I’m not sure what’s come over me exactly. Other than somewhere in the nostalgic depths of my mind ..
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there’s an image of an aproned mother wearing lipstick and pearls pulling a pan of freshly-baked, perfectly browned, incredible-smelling granola bars out of the oven
My mother didn’t bake granola bars
I don’t even think her mother baked granola bars
Still, this weekend, after a long night of being on-call, I found myself up at the crack of dawn with a mixing bowl on the kitchen counter, searching for dried cranberries, almond butter, and an assortment of nuts
It’s November, and we’ve got Bing Crosby on already, and I don’t know, it just felt right
How could something so good have fallen out of the rotation?
I re-discovered them last week, as I searched through old family recipes with a notebook in hand, wishing I could call my grandmother, and hoping for Thanksgiving inspiration. In between the memories of kringla, oatmeal raisin cookies, oyster soup, and lefsa ..
I also pulled out a few to send to the kids. A couple of their favorites that I’d made for them over the years
The granola bars are based on a King Arthur recipe, which really and truly is as simple as it sounds. Put the fruit, nuts, along with the other dry ingredients in a bowl, add the wet. Share a spoonful of nut butter with the lazy dog at your feet. Mix the whole lot of it with a spoon or your hands, and maneuver them into your pan
If you’d like to make them into more of a time investment, chopping the fruit and nuts will pay off handsomely with flavors distributed throughout your bars. (Introvert alert: Congrats! You’ve just discovered a new excuse for staying in this morning)
With your hands, you’ll shape your blend imperfectly into the pan, just as your husband wanders into the kitchen to start his coffee. “You know there’s a food processor in the corner cupboard?” he’ll say, upon seeing remnants of the botched attempt at dried fruit chopping
And you won’t have known that, nor will you have cared. It’s nostalgia you’re after, no machines allowed
You will set the timer and settle in on the sofa with your favorite blanket. He will pour you a cup of hot tea.
You will thumb through your latest cooking magazines with a kitty purring quietly on your lap. Everyone in the house (you included) will sneak in a nap, rising just as the timer dings, to a house that smells warm, bright, and beloved
You will wait not-so-patiently as they cool on the stovetop. Twenty minutes later, the waiting gets the better of you, and you will lift out the first crispy end. You will knife salted butter atop, marveling at how dense, chewy, and addictive they truly are
Maybe next time you’ll add butterscotch chips or a handful of puffed rice cereal. Deliver a batch or two to the neighbors, keeping one for yourself. Realize the aproned mother from the depths of your mind is you, sans apron, sans pearls, sans lipstick, but every bit as lovely in her ponytail and nut butter smeared pajamas
I was drawn to these granola bars, back when the kids were in school, and we needed a grab and go idea for breakfast
After leading me to the best whole wheat muffin I’ve ever eaten, I’ve trusted their recipes, and this one didn’t disappoint. With a few tweaks, i.e., reducing the sugar significantly and putting them in a smaller pan to make them as thick as those from Whole Foods; these were exactly what I’d been pining for
This is one of the most flexible recipes there is. When it comes to granola bars, what you’re looking for is a basic proportion of chunky (nuts, dried fruit) to sticky (honey, nut butter, regular butter, or oils). From there, it’s all in your hands
The vanilla is optional. The cinnamon is optional. In your two to three cups chunky blend, you can use no dried fruit, or you can use all dried fruit. You can toss in things like nuts, puffed rice cereal, coconut, flax seeds, or wheat germ. The possibilities are endless
A few suggestions? Dried cranberries, apricots, pecans, sunflower seeds, coconut, walnuts, sesame seeds, pepitas, dried apples or even chocolate chips.
My mix as of late: 1 cup dried cranberries, 1 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup pecans, 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, and 1/2 cup wheat germ. Because my pieces are all pretty coarse, I like to pulse them in the food processor, though this isn’t necessary if you don’t mind yours with bigger chunks
They’re the best granola bars I’ve ever eaten
A few additional notes:
The original calls for sticky bun sugar which will give the bars a lovely crisp edge and chewy center. I like to use natural sugar
On King Arthur’s site, there is quite a bit of discussion around the possibility of the bars turning out crumbly. This has happened to me on occasion. The best way, I’ve found, to assure they stay together is to press them firmly into the pan (you can use a piece of plastic wrap to help with this) .. bake them five or so minutes longer (mine were quite brown around the edges and slightly beige on top) .. and make sure they are 100% cool before cutting into them.
