Healthy Brownie Granola Bars

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Batch of our naturally-sweetened Brownie Granola Bars

Hello friends! How was your weekend? Awesome, I hope.

John and I did some relaxing, brunching, pizza-ing, and working on a new food photography product. I also bought and returned a pair of overpriced yoga pants out of sheer buyer’s remorse. Does that ever happen to you? Sometimes, we just have to make mistakes like that in life.

It’s been a week since I’ve eaten ALL of these granola bars, but I’m still dreaming about them and peeking in the freezer to make sure I didn’t overlook one last piece. They’re that good.

Jar of cacao powder for making homemade chocolate granola bars

These brownie granola bars kind of started out as a failure. The idea was to make date-sweetened brownies and I resorted to adapting my go-to Vegan GF Black Bean Brownies. Problems ensued. I ate one and had to throw the rest away. Not good. Not good at all.

Back to the drawing board.

Baking sheet filled with oats, almonds, and pecans for making Healthy Brownie Granola Bars
Food processor, mixing bowl, and finished product of our Healthy Brownie Granola Bars recipe

In life do you ever find yourself trying to fit a square peg in a round hole? That’s what I was doing with these brownies. I wanted date-sweetened brownies but the blog universe was telling me something different.

When I’m trying to fit my square recipe into a round hole, I rethink it. The result was a simple, naturally-sweetened, healthy granola bar that was a little on the decadent side – just the way I like it.

Stack of delicious naturally-sweetened Brownie Granola Bars

These bars DO indeed taste like a raw brownie.
They require just 7 ingredients.
They’re no bake, aside from toasting your oats and nuts (an optional step).
They’re loaded with antioxidants, fiber, protein and healthy fats.
They’re incredibly satisfying.
They’re perfect for breakfast, dessert or a quick snack.
They’re freezer-friendly.
They’re uber chocolaty.
They’re really just kind of perfect.

Freshly sliced homemade Brownie Granola Bars on a parchment-lined cutting board

So what do they taste like? Supreme awesomeness. They’re

Rich
Dense
Moist
SUPER chocolaty
Nutty
Oaty
Slightly crunchy
Perfectly sweet
& Mega filling

I did have one for breakfast and found it quite filling. But for the most part I ate these as a healthy dessert. I’d go to the freezer, break off 1/3 and snack. Then repeat for the next 30 minutes until it was gone. Self control comes in waves, people, especially with these bars.

Stack of our healthy Brownie Granola Bars loaded with oats and nuts

You MUST try these bars and let me know what you think! Tag a photo (#minimalistbaker) on Instagram or @minimalistbaker on Twitter so I can see how lovely yours turn out. Happy brownie making!

Healthy Brownie Granola Bars for an on-the-go vegan breakfast or snack

Healthy Brownie Granola Bars

7-ingredient granola bars that taste just like a raw brownie! No baking required besides toasting the nuts and oats — an optional step. Simple, all naturally sweetened, and so delicious.
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Parchment-lined cutting board with a batch of Healthy Brownie Granola Bars
4.93 from 78 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 12 (bars)
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 7 Days

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (GF for gluten-free eaters)
  • 1 cup raw nuts (roughly chopped // I used half almonds, half pecans)
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 2 cups pitted dates (soaked for 10 minutes in warm water then drained)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup natural salted almond butter (or peanut butter)
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar or maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)

Instructions

  • Optional step: Toast your oats and pecans in a 350-degree F (176 C) oven for 15 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Otherwise, leave them raw – I prefer the toasted flavor.
  • Process walnuts in a food processor until a loose meal is reached. Remove from bowl and set aside.
  • Add dates and process until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a “dough” like consistency. (Mine rolled into a ball).
  • Add walnut meal and cocoa or cacao powder back in with the dates and process to combine.
  • Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the (toasted) oats and nuts and stir to combine. You may have to use your hands to really incorporate the mixture well.
  • Next, warm honey and almond butter in a small skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until combined and pourable. Pour over brownie mixture and then thoroughly stir using a wooden spoon. (I opted to put plastic bags on my hands and mix that way to better incorporate the mixture.)
  • Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to a 9×13 dish (or similar size pan // adjust if altering batch size) lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper so they lift out easily.
  • If using a 9×13, ONLY USE 3/4 of the pan so they have the proper thickness. Otherwise they’ll be too thin. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap and press down firmly to even out the top. Freeze for 15-20 minutes to harden.
  • Lift bars from pan and chop into 12 even bars (or more if you prefer). Store in an airtight container in the freezer or fridge to keep them extra fresh. They will get a little sticky when left out at room temp.

