Oatmeal Granola Bars

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Easy to make (no baking!) soft and chewy granola bars made to taste like an iced oatmeal cookie

These Oatmeal Granola Bars are made to taste like an iced oatmeal cookie — in a more nutritious form of course! These bars are simple to make with no baking required!

Try some of our other granola bar recipes next — Chewy Granola Bars with miniature M&M’s, Chocolate Granola Bar with three types of chocolate, or Homemade Granola Bars with almonds and chocolate chips.

Oatmeal Granola Bars

Oatmeal Granola Bars

I’ll readily admit the Clif® Kid Z bars are one of my all-time favorite store-bought bars. They’re soft, chewy, and totally reminiscent of a soft oatmeal cookie! My kids love them too and it’s perhaps a little alarming how quickly we can go through a Costco-sized box of those bars.

Since they aren’t the cheapest granola bars around, I decided it was time to try and make something similar at home. While these bars turned out fairly different from the Clif Kid Z bars, they do taste like an iced oatmeal cookie in a delicious, soft granola bar kind of way. These bars are soft, chewy, sweet, and finished off perfectly with sweet white chocolate icing. Honestly, we like these even better than the Clif bars!

Process shots--blending the oats and dates; combine with remaining ingredients

Oatmeal Granola Bars Tools Needed

  • High-powered blender. Dates are a lot for a blender to handle — even when they’re fresh and soft. We want the dates broken down to a thick paste (see photo above). To ensure this doesn’t burn out a blender motor, use a very high-powered blender (think Vita-Mix or Blend-Tec) and scrape down the sides in between blending.
  • Hand mixer or stand mixer. Once all the ingredients are in a large bowl, it’s a lot — a bit too much for a wooden spoon to handle. I like using my electric hand mixer here, or a stand mixer. It’s important the ingredients get thoroughly combined so the bars taste right.
  • 8×8-inch baking pan. This mixture fits perfectly in an 8×8-inch baking pan; here’s my personal favorite pan.
  • Optional, but nice: firm spatula and parchment paper. I recommend lining the pan before pressing the oatmeal granola bar mixture in — this ensures easy removal with less mess! A firm spatula to scrape the edges of the mixing bowl and help press down these bars is also a nice tool to have.

Process shots-- press the batter into the prepared pan; make the glaze; drizzle over the bars

Oatmeal Granola Bar Ingredients

The ingredients used in these bars make a huge difference to the end flavor and texture. 

  • Old-fashioned oats. Half of the oats get blended up to form an oat flour and the rest we keep in the whole oat form. Two great textures with one ingredient!
  • Deglet Noor dates.  To get a great natural sweetness and chewy texture, we rely on blending dates. (By the way, did you know dates are actually a fresh, not dried fruit?!) If you’ve got some leftover dates, use them in a Cauliflower Smoothie (tell me you aren’t curious about this one!) 🙂 or Gluten-free Zucchini Muffins!
  • Almond Butter. This nut butter adds flavor and lots of nutrition to these bars. It also ensures the bars are filling and satiating. As far as almond butter goes, I recommend a slow-roasted and lightly salted almond butter you enjoy eating straight from the jar.
  • Pure maple syrup. Not to be confused with corn syrup or pancake syrup, pure maple syrup is the sap from a maple tree that has been boiled down to a thicker consistency. It’s just one ingredient and a fantastic natural sweetener! Pancake syrup is made with corn syrup and maple extract. Pure maple syrup is quite pricey (a lot more than pancake syrup), because it is so labor-intensive to make (you can read more of the process here) and is a natural ingredient (not made in a factory). We rely on the flavor and stickiness of pure maple syrup for both taste and consistency for these Oatmeal Granola Bars.
  • Vanilla extract. This ingredient contributes to the flavor and emphasizes a cookie taste.
  • Fine sea salt. This is another flavor contributor. It also enhances all the flavors in these bars and balances the sweetness.
  • Ground cinnamon. This ingredient is important to get that classic oatmeal cookie flavor.