In addition to letting them cool completely, I like to put mine in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes. Any longer and they’ll be too firm. This amount of time seems just right to allow them set, so there’s no chance they’ll come apart. Afterward, you can store them outside of the fridge, and they’ll still stay together
~ Adapted from King Arthur Flour
The Unforgettable Granola Bars You'll Love Waking Up To
- 1 ⅔ cup rolled oats
- ½ - ¾ cup natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or turbinado. Use more for a sweetness akin to most purchased bars; use less for a mildly sweet bar)
- ⅓ cup oat flour
- ½ tsp fine grain sea salt
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 - 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (see notes above)
- ⅓ cup nut butter, optional
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 6 Tbsp butter, melted but not hot
- ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp honey (or maple syrup)
- 1 Tbsp water
- Preheat the oven to 350 deg F
- Line an 8" x 8" pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides.
- Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan
- If you'd like smaller pieces of fruit and nuts throughout the bars, chop them by hand or pulse a few times in the food processor. Add them, along with the dry ingredients, to a bowl and combine
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, liquid sweetener, nut butter, and water.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine (the mix will be evenly crumbly)
- Spread into the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (Pressing down on the back of a piece of plastic wrap can help with this)
- Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges. (It's ok to have a little color on the tops as well)
- When you take them out of the oven, they'll seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan, but never fear, they'll set completely once they've cooled. (**see note above)
- Allow the bars cool completely before putting them in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes to fully set. Cut them with a serrated knife into squares
- To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.
This looks so easy! I’ve actually just bought a few granola bars from the bakery and they were really expesive (they told me they are homemade, that’s why).. The ingredients you’re using are really simple and I could actually bake this! (I’m really terrible at baking!) Will let you know how this turned out 😀
My mom didn’t bake granola bars and neither did her mom. I have never made granola bars before and now I’m intrigued. I can only imagine how good they smell while baking. I want to make these soon. Nostalgic recipes are the best!
These look amazing! I love granola bars and have been wanting to make my own for a long time .. am definitely saving this recipe. My hubby mountain bikes and he is always looking for bars to take with and we end up buying from the grocery. Homemade would be much better, and far more economical.
Not sure when granola came into existence, but my mother never made granola either. So much you can add and do different when making granola it really is a great recipe to make for the family, neighbors and friends.
King Arthur? So cool! I do love granola bars, that’s for sure. It’s the perfect breakfast for me. I love when neighbors bring me food. I normally bring them already made stuff, because I tend to burn things. But I’m pretty sure I could make these okay!
There are certain things that I nostalgic about. Sometimes I want to work comes from because I’m pretty sure my family never made certain things. I think there’s something to be said about making your own memories also. This is something your kids remember about you.
I LOVE when there is something TASTY to wake up to in the AM. Now it can be FOOD or….. THE HOT MAN I married – hahaha!
These look and sound fabulous. I make a bar that is similar, I have so many special memories of sharing them. I’ll have to try this recipe next time.
I’ve never made granola bars and my mum never did either I’m so tempted to make a batch for breakfasts.
My mother never baked granola bars or, well, anything. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure that she ever made cookies or brownies or a cake or anything.
I love how you included the old time recipe! I have seen others similar to it for other dishes. I love how they worded things back in the day! That’s more my style lol I am not big on measuring ingredients. These granola bars look wonderful and it would be lovely to have the home smelling so good from them!
I make my own granola for breakfast, but love finding new recipes to try and make it more interesting. This is such a good recipe. Cranberries are great for making foods less dry.
I recently found out both of my kids have but allergies. I need to find a way to make them without nuts. For me, I love vanilla and cinnamon so they are a must for me.
Waking up to something this tasty would make me want to go to bed early…LOL!! I would love to try this recipe!!
This is like heaven in a box, I have allergies so I cant but these receipes ill use for my boyfriend, nice tips, very easy for all levels great pics, which camera is it x
No one in my family made granola bars, so they’re not really nostalgic for me. Still, they sound like a good snack.
My family never had granola growing up but i have found a love for it in recent months. I will try this recipe but i think i will add the optional vanilla and cinnamon. Thanks for the new way to enjoy my granola.
We didn’t bake too much growing up but I bake a lot with my girls now. These granola bars are going on our To-Make list for sure.
I’ve never baked granola bars, and my mother never baked granola bars. She probably didn’t realize homemade ones existed. These look oh so perfect!
