Home > Snacks > Granola Bars Granola Bars July 1, 2020 | 13 Comments SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Jump to Recipe This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy. These Granola Bars are naturally sweetened, easily customizable, require no baking, and are loaded with flavor! For an extra delicious snack, add a layer of chocolate on top! Not the granola bars you’re looking for? Try these “Chewy” copycat granola bars or chocolate granola bars. Granola Bars Granola bars, muesli, granola, energy bites — I love them all! Truthfully, I’d rather eat these granola bars than a candy bar. Not only do they have plenty of (natural) sweetness and flavor, they’re also chewy, chocolate-y, and I always feel great eating them. These bars are sweet, without refined sugar (depending on the chocolate used). They’re naturally sweetened with dates and pure maple syrup. If you’ve never baked with dates, you’re in for a treat. (Literally). Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree and they work wonders in naturally sweetening baked goods, smoothies, sauces, desserts, or these very granola bars 🙂 You can read more about the health benefits of dates here, but for today I’ll be sharing how to use dates to make these granola bars. Dates First off, here’s where to find dates in the grocery store. I typically use Sunsweet or Natural Delights dates and personally like Deglet Noor dates best, with Medjool dates as a close second — both work great in these granola bars. Make sure the dates you’re using are pitted. An un-pitted date in a blender will wreck havoc on that blender. How to pit a date: Using a small serrated or pairing knife, slice lengthwise down into the date. Pull open the date and you’ll see a long hard pit, remove and discard. If the dates are soft, you can easily pull them apart with your hands and remove the pit. The dates should be soft enough that you can easily squish them, or pull them apart to remove the pit by hand. If they aren’t this soft, you’ll want to soak before using in this recipe. How to soak dates: soak them in warm water until they are soft enough to remove the pit by hand (about 30 minutes up to 2 hours). Make sure to drain well and remove any excess water before using in these granola bars. Blend the dates to a thick paste. The date “paste” is primarily what will bind and sweeten the bars. To blend dates down to a paste, it’s important to have a high powered blender or food processor. Pulse or blend until a thick, smooth paste has formed. This may take some patience and breaks to scrape edges and stir before blending again. (I use a miniature twister jar with a Blendtec and it usually takes about 1-2 minutes to blend soft dates into a paste.) Granola Bar Variations Swap the nuts: we love chopped pistachios in these bars, but any nut will work like almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, etc. Make sure to coarsely chop the nuts and use 3/4 cup (98g). If you’d like to leave out the nuts, replace them with equal amounts of coarsely chopped dried fruit (like dried tart cherries, dried cranberries, dried apricots, raisins, etc.) Use a different nut butter: swap out the peanut butter for almond butter, cashew butter, or another nut butter. Depending on the nut butter used, you may need slightly more of it (almond butter tends to be slightly more dry than peanut butter). You’ll know you need more if the mixture is too dry and not coming together nicely. Add additional nut butter slowly; 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Swap the sweetener: switch maple syrup for agave nectar or honey. I would not recommend leaving out the dates or swapping those for anything else. Leave off the chocolate topping: don’t love dark chocolate? Leave it off! The dark chocolate could also be swapped for milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate, the bars will simply be more sweet (with refined sugars). Alternatively, only melt 1/4 cup chocolate and drizzle it on top of these bars (like in this no bake granola bars recipe). QUICK TIPFor extra flavor (without extra effort) use roasted and salted nuts in these granola bars. If you only have raw nuts, you can quickly toast them in the oven (throw in the oats while you’re at it!) Add the oats and nuts to a lined sheet pan and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F, stirring once halfway in between. The nuts and oats should smell fragrant, but not burned. Granola bar tips Use electric hand mixers or a stand mixer to throughly mix ingredients. This granola bar mixture can be thick and sticky. An electric hand mixer can be very helpful in ensuring the date paste incorporates throughly. Press the bars very firmly into the pan. Once all the ingredients are throughly mixed, that mixture needs to be compressed into the pan. The better compressed the bars, the less likely they are to fall apart later on. Add some salt. If you use salted nuts or plan on adding sea salt flakes to top the bars, don’t worry about adding salt to the base of this recipe. If you don’t use salted nuts or add salt flakes, I’d recommend adding a scant 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt to the base of these bars. Cut the bars with a large, sharp knife. These bars are more prone to falling apart if a dull knife is being shimmied into the bars. QUICK TIPFor gluten free granola bars: while the ingredients in these bars are naturally gluten free, make sure to check all your ingredient labels to verify they weren’t processed in a facility with gluten. More healthy snacks Granola reader favorite No bake Energy Bites Parfait with yogurt and berries Healthy No Bake Cookies No Bake Healthy Breakfast Cookies FOLLOW ALONG! Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates, recipes and content. Granola Bars 5 from 5 votes - Review this recipe These Granola Bars are naturally sweetened, easily customizable, require no baking, and are loaded with flavor! For an extra delicious snack, add a layer of chocolate on top! SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Granola Bars 5 from 5 votes - Review this recipe SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe These Granola Bars are naturally sweetened, easily customizable, require no baking, and are loaded with flavor! For an extra delicious snack, add a layer of chocolate on top! Course Breakfast Cuisine American Keyword granola bars Prep Time 25 minutes Total Time 25 minutes Servings 12 bars Calories 161kcal Cost $5.13 Ingredients1 cup (155g) packed pitted dates (See Note 1)1/3 cup (77g) creamy peanut butter1/3 cup (102g) pure maple syrup1 teaspoon vanilla extract1/2 cup (51g) quick-1 minute Oats1 cup (98g) old fashioned oats3/4 cup (98g) roasted and salted pistachios, coarsely chopped (See Note 2)1/2 cup (85g) miniature chocolate chips (See Note 3)Granola Bar Topping (Optional)1 cup (174g) dark or milk chocolate chips2 teaspoons coconut oil InstructionsPREP: Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper or foil with an overhang for easy removal. Don't spray with cooking spray as it makes these bars greasy. Set aside.DATES: See Note 1. In a small blender jar (I use the small Twister jar and Blendtec) or a food processor, pulse the pitted dates to create a very thick and sticky paste. This can takes some patience, stir with a spoon and re-blend as needed.ADD NUT BUTTER: Scoop out every last bit of the date paste and add to a large bowl. Add in the peanut butter, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Use electric hand mixers to beat until combined.REMAINING INGREDIENTS: Stir in the quick oats, old fashioned oats, miniature chocolate chips, and coarsely chopped pistachios. (If the pistachios and peanut butter you are using aren't salted, add a scant 1/4 teaspoon salt here too.) Beat until throughly combined. If needed, knead the mixture with your hands to get a well-combined and incorporated mixture.FORM INTO BARS: Transfer the mixture into the prepared 8 x 8 baking pan and very firmly press the mixture into an even layer. Use the bottom of a flat 1 cup measuring cup to help firmly press. Set aside.OPTIONAL CHOCOLATE TOPPING: In a large microwave safe bowl combine the chocolate chips and coconut oil (measured when the oil is in a hardened state). Microwave in bursts of 15 seconds stirring in between each burst for 15 seconds until melted and smooth. Pour melted chocolate evenly over the bars and tip the pan around to move the chocolate in an even layer on top. Place in the fridge (covered) until the chocolate is completely set.CUT INTO BARS: Using the parchment paper overhang, remove the bars from the pan and cut into equal sized bars. Enjoy! Store uneaten leftover bars in the fridge covered, for up to 1 week. Recipe NotesNote 1: Here's where to find dates in the grocery store. I typically use Sunsweet or Natural Delights dates. I like Deglet Noor best, but also like Medjool -- both work great in these granola bars. Make sure the dates you're using are pitted. The dates should be soft enough that you can easily squish them, or pull them apart to remove the pit by hand. If they aren't this soft, you'll want to soak before using in this recipe. How to soak dates: soak them in warm water until they are soft enough to remove the pit by hand (about 30 minutes up to 2 hours). Make sure to drain well and remove any excess water before using in these granola bars. Note 2: For extra flavor (without extra effort) use roasted and salted nuts in these granola bars. If you only have raw nuts, you can quickly toast them in the oven (throw in the oats while you're at it!) Add the oats and nuts to a lined sheet pan and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F, stirring once halfway in between. The nuts and oats should smell fragrant, but not burned. If you aren't using salted nuts, add a scant 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt to these bars. Note 3: if you'd like to keep these bars completely refined-sugar-free make sure to use sugar-free chocolate chips. Alternatively swap out the chips for a different ingredient (use the same quantity and finely chop) Nutrition FactsServing: 12bars | Calories: 161kcal | Carbohydrates: 25.8g | Protein: 5.4g | Fat: 12.6g | Cholesterol: 3.2mg | Sodium: 42.9mg | Fiber: 2.9g | Sugar: 14.6g DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.