A simple recipe for the best homemade granola bars. They’re healthy, chewy, crunchy, versatile, made without honey, and naturally vegan – the perfect snack. Mix and match with other great snacks like our Healthy Oatmeal Jam Bars!
I think we can all agree that the hardest part about eating real food is where to begin, right?
And it can be even harder when you are DEAD SET on having certain foods. Like granola bars.
My husband used to EXCLUSIVELY eat chewy chocolate chip granola bars from Quaker. Those were his “snack” at work, but he’d eat 3-4 bars every day!
At $3-4 per box and 2-3 boxes each week, we were going broke on granola bars alone!
That’s when I first came up with this bar recipe, and he loved it!
Homemade Healthy Granola Bar Recipe
Not only did my husband love this recipe, but it was a winner all around! Personally, I like this recipe because:
- I can mix and match the nuts, seeds, and fruit (based on what I have).
- It’s cheap!
- They’re naturally vegan
- It’s super healthy
- They’re shelf-stable and don’t have to take up fridge or freezer space.
- It’s hearty and will actually hold people over to the next meal
Plus, this is a GREAT recipe when you’re trying to get your family to eat less processed food. It’s a bit sweeter than a “healthy” bar is, making it a good segue out of boxed food and into homemade foods.
Ingredients for Healthy Homemade Granola Bars
The ingredients might seem long, but everything can be boiled down into base, nuts & seeds, fruit, and glue:
- Rolled Oats. You can use quick-cooking oats in a pinch, but rolled oats carry a bit more oomph in the belly.
- Wheat germ. If you don’t have wheat germ on hand, oat flour is a great substitute.
Nuts & Seeds: You need 2 cups in total. Use what you have on hand and what your family likes. Here are some ideas:
- Chopped Almonds
- Chopped Pecans
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
- Flax Seeds
Dried Fruit: You need 2 ½ cups total, and like the nuts, substitute with what you have on hand. Here’s a tutorial for dehydrating apples.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk. This sweetens the granola bars and holds them all together. Here’s how to make it homemade. Feel free to use condensed milk + sugar to control the amount of sugar in the recipe as a whole.
Looking for a no-bake chewy chocolate chip granola bar recipe? Try this recipe instead!
How to Make Granola Bars
The method for making granola bars is pretty simple:
Step 1. Line a 8×8 or 9×9 glass pan with two large pieces of parchment paper that overhang the edges. You want to create “handles” on each edge to help lift the granola out of the pan once it’s cooled. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Step 2. Chop any big pieces of fruit into smaller pieces. Everything should be about the size of a dried cranberry. You don’t want to take one bite and get a mouthful of fig. (Trust me on this one.)
Step 3. Once everything is chopped, put everything except the oats and milk into a big bowl. Mix the fruit and nuts thoroughly, breaking up any pieces of fruit that are stuck together. Add the oats and again mix thoroughly. Add the milk and stir until everything all (or nearly all) the ingredients are moist.
Step 4. Carefully pour (or scoop) your mixture into your glass pan. Using either greased hands or another piece of parchment paper, press the mixture very firmly into the bottom of the pan, ensuring that it’s level across the pan and into corners. (In order to press it firmly enough, I had to put the pan on the floor and use my full body weight. This may sound silly, but it was effective!)
Step 5. Once the mixture is pressed firmly and evenly, bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. You want the edges to be slightly brown, so check every few minutes or so after you hit 20.
Step 6. Remove from the oven when the homemade granola bars are done. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.
The only trick with this particular granola bar recipe is that you really want to press the mixture into your pan firmly. As in, REALLY REALLY HARD.
I’ve taken parchment paper and put it over the top of the granola bars and stood on top of it – that’s how firmly packed you want the mixture to be!
This ensures a bar that won’t crumble after it’s done baking and holds up to handling while eating.
FAQs for Healthy Granola Bars
In this recipe, the sweetened condensed milk and flax seeds are the “glue” to hold the granola bar together. In my chewy chocolate chip granola bar recipe, the honey and coconut oil is what makes the granola bar stick together.
Yes – as long as your ingredients are healthy! Using sweetened condensed milk isn’t the best option, but it’s better than buying the boxed granola bars.
These granola bars will last about a week on the counter. You can freeze them for longer storage if you’d like.
Other Easy Homemade Snack Recipes
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
- Homemade Cheez – Its
- Sweet and Salty Energy Bites
- Candied Pecans
- Nutella Protein Bars
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Kitchen Sink Homemade Granola Bar Recipe
A simple recipe for the best homemade granola bars. They’re healthy, chewy, crunchy, versatile, made without honey, and naturally vegan! The perfect snack.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 25 mins
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Snack
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup dried cherries
- ½ cup dried prunes
- ½ cup flaked coconut
- ½ cup dried dates
- ½ cup chopped almonds
- ½ cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup flax seeds (ground or whole)
- ½ cup wheat germ
- 1⅔ cup oats
- ¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp homemade sweetened condensed milk
- Line a 8×8 or 9×9 glass pan with two large pieces of parchment paper that overhang the edges. You want to create “handles” on each edge to help lift the granola out of the pan once it’s cooled. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Chop any big pieces of fruit into smaller pieces. Everything should be about the size of a dried cranberry. You don’t want to take one bite and get a mouthful of fig. (Trust me on this one.)
