Oatmeal Bars

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A Nature Valley® copycat recipe: soft-baked Oatmeal Bars! These peanut butter flavored bars are thick, chewy, and dotted with peanut butter baking chips. These naturally gluten-free bars are made with better-for-you ingredients.

Try our other gluten free treats: gluten free pumpkin cake, healthy chocolate cookies, or blueberry oatmeal bars.

Image of the Oatmeal Bars showing the peanut butter glaze on top.

Oatmeal Bars

On a recent road trip, we grabbed a box of Nature Valley’s Peanut Butter Soft-Baked Oatmeal Squares as a quick snack in the car. The kiddos loved the bars and I enjoyed the softness of the bars as opposed to the usual crunchy granola bars. If I’m honest though, they lacked flavor and I wasn’t a huge fan of the ingredient list, so the moment we got home, I started to plan my own soft-baked peanut butter oatmeal bars.

While these ended up pretty different than the Nature Valley bars, they’ve still got that classic soft and chewy oatmeal bar texture. They have a rich peanut flavor, are soft, and gooey–they taste like a thick fusion of oatmeal and a peanut butter cookie. They also have a pretty impressive ingredient list: they’re mostly naturally sweetened with peanut butter, honey, oats and oat flour (blended up oats) to name a few. There is still a bit of refined sugar, especially in the peanut butter baking chips, but those chips can be replaced with dark chocolate for an even-healthier treat.

Process shots-- images of all the ingredients being put in a bowl and combined; the peanut butter chips being added; and then the dough being transferred to a pan; and baked.

Oatmeal Bars ingredients

  • Peanut butter: This is the main flavor in these bars, and provides structure and stability. Protein is extremely satiating, so you’ll be surprised at how filling Oatmeal Bars are.
  • Honey: Oatmeal Bars are primarily sweetened naturally with honey. Honey is rich in antioxidants and nutrients.
  • Light brown sugar: I wanted these bars to be totally naturally sweetened, but they really needed a bit more sweetness and were too moist with all honey. We used a little brown sugar in these bars, but it’s only 1/4 cup.
  • Egg: The egg provides stability to the batter and adds flavor and protein to these bars.
  • Vanilla extract: Vanilla contributes to a nice subtle flavor.
  • Baking soda: This keeps the bars from being too dense.
  • Salt: Salt helps balance and intensify all the flavors. If you’re using a salted peanut butter, you’ll want to reduce the added salt in the bars.
  • Old fashioned oats: The oats form the base of these oatmeal bars and give them great structure as well as that delicious chewiness. Make sure to use old fashioned oats, though. Quick oats are too processed and will make the bars overly dry, and steel cut oats won’t soften enough.
  • Oat flour: No need to buy specialty flour; oat flour can be made with quick or old fashioned oats. Read more on this below.
  • Peanut butter chips: These chips are definitely a treat, but are so much fun in these bars. If you want to make the bars healthier, simply replace the peanut butter chips with chopped nuts or dark chocolate chips.

How to make oat flour

If you have quick oats or old fashioned oats, you can have oat flour in an instant!

  1. Place the oats (either old fashioned or quick oats) into the bowl of a food processor or small blender jar.
  2. Pulse the oats until ground into a powder-like consistency that resembles flour.
  3. Stir the oats around to be sure all the oats are finely ground. 
  4. Measure the oat flour after it’s been turned to flour and not in the original whole oat form.

Images of the baked Oatmeal Bars still in the pan; cut into squares; and the peanut butter being added on top.

Oatmeal Bar tips

  • Line the pan with parchment paper and leave an overhang for easy bar removal. These bars stick to the pan and be nearly impossible to pull out without the parchment paper.
  • Let the bars cool: While it’s so tempting to eat one straight out of the oven (and hey — you do you!) these bars crumble while hot. They thicken up significantly as they cool. I don’t recommend cutting them into bars until they’re completely cooled and set.
  • Don’t over-bake: Remove the bars when they are slightly browned on the edges; the middle does still look a bit gooey but as long as the bars don’t jiggle they’re done. Over-baking the bars will give them an off flavor and they won’t be nearly as soft and chewy. Again, these bars set up a lot as they cool.