QUICK TIP

For the dates, I like to use Deglet Noor made by Sunsweet® — these can be found near other dried fruits, trail mixes, and/or nuts in the store. To ensure the dates blend up nice and smooth for these bars, use new (fresh and soft) dates or soak them in boiling water first. They only need a few minutes in the boiling water to soften. Be sure to completely dry and then remove any pits from the dates before blending!

Oatmeal Granola Bars stacked on top of each other

Oatmeal Granola Bar Tips

  • Be sure to use old-fashioned oats. Quick oats and steel-cut oats will both create the wrong texture and won’t work properly in these bars.
  • Use the right ingredients. Even “tried and true” substitutions (think honey for maple syrup or peanut butter for almond butter) don’t work the same in these bars — this recipe is fairly particular.
  • Cut the bars with a large, sharp knife. Once the bars have firmed up, use the parchment paper overhang to remove the bars onto a cutting board and then cut with a sharp knife.
  • Make gluten-free Oatmeal 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.

Oatmeal Granola Bars showing the glazed top

Oatmeal Granola Bar Storage

After the bars have set up, wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap and then keep the wrapped bars in a larger container or resealable plastic bag in the fridge — perfect for on-the-go snacks! Bars will stay fresh for up to a week when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. 

To freeze: Space the bars on a lined plate or tray in the freezer. Once they’re firm (about 1-2 hours), individually wrap each bar and transfer to a larger airtight bag or freezer container. They’ll last up to 6 months in the freezer.

To thaw: Simply pull one out and let it stand for about 30 minutes. You could also pop them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.

More Nutritious Snacks

QUICK TIP

Take your time pressing the granola bar mixture into the pan; the harder and firmer you press down, the better they’ll hold together.

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Oatmeal Cookie Granola Bars

5 from 20 votes
These Oatmeal Granola Bars are made to taste like an iced oatmeal cookie -- in a more nutritious form, of course! These bars are simple to make with no baking required!
Print Recipe

Oatmeal Cookie Granola Bars

5 from 20 votes
These Oatmeal Granola Bars are made to taste like an iced oatmeal cookie -- in a more nutritious form, of course! These bars are simple to make with no baking required!
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American, Healthy, Vegetarian
Keyword oatmeal granola bars
Prep Time 30 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 12 bars
Calories 217kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $8.32

Ingredients

  • 2 and 3/4 cups old fashioned oats, divided use
  • 1 cup (140g) Deglet Noor dates pitted Note 1
  • 1/3 cup (91g) roasted and salted almond butter Note 2
  • 1/2 cup (157g) pure maple syrup Note 3
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Optional Glaze

  • 2 tablespoons white chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons milk (plant-based milk works great here)