- Once everything is chopped, put everything except the oats and milk into a big bowl. Mix the fruit and nuts thoroughly, breaking up any pieces of fruit that are stuck together. Add the oats and again mix thoroughly. Add the milk and stir until everything all (or nearly all) the ingredients are moist.
- Carefully pour (or scoop) your mixture into your glass pan. Using either greased hands or another piece of parchment paper, press the mixture very firmly into the bottom of the pan, ensuring that it’s level across the pan and into corners. (In order to press it firmly enough, I had to put the pan on the floor and use my full body weight. This may sound silly, but it was effective!)
- Once the mixture is pressed firmly and evenly, bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. You want the edges to be slightly brown, so check every few minutes or so after you hit 20.
- Remove from the oven when the homemade granola bars are done. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.
* If you would like to modify the recipe, here’s where the artsy science stuff comes into play. No matter what combination of fruits and nuts you want to use (apples, raisins, chocolate chips, walnuts, macadamia… whatever), you need about 5 cups total for the above measurements of oats and milk to work. If you want less or more bars, here’s the math:
(total cups of fruits & nuts) / 3 = (cups of oats)
(cups of oats) / 2 = (cups of milk)
* Want to put this in a 9×13 pan? Double the recipe: 10 cups of fruits & nuts, 3⅓ cups of oats and just over 1½ cups of milk. If you only have 4 cups of fruit and nuts, use the formula above to get the right amount of oats and milk.
* Experience from failed attempts leads me to believe that your measurements can be slightly off. Not by a ton, but a little spillage of cranberries or picked out chocolate chips won’t ruin the batch.
- Serving Size: 1 bar
- Calories: 132
Keywords: homemade granola bars, healthy homemade granola bars, kitchen sink granola bars, healthy granola bars, granola bars
Some substitution ingredients:
I keep a container of home made honey toasted oats in the pantry for granola recipes so I can skip other added sweeteners. I use brown rice syrup for the “glue”. This has very little sweetness and lots of glue factor. Not fond of wheat germ I use psyllium husk instead which is flavorless.
Can’t find your recipe for the granola “bark” which had the egg whites. Thanks Tiffany!
Do you use the same amount of psyllium husk as wheat germ?
I’m often a little confused by directions because maybe I need DETAILS, but do you remove the parchment with the big slab of granola bar before it’s fully cooled and cool it like that? Or do you let the pan with parchment and granola all cool together? I used a 9 x 13 and doubled the recipe. They don’t seem to be staying together very well. I baked once per the directions. then re-baked. I thought about slicing and baking as bars, but they were too crumbly. If all else fails I think it will be good granola, but I was excited for bars and the simplicity of just using sweetened condensed milk. Any other helpful hints?
I have had them be crumbly too, but I have found I just need a little more milk. I make sure it will hold together before baking. Better a little more then to have the whole thing fail is my thinking. I let it cool all together in the pan. I don’t double the recipe but still do it in a 9 x 13 pan.
SJ - Team Crumbs
Hi Emily one and Emily Two, 😉
Try letting it cool on the parchment paper and let it set before removing. That’s likely why it’s crumbling. If not, this tip about more milk may help!
Do you have any recommendations for making this actually vegan or at least dairy free? My kids love granola bars, and this recipe looks perfect for us except for the condensed milk.
Hi Brittany! You can make your own DF sweetened condensed milk with this recipe: https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/homemade-sweetened-condensed-milk/, or you can make a different type of granola bar like this one: https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-granola-bars/
Thank you for this delicious recipe!!! Just made them!! Do you store in the fridge or countertop?
I’m gluten free & I don’t like flax seed, so I subbed 1/2 c. Miller Flour & 1/2 c. Teff flour for the flax & wheat germ. Bars cooked perfectly and taste is super yum!! I Will absolutely make this again. And loved the homemade condensed milk.
Hi Liz! I normally store these granola bars on the counter. I’m so glad you like them, and that your substitutions worked out!!
I just made these and they’re the best granola bar recipe I’ve made! I have a few questions for you.
1. I didn’t love the raw oats taste. Another recipe I’ve tried toasts the oats in a mixture of butter and canola oil. Would applying that method here cause any issues with the recipe? I think I’d use a mix of butter and coconut oil.
2. My bars turned out a little crumbly. They definitely hold the bar shape, but fall apart a bit when eating or transporting. My initial assumption was that I didn’t press them enough into the pan, but then I thought maybe the mix of fruit/nuts I used could cause a change in binding. What do you think? I subbed the cherries for raisins and added another 1/4 c each raisins and cranberries for the prunes. Subbed chopped pecans for pep it’s and used whole flax as opposed to ground. Thoughts?
I’m looking forward to perfecting this recipe!
Hi Katie! That’s great news! For toasting the oats, I think that would be fine with butter/coconut oil combo. They’ll get squishy when you mix them with the milk, so if you’re just going for taste not texture, you’re fine. Two things can cause the binding issue: having too much “stuff” and the “stuff” being too big. What you use shouldn’t matter. So using the same ingredients you mentioned, I’d chop the cherries to raisin-size, and really chop the nuts. Then mix really, really, REALLY well. That milk needs to be EVERYWHERE. Each environment is different too, so you can experiment with reducing stuff by 1/4 cup and see what happens. Mine hold together well in transport, but there’s typical crumbs when you eat… not overly excessive, but typical of any granola bar.