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Oatmeal Bars

5 from 12 votes
A Nature Valley copycat recipe: soft-baked Oatmeal Bars! These peanut butter flavored bars are thick, chewy, and dotted with peanut butter baking chips. They're made with better-for-you ingredients and naturally gluten free. (See Note 1)
Print Recipe

Oatmeal Bars

5 from 12 votes
A Nature Valley copycat recipe: soft-baked Oatmeal Bars! These peanut butter flavored bars are thick, chewy, and dotted with peanut butter baking chips. They're made with better-for-you ingredients and naturally gluten free. (See Note 1)
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword Oatmeal Bars
Prep Time 10 minutes
20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12 bars
Calories 205kcal
Cost $5.25

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (168g) creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup (160g) honey
  • 1/4 cup (48g) light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (98g) old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup (44g) oat flour (See Note 2)
  • 1 cup (170g) peanut butter chips
  • Optional: 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang for easy bar removal, and set aside.
  • BARS: Combine all the ingredients except the peanut butter chips in a large bowl. Beat with a hand mixer until smooth. Add in the peanut butter chips and fold with a spatula to combine.
  • BAKE: Transfer batter to the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. They may look a bit underdone or gooey in the center, but as long as they don't jiggle at all, they are done. These bars continue to set up and firm up as they cool.
  • CUT AND SERVE: Remove bars from the oven and let cool completely in the pan. Use the parchment paper overhang to pull out the bars and cut into 12 squares. Use a sharp knife to cut the bars.
  • OPTIONAL: (This is for the peanut butter fanatics!) Once bars are cut into squares, place 1/4 cup of peanut butter in a small resealable bag. Cut off a tiny corner tip of the bag and pipe the peanut butter on the top of the bars.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: While naturally gluten-free ingredients are used in this recipe, be sure to check your ingredients to  be sure they were not made in a facility containing gluten. If having a gluten free bar is essential for your family, buy and use only products manufactured in a safe (gluten-free) environment. This will be noted on product packages.
Note 2: To make oat flour, grind up oats in a blender or food processor until the oats are the texture and size of regular flour. Make sure to measure the oat flour after grinding the oats.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 12bars | Calories: 205kcal | Carbohydrates: 27.1g | Protein: 5.6g | Fat: 9.1g | Sodium: 77.3mg | Fiber: 1.8g | Sugar: 17.8g

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98 Comments

  1. Chelsea, these look and sound perfect! I’m always trying to find the “perfect” granola bar recipe — it takes work, because I’m very serious about granola bars! Pinning these to try!

  2. I really love peanut butter too!!! And these look like a peanut butter lovers dream bar! Thank you for perfecting the recipe b/c they look seriously perfect and so delicious! Pinning and can’t wait to make these soon!

  3. Oh my gosh! I actually love those soft baked oatmeal squares and I eat them at work. The cinnamon version is always sold out at my store, so I’m usually buying the PB ones. I cannot wait to try out your version that I know will be even better. Pinned!

  4. I feel like I’ve pinned every last recipe you shared! need to get to work! I think it’s best to have a jar of peanut butter for baking and for eating! these are right up my alley. I love how there is very little sugar. my kiddo and I would eat these up!!

  5. These look amazing, checking them out from freedom fridays and I pinned this! I also really, really love peanut butter, so these are perfect! 🙂
    Cathy

  6. Congrats on this awesome recipe, Chelsea!! I seriously eat nature valley oatmeal squares ALL THE TIME, but I will be making these bars this weekend because they look WAY better and I love that I can pronounce all the ingredients in them! Pinned : )

  7. These look amazingly scrumptious! So glad you finally nailed the recipe – I know how great that feels :). I can’t even tell you how excited I would be to have these for breakfast – can’t think of a better way to start the day!

  8. Okay, you’ve convinced me. I am going to make these and I’m sure they’ll be delicious. I like the Nature Valley ones, I’ve only tried the brown sugar oat ones but I would love to make them from scratch without all the preservatives. Thanks Chelsea! By the way, they look so delicious!

    1. Thank you so much Jessica! Oh gosh the brown sugar ones are so good! Now I need to recreate those 🙂

  9. I haven’t had a nature valley bar in soooo long … I used to eat them all the time though!! I love that you made this recipe! So many good ingredients in here … and I can never ever ever turn down peanut butter : ) Happy friday friend!

      1. 5 stars
        Just stumbled across this recipe a few days ago. The recipe floated around my kitchen counter for awhile but I just made them for the first time today.
        …wow…
        Really good.
        P.S. Substitute with the chocolate chips, honey, you won’t be sorry. Life’s problems just disappeared! Amazing stuff, that chocolate.

        1. Oh I’m so thrilled you loved these Amy! Thank you! And you are right, life’s problems do seem so much better with chocolate 🙂

  10. Hi Chelsea! I found your recipe on Pinterest, and because I am a peanut butter fanatic, I was so excited to try it. I’m an expat living overseas, and it isn’t always easy finding specific ingredients, so I had to modify the recipe a little, but it didn’t matter because they turned out great! I used regular whole wheat flour instead of the white whole wheat, subbed dark chocolate chunks for the peanut butter chips, used coconut palm sugar I purchased on a recent trip to Thailand in place of the brown sugar, and added some ground flax seed. They were not overly sweet, which I actually prefer. I am guessing the peanut butter chips probably add more sweetness than dark chocolate. These will make a great pre-workout snack for me, and my husband who usually turns his nose up at anything that looks remotely healthy enjoyed them as well. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe!

