Take a hike, store-bought: I'll make my own granola bars

Do you ever stand in the aisle at the supermarket and say, “Hey, I could make that!”

I do that a lot—especially these days, when it seems the price of everything from a box of crackers to a pound of eggplant is starting to mirror the GNP of, say, Algeria. French bread? Sure, I can make that. Chocolate chip cookies? Not a problem. Rotisserie chicken? Light the grill! Granola bars? Uhhhh….

My-husband-the-granola-bar-fanatic is NOT a fan of homemade. Like my dad, who to his dying day preferred Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets to any fresh-baked treat I’d wave temptingly under his nose, Rick casts a wary glance at baked goods that aren’t sealed in plastic. It’s not a food-safety thing. I mean, the man has been known to eat everything from barely cooked moose meat to moldy American cheese, for crying out loud.

No, it’s more a “homemade means you don’t have enough money for store-bought” thing, which seems to be a leftover credo for many of us forced to eat, say, a liverwurst sandwich made on mom’s homemade rye when our classmates were unwrapping a PB & J on Wonder Bread. Some of us, refugees from the convenience-in-a-can 1950s, learned early that store-bought was cool, and homemade was… well, HOMEMADE. Some of us, unfortunately, have never forgotten that lesson.

So, would I dare to suggest a homemade substitute to the store-bought-granola-bar-fanatic? Not a chance, unless I could convince him that homemade doesn’t mean cheap (inexpensive, yes; cheap, no). And maybe find a way to disguise it in gaudy packaging first. But for those of you who actually LIKE homemade baked goods (the vast majority of you reading this, I assume), give these Chewy Granola Bars a try.

And add another “I can make that!” to your list of accomplishments.

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I like to gather my “add-ins” first. Today, I’ve chosen diced apricots, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and coconut. You’ll need 2 to 3 cups of your favorite dried fruits and nuts and seeds.

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The recipe calls for 1/3 cup of oat flour. If you don’t have oat flour, process quick oats in a food processor…

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…till they look like this.

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Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. This recipe calls for sticky bun sugar, which gives the bars a nicely chewy interior and pleasingly crisp edge. If you don’t have sticky bun sugar, you can substitute butter, corn syrup, and granulated sugar. The results won’t be quite the same, texture-wise, but the bars will be tasty.

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Combine the wet ingredients, then add to the dry ingredients, stirring to combine. The mixture won’t hold together; it’ll be crumbly.

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Press into a greased 9” x 13” pan.

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Bake for about 25 minutes, till they’re bubbly and beginning to brown, especially around the edges. Wait 10 minutes, then loosen the edges thoroughly, and cut into bars. Flop the pan upside-down; the bars should drop out, pretty much in a complete piece. Finish cutting them and separate them completely once they’re out of the pan.

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Let them cool completely, then store in a single layer, covered with plastic. Or individually wrapped, if your family just HAS to have that unwrapping experience in order to enjoy a granola bar…

P.S. I can hear this question coming… “Can you do something different here to turn these into crunchy (rather than chewy) granola bars?” No. Crunchy bars start with an entirely different recipe, one that probably includes flour and egg. I say probably because I’ve been dubbing around, but haven’t finalized anything, and probably won’t anytime soon.

Want to try your hand at developing a crunchy granola bar recipe? Here’s where I am right now: 3 cups oats, 1/2 cup King Arthur white wheat flour, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1/3 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 large egg, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 cup each raisins, nuts, and sunflower seeds. 9” x 13” pan, 300°F, 1 hour. My take so far is that they’re a bit too crumbly; not quite sweet enough; and the raisins burned on top. Take it from here, and post your results in comments; we’ll figure this out together!

Read, review, and rate (please!) our recipe for Chewy Granola Bars.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Nature Valley Chewy Granola Bars, 34¢/ounce

Bake at home: Chewy granola bars, 27¢/ounce

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Elena

    I do trust all of the ideas you have introduced in your post. They are very convincing and will definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too brief for newbies. May you please lengthen them a bit from next time? Thank you for the post.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Just about like any cookie – keep them tightly wrapped at room temperature. They’ll gradually dry out, but can’t say for sure how long that’ll take, as it depends on how dry your kitchen is. I’d imagine they’d be good for at least a week, under most conditions. PJH

  2. suziq

    I see Janet posted a recipe for Animal Crackers, and had used the Fiori di Sicilia flavoring. Haven’t used that, but thinking of the aroma of animal crackers, I remembered that I had something in my kitchen that had that same aroma. The Lorann brand Princess Cake and Cookie flavoring smells just like animal crackers!

    Reply
  3. valereee

    My daughter has been after me to make chewy granola bars for over a year, so this is great. I’ve added the sticky bun sugar to my cart…which now contains 9 items @ a whopping $159! Just waiting for the next discount promo to start, since I just missed one! 😀

    Reply

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