Thick, chewy granola bars (gluten free)

If you are like me, you sometimes struggle to find time for breakfast. I know I need a healthy dosage of protein in the mornings, as well as fiber and some whole grains. But, man is it hard to get all that and still get kids to school on time, straighten up, and manage to get a shower.

Sure, I make oatmeal and I scramble eggs.  But sometimes I just get tired of that.  I started searching a few weeks ago for a good granola bar recipe.  Yes, I could buy them at the grocery.  The supply of gluten free ones is limited, but even most of those are packed with ingredients I’m not that fond of, including high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, and tons and tons of sugar.  All that to say, after my searching, I have found IT.   The original recipe is from SmittenKitchen (  I didn’t change much and they turned out great.

And it is versatile. You can play with them and make them with the flavors you and your family like. I used cranberries, almonds, and walnuts in mine.  But you could use any dried fruits, nuts, even coconut.

So, if you are in need of a quick breakfast or nutritional boost in your day, give these a try for something new.   Or maybe your husband leaves at the crack of dawn some days like mine and you want him to have something tasty to take with his coffee? 🙂  I bet he would love you for these!

Thick, Chewy Granola Bars (original recipe by Smitten Kitchen, with just a few variations by me)


1 2/3 cups old fashioned  rolled oats (if gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free oats)
1/2 to 3/4 cup brown  sugar (use more for a sweetness akin to most purchased bars; use less for a mildly sweet bar) (I used 1/2 a cup and I thought it was PLENTY. I might actually decrease it a bit next time because I don’t want this to be like eating a dessert  🙂  )
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender) (I used 1/3 cup flax meal instead and loved it!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts  ( I used a cup of slivered almonds, a cup of chopped walnuts, and a cup of dried cranberries)
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (I used natural crunchy peanut butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter (I didn’t have butter, so I used 3 TBSP olive oil and 3 TBSP vegetable oil. . . worked GREAT)
1/4 cup + 2 TBSP  honey, maple syrup or corn syrup (I used Maple Syrup because I prefer its flavor)
1 tablespoon water


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)

Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.

Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)

I let mine cool on the counter for about 30 min and then put them in the fridge for another 30-45 minutes. They were easy to cut and didn’t crumble at all!

Once cool, a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares.  To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.


11 responses to “Thick, chewy granola bars (gluten free)

  1. Ok, seriously, you are reading my gf wish list! I just printed out 3 gf granola bar recipes to try including the one by smitten! I love that you made this without the corn syrup. I just made some snack type bars (couldn’t justify paying over $12.00 for gf oats! ugh,) so I substituted with millet and puffed brown rice. I am definitely adding the flax next time. I am trying your recipe next. Thanks for another great recipe!

  2. Ha! that’s so funny, Kelly. Glad us GF girls can stick together. 🙂
    Yes, I was really glad they turned out good without the corn syrup. I just upped the maple syrup a bit.
    have you tried the pizza yet? Can’t wait to hear what you think.
    Gonna try using the pizza dough for breadsticks one day soon. ooo the possibilities with a yeasty “normal” dough. . .

  3. Oh, sorry, I thought I responded about the pizza. Yes, I did and it turned out great! Not as puffy as yours. I had a friend and she lives a few minutes away (also gf) and she tried adding a tsp of cider vinegar to help it rise a bit more. I did make it with the arrowroot and that seemed fine. The other thing that I changed was I used 1% milk instead of whole. But I just bought whole milk and I am going to try that with it and maybe a bit more yeast. (I live in NM and it is considered “high desert” so that may be part of my rise problem) Any thoughts? I many make it tomorrow as my oldest son has already requested it again! =0) Awesome recipe. so awesome I blogged about it and you can see picture of my first attempt. (yours is way better looking, but mine still tasted awesome and the texture was wonderful so no complaints here.) Here is the post:

    ps there is a post for gf donuts too. YUMMY!

  4. oops, coming back to add that I subbed potato starch not arrowroot. =0)

  5. Glad you liked the texture of the pizza. I’m sorry it didn’t rise well. I’m not very good at getting yeast doughs to rise consistently. . . one reason i was super excited about my results with this one. I wonder if the whole milk would make a difference. I know lower fat milks have higher water content. . .hmmmmm? maybe your location too. I’m curious about adding the cider vinegar. I’ve done that before in other breads and had good results. Let me know how your next batch turns out.
    And glad your son liked it. . . my 5 year old said, “Mom! this is way better than that pizza that comes in a box!” 😉 papa johns has now been topped in this house! ha.

  6. Ok, so I am officially trying the pizza recipe again tonight. =0) I’ll try it with the whole milk/cider vinegar and up the yeast by 1/4 tsp. The elevation here is only like 5000, but it is just enough to have an effect on some of my recipes. The bread one I posted has 3tsp of yeast. I just made a recipe for donuts (seriously good! I posted about that one too. ) My kids are in gf heaven with all these wonderful recipes posted lately! Seriously, thanks so much for sharing them. Wow! topping Papa Johns is no easy feat! Good job Mom!

  7. * HeyBekah, so I tried the pizza again. Still tasted great. Here is what I did different:

    * first I used potato starch instead of corn starch (not sure if I said the the first time. We doesn’t do much corn here, so I sub it when I can)

    * Used 1 tsp cider vinegar

    * used 2 1/2 tsp of yeast (rather than just 2 1/4) It did not taste too yeasty either, I may try another 1/4 tsp.

    * I used the whole milk this time too
    * I also just made one large 12 in pizza instead of 2 -10 inch pizzas.

    My verdict…not quite there yet, but still promising. The kids loved it. It was a little too thick (lol) at 12 inches. so…… I am either going to try making 1-14 inch pizza and see how that rises or making the two smaller 10 in. ones again. Making it 12 inches it was more dense and less chewy. Actually as I am typing this, I will probably go for the 2 smaller pizzas. That seemed to have a really nice chewy crust. I think you were onto something with the smaller sized pizzas. It seemed to help with the crusts chewiness, etc. Or what would you try next? I am determined to get this pizza right for my altitude. =0) So there ya have it. Any thoughts or suggestions? =0) Kelly

  8. Pingback: Oat-less Granola Bars (Gluten Free) | The Happy Tummy: A collection of recipes, pictures, and helpful cooking tips

  9. Hi – I am going to try these with some variations for my daughter – I have to substitute the peanut or nut butter with something else. Any ideas?? Thanks!

  10. Bev,
    Can she have sunflower butter? I have heard Trader Joes carries it and that it is quite good. I also wonder about apple butter? I did some research and found that a lot of ppl who can’t have nut butters have successfully subbed apple butter or pumpkin butter in recipes. I haven’t tried it but I bet the flavors would be great in these granola bars. Please let us know what you come up with and how your bars turn out. I’m sure others have the same struggles.

  11. While I eat primal/paleo and therefore don’t eat oats, I have made this recipe several times now for my husband who is gluten free, and his response has been, “These are the best granola bars I’ve ever had.” He has them daily for breakfast, and he gets sad if I don’t make a new batch in time and he has to go a day without. It’s easy to switch up the bars by adding different fruits and nuts, so each batch is a little bit different. The only change I’ve made to the recipe has been to reduce the amount of brown sugar significantly (at my husband’s request). The first time I made them with half a cup, then 1/3 of a cup, and finally 1/4 of a cup. The maple syrup sweetens them plenty enough on its own, apparently! Thank you so much for this recipe. It has made my husband’s mandatory transition to gluten free eating a lot easier!

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