Back by Popular Demand! How to Make Your Own Granola Bars

How to Save a Million Dollars a Year

How to Make Your Own Granola Bars!

Granola Bars

OK, making my own granola bars did not save me a million dollars last year.  It may have only been half a million dollars.  Or maybe just enough for an occasional, guilt free (mostly) massage at a fabulous spa.  But more to the point, store bought granola bars are expensive.  They don’t seem that way, as you’re pushing your cart down the cereal isle… $3 or so seems harmless enough, right?  The problem is, many of those $3 boxes only contain 5 bars.  Even that might seem reasonable if everyone was happy with one bar.  I, however, have been blessed with boys.  Growing boys.  Have you seen growing boys raid a kitchen after school?  It’s an awe inspiring, slightly terrifying sight to behold.

My darling boys could obliterate a whole shelf of granola bars in only the time it would take them to tear through all of that wasteful packaging.  If I continued buying granola bars from the supermarket, I was going to need to supplement my income by renting out my boys for farm labor.  They didn’t seem too keen on the idea, so Option B required me to create an easy, low cost granola bar that would pass muster with the kids.  Three different versions became fast favorites.  I hope you enjoy them!  Don’t forget to post your comments below!

No-Bake Granola Bars, Part I:  Apple Cinnamon
I make a lot of jellies and jams (recipes coming soon!).  Occasionally, a batch of jelly or jam won’t turn out quite right – it’s either overcooked so that it’s too thick to spread, or undercooked so that it resembles syrup.  Because I’m too frugal to just throw them away, my “jars of mistakes” have been taking up shelf space, waiting to be put to good use.  Well, it’s Good Use Time!  You can use any apple jelly for this recipe, whether a store-bought version or a homemade version, even if it’s underwhelming on its own.
Combine dry goods and set aside:Dry Ingredients
3 cups of whole oats
1 cup of high fiber cereal
3/4 cup of diced, dried apples
1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamonButter and Jelly
Combine in a large pot and boil for two minutes:
¼ cup butter (or vegan substitute)
1 cup apple jelly

Remove from heat, stir in dry ingredients. Line a 9” x 13” cookie sheet (preferably one with low sides) with parchment paper. Pour mixture onto center of parchment paper; let cool for a few moments until safe to touch. With wet hands (prevents sticking), press mixture to evenly cover parchment paper.  picture055

Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm. Lift parchment paper and set on large cutting board. Cut mixture into 16 granola bars. Line each bar with parchment and refrigerate or freeze for storage.

Enjoy!

No-Bake Granola Bars, Part II: Wild Blueberry

Two summers ago, my family spent a week on the Maine Coast (beautiful… highly recommend!).  Kitchen goofball that I am, I managed to squeeze my canning pot, canning utensils, and a case of half pint canning jars into the back of the family minivan.  I was on a quest to purvey enough of the fabled wild Maine blueberries to make 12 jars of jam, and I succeeded… sort of.

I overcooked the jam.

There was wailing and gnashing of teeth.  There may have been a few words uttered that would, ah, make a Sunday School teacher blush.  But… Crowded Earth Kitchen wastes NOTHING!  Despite having no earthly idea how I would salvage those blueberries, I packed my 12 jars of crystallized blueberry “rock” into the van and brought them home.

You may use any blueberry jam for this recipe (I salvaged mine by soaking the jars in scalding hot water).  You might even get wild and crazy and try using another variety of jam.  If you create your own version, please let me know how it turns out!

Combine dry goods and set aside:

3 1/2 cups of whole oats

1 cup of high fiber cereal

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Combine in a large pot and boil for two minutes:

¼ cup butter (or vegan substitute)

1 cup blueberry jam

Blueberry Bars Remove from heat, stir in dry ingredients. Line a 9” x 13” cookie sheet (preferably one with low sides) with parchment paper. Pour mixture onto center of parchment paper; let cool for a few moments until safe to touch. With wet hands (prevents sticking), press mixture to evenly cover parchment paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm. Lift parchment paper and set on large cutting board. Cut mixture into 16 granola bars. Line each bar with parchment and refrigerate or freeze for storage. Enjoy!

