If cereal bars are your go-to for running out the door, you'll love this homemade version. These homemade cereal bars are sweet, chewy, a little crunchy, and hold together as well as store-bought bars. They are vegan, grain-free, oil-free, and refined sugar-free.
Whether it's a cereal bar, granola bar, or a protein bar, more than ever bars are serving as snacks or even breakfast replacements.
Buying cereal bars can be disappointing though. Many commercial cereal bars are so sweet that they are essentially undercover candy. Most of them contain so little protein and fiber that you are hungry before you've even tossed the wrapper. Widely marketed as wholesome and 100% natural, they are nearly 100% unhealthy.
If you're willing to pay the price, there are great alternatives such as Lärabars, Nākd bars, Go Raw sprouted bars, Health Warrior Chia bars, and Purely Elizabeth superfood bars. If you can't find them or are looking for a lower-cost alternative, you can make your own snack bars using your choice of simple, nutrient-rich ingredients. Here's how.
Tips for Making Cereal Bars
Cereal bars are one area of baking where you don't need a really strict formula. It's more art than science.
I have made this recipe with several different bases, including amaranth flakes, buckwheat flakes, quinoa flakes, and rolled oats. They are all great, but different. Rolled oats provide the most texture whereas buckwheat flakes impart the most robust, intensely earthy flavor. For a more complex flavor and texture, you can use a mix of different (pseudo) grains or your favorite breakfast cereal. Personally, I don't eat boxed cereal, so I never have it on hand.
The second most important ingredient are dates, which also act as a binder. You could use just dates or a mix of dates and maple syrup. If I know I'm going to be baking the bars, I usually add both. For raw bars using just dates is fine. Almond butter is another ingredient that helps to bind all the ingredients together. Mixed with the dates and maple syrup, nut butter creates a sticky paste that coats all the dry ingredients.
You can flavor the cereal bars however you like. I usually stick with either vanilla extract (pictured above) or cocoa (pictured below), but anything goes.
The first step is making a date paste. So, using a food processor, process the dates into a smooth paste. It's fine if there are some date bits left as long as the dates are more or less pureed. If you don't have a food processor, you can use store-bought date paste.
From here it's really easy. Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Since the date paste is really sticky, you'll just kind of have to wedge the spatula in to evenly coat the dry ingredients. The mixture will be really thick and kind of clumpy.
Once well-combined, transfer the mixture into a parchment paper-lined 8 x 8 inch/20 x 20 cm baking dish and press it into an even layer. Really pack it down, so the bars hold together well. you can either freeze the bars or bake them until firm and lightly golden around the edges. Let the bars cool completely before cutting (they will continue firming up as they cool).
Tools You'll Need
1. Food Processor (Breville Sous Chef) | 2. Knife Set (6 Pieces, Utopia, Stainless Steel) | 3. Cutting Board (24″x 18″, Michigan Maple Block, Maple) | 4. Mixing Bowls (Set of 3, Pyrex, Glass) | 5. Baking Dish (3 Quart & 2 Quart, Pyrex, Glass) | 6. Measuring Cup (1 Cup, Anchor Hocking) | 7. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Bellemain, Stainless Steel) | 8. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel)
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- Process the dates. Add the dates into a food processor fitted with the S blade and process into a smooth paste. It's fine is small bits remain. Transfer the date paste into a large mixing bowl.
- Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Add the buckwheat flakes, hazelnuts, almond butter, maple syrup, and vanilla extract into the bowl with the date paste and mix until well combined. The mixture will be very thick.
- Bake (baked version only). Preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C. Transfer the mixture into an 8 x 8 inch/20 x 20 cm parchment paper-lined baking dish and press firmly into an even layer. Bake the granola bars until firm and lightly golden around the edges, about 25 minutes. Allow the bars to cool completely, then cut into 10 even bars.
- Freeze (raw version only). Transfer the mixture into an 8 x 8 inch/20 x 20 cm parchment paper-lined baking dish and press firmly into an even layer. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Remove from the freezer and cut into 10 even bars.
- Store. Leftover cereal bars keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 month. For longer term storage, freeze in an airtight container with a piece of parchment paper in between each cereal bar (so they don't stick together as they freeze) for up to 3 months.
**You can substitute the buckwheat flakes for rolled oats, quinoa flakes, amaranth flakes, etc. I use buckwheat flakes and quinoa flakes by GoGo Quinoa, which I believe are only available in Canada.
***The maple syrup creates a firmer cereal bar. If you want to omit it, use more dates.
****Nutrition information is calculated without optional ingredients.
****Nutrition information is approximate and may contain errors. Please, feel free to make your own calculations.