Breakfast · Food

Thick, Chewy (and Adaptable) Granola Bars

Never did there exist a simpler, more versatile, or more delicious recipe for granola bars.

After my first cherry-walnut batch I was swooning and jabbering excitedly to my husband about all the flavor possibilities. And they are so easy, I could make a batch a week!

Seriously, you mix all your dry ingredients, mix your wet ingredients, toss them together, press into a pan, and bake! It takes me about 15 minutes to get them in the oven, and only that long because I use my food processor to chop the add-ins and grind the oats into oat flour.

Cherry Walnut Granola Bars @ quirkyandwonderful.wordpress.com
Cherry Walnut… I tried cutting these without refrigeration, so they crumbled a little.  But they were still SO good!

I meant to post about granola, I really did.  I’ve been making homemade granola lately, and I will share it with you sometime.  But when I came across Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Thick and Chewy Granola Bars, I had to make them.  It was a compulsion of sorts.  And once I’d tasted them, and loved them enough to bake three more batches in a week, I had to share them with you.  As soon as possible.  Anything else would be pure negligence.

This recipe has 2-3 cups of delightful flexibility.  You can add in whatever granola-y items you want… dried fruit, nuts, seeds, rice cereal, wheat germ, chocolate chips…

Shoot, you could even try mini marshmallows.  (Think of it… homemade s’mores granola bars… Ooohhh…)

Apricot Walnut Granola Bars (cleanly cut) @ quirkyandwonderful.wordpress.com
Apricot Walnut (edge piece)… these set up in the refrigerator and were so easy to cut!  See that nice straight edge?

This recipe is forgiving. I accidentally left out about a third of the oats on a batch (bad doubling math…) and they still tasted amazing.

I have simplified and rewritten the recipe to my preferences (below).  I’ll make it like this again and again, but please check out Smitten Kitchen’s original for more ingredient substitutions.

Cherry Walnut Granola Bars @ quirkyandwonderful.wordpress.com
Cherry Walnut Granola Bars

Thick, Chewy (and Adaptable) Granola Bars
adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe HERE
makes one 8×8 square pan; this recipe can be easily doubled and baked in a 9×13 baking dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 2/3 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 c. quick cooking oats finely ground in a food processor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 cups dried fruit or nuts, or your add-in preferences *see note*
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter or nut butter (optional; I haven’t tried this yet, but I will)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon water

*NOTE* For this 2-3 cups of dried fruit or nuts, use whatever add-ins you want in your granola bars.  The versions I have personally tried are listed under the recipe directions with my notes, but feel free to improvise your own!

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8x8x2 baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and spray it with non-stick spray.  (I prefer parchment paper, but foil will work in a pinch.)  Tear the parchment paper/foil a little larger so that it hangs over the sides of the pan just a bit.  This makes it easier to remove the bars for cutting.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oats, oat flour, sugar, salt, and the dried fruit and nuts (or your choice of add-ins).
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the melted butter, corn syrup, honey, and water.
  4. Pour wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir together until evenly distributed and crumbly.  If using peanut butter, stir it in now.
  5. Dump the crumbles into the prepared baking pan.  Press the mixture down flat, packing it down as tightly as possible.  A spatula, large serving spoon, or even your hand works well for this.
  6. Bake 30-40 minutes.  Each of my pans were done in 30-33 minutes.  They should be brown around the edges.
  7. Let the bars cool on a wire rack completely.  Once cool, set them in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes before cutting.  This will ensure a cleaner cut, and minimize crumbling.  Use the extra parchment paper or foil to lift the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board.  Cut them into your desired size.  My chef’s knife worked well for this task.  If the bars are still crumbly, set them back in the refrigerator to set up more and then try again.
  8. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  (They can also be frozen.)  For softest texture, allow bars to soften at room temperature for a few minutes before eating.

ADD-IN POSSIBILITIES:
Here’s the add-in breakdown for the versions I’ve tried thus far.  For the bigger dried fruits (like apricots and cherries) and for the nuts, I like to chop them a bit in my food processor.  That way each bite gets some of everything.  🙂  I have baked, tasted, and loved each version here, but I’m partial to the cherry walnut and apricot walnut.

Chocolate Chip

  • 1 c. mini chocolate chips
  • 1 c. rice krispies
  • 1/2 c. sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 c. wheat germ

Next time I’ll put in less wheat germ, but these are pretty good as is.

Cherry Walnut 

  • 1 c. dried cherries
  • 1 c. walnuts
  • 3/4 c. sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/4 c. dates
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

I added the dates to finish up a bag, but they would be good with or without them.  You could leave them out and do a full cup of coconut for easy measuring.

Oatmeal Raisin

  • 1 c. raisins
  • 1 c. walnuts
  • 1 c. sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

These could handle a bit more cinnamon if you like a strong cinnamon flavor.  As is, the cinnamon was fairly subtle, but it brings out the oats and raisins.

Apricot Walnut

  • 1/2 c. dried apricots
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1 c. walnuts
  • 1/2 c. sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/4 c. wheat germ
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

This smaller amount of wheat germ yielded a softer texture, which I like better.  I would have used a full cup of apricots instead of half apricots and half raisins if I’d had enough, but the raisins worked well, too.

I hope these transform your granola bar world!  🙂  Have a great weekend!

~Katie

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5 thoughts on “Thick, Chewy (and Adaptable) Granola Bars

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