Granola bars have long been one of my favorite snacks to have on hand. From packed lunches as a kid, to keeping a box in my desk drawer at work, they have pretty much always been a snack time staple. I started on my quest to make them at home several years ago and I will confess that it’s taken me forever to get them just the way I envisioned. I tried so many combinations of ingredients and while the majority of the bars were incredibly tasty, they would also fall apart quite easily.
After plenty of experiments, I finally landed on a combination that produces exactly what I’d been looking for: sturdy yet still chewy bars with slightly crisp edges. And when that’s combined with the ever-classic combo of peanut butter and jelly? Well, I’m in snack heaven.
Now, a few things I’ve learned about making granola bars at home.
The combination of the brown rice syrup along with the peanut butter (or another nut butter) really produces the most sturdy bars. I would not encourage any substitutions for the brown rice syrup (such as maple syrup or honey), as the bars just don’t hold together as well that way.
When you press the mixture into the baking pan, make sure you really press it firmly into an even layer. This helps pack it down, which will also help produce sturdier bars. Along those lines, let the bars cool completely before removing them from the pan and cutting into squares. They firm up as they cool.
You can store the bars at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will keep fresh longer in the fridge. I like to wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap, to make it nice and easy for a grab and go snack.
And lastly, for these bars specifically, try to use either jelly or a jam that isn’t super chunky. It will mix and spread better without the big chunks.
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, cutting a big enough piece so that it hangs over the edges on two sides. Lightly spray with olive oil or nonstick spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the oats, oat bran, cinnamon, salt and peanuts. In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, peanut butter, vanilla, brown rice syrup and ¼ cup of the jam until well combined. Add to the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until combined and evenly moistened.
- Dump the mixture into the prepared baking pan and press firmly into an even layer. Drop on the remaining 3 tablespoons jam and smear over the top of the bars.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Use the parchment overhang to lift the bars from the pan, then cut into squares with a sharp knife.