I really wish I knew how to make them because we eat them so much here!! I need to get my backing skills up!
Yea, even my mother or granny didn’t make the granola bars but for sure I’d love baking them now for my son’s healthy and yummy breakfast getting inspired from your post. have indeed bookmarked it to bake it this weekend!!
It does feel like it’s about the time for a chewy granola treat and some sort of comfy drink. Some dried cranberries would be perfect!
I too wake up sometimes in the mood to bake. I can’t wait to try this granola bar recipe. I just started a new part time job and I’ve been looking for something quick on my drive into work. I bet white chocolate chips would also be good with the cranberries. I will check back and let you know how they turned out. Thanks for sharing.
My goodness! I have to make these at the earliest. These look so scrumptious and the way you built up the whole story around these granolas I could almost hear the sound of the knife cutting through these bars on the sheet of parchment paper; oh daydreaming! I’m planning for an upcoming travel, do you think I could carry on these with me as my snack option?
You mentioning your mother baking made me think of my Mom. She never enjoyed cooking in any form including baking. My bothers loved granola bars, they would have enjoyed these.
If I woke up and these delicious treats are waiting for me, I would think I woke up to a wrong family! LOL. Seriously, my kids are never anywhere near the kitchen. I guess I will have to make these myself and be the good mom and wife and share it with my family. Thank you for the recipe!
This granola bar recipe looks so good. I love that you added some nut butter! I will save this and make some over the weekend. Thanks for sharing your story and memories of your grandmother and good food you enjoyed as a child.
I’ve never made granola bars either, but it’s good that you’re trying something that you don’t remember your mum making, it can be time for new traditions x
These look great! My husband and I were just discussing ways that we could lower the amount of pre-packaged snacks that our 3-year old eats. She has a pretty healthy diet, but it is so easy to reach for the cheddar bunnies or the fruit roll-ups or give her what she wants when she asks for a “treat” (i.e. a muffin or a cookie). Then she misses out on fiber, protein and good fats. Since we are trying to re-frame what a “treat” is, I will be making these this afternoon while she’s at preschool and we’ll see how it goes over! Thanks for cooking!
I LOVE the King Arthur site. I discovered this granola recipe last year and made a batch to take to work. I used dried blueberries, walnuts, pecans and white chocolate chips. The tangy blueberries and white chocolate were fabulous together. My co-workers devoured these and even the guys were asking me for the recipe!
I love cranberries in anything really. These look delish.
Can’t wait to make these – especially heading into the worst work week of the year!
I have made the other ones, found them kind of crumbly, but way healthier than Nigella’s breakfast bars, which, though delicious, are very sweet. (It stands to reason though – with their entire can of sweetened condensed milk. Have you ever read the nutrition info on sweetened condensed milk? I am by no means a health nut and I was blindsided.)
I should make these for my girls! My youngest is a picky eater but they love fruit bars and granola bars! They eat them for breakfast before school a lot. Your pictures are gorgeous!
I love baking this time of the year. It is so cozy inside and cold outside. These are the perfect treats to bake and enjoy with my kids. We send granola and granola bars with my son for his lunch so this will be a perfect recipe to try .
This post has made me realize that: One, I have a breakfast void in my life, and Two, this might be the perfect way to fix it. I make your granola regularly, and I love it, but a bowl of yogurt and granola is an awkward to take with me on the bus in the mornings.
Great photos by the way… they’re making my mouth ‘literally’ water… I’ll have to try these out over the weekend… and I’ll be sure to make enough so my mom doesn’t find them, eat the majority of them and hide some of the others to eat eat later (she loves bars like this!)
I used to make granola here and there, but it has been quite a while. These bars sound delicious and easy enough to make. And they would be a perfect breakfast or snack on the go!
Ahh I love the image of you baking these listening to Bing Crosby, I just love Bing….and granola! My Mum only ever baked fairy cakes and Christmas cake, but we love to make granola bars because they make for a great breakfast on the go!
My mom was good at baking but all she made were cakes. I have not tried baking granola bars myself, but I sure will now that you’ve shared the recipe. My wish is for someone in my family to make this for me for a change.
It’s this time of year…. it makes me super nostalgic too. I miss my grandmother so much this time of year. Her stuffing cooking (not that I even like stuffing, but it was the smell of Christmas at her house). I listen to Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers sing Christmas music, because it reminds me of her. This time of year just gets me.