    1. This is SO good to hear Kristy! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and letting readers know the great changes you made! Thanks again and have a wonderful weekend 🙂

  11. 5 stars
    What a delightful surprise to Google NV Copycat Soft Oatmeal Squares and find your recipe. Looks simple enough, however I am seeking the Cinnamon version of these soft squares. Any chance on modifying the recipe to omit peanut butter?

    Thank you, Chelsea, for your forthcoming response.

    D.

    1. Thanks Deneen! I haven’t tried any versions without peanut butter so I’m not quite sure what to recommend! I’d love to experiment and work out a recipe that copycats the cinnamon one. I will work on a recipe this week and keep you updated! Thanks for your comment!

  12. 5 stars
    I just made this recipe, and it performed amazingly in nearly all aspects! The only thing I didn’t like was that it had a tendency of sticking to the roof of my mouth as I chewed it, but that’s an unimportant aspect.

    My family and I have been wondering if the number of failed trials was what you actually had to go through to create this recipe (I think it is because you said ‘seriously’ and because of the specificity of the number of trials and peanut butter jars, but my family says you could be exaggerating).

    I’m going to replace the peanut butter chips with dark chocolate chips the next time I make this recipe to see how it compares. Thanks for creating and sharing this recipe; I love replacing foods my family buys with homemade alternatives :).

    1. Oh that is so good to hear! Thank you for taking the time to comment and leave a review 🙂

      Haha!!! I am definitely an exaggerater 🙂 I probably had in reality about 6-8 fails before I was happy with the bars! I’d love to hear how it is with the dark chocolate chips – that sounds fantastic and is definitely healthier than peanut butter chips. Thanks again for your comment Sam!

  13. 5 stars
    These are great! Made the first batch exactly like the recipe and they came out great. next batch I changes one tbsp of brown sugar for one tbsp of jam (used plum jam but i think any jam will work well. 1/4 cup = 4 tbsp).
    Thanks!

  14. any ideas on how to make the cinnamon brown sugar ones? We’re not huge peanut butter fans, but LOVE the other ones.

  15. Hello Chelsea! While searching for a copycat recipe of the Nature Valley oatmeal squares, I stumbled upon your blog and I’m impressed with everything I’ve viewed, like your homemade cookie dough bites for the cereal and the no bake cookies. I’m definitely going to make this recipe. I’m preparing myself for it, I just grinded up oats in my sister’s magic bullet and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I just made oat flour! I didn’t think I could grind up oats in the magic bullet,since the texture is so soft but I did. I bought some silk milk today. It’s a mixture of almond and coconut milk. I’ll be using this for the milk part.Tomorrow morning, I’m going out to buy the rest of the ingredients I don’t have. I’m already in love with your site Chelsea! Thank you for all the recipes. I have a family reunion next weekend and I’m sure I could make a potluck dish. Have a great day!

    1. Hi Ashley!! Thanks so much for your sweet comment – that means a lot to me 🙂 Isn’t making oat flour the coolest thing ever? I love watching them go from oats to flour in seconds!! Thanks again SO much and sorry for the delayed response! I hope you were able to try these and liked them 🙂 Have a good one!

  16. I have been looking for a recipe similar to the Nature Valley forever! So glad I stumbled upon yours! My husband prefers the blueberry bars, do you have any tips on how to substitute the peanut butter for blueberry instead?

  17. These are one of the best tasting “healthy” things I have ever baked! I’ve never actually had the nature valley bars, but I don’t think I need to anymore. I can’t believe there’s only 1/4 cup of sugar in the whole thing! Also, if it’s of interest to anyone, I used regular whole wheat flour and dark chocolate chips and it worked great!!

  18. Dear Chelse,
    I baked a batch of these this morning (actually around 3am) by 9 am they were GONE!!! I am right now busy making 4 more batches for neighbors and myself plus typing up your recipe to give to them.”WARNING” Ladies these are so beyond good that they ought to be illegal cause I could NOT stop eating them.These have got to be by far the “BEST” oatmeal bars (the copy-cat soft ones) EVER!!! A part of me wishes I never found you and your recipe but I can’t help but Thank you and wanna jump through the internet and hug you for sharing this out-of-this-world-GREAT recipe. Lord help I can’t quit eating them they are just that GOOD no no nonot just GOOD……..YUMMY-LISHOUS.
    Thank you from the bottom of my southern Texas heart.Now I gotta go find a rehab that will cure an oatmeal bar addiction.
    Again Thank for sharing
    Dianne M.
    San Antonio, TX

  19. I’m soooo excited I found this pin and recipe!! My son eats a NV square every morning and it is my daily dose of guilt. Just kidding, I’m not that dramatic. I had them for me when he was a baby for a quick snack, then it turned into him trying them, then now at 2 years old he eats one while we get ready for work. I’m excited to try this. Mostly for the better ingredients for my son, but also because those squares are pricey and sometimes the quality is weird. Like sometimes they are soft, sometimes they are hard…yuck! Thank you!!

