Crunchy Peanut Butter Granola Bars

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Squares of our recipe for the Best Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Do you ever have one of those days where nothing seems to be going right?

I had one of those days recently when I was making these granola bars, partially because of my three failed attempts at this recipe! Yes, three.

Who fails at granola bars? I do.

Baking sheet with oats and almonds for making our Easy homemade Peanut Butter Granola Bars

I desperately wanted to make baked granola bars. Doesn’t it just sound dreamy?

Well, you know what happens when you bake granola bars (at least in my experience)? They become dry and crumbly, and you’re left with a big pan of granola – not what I’m going for. Any advice on this matter? I’d love to know.

In the meantime, back to the drawing board.

Pouring wet ingredients into dry for the best homemade gluten-free Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Instead of giving up altogether (which I did consider), I looked back on my favorite granola bar recipe for a little inspiration and found just what I needed.

There’s no need to bake your granola bars once they’re formed in the pan. The only baking required is for toasting the oats and nuts to give them more flavor and crunch. Dates provide the “glue” to hold these together and keep them 100% naturally sweetened.

The best part? This recipe is simple: 8 ingredients, 20 minutes (plus chilling), and easy-to-master methods.

Parchment-lined baking pan with our gluten-free vegan Peanut Butter Granola Bars

These granola bars are everything I’d hoped for! They’re:

Super crunchy
Speckled with oats + coconut
Peanut buttery
Vegan + GF
Naturally sweetened
& Delicious

These make the perfect easy breakfast or on-the-go snack. They would be especially ideal for hiking, camping, and whenever you need a post-workout nibble.

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to snap a picture and tag it #minimalistbaker on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!

Crunchy homemade Peanut Butter Granola Bars resting on a linen

Crunchy Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Crunchy peanut butter granola bars with toasted oats, coconut and sunflower seeds! 8 ingredients, naturally sweetened, and the perfect breakfast or snack.
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Homemade crunchy PB Granola Bars on a red linen
4.5 from 14 votes
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 9 (squares)
Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 2-3 weeks

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free for GF eaters)
  • 3/4 cup raw slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 20 medjool dates* (pitted and finely chopped // 20 dates yields ~3/4 cup packed)
  • 2-3 Tbsp dried fruit (optional // such as blueberries or strawberries)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and line an 8x8-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
  • Add oats, almonds, and sunflower seeds to large baking sheet. If sunflower seeds or almonds are already roasted, don’t put them on the pan and reserve to add later.
  • Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until light golden brown, stirring occasionally. In the last 5 minutes of baking, add the shredded coconut and stir. Once everything is light golden brown and toasty, remove from oven and set aside.
  • In the meantime, add peanut butter, coconut oil, and maple syrup to a small saucepan. Warm over medium heat until melted, stirring to combine. Remove from heat when well-mixed and pourable - about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.
  • Add chopped dates, toasted oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit (optional) to a large mixing bowl and top with peanut butter mixture. Stir well to combine, using the spoon to mash the dates and make sure they’re evenly distributed - this will help the bars stick together.
  • Transfer mixture to prepared 8x8 dish and use a spatula to spread evenly and pack down. Lay a piece of parchment paper on top and use a drinking glass (or similar shaped object) to press down firmly and pack the mixture in place. It’s important it’s packed well or they can crumble when cutting.
  • Place in freezer for 30 minutes to set. Cut into 9 even squares, or 10-12 bars (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size).
  • For best freshness, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 1 month. I prefer mine in the freezer, as they stay freshest that way.

Notes

*If your dates aren't sticky and moist, soak in hot water for 10 minutes then drain thoroughly.
*Loosely adapted from my Healthy 5 Ingredient Granola Bars.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.

Nutrition (1 of 9 servings)

Serving: 1 squares Calories: 335 Carbohydrates: 42.2 g Protein: 8.9 g Fat: 16.8 g Saturated Fat: 5.3 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 68 mg Fiber: 5.8 g Sugar: 23.4 g

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  1. theresa mcgill says

    Lovely flavour but fell apart on cutting. So disappointing. Had to eat it on top of yogurt instead of its intended purpose as a bar to take to work.
    Would you test it and re-post, perhaps?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Theresa, we’ll give it another look! Sorry you had trouble. Did you modify anything? Sounds like your dry ingredients may have outweighed the amount of wet ingredients here and they crumbled, which can happen depending on the freshness / drippiness of the nut butter you’re using / freshness of dates, etc.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      That might work! But we’re not sure they would hold together quite as well. Let us know if you try it!

  2. Nathalie B says

    Hi,
    Made these exactly following the recipe..even with the type of dates…and they crumbled when I tried to cut them after being in the freezer…
    The taste is good ..but doesn’t hold the shape…
    I was disappointed.
    Nathalie B

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Nathalie, sorry to hear that was your experience! Were your dates sticky and moist? If not, we recommend soaking in hot water for 10 minutes then draining thoroughly. You could also add more dates, as needed. Hope that helps for next time!

