Snack bars go by many names, some branded and some not. But the kind at the store often come with an eyebrow-raising list of sometimes questionable ingredients, and there’s so much packaging for just a handful of snacks—and who needs to pay extra for plastic wrappers? So what’s a smart, eco-conscious, budget-savvy snacker to do? Take a spin through the pantry and make their own, of course. Homemade snacks for the win!
We’re going to share how we make snack bars at home, with a simple oat bar recipe, ingredients we can pronounce, and a price point we can stomach—and none of that plastic trash. This simple formula will have you stocking your kitchen snack jar or lunch box (or your freezer—yes, they freeze!) in no time.
To make homemade snack bars, you will need:
- About 2 Cups Oats: ideally Old-Fashioned/Rolled Oats and Quick Oats, in equal parts; but, if you only have 1 kind, you can still make it work!
- 2-3 Tbsp melted Fat: butter, coconut oil, or olive oil will all work.
- 1-1.5 Cups Moisture: Pureed fruit (or veg) works great, as does a nut butter of your choice.
- 2-3 Tbsp Binder: 1 large egg, ground flax, chia seeds, or other egg substitute will all do the trick.
- ½+ Cup Mix-Ins: This is the fun part! Try chocolate chips, nuts, seeds, raisins, rainbow sprinkles—whatever delights you. We also recommend a gentle seasoning of your choice, such as a teaspoon of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. You can also add an extract or other liquid flavoring.
- Optional: ¼-½ Cup liquid sweetener of your choice (such as honey, maple syrup, or agave); if you prefer a less-sweet bar or want to limit sugar, try choosing a fruit puree for your moisture component.
Click here to jump to our favorite combo from this kitchen exploration: peanut butter, maple, and chocolate chip!
How to Make It:
- Gather your ingredients and preheat the oven to 350F (375F if your oven is notoriously on the cool side). Grab a 8x8” baking dish, cake pan, or even a similarly-sized rimmed baking sheet. We ended up with a 9x13” baking sheet with about a 1” rim. Grease your bakeware, or line with parchment paper.
- Toast your oats and any nut-like mix-ins if you wish to bring out some extra flavor. Skip this step if you have a need for speed. If you do not have quick oats: we strongly recommend blitzing some rolled oats in your blender, food processor, or other food grinder. The rolled oats add great texture, and the quick oats are more absorbent and help the bars hold together.
- Mix together the oats, any spices, and if your binder is of the dry variety, mix that in as well.
- Mix together the wet ingredients, including any extracts or flavoring and any sweetener. DO NOT include the egg if you’re using that as a binder; if using a whole egg, crack it and whisk it with a fork and 1-2 tablespoons of water, just like you’d make an egg wash. Set it aside for just a moment.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix well. If using egg, add at this step and mix thoroughly until you no longer see any discernible egg in the mixture. The mixture at this point should be thick, sticky, and neither dry nor wet but right in between. If it’s too wet, add a little more oats, a small handful at a time mixing well. If it’s too dry, add a little moisture: either more fruit puree, a little hot water, lemon juice--whatever makes sense in your flavoring scheme, about 1Tbsp at a time.
- Fold in most of your chosen mix-ins, reserving about 2 handfuls.
- Press the mixture firmly into your bakeware, using your hands, a spatula, or the side of a mug to make an even thickness. Sprinkle the rest of your mix-ins over the top and press them firmly into the mixture.
- Bake at 350F to your desired firmness--the surface of the mixture should feel dry and semi-firm to the touch at about 20-25 minutes, but depending on where your preference falls on the soft to chewy to crunchy spectrum, you may end up baking longer.
- 1 Cup old fashioned oats
- 1.25 Cup quick oats
- 1 Cup smooth peanut butter
- ¼ Cup honey (or maple syrup)
- 2 TBSP coconut oil
- 1 egg + 2 TBSP water, beaten together
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp maple flavoring
- Dash of salt
- Dash of cinnamon
- ~1 generous Cup total of dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, coconut flakes, and mini chocolate chips
- Mix together the oats with the cinnamon and salt.
- Heat the honey and coconut oil over medium heat until it begins to bubble; stay close so as not to burn.
- Add the peanut butter to the honey and oil, and stir well until everything is melted, smooth, and homogenous. Reduce heat to low. Add the vanilla extract and maple flavor if using.
- Combine oat mixture with peanut butter mixture and stir well to combine--things should cool slightly during this process and that’s a good thing.
- Add the beaten egg wash and mix well until you can see no more egg. Adjust the moisture of this mix if needed--a little more oats if it’s too wet; a little water, some applesauce, or try a mashed banana if it’s dry.
- Fold in most of your mix-ins.
- Press everything firmly into your greased or parchment-lined bakeware until it’s an even thickness. Press the remaining mix-ins into the top.
- Bake about 35 minutes at 350F (375F if you’ve got a typically cooler oven)--the nut butter and egg in this version results in a longer time to bake. Remove and let cool a bit; score with a knife into bars of your preferred size. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan and cut with a sharp chef's knife. Keep on the counter for a few days, in the fridge up to a week, or in the freezer for several months. Wrap a couple in a Z Wrap and take them along to work, school, or out and about!
Other flavor combos we tried included Apple Cinnamon with pureed apple, and 2 versions of a mango-puree and coconut flake (with and without chocolate chips, plus a pinch of chili flake and squeeze of lime juice!). All were delicious!