to add a few mini chocolate chips or just a touch of peanut butter to the recipe. You can mix and match to play around with the texture and find your perfect variation.
My very favorite is to melt some dark chocolate and either drizzle it over the top of the granola bars or dunk each room temperature granola bar into the chocolate so the bottom layer is covered in chocolate. Then I lay them flat on parchment paper and stick them in the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm up.
If you choose to mix in any additional ingredients, they may not transport as well as the original recipe.
Granola Bar Substitutions
These homemade granola bars are a dairy-free version with less refined sugar. If you'd like to substitute any of the ingredients to eliminate a trip to the grocery store, here are a few suggestions.
- Nuts – sub the pecans with walnuts, peanuts, cashews, sunflower seeds… or pretty much any other nut will work!
- Liquid sweetener – sub the maple syrup with honey.
- Brown sugar – no brown sugar on hand? Mix 1/3 cup regular sugar with 1/2-1 tsp molasses and mix well. No molasses? Regular sugar will do in a pinch.
- Oil – sub the coconut oil for butter (for a dairy option) or ghee (for another dairy-free alternative).
- Spices – the spices are purely optional, if you don't have cinnamon or nutmeg your granola bars will turn out just fine without them.
Homemade Granola Bar Tips & Tricks
When making these granola bars, be sure to follow the instructions to a T the first time you make them. If you've made chewy homemade granola bars before, this recipe is a bit different because the goal is for them to be crispy crunchy.
Adding in dried fruit like dried cranberries, raisins or even unsweetened coconut may not work well for this recipe because they are so thin. But feel free to experiment. Even if they crumble it'll make a fantastic granola!
Be sure you're using an 11×17 inch baking sheet and press the mixture down very firmly.
Your granola bars will seem thin, but this is the goal. They need to be thin to get crispy when baking.
Other Healthy Homemade Snacks
- Molasses popcorn balls
- Homemade crackers
- Blueberry zucchini muffins
- Double chocolate zucchini bread
- Kale chips (they're soooo much better than they sound!)
- Homemade peanut butter takes less than 5 minutes to make and is amazing with this homemade strawberry jam on a PB&J.
How to Make Healthy Homemade Granola Bars
- 5 cups rolled oats regular, not quick
- 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Mix together dry ingredients. Drizzle liquids on top of oats and mix until the oats are covered and moist. With a large spatula, press granola firmly into a 17×11 pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Let cool 1 hour before cutting and removing from pan.
- Don't use another size pan. The ingredients are carefully measured and altering pan size will alter how these turn out. Be sure to press very firmly on the granola mixture, it should be really flat.
Real Food Recipes to Replace Your Favorite Junk Foods
[…] Homemade Chunky Granola Bars from Melissa K. Norris […]
Altho the recipe sounds good, why a 17×11 pan? I do not have that size, nor cupboard space or money to buy one. Why not a regular/normal size like 9″ or 9×13?
Melissa K. Norris
Chris, if you use a different size it alters the depth of the bars, if it’s too deep, they won’t be crunchy, just crumbly. You could try to cut back on some of the ingredients, but I found this size worked the best. Good luck!
11×17 is a normal size pan. It’s what’s called a “half sheet” pan. What most people make a Texas Sheet Cake in.
Thanks Jenny! Now I want some cake, too.
I realize this is 8 years later but the answer is because her measurements are tailored for a half sheet or 11×17 pan. Her prerogative.
I converted the recipe for a 9×13 pan. It’s easier if everything is by weight. So you convert her measurements to weight… i.e. Google “how much does a c of chopped pecans weigh” for example and do the math. Convert everything to weight and multiply by 0.625 for a 9×13 pan. Just estimate the things measured in teaspoons. 0.625 is a little more than half.
This is why they teach math in school not so everyone can become an astronaut.
Excellent recipe even in a 9×13 pan 😁
A quick FYI, totally don’t need an answer just trying to help.
Just below the instructions section you have a broken shortcode. It is showing as the shortcode instead of the item that the shortcode should be creating.
[BoilerPlate plate=”Heirloom Gardening Guide” search=”Replace” ]
Looks like it is the quotes causing the issue, they are backwards. So if you go in to the admin of the page and retype the quotes and save it will likely fix the issue.
Anyway, like I said, just thought I would mention it in case you were not aware.
Stay Safe, Be Well
Turned out perfect..Vegan perfect!!!
Please note ghee is not a nondairy alternative; it is clarified butter*
I followed the recipe to the letter with only one substitution – sunflower seeds instead of nuts. I used the correct size pan, spread evenly and pressed firmly using my potato masher. I waited the full hour before cutting and removing. 50% was just crumbles and the remaining was uneven chunks. Does not serve my purpose of convenient school snacks.
Followed the recipe to a T. Used sunflower seeds instead of pecans as well…Verdict: makes a very tasty chunky granola, but needs more binder to be a bar. I probably rescued 5 bars from it?
Yay for tasty granola, but sorry you didn’t get the bar form from the full recipe.