  3. Asli says

    So I sort of eyeballed the ingredients and adjusted the measurements according to what I had at home. At first the mixture was super loose so I worried about it setting but after freezing it actually stuck together pretty well. Except it was a bit crumbly but I imagine it was because I ran out of peanut butter but overall it held well and tasted great. Thanks for the recipe

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks for sharing, Asli! We’re so glad you enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  4. Rabia Kazmi says

    At the outset let me say this is a great recipe.
    The only part I found challenging was chopping up the dates. I didn’t have mejdool dates and used another variety that’s called mabroom. ( so set aside at least 10-15 mins to pit and chop dates if you don’t have Mejdool dates). Also I found that the mix of butter, maple syrup and oil was just enough to bring all the oats together. I’ve set the bars in the fridge and will amend this review when I try to cut them into bars.

    I had to have a few bites and it tasted yummy in fact I would even go as far as to say it tasted better than the usual granola bars I make which is with danish butter (here I used creamy PB).

    • Rabia Kazmi says

      So the bars didn’t set well in the fridge. While cutting into lines they were falling into bits and pieces.
      Not sure what I did wrong. Do I need to add the butter and syrup mixture while it’s still really warm to the touch.
      Love the flavours. I used really high quality pure coconut oil (thailand) and creamy American PB.
      Really want to get this recipe right as my kids love granola bars.

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

        Hi Rabia, we wonder if it may have been the type of dates you used? We have only made this recipe with medjool dates and find that their stickiness is what holds everything together.

  5. Laura A LaFontsee says

    I just Destroyed these. Been making oatmeal nut bars for 20 years. Haven’t made any Ib the last 3 years. And today-Lets, shall we. Why yes. Out of the oven. Cooled. Now it’s a 9×13 in a bag. Breakfast now. What in grrrrr

  6. Teresa says

    I made these bars as I am constantly looking for a crunchy hard homemade granola, like nature Valley bars that are healthy. I used coconut oil, peanut butter and maple syrup and combined it with the oats mixture, totally compressed the mixture in a flat baking sheet, put it in the freezer, took out after 30mins to cut, knife glided thru but there were crumbly bits. Put into the fridge as you suggested. After 2hrs they weren’t crunchy. Put into the freezer for an hour, they are slightly crunchy but fall apart after one bite & the flavour isn’t great. Coconut oil or butter just seems to over set with a distinct taste but doesn’t combine well enuf with syrup & butter. I think there is too much fat in the butter. Can you give me tips for what may have gone wrong. I followed recipe to a T

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      For less coconut taste, you can use refined coconut oil. We haven’t had that problem with the crunchiness- perhaps the oats needed to bake longer. Or you could also maybe try baking the bars? Hope that helps!

  7. Danielle says

    How are these dryed because that is what i am looking for a good granola bar i take my dog for long walks and i take snaks with us and sometimes she will eat my snacks but i want it to not fall apart

  8. Johanna Veth says

    I made these and they are terrific. Versatile too – dark choc chunks, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds would all work well in this recipe.

  9. Helena says

    OMG! Love this recipe! This is my fourth week in a row making this! I have a four month old baby, so I have one of these bars for breakfast every morning – saves so much time day to day!

  10. Vanya says

    I made this using macadamia butter for my pregnant niece- who was eating rubbish store bought museli bars for breakfast. She loved them, and I am VERY happy to be providing quality nutrition for her and little X… added some sesame seeds too, for calcium. Thanks very much for the recipe. Making next batch right now!

  11. Suzanne says

    I made these today. My peanut butter, coconut oil and maple syrup mix turned more into a blob which was not good for binding. Any tips on how to make the consistency more of a liquid??? Thank you

  12. Haley says

    Omg! These are so good! And so easy! And for the first time making granola bars from scratch, I must say, I am now addicted. They’re the perfect make ahead breakfast for the week for this busy teacher! Thanks so much. :)

  13. Susie says

    Hi Dana,
    I made Rosewater Granola from Thug Kitchen’s recipe and it made a huge batch. I was looking for granola bar recipes and used this recipe(I’m a huge fan of all your recipes) I made almond pistachio butter instead of the peanut butter and I just took them out of the freezer and OMG, they’re perfection! Delicious, chewy, crunchy and sliced beautifully…. Thank you so much!

  14. Chris says

    I have been making your healthy 5 ingredient granola bars religiously every other Saturday ever since I tried them for the first time, more than 6 months ago. Those very few times that we ran out I would panick.. And the only reason we’d run out was that anyone who’d come over to our house would demand to be given at least one bar to take home with them – not on the schedule!