The bars look amazing. I love too how easy they are to grab for breakfast on the go! Perfect for busy school mornings this time of year.
I’ve never actually made granola bars because it seems like they require way too many ingredients that I just don’t keep around (flax seed, wheat germ, oats, etc). But I must admit, I love the combo of raisins, dark chocolate, and honey in my store-bought granola.
With the excellent review, I just might have to make some!
I have been looking for a chewy granola bar recipe for my 20-month-old who doesn’t have many teeth to eat a crunchier one. I also love how flexible this recipe is. I’m dreaming of a bar with maple syrup, coconut, and peanut butter. Yum!
Absolute genius. This is what I need to make on Sunday afternoons to have ready to grab and go during the week. I keep trying to fool myself into believing I’m able to cook a hot breakfast every morning, but the sad reality is that I hit snooze until the last possible moment, lurch out of bed cursing, stumble to work, and pay too much money for something lousy at the bakery next to my office. Sigh.
It never occurred to me that granola bars would be quite simple to make. I’m a bit of a zombie in the mornings, but I think I could manage this, and what a great start to the day. My husband loves them, so I’m sure he’d be happy if I gave this a go.
My goodness, these look delicious! I love granola so will be making these
We love making our own granola bars. They’re great for lunchboxes and for popping into a pocket on a hillwalk or mountain bike ride for instant fuel. Love the sound of your recipe!
I give granola bars to my 18 month old every morning for breakfast! This is such a creative way to make them for her with the ingredients she should be eating. Thanks!
These look so good! I wonder how they would taste with peanut butter chips and chocolate chips (because my husband is picky) I, however, would love coconut, banana chips, and dried apricot – and maybe macadamia nuts (can you tell I’m jonesing for Summer already?)
These look so good. Trying to think what my Mum made a lot when we were kids, I think fruit bread, and welsh cakes were a favourite. These remind me of something my doula brought me to help with feeding my newborn at the time (oats are great for milk production apparently), I used that as a good excuse to eat masses in one sitting! 😀
The first time I made these, and they are … well, ya know. YUM squared.
But, a teeny tiny problem: they made the most delicious and scrumptious and over the top I’m-so-happy granola in the world, but they didn’t bar. They became, when sliced, organized piles of the World’s Greatest Crumble Topping.
At first, I thought I had two culprits 1. Not enough oats? Maybe the mixture is too moist; and 2. Not enough baking? (though the edges are brown and crusty and the middle is cooked)
This was my first granola bar attempt in my life; so I tried again and used the trick of putting them in the fridge for 30 minutes. Problem solved!
I actually really like granola bars and I just ate one haha. I got mine from KIND but I think homemade ones are healthy as well. Granola bars are great for breakfast as well as just a good snack. Yours looks so delicious 🙂
These look great! I’m going to try coconut, almonds, pepitas, chocolate chips and feed them to my husband slightly warmed, in a big bowl, with milk poured over the top. There’s a great restaurant in Salt Lake City called One World, and they make “everything cookies” They put tons of seeds, nuts, and whatever they had leftover that day + chocolate in them. They keep them warm, cut you a square, and I would always eat it in a bowl with soy milk! So, so good …
I have never made granola bars myself. I used to buy them until a friend of mine gave me some home made ones. Since then, I have never been able to enjoy the store bought ones. I should one day just trying making them myself.
I know those Whole Foods granola bars! They are sink-your-teeth-in, wholesome amazingness. This recipe makes me SO happy. I think the sesame seeds in the Whole Foods bars are key, if people are looking for nut/seed choices.
Not only have I never made a Granola bar, I’ve never even tasted one!
I never realised just how easy they would be and with the different combinations (cinnamon or vanilla etc) they do sound wonderful!
Did anyone’s mom actually make granola bars? I always thought that this was a new trend, making granola bars in your kitchen. But then again, in my home country granola bars didn’t get on the shelves of the stores until the early 2000s. You’ve made me want to try this recipe, even if i am not really a fan of granola. The way you’ve written about it, just makes it tasty through words!
I love the flexibility of this recipe. My granola bars are usually a bit soft, so I’d like to try your recipe and maybe use coconut oil instead of the butter.