No-Bake Granola Bars, Version III: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip 

Combine dry goods and set aside:

3 cups of whole oats

¾ cup of high fiber cereal (any variety will suffice)

1 cup of chopped pretzels (if you like salt) or crispie rice cereal (if you don’t)

Combine in a large pot and boil for two minutes:

¼ cup butter (or vegan substitute)

½ cup natural peanut butter

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup honey (or maple syrup as a vegan substitute)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars  Remove from heat, stir in dry ingredients. Line a 9” x 13” cookie sheet (preferably one with low sides) with parchment paper. Pour mixture onto center of parchment paper; let cool for a few moments until safe to touch. With wet hands (prevents sticking), press mixture to evenly cover parchment paper.

Then, press mini chocolate chips into the top of the granola bars (I used two tablespoons; use more if you don’t mind the sugar, or don’t use them at all). Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm. Lift parchment paper and set on large cutting board. Cut mixture into 16 granola bars. Line each bar with parchment and refrigerate or freeze for storage. Enjoy!

19 thoughts on “Back by Popular Demand! How to Make Your Own Granola Bars

  1. I can’t wait to make the peanut butter chocolate chip granola bars. This is my only chance to get my husband to eat oats and high fiber cereal! (he’ll never know). Thanks for the recipe.

    • Isn’t it funny what we can “hide” in homemade foods? 😉 Crowded Earth Kitchen has an upcoming recipe for a pasta sauce that is 100% Little Boy Approved, even though it’s really a big ol’ bowl of vegetables they “think” they don’t like. Watch for updates!

  2. I have two questions: 1. Is there a high fiber cereal you like best for this recipe? 2. How long do these keep in the freezer? PS Can’t wait to try them!

    • The first few times I made these, I used Fiber One (the old school, looks-like-twigs variety). I bought a box on sale with a coupon on double coupon day, all proud of myself that it was almost free… and my family looked at me like I hit my head when they connected the dots back to the insane idea that I thought they would EAT this product. :/ Well, eat it they did. It makes good granola bars. I’ve used Cheerios, which I personally think are fine, but my family likes “that other kind” better. Ha ha. They’ll never know.

  3. I will try these this weekend. My daughter loves “bars” of any kind. I never realized it was so easy to just make my own! Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. I am going to try and make these this weekend with Hannah and Nathan who are coming in. I think they will like them. How are they for a diabetic ?

  5. Oats and high fiber cereals have a lower glycemic index than, say, white bread or products made with white flour, so that’s a good thing. However, the glycemic index of jelly (a granola bar ingredient) is high, so I imagine this would fall into the “only in moderation” category for a diabetic.

  6. I have seen the kitchen pantry destruction that young boys after school can do. You’re right about that!

    For myself, I buy Clif bars or Luna bars — occasionally Fiber One bars and man, they are expensive! I tried to make my own baked granola bars a few years back and as soon as they cooled they turned into rocks! I’ll have to try these instead. Thanks!

    • I think you’ll like these! The trick is to boil for 2 minutes – less time, and they won’t harden at all. Two or three minutes is great. If you let this boil for a long time (more than, say, five minutes) you risk reaching “hard crack” stage where the granola bars will become brittle. Just be sure to boil for a solid 2 minutes. 🙂

  7. Do you think a “simply fruit” spread, without the sugar, would work in place of the jam? Or will it be too runny once it boils?

    • That’s a good question. I think a fruit spread would work if you were making loose granola, to sprinkle over yogurt and such, but I’m not sure it would work as “glue” for bars. Boiling jelly inserts a bit of chemistry into these bars, in that the sugars and pectin in boiling jelly solidify (sort of like making candy). I would worry that fruit spread would burn instead of transforming into something that will solidify when cooled.

  8. One, I am so going to make these as I have a lot of food sensitivities so finding a good granola recipe is a permanent must. Two, can I pwease re-post this on my blog The Ephemeral Geek?

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