Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

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This homemade granola bar recipe is modeled off the soft and chewy texture of Bobo Oat Bars. Simple to make and endlessly customizable, these grab-and-go granola bars are a perfect snack for hiking and backpacking trips. 

Four chewy granola bars on a stump

It’s hard to say what we enjoy more: hiking or hiking snacks. 

For us, the two are so intertwined that hiking has sort of become this extended, active meal time. While we enjoy all different types of hiking snacks and trail mixes, the gold standard has always been the granola bar. 

Granola bars are just so convenient for hiking. They’re compact, energy dense, and can offer a wide range of flavor combinations. The only problem is we could never get our home-made granola bars to come out right!  

No matter what we tried, they were either way too hard, or they would crumble apart in our pack, or they would be too soft and turn into sad little mushy lumps. So we set out on a culinary quest to make the perfect soft and chewy granola bar. Something with the taste and texture that would rival our favorite store-bought versions.

Three granola bars on a stump

Sometimes we can develop a recipe over a weekend. This one took us weeks to get right. A lot of research, reverse engineering, testing, and failures went into perfecting this recipe, but we ultimately landed on something we feel really works. 

Finally, we had arrived at a cost-effective homemade granola bar recipe that has the taste and texture of a store-bought brand that we’ve come to love. 

Why we love these granola bars:

  • Soft and chewy – yet firm enough to hold together. Perfect for on the trail. 
  • Once you master the base recipe there are an unlimited number of mix-in flavor combinations to try! 
  • Scaleable recipe makes it easy to double, triple, etc. 
  • Way more cost effective than store bought (less than 50 cents per bar!) 

So if you’ve been searching for a way to make your favorite soft and chewy granola bar at home, this is the recipe for you.

Granola bar ingredients: Rolled oats, brown rice syrup, coconut oil, brown sugar, peanuts, chocolate chips, and raisins

Granola bar ingredients 

Brown Rice Syrup: There is some sticky alchemy going on in Brown Rice Syrup that is absolutely critical to helping granola bars stick together. We’ve tried honey, we’ve tried dates, we’ve tried all kinds of nut butter. Nothing works quite the same as brown rice syrup. This is the secret ingredient. There’s a reason why nearly every energy bar on the market uses rice syrup. 

Old Fashioned Rolled Oats: Choose GF if needed.

Coconut oil: This adds a mild coconut flavor and helps soften the bars. You can probably substitute with a neutral-flavored oil though we haven’t tested this recipe with any.

Sugar:  We tested this with both brown sugar and regular cane sugar, and both versions work. Our final recipe uses brown sugar because we like the slightly caramel-y taste, but you can switch it out depending on what you have in your pantry.

Mix-in options

The mix-in ingredients are where you can really customize your granola bars. Try out different nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate, or fruit zest to find your favorite flavor combination. 

The only rule to follow is to keep the mix-ins to less than ¾ cup total so the bars will still hold together well. The recipe below is our GORP-inspired combination.

  • Nuts: Peanuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, macadamia, pistachios, etc (chop whole nuts into ~¼” pieces)
  • Dried Fruit: raisins, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, apple, chopped apricots, chopped dates (chop larger fruit into ~¼” pieces)
  • Seeds: Hemp, chia, sunflower
  • Shredded unsweetened coconut or toasted coconut flakes
  • Pretzels, broken into pieces
  • Chocolate chips, M&Ms
  • Spices like cinnamon or vanilla extract
Five chewy granola bars on a marble countertop

Equipment for making granola bars


Mini Loaf Pan: This recipe works great in a mini-loaf pan like the one pictured in the photos of this post. This makes eight, 2½ x 3¼ inch bars which are the perfect size for a day hike. We have also made these using a muffin tin. This also eliminates the cutting step that many granola bar recipes call for, which in our experience, is annoying at best and can sometimes be the catalyst for the bars beginning to fall apart.

Food Processor: Any type will do; you could also use a blender in a pinch.

Silicone Spatula: The bar mixture is going to be super sticky, so mixing it all together with a silicone spatula is ideal (though a regular spoon will also work).