Notes

*Adapted from my 5-Ingredient Granola Bars and 5-Minute Espresso Walnut Brownies
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.

Nutrition (1 of 12 servings)

Serving: 1 bars Calories: 352 Carbohydrates: 41 g Protein: 8.2 g Fat: 20 g Saturated Fat: 2.2 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 3 mg Fiber: 7.4 g Sugar: 25 g

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  1. Steph says

    These look so good! I was wondering could you add in extra dried fruit? If so would you advise reducing the raw nuts to keep the balance or just add them in without altering the base recipe?
    Thanks!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Steph, we haven’t tried adding dried fruit to this recipe but we think it would work without alteration. Let us know how it goes!

  2. Cindy a stiffon says

    when you ask for 2 cups of dates, are you talking about 2 cups of loose dates or 2 cups of the date ‘block’ 500 grams that is sold in grocery stores, it seems like a lot of dates for the receipe.

  3. Allison Pasquini says

    I’ve made this at least 10 times. Im not a huge fan of dates (they’re “ok”) but these are so good with the cocoa and all of the other add-ins that make it a perfect combination of yummyness. My 4 and 2 year old also love these. We started using cookie cutters to cut out different shapes to make it fun for them. I don’t feel so guilty sneaking this one out of the fridge throughout the day :) thanks for the treat!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Sue. We are so glad you enjoyed this recipe! Next time, would you mind leaving a star rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  4. Anne says

    This recipe really hit the spot for my brownie craving. I also used plastic gloves to mix the batter. It was very effective.

  5. Elizabeth says

    I love this recipe! I’ve made it four times now. Tastes like brownie batter, but it’s filling without being heavy. Perfect for breakfast, snacks, and dessert! I do find that I need to add a little bit of water when I blend the dates, even after soaking, then I get the perfect chewy brownie texture. This past time I experimented by using coffee syrup instead of honey, and I think the flavors go well together. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Ooo, yum! What a great idea, using coffee syrup! We’re so glad you enjoy this recipe, thanks for the lovely review, Elizabeth! xo

      • Adrienn says

        Yes, there was no issue with the food processor part, where I felt need to ask a bit help, was to mix the dates/walnut with the oat/almonds/pecans. But my partner helped me out to get a nice result
        quicker :)

      • Kim says

        I made this for the first time 6 months ago, and ever since, my partner has asked for a constant supply. I toast the nuts and use almond butter and agave. Delicious!

    • Lu says

      yes totally agree. this is one of the best granola bars i have ever eaten.
      great texture. but it was a lot of messy work to get it working.
      i only made 1/2 batch and enought for snack for 2 people for the whole week.
      thanks for this delight !

  6. Cathy Mahoney says

    Haven’t made it yet but I definitely will. Love a recipe that doesn’t have coconut oil in it
    Thank you

  7. EvaZag says

    Great recipe, easy to make. Definitely recommend it when you are craving something sweet but healthy!

  8. Joanna says

    Absolutely delicious! I roasted the oats, almonds and pecans as suggested and I think that really added to the flavour. It’s a thick mix but well worth the effort to mix well. Excellent recipe!

  9. Emily says

    This recipe is great! I made it for a friend who’s vegan and everyone, non-vegans included, loved them. I followed the recipe pretty much to a T, except I used roasted walnuts instead of raw, and used roasted, salted mixed nuts in place of the pecans/almonds and added sunflower kernels as well. It was difficult to mix and took some time to get everything incorporated, but it was worth it in the end and I’m glad I didn’t add any more liquid or it wouldn’t have stuck well, I think. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

      • Lidija says

        I was so excited to make these that I just rushed through the recipe without reading I instructions properly and ended up placing all nuts in a food processor.. but it still tasted great! Next time I will try with almond butter or something else to substitute for peanut butter that I put it because I felt that peanut butter was overpowering…

    • Kat says

      These bars are delicious!!! I followed the recipe and toasted the oats and nuts and I used crunchy peanut butter and maple syrup which I warmed in the microwave. The bars are super yummy and satisfying in a way that many healthy snacks aren’t. I can already tell this recipe will see a lot of use. I might experiment with adding coconut, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds next time just to see how it turns out. Thanks for another great recipe!

  10. Jade says

    Woah! Just discovered your page and looks great! I love the feature where you can adjust the servings. I definetly see myself using your website to help me in the kitchen. Thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Perhaps another dried fruit? But we haven’t tried it and can’t guarantee results. Let us know if you do some experimenting!