I was thinking about homemade granola bars as I drove to work this morning. You’ve already got me covered! It’s 10 at night and I’m tempted to make them with some gluten-free oats 😀
Just last week I was looking at the package of oats in my cupboard and thinking I should make granola bars if I come across the right recipe. What a coincidence! Because I’m allergic to tree nuts, I’ll make a nut-free version. Thanks Ali, love your blog and your recipes are always so good! x
Your granola bars have me craving some right about now! By any chance Ali, have you tried Cook’s Illustrated’s Classic Granola? The granola has a ratio of 3.5 cups oats to 3 cups nuts & seeds to 0.5 cups sticky wet–but it’s still thick and chewy…
Science, do your thing!
Love the way you’ve written this – you’ve got me wanting to act out the scene! The bars really do look delicious. And who doesn’t love granola?!
Ali, these look dee-lish. The only problem I have when making granola bars is that I cannot stop sneaking bites of the melted butter/peanut butter/ applesauce combination that I use to hold it all together! Absolute heaven. I’ll have to try this recipe too
Lovely blog! ??
These are amazing! I made mine with chocolate chips, coconut, and Macadamia nuts. They’re like a kicked up ultimate oatmeal cookie but in bar form. So, so, so good! x
These look great and super duper delish! I really like granola bars…any kind really. But the fact that they include cranberries makes them a 1000 times better. Perhaps I will try this over the holidays.
This recipe looks delicious like every other recipe of yours. I only like granola with yogurt. I have tasted protein bars with it but never liked them but your recipe is making me crave for a granola bar. It’s because it has cranberries. I love them, I eat them for breakfast every single day so this bar would make a perfect breakfast replacement for me. Pinning for future
This probably sounds daft but I’ve never made the extra effort of chopping up my sultanas and nuts for granola bars. I guess I’m just lazy and lash them in the tin haphazardly! I’ll have to make more of an effort next time. P.S I have also already started listening to Christmas songs, I won’t judge you for a bit of Bing Crosby.
I love granola bars but I have never got round to making them for a while. This recipe looks nice and simple, I need to change up my breakfast habits in the morning and have so granola bar
I absolutely love the recipes on your blog! I have tried quite a few of them though! I have put this in my recipe book too hoping I get over my fear of using the oven after my sons cake went all berserk!
I love that when it comes to granola bars you can be so creative with the contents and I also love any recipe that doesn’t contain any fancy equipment as I love the process of making everything with my hands as much as possible
Wait you mean King Arthur of the Round Table, how cool that granola bars were based on a recipe by him and it is easy to see why we are still enjoying them centuries later. I love that you made some batches for the kids and that they were the best granola bars that you have ever tasted!
I never thought about making my own granola bars! These look so delicious and absolutely tasty! I am going to try to make this for my busy mornings!
Ali, these sound incredible and I’m excited to give them a try. I’m thinking I’ll probably cut them smaller and have them for a healthy afternoon snack instead of breakfast (which is currently a toss-up between my sister’s recipe for whole wheat apple muffins and the oatmeal blueberry muffins from Joy the Baker.)
I’ve not heard of King Arthur’s recipes before, but the way you’ve described these granola bars Alison, I definitely think I need to check them out! Your descriptions actually had me picturing the smells, the butter being smothered on top, mmmm x
These sound so easy to make – even I want to give them a go! I spend so much money on granola type bars and to be honest, I’d be better off making my own. I’d cram them full of pecans – I love pecans.
For as long as I can remember, Sunday evenings were devoted to pasta. When my Italian grandmother moved from The Brox to Texas five years ago, Sunday became family dinner night, because we were all able to go to her house for dinner. Sadly, she passed away (on a Sunday) this past July, at my parent’s house where she spent the last month of her life. She didn’t want a funeral or formal service, so instead, we had a big Sunday dinner, in her honor, and it was the most beautiful thing. We all took turns sharing our favorite stories and memories. It’s one I’ll never forget, and although it was the saddest day of my life, the pasta, the bread, and family made everything a little bit easier.
Granola bars are my jimmy jam and these look pretty darn delicious. I would definitely alter the recipe a bit by throwing in some dark chocolate chips!
Oh my goodness, these look SO dang delicious! And as usual, your pictures are spectacular! Well done 🙂
I came to your site knowing you’d have a great granola bar recipe! I’m tired of paying so much for store bought ones. I can’t wait to make these!! 🙂
I came to your site knowing you’d have a great granola bar recipe! I’m tired of paying so much for store bought ones. I can’t wait to make these!! 🙂
This looks yummy! My eldest daughter likes granola so I will give this a try.
But I don’t picture myself as a mom with lipstick and pearls while baking. It’s more like beads of sweat. hahaha