How to Make Granola Bars With 3 Main Ingredients

Kristen Keen | The Upside Blog by

by | Updated: October 6th, 2023 | Read time: 4 minutes

The granola bar is a trusted snack for schoolgoers, daily commuters and afternoon noshers, but some granola bars at the store may have ingredients that don’t suit your family’s needs. Consider making your own. Making granola bars at home provides the opportunity to completely customize ingredients and flavors. A recipe could call for chia seeds, but if hemp seeds are a family favorite, then substitute that plant-based protein for the one your family prefers!

When making a granola bar, a good rule of thumb is to include 3 of the 5 food groups for a balanced option. The food groups include protein, fat, carbohydrate (grains), dairy, fruits and vegetables. There are three main bases needed when learning how to make granola bars: grains, protein and some color.

An Overhead View Shows Homemade Granola Bars Sliced on Parchment Paper, Representing How to Make Granola Bars.

How to Make Granola Bars: The 3 Main Ingredients

1. Grains

Grains are an important contribution to a granola bar because they help the bar hold its shape. When choosing a grain, opt for one your family enjoys but also adds nutrients, especially fiber. Some go-to choices when customizing your own bar can be rolled oats, oat flour, barley, bulgur, farro, millet, quinoa, puffed rice and others. Another plus, some of these grains also contain protein.

Pro tip: If you have the extra time in the kitchen, toast your grains and/or nuts to add more flavor.

2. Protein

When choosing a protein, consider adding in more than one option. Proteins can also include heart-healthy fats, which gives the granola bar a double nutrition punch. Some protein options include walnuts, hemp seeds, pistachios, flaxseeds, cashews, almond butter, peanut butter or pumpkin seeds, to name a few.

Pro Tip: When choosing a protein, play around with texture by mixing whole, chopped and/or ground nuts and seeds together.

3. Color

When picking colorful options, think about what fruit or vegetable can be added to make this granola bar more nutrient dense while adding in some texture. These items can be dried, freeze dried, fresh, canned (in 100% juice) or frozen. Keep in mind if choosing fresh, canned or frozen, compensate for the extra fluid these varieties have compared to the dried. If there’s too much liquid, squeeze out excess water with a towel.

Granola bar color options include blueberries, cranberries, coconut, bananas, raisins, cherries, dates, apples, zucchini, carrot, squash, potatoes and many others.

Pro Tip: If you consider yourself a beginner at granola bar making, a great go-to fruit is the banana. A banana is a safe starting point to having a delicious granola bar. Also, be mindful of the color of the fruit or vegetable. This is a great opportunity to add in a pop of color to your customizable granola bars.

There are also the honorable mentions when making your own customizable granola bar. These add-ins give pizzazz to ensure you have a tasty granola bar. These could include honey, cinnamon, curry, Chinese five spice, nutmeg, vanilla, your favorite candy – you name it – you could probably put it in a granola bar. Don’t just think about making a sweet granola bar. They can also be savory!

A granola bar can be cooked or not cooked depending on the ingredients within the bar. The more grains you add, the denser the bar will be. The more liquid in the ingredients, the chewier it will be. When pressing it into the pan make sure to line it with parchment paper. This will make cleaning up a breeze. The firmer you press, the more compact it will be. Lightly pressing will make a chewier bar. Most homemade granola bars can last up to 2-3 weeks when stored in an airtight container or bag. Freezing granola bars is also an option.

One advantage to homemade granola bars is how versatile they can be. If gluten-free is a priority, choose gluten-free grains. Bars can also be made nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, vegan and more. These versatile granola bars can work for the whole family. Let your mind explore the endless granolabilities! Think outside of that typical granola box. Let these recipes below inspire you to customize a granola bar to your family’s needs!

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