    With more free time on my hands now, I decided to try this recipe for a change – it’s SO good I think I’ll have to put that into the rotation now instead. Thanks again Dana for such great recipes!

  15. Danielle says

    It just crumbles!?
    I then put it all back in a bowl, added honey and baked again hoping it might stay together.
    Though it tasted yum, it was a disappointment and waste of time.

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

        Hi Laura, were your dates sticky and fresh? They are the glue that hold it together and if more on the dry side, they won’t hold it together as well.

  16. Will says

    Think it would be possible to adapt this recipe for spent grain from home brewing? Any suggestion on how?

    Thanks!

  17. Meg says

    Made these this week: Amazing! Definitely the best granola bars I have ever made from scratch.
    My husband is pretty pumped about them too; He’s always on the hunt for the perfect bar, and says this is it!—That illusive heavenly mix of chewy and crunchy.
    I used honey instead of maple syrup (what I had on hand), added chia seeds, and crunched all the nuts up into small pieces in my food processor before mixing them in the batter.
    We’ll be making a big batch of these again very soon (because the first batch disappeared wayyy too fast). Thank you!

  18. Jessica says

    I just made these and they are delicious. But u fortunately most of my pan is crumbled granola instead of bars ?.
    What can I do to save this deliciousness? Can I add something to try and reset it?

    Thanks in advance

  19. Laura says

    Thank you for starting to put the weights on recipes too – I’m in the UK and although i have a set of measuring cups I find it really confusing to bake that way (I guess its what you’re used too!) A teensy request – could you put the oven temps in Celsius too? I should probably know the conversion by now but I still have to google it every time!

    Love, love, love your granola and granola bar recipes by the way :-)

  20. Hilda says

    I made these bars last weekend and they were great, but the end product was bunch of chunks of loose granola.
    Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    • Meg says

      Maybe try crunching the nuts up into smaller pieces? I did that and the bars held together great. You also might need to add more “sticky” stuff: peanut butter, dates, etc.

  21. Lanita says

    Yummmmm!!! Just made a batch with my 10 year-old twins. The goal was to make these so we can take them to school/work for snacks. I can totally see myself eating this whole pan on my own. They are SO good! Thanks!

  22. Christine says

    I’ve done oat based bars before in the oven but they come out soft – not like a traditional granola bar. BUT they are delish. The base is oats, almonds, dates, maple syrup, salt and vanilla and then you can add in protein powder if desired and fruit of your choice.

  23. Ana @ Ana's Rocket Ship says

    Who cares if they are baked or nut? As long as they turn out as good as they look – surely it’s inconsequential?

  24. Cindy says

    Hard ball sugar is the answer!
    Based on the pictures that you have posted, it doesn’t look like you are having problems with the bars crumbling into granola.
    BUT!..there is a way to make the bars solid if you want to imitate a Kind bar or a Larabar. In the world of pastry and baking, heating sugar to different temperatures renders your product into whatever it is you are trying to achieve. In this instance, you are probably looking for hard ball stage 250F – 260F. You need a candy thermometer to measure the temperature of the sugar you are heating up.
    So, whether you use, regular refined white sugar, maple syrup, brown rice syrup or big bad ole corn syrup, heat it up to hard ball stage and mix it in with the rest of your ingredients. Flatten out in your pan and within 20 minutes you can cut your granola into perfect bars. Hope that helps.
    Google ‘stages of sugar’ to read more about it.

  25. Ryan Koger says

    SOY LECITHIN!!! Use it with brown rice syrup and fruit puree and you can bake the bars without them falling apart. I use the “Clif-type FUBARs” recipe from Please Don’t Feed the Bears. Had some in a baggie at the bottom of my pannier for the first week of a bike tour, and they were still intact!

  26. Danielle says

    Oh my! These are so very yummy! I love how they stay nice, and chewy at room temperature and still retain the crunch of the toasted nuts! I might have snuck in some vegan chocolate chips! Be sure to wait til the batter cools a bit before adding the chips. Thanks for all your delish, simple recipes, Dana!

  27. Michele @ Two Raspberries says

    ok! granola bars are like MY LIFE! ;-) and I love that you baked the oats first thats such a great idea! perfect way to enhance the flavor! ;-)

  28. Charlie (@charlielbl) says

    I have a similar problem, my bars always turn into granola. Edible, so not a problem, but still, I would love to successfully make a bar! I hope this recipe does the trick! Will tag you on instagram if I succeed :) – Charlie

  29. Sarah | Well and Full says

    Ohh Dana I’m sorry to hear you were having recipe troubles!! It looks like your efforts really paid off in the end, though! :D

    • Hilda says

      How much mashed banana or applesauce do you use? I have tried this recipe twice and I end up with a bunch of loose granola :(

  30. Evelyn says

    I’ve been on a bar making-and-eating craving lately, and these look divine! I find it a real pain to make date caramel (my whole kitchen is sticky every time, can’t seem to keep it in the bowl where it belongs), but they’re such a treat after working-out, or in the afternoon at the office. These look lovely, thanks for the recipe!