    • Shelby says

      Thank you!!! I’ve recently started a WFPB diet to for health reasons (and I feel fantastic!) but I was missing sweets. I made some dreadful banana and oat “cookies” from another site that made me lose hope. Thanks for bringing back my hope! I used different nuts and seeds that I had on hand, but otherwise followed the recipe to a T and it turned out amazing.

  11. Laura says

    Hello, I am planning on making this they look wonderful. But I cannot have seeds or nuts. Is there a way to omit them or a substitute? Thanks!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We wouldn’t recommend it as they may have trouble staying together. You could maybe sub a different nut/seed butter.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Kate, we haven’t tried that, but it might work! Our only concern is that they wouldn’t be quite sticky/moist enough to help everything stick together. Let us know if you give it a try!

  12. Barbara says

    We can’t do “cocoa or cacao powder” in our family. Will this change the recipe drastically if omitted, or is there a substitution you can suggest? Thanks.

  13. Lindsay says

    These are decadent enough to be dessert. I wrapped them individually in tinfoil and they will be perfect for a grab and go in the morning. I absolutely love this recipe. I used dark chocolate cocoa powder.

  14. Raphi says

    Hi Dana! Thanks for the yummy recipe! I would like to create the exact same bar except sugar free (so remove dates as well), do you know if this is feasible? Can I replace it with Stevia or anything else? Thanks!!

  15. Haysa says

    Hello from Australia!
    Thank you very much for sharing this awesome recipe! I definitely recommend :D
    You can easily adapt this recipe to anything (seeds, nuts) you have in the cupboard.

    So, I used 250gr of dates paste and added some coconut oil. I did not use maple syrup/honey/agave. Instead of 3/4 cup of raw cacao powder, I used a little over 1/4 of a cup. Next time I will use 200gr of dates and add some more coconut oil and some vanilla extract.

    I love when I don’t need to convert every single ingredient to metric system, thank you ;)

  16. Irene says

    Can you suggest ways to recreate this BTS snack idea so that they are nut free? Specifically, the brownie granola bars.
    Thank you in advance!
    Irene

  17. M Smith says

    WOW these are really good. I used a combination of walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds for the nuts and it worked fabulously. I also added some coconut oil since mine were having some trouble sticking together. Definitely worth making!

  18. Anneke says

    Hello
    I’m really looking forward to making these. Do you have the breakdown of the macros for it please?
    Thanks. Anneke

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Anneke, you can find the nutrition information below the notes section of the recipe. Hope that helps!

  19. Emily Ria Hilverda says

    These are so so good! One of my favourite recipes! I have both with and without the maple syrup (I did a sugar free month) and its delicious both ways. Highly recommend!!

  20. Isabelle Ivors says

    These are amazing!!
    To me they are like the healthy version on a Snickers bar.
    Even my husband and few friends have tried them and think the same.

    Love it!
    Thank you!

  21. Jess says

    These are really easy to make and are definitely approved by all people in my house both big and small! I added a little coarse sea salt on top for a little extra indulgence.

  22. Gaby says

    I made this into two dozen power balls using a block of date paste so I didn’t need to drag out my food processor. They’re great and toasting the oats helps with both taste and texture.
    I’m a midwife and need a healthy, energy filled treat when I leave the house at 2am and these fit the bill!

  23. Laura says

    I just discovered this recipe and am excited to try it. However, my husband is allergic to walnuts (and only walnuts). What would you recommend as an alternative to the walnut meal? Thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Laura! You could try something like hazelnut meal, perhaps? Otherwise, sunflower seed meal may be a good option.

  24. Danielle Lewis says

    I’m not the biggest fan of dates in my food. Can this be made without them or can you not taste them?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We wouldn’t recommend omitting them, as the dates help hold the bars together! Along with the other ingredients, you will find that they don’t have an over-powering date flavor. Hope this helps!

  25. Barbara Cohen says

    Thank you very much for this recipe! I’ve been wanting to make something treat-full and tasty and these are great! For the nuts I used cashews, almonds, and walnuts. I think next time I will add flax. I cut them in chunks since they are so filling. Thank you for all your great work!

  26. Jane says

    Very tasty. In Canada we have a chocolate bar called an “Eatmore”. This taste just like an eat more and I have to say, that is what we did.