  20. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for posting this. These are my absolute favorite bars and this was spot on and DELICIOUS!!! Although i didn’t add the peanut chips and I changed the amount of honey.
    Five stars!

  21. Hi Chelsea,
    I would love to make these for my daughter for breakfast. She doesn’t feel comfortable eating PB just before school, as many kids at school have allergies. Have you ever tried this with a PB substitute , such as Pea butter or Wow butter?
    I would love to hear what you think?

    1. I haven’t ever tried a substitute for peanut butter and one person that did try Wow Butter didn’t have great results, so I’m not sure if I would recommend a substitute for these. I wish I could say for sure if I knew what would work, but I don’t unfortunately.

  22. Hi! This recipe sounds awesome!! I have a question, besides the fact that they wouldn’t be quite as healthy for me, could I make these using regular flour and not whole wheat flour?? I have everything in the house but the whole wheat flour and really don’t want to make an extra trip to the store just for flour! Thank you!!

  23. Hi Chelsea
    So, I love to bake….but I always have problems with the outcome…
    I posted earlier that I was going to use Wow Butter instead of peanut butter. (Also used Choc. chips) Aside from that, I followed the recipe to a T. They smelled wonderful. However, they came out so crumbly and dry, they won’t even stay in the squares that I cut, they just fall apart into crumbs 🙁
    Everyone said how great they are, so clearly it’s me…I just wish I knew what. ….
    Any thoughts?

    1. It may be the Wow butter if you’ve tried everything else; I’m not sure what else could make them crumbly 🙁 I’ve made these many, many times and never had them crumble, but I’ve also always used regular peanut butter, so that’s all I can think that would have changed it? I wish I could be of more help Shelley!!

  24. 5 stars
    Made these for my husband who loves the Nature Valley bars. He loved them! Thanks for giving me a recipe to cut out processed ingredients.

  25. Hi,
    These look so delicious. Do u have any nutritional information for them (like…calories, fiber, protein etc.)?

    Thanks!

  26. I had a holiday in the USA a few weeks ago and I done it on the cheap by shopping in walmart instead of always eating out. I bought the nature valley bars and they are divine. They are my favourite of all the breakfast bars I have ever had. However, we don’t have them here. So I’m so glad i came across this cause I’m going to make this at the weekend. We don’t have peanut butter chips either 🙁 so i might use chocolate chips instead.

  27. 5 stars
    I live abroad… so unfortunately Nature’s Valley isn’t readily available to me. 🙁 So you can imagine that I was soooo excited when I found this recipe after my box went empty! Made them today and they came out great!! These are totally going to be my crack snack haha. Thanks!!

    Didn’t have peanut butter cups so I just added 1/2 cup milk chocolate chopped up and 1/2 cup chunky PB. Worked fine!

    Oh yea, and you were right. They ARE crumbly.

  28. 5 stars
    I tried these minus the PB chips simply because I forgot to buy them but the bar was very sweet and filling!! My husband thought it was just okay but I enjoyed it! Also, I’ve decided to keep them in the fridge as they were crumbly and after being in the fridge all night helped a lot with that! If you’re looking for something sweet without feeling super guilty, this is the way to go! I grabbed it on my way out the door this morning and was satisfied till lunch. Thank you for the recipe!!

    1. Ahh i’m soo happy to hear this! These are some of my favorite grab and go breakfasts as well. Thanks for your comment Anna! 🙂

    1. Without personally testing, I’m not sure. I think you’d need to add in some additional wet ingredients so it wouldn’t be too dry.

  29. Hi Chelsea. Can these bars be made ahead of time and frozen? Would like to make for road trips! Thank you for the wonderful recipe, I can’t wait to have my kids try them out!

    1. Absolutely! I would just freeze them in an airtight bag and leave out to defrost the night before the road trip! Hope you enjoy! 🙂

  30. 5 stars
    Made these yesterday and they are AMAZING. Didn’t add peanut butter or chocolate chips. Next time might skip the brown sugar as I’m not a fan of anything too sweet. Loved how soft and chewy they are. Way better than the packaged store oatmeal bars!

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