Mixing Bowl

Measuring Cups/Spoons

Parchment Paper (optional): To make removing the bars from the pan easier, we line the cavities with a strip of parchment. If you don’t have any on hand, just grease the pan with additional coconut oil and once the bars are cool, flip the pan upside down and give it a good whack onto a cutting board.

Megan holding up a granola bar to demonstrate that it holds together

How do you keep granola bars from falling apart?

This recipe uses brown rice syrup to keep the granola bars from falling apart. Brown rice syrup is thick and sticky—perfect for helping the bars stick together! Additionally, we really press the ingredients together when forming the bars to eliminate air pockets, which can lead the bars to crumble.

Our biggest gripe about homemade granola bars is that they tend to be rock hard, OR they just won’t stick together well enough to last any length of time in a daypack—but we have yet to have these issues with this recipe!

We tested these bars with both Sweet Dreams and Glory Bee brands and both worked well.

How to make granola bars from scratch

Start by preheating your oven to 325F, and lining a mini loaf pan with parchment paper (or grease with a bit of coconut oil). Alternatively, you can use a muffin tin.

Image 1: Rolled oats in a food processor. Image 2: Pulverized oats in a food processor.

Place the oats into a food processor or blender and pulse until the texture is crumbly but not yet flour.

Image 1: Granola bar ingredients in a mixing bowl. Image 2: Ingredients combined in the bowl.

Transfer the oats to a medium bowl and add the brown rice syrup, coconut oil, brown sugar, salt, crushed peanuts, raisins, and chocolate chips. Stir to combine—the mixture will be very sticky and dense, but you want to make sure that there are no dry patches.

You can’t over-mix, so use a little elbow grease and make sure everything is really well mixed.

Image 1: Filling a mini loaf pan with granola bar mixture. Image 2: Granola bars baked until golden on top.

Divide the dough evenly between the cavities in your loaf pan or muffin tin, aiming for a thickness of ¾”-1” depending on the size of your pan. Press the dough firmly into the pan using your spatula, fingers, or a greased glass. This step also helps the bars stick together, so don’t skip it.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the tops are just starting to turn golden. Remove from the oven and let it cool on the counter for at least 30 minutes, or until they are cool to the touch.

Store in an airtight container.

Five granola bars stacked.
Four chewy granola bars on a stump

Soft and Chewy Granola Bars

These granola bars can be customized with all sorts of mix-ins. This recipe is inspired by classic "GORP" (good ole raisins and peanuts) trail mix flavors.
Author: Fresh Off The Grid
4.56 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
8 bars

Ingredients

  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats, 300g
  • ½ cup brown rice syrup, 120mL
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, 60mL
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, lightly packed, 35g
  • ½ teaspoon salt, 2g
  • ¼ cup peanuts, roughly chopped, 35g
  • ¼ cup raisins, roughly chopped, 35g
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips, 40g

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325F.
  • Place the oats into a food processor or blender and pulse until the texture is crumbly but not yet flour. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the brown rice syrup, coconut oil, brown sugar, salt, chopped peanuts, raisins, and chocolate chips. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  • Using a lined or greased mini loaf pan, divide the dough evenly between the cavities. Press the dough firmly into the pan using your fingers or a greased glass.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the tops are just starting to turn golden. Remove from the oven and let it cool on the counter for at least 30 minutes, or until they are cool to the touch.
  • Store in an airtight container.

Nutrition (Per Serving)

Serving: 1bar | Calories: 354kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 13g | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 19g
*Nutrition is an estimate based on information provided by a third-party nutrition calculator
Snack
Hiking

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3 Comments

  1. Hey there, long-time reader, first-time comment! Psyched about this recipe. My girlfriend and I love Bobo’s bars, but they’re rather stupidly expensive. Looking forward to trying this out and experimenting with mix-ins! Do you know how long the bars will likely keep? I’ve got a four-day bikepacking trip coming up, and I’m wondering if I they’d stay good throughout the trip without preservatives. Thanks!

  2. How long do you figure these will last on a backpacking trip?

    1. It all depends on how you package them. They will definitely last a few weeks if kept in a well sealed in a baggie. Exposure to air will dry them out, so you will want to reduce that as much as possible. They’re also likely to crumble if smashed into a bear canister. If you wanted to send these to yourself in a meal drop (month or so ahead of time) we would consider vacuum sealing them.