Instructions

  • PREP: Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang for easy removal.
  • BLEND OATS: In a high-powered blender, blend 1 cup (105g) of the old-fashioned oats until they resemble flour -- a fine powder. If needed, stir and re-blend to break up larger chunks of oats -- it should look like flour. Now pour all of the blended oats into a large sturdy bowl or a bowl attached to a stand mixer.
  • BLEND DATES: See Note 1. Ensure dates are pitted. (Sometimes dates labeled pitted still have a pit that sneaks in!) Using a sharp serrated knife, coarsely chop the dates. Add chopped dates to the blender and blend until a thick paste forms. This takes some patience; you will likely need to scrape down edges and stir a few times in between blending. Once fully blended to a paste, use a spatula to scrape all of this mixture out into the bowl with the oats. It's thick and sticky!
  • ADD REMAINING INGREDIENTS: To the bowl with the blended oats and dates, add the almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon and the remaining 1-3/4 cups (178g) old fashioned oats.
  • BEAT: Using a hand mixer (or paddle attachment on a stand mixer), beat until well combined and ingredients are incorporated. The mixture is a bit wet, but it does set up a bit in the fridge.
  • CHILL: Use a spatula to scrape out all of the mixture from the bowl into the prepared 8x8 pan. Firmly press the granola bar mixture evenly into the pan. Cover and place in the fridge to chill and set up for at least 1 hour.
  • GLAZE: Combine the white chocolate chips and the coconut oil (measure oil when it is melted). Microwave the mixture in 15-second bursts, stirring in between each burst for 10-15 seconds until completely smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and milk. Stir until a thick frosting has formed and transfer to a small plastic bag. Cut off the tip and drizzle all over the bars. Return to the fridge (covered) until the glaze hardens, about 20 more minutes.
  • ENJOY: Using the parchment or foil overhang, remove bars to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into bars. Wrap each bar individually and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1Dates: For the dates, I like to use Deglet Noor made by Sunsweet — You'll find these near other dried fruits, trail mixes, and/or nuts in the store. To ensure the dates blend up nice and smooth for these bars, use new (fresh and soft) dates or soak them in boiling water first. They only need a few minutes in the boiling water to soften. Be sure to completely dry and then remove any pits from the dates before blending!
Note 2: Almond butter: I recommend a slow-roasted and lightly salted almond butter you enjoy eating straight from the jar to ensure the best granola bar flavor.
Note 3: Maple syrup: Not to be confused with corn syrup or pancake syrup, pure maple syrup is the sap from a maple tree that has been boiled down to a thicker consistency (natural, nutrient-filled sweetener -- score!). We rely on the flavor and stickiness of pure maple syrup for both taste and consistency of these oatmeal granola bars.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 217kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 54mg | Potassium: 277mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 1mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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27 Comments

    1. You could try sunbutter? I haven’t tried it, but I know others have substituted in my recipes with great results!

    2. They now have something thats like peanut butter but its called wowbutter i have children in daycare that eats this cause they have allergies

  1. Homemade granola bars of any kind are the absolute best! Plus, they usually are much cheaper than the kinds that I buy! These sound wonderful Chelsea!

  2. These sound yummy Chelsea. Do you know how long they last if you store them without refrigeration? I would like to know if my friends husband can take these with him when he gets deployed for weeks at a time. Thank you!

    1. You sound like such a sweet friend! They would probably be fine for about 3-4 days wrapped well 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    One afternoon I made these into granola balls…they didn’t last long enough to get the chocolate drizzle on top. They were sooo good. My kids and husband raved about them. We decided they are a hundred times better than the kids Cliff bars. Thanks for the awesome recipe. We will be making these all summer long.

    1. This makes my day!! I’m honored you all thought they were better than the Cliff bars! Thank you so much for the comment!

  4. I’ve never used dates before in a recipe but the ones I have are in a block form, can you chop them up or best to soak the block in water?

    1. I’m not sure what you mean by block form? If they are hard then you will want to soak them 🙂

  5. “My kids” are hooked on the oatmeal zbars! Can’t wait to try this…has anyone ever tried dried figs, the zbar lists that as an ingredient so just curious!

  6. I’m about a thousand years after the fact, but: what does the one cup of oats measure after it’s ground up? I’m thinking of subbing with almond meal.

  7. Currently looking up snack and meal recipes. I would prefer to make my own granola bars, but haven’t found a simple recipe. I really enjoy just a simple oat granola bar with no protein powder. This one I will have to try! Thanks 🙂

  8. I haven’t tried this recipe out yet but I just wanted to ask if I can replace the maple syrup with honey, will that make it too soft?

    1. I haven’t ever tried that, so I don’t know how they’d work out in this recipe. Sorry to not be of more help!

  9. Is there anywhere I can find nutrition information for these? My son was recently diagnosed Type I diabetic and we are trying to find some good, healthy snacks for him. I’d specifically need carb counts in these.

    1. We’re slowly working through recipes to add nutrition facts, this is on the list, but in the meantime, I’d recommend MyFitnessPal! 🙂

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