  31. Kristina says

    They look delicious. When I make granola bars I use egg white as a binder while baking, but that is not really an option for vegans. But the idea of pre-toasting oats is great. I think it’s even less messy.

  32. Samantha @ThePlantedVegan says

    Peanut butter and oats? I’m in! These look so yummy, and seem like the perfect meal prepping breakfast! Thanks for the recipe!

  33. Patti Chin says

    Yum! Just made these, but mine crumbled apart, so enjoying as granola! Will try using more dates or adding brown rice syrup, as Cory suggested next time. Thanks for the healthy recipe Dana! :-)

  34. Monique @ Ambitious Kitchen says

    Dana! These look amazing. I’m always a huge fan of baked granola bars; sometimes you just crave a little crunch.

  35. Heidi @foodiecrush says

    Hate to say it but you’re not the only granola bar -challenged baker :) Looks like you overcame your issues splendidly.

  36. Kerstin says

    You had me at Peanutbutter! This looks so good, oh my need to make it as soon as possible! Thank you for always creating these swoon-worthy recipes!

    Love, Kerstin

    • Evelyn says

      Maybe a little more peanut butter (or other nut or seed paste to keep it sticky), and I often use mashed banana to bind it. The Oh She Glows blog has a nut/seed/dried fruit bar with banana, and it works like a charm. However, I always bake my banana bars, not sure how it’ll turn out without baking the banana (probably a bit of a sticky ball instead of a crunchy bar). Hope this helps!

  37. Michelle says

    Yummy! I LOVE granola bars. They’re so easy to make, healthy, and totally satisfy my need for something sweet. Much better than a sugary candy bar – no guilt. I love that your recipe calls for only a few simple ingredients – simple tastes better in my opinion, and it’s totally budget friendly that way. I only use a few ingredients in my granola too.

    Thanks for sharing your recipe – definitely pinning. :)

    P.S. Your photos are gorgeous!

  38. Esther says

    I’m already a fan of your HEALTHY BROWNIE GRANOLA BARS I’ve made them many times by now and I’m definitely gonna give a try to these ones!

  39. Kathryn - The Scratch Artist says

    I officially don’t need more peanut butter in my life. And I don’t use the word officially lightly. I currently have two cases of peanuts waiting for me to butter in my laundry room. Two cases! And now you’ve given me one more thing that I need to make with peanut butter, oh well. All my attempts to limit my peanut butter intake have completely failed, so I’ve decided to just accept my peanut butter obsession! These granola bars are happening! Thanks Dana. Hopefully this whole comment hasn’t been an uninteresting over share :-) xo

  40. Hannah Elizabeth says

    This is a culmination of pretty much all my favorite things in life, ‘specially if I added chocolate, which would probably not qualify as quite healthy, but I <3 peanut butter + chocolate!! Ohyumohyum, I cannot w.a.i.t. to make these (with or without the chocolate ;) )!!! Thanks again for a wonderful recipe, and persevering through the granola bars turned granola (though I can't imagine that would be bad… :) )!!

  41. Emily @ robust recipes says

    These granola bars look delicious. Cant go wrong with peanut butter. The sunflower seeds would add a great flavor! ??

    • Claire says

      I would imagine you could sub the PB for any other type of but butter, such as almond or cashew. Or if you are allergic to nuts or don’t like them you could try sunflower seed butter or coconut butter

      • Cara says

        Thanks! Looks great. I’m going to try with Sunbutter as we have nut allergies in the family… i’ll skip the almonds and try pumpkin/chia/sunflower seeds. Any other ideas?

    • Syesha Omar says

      Would it be okay if I subbed the oats for buckwheat? I’m unable to find any GF options and gluten causes inflammation in my body so I really can’t take oats ):

  42. Nora (A Clean Bake) says

    I have had the same issue over the years! It turns out that, unless you’re making a predominantly flour-based recipe (which, let’s face it, is basically a cookie), baking only ruins the bars. Pre-toasting the ingredients, on the other hand, makes a huge difference for the better!

    • Mary says

      Agreed. The recipe needs sugar melted and caramelised to hold the mixture together, just like pralines.
      Honey and peanut butter are both moist ingredients which make the granola chewy, baked or no bake.1

  43. Dietitian Debbie says

    I’ve tried making granola bars for my blog and ended up with a pan of granola more times than I can count! I can totally relate to your frustration there. Peanut butter is one of my absolute favorite foods so I can’t wait to try out these granola bars!