  27. Maria Justel says

    My husband and I loved these! Such great flavors. I toasted the nuts and oats and sprinkled pink sea salt on the finished product. We decided to cut them into small bite size pieces because they are filling. Glad I tried this recipe in my search for cocoa bars first! It’s a winner.

  28. Shelly F says

    I would like to make this “un-vegan”. What would the swaps be specifically for the dates? I love the concept but would love both options to see which I prefer ;o)

  29. Stine says

    I made these yesterday, and after 1 bite both my husband and I got a headache! I used Cacao instead of cocoa, don’t know if that made a difference, but it was very disappointing cause they were tasty!

  30. cathy says

    These don’t just look appealing to the eyes, I think they are tasty and to top it- it s a truck load of nutrition!

  31. Mark says

    I switched out the dates for two bananas and it worked a treat. My wife doesn’t like “grown up” snacks but even she enjoyed them.

  32. Sadie Savant says

    This is my go-to template for what I now call “Kitchen Sink Bars”… sometimes I replace half the dates with dried apricots (etc.). I throw in rolled barley if I’m out of oats, or do half & half… any nuts or dried fruit I have around, shredded coconut, hemp hearts, sesame seeds, etc. I will combine the scrapings of pumpkin, almond or peanut butter on hand…. it’s perfect!
    One question: if everything I use is stored in cupboards, why such a short shelf life in the fridge?
    Keep it up! Good stuff!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re glad to hear it, Sadie! When all of the ingredients are combined together, it shortens their shelf life vs. being kept separate which is why we recommend keeping them in the freezer or fridge to keep them freshest! They will keep in refrigerated for up to a week, and in the freezer for up to 1 month. Hope this helps!

  33. Abigael says

    Hi Dana,
    I am from Dubai and I came across your website while searching for raw bars. And I must say this recipe is so delicious!!! I managed to make them today. And waiting eagerly to take them out of the fridge. I had a good spoonful before they even went in and I’m so bawled over! Btw I will be doing a video of them and will be linking your website to that video so people can see your recipe. Thanks again!

  34. Maria says

    I was a little skeptical at first but when I tasted these bars… OMG!! I will surely be making these every week (if they last that long ?). I added a little coconut and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top before pressing the parchment paper and it was great! Thanks for the recipe!!

  35. Alice says

    Hi Dana, thanks for this simple yet wonderful recipe. I used raw cashews and golden syrup. Your tip about using gloves to combine ingredients was very helpful. I’ve eaten quite a few while ‘putting them away’ into Tupperware to share!

  36. CRYSTAL DAWSON says

    Just finished making these, they are now in the freezer so not sure how they turned out. I was not sure if I should drain the dates or keep the water. They look amazing so I’m hoping they turn out

  37. Sidra Abid-Alexander says

    ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! had to hide it from the kids so it wouldn’t finish in one sitting. I added 2 cups of mixed nuts and seeds instead of the walnuts and compensated for this by adding double the almond butter and honey. I also lightly processed ALL dry ingredients so my kids wouldn’t pick out pumpkin seeds or the oats. Thank you so much for such a delicious recipe

  38. Sue says

    These exceeded my expectations. I don’t usually like raw bars. Toasting the oats & nuts made them so good.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Brenna! The texture may be a little different but I think that should work!

  39. CCR says

    Just made these! Delicious! My freezer is just little though so in fact I had to bend the sheet of pressed ‘dough’ to make it fit… do you think it would work okay balled up into little spheres?

  40. Gabby says

    Wow, delicious but definitely messy when scraping the dates out of the blender, took a while but the time was worth it! Also, I made a few substitutions: I didn’t have any pecans nor walnuts so used instead 1 cup of almonds, 1/2 cup of almond meal, and 1/2 cup of flax seeds. I let them burn just a tad which gave an awesome kick. Also, no need for the honey or sweetner, the dates are already so sweet and high in sugar on their own! Lastly, I had some chocolate/date mix leftover and realized it tasted just like how I imagine vegan fudge so I set some aside as a separate dessert. Oh, and for sustainability, zero/waste purposes, I don’t use parchment paper, turned out perfectly fine without.

  41. Louisa says

    I’ve made these several times now. There are delicious and they take the edge off my very sweet tooth. My 5 and 7 year old love them too

  42. Sharon says

    My daughter and I make these every 2 weeks. She does most of the assembly work and I do the cleaning, so it’s a win win for us! We either eat these on the way to workout in the morning or as soon as we’re done. We don’t stray from the recipe too much as we love it but have been known to throw in some coconut and puffed quinoa. Thank you so much for an amazing recipe!!!!