Chewy Granola Bars

Chewy Granola Bars

These simple (no baking required) Chewy Granola Bars are made with oats, cashews, honey, peanut butter, miniature M&M’s, and chocolate chips.

This recipe copycats store-bought Chewy® granola bars, but they’re so much more flavorful and loaded with great, filling ingredients.

For date-sweetened granola bars, check out this granola bars recipe. For a chocolate-loaded version, try these chocolate granola bars next!

Overhead image of the chewy granola bars

Overhead image of the chewy granola bars

Chewy Granola Bars

I’ve shared before about my family’s affinity for homemade granola bars; I can’t make them frequently enough to ever build up a stockpile. My kiddos practically inhale the entire batch of bars the day they’re made!

The other day, my oldest son had a Chewy granola bar with miniature M&M’s at school and he informed me I’d been holding out on him by not adding M&M’s to the bars I make for them. 

So while I do have a few different granola bar recipes on the site, I decided to make a very basic recipe like you’d find in the granola bar aisle of the grocery store, but, of course, make it a lot tastier. And I’m glad to report the boys gave these two thumbs up and freely admitted they were better than the store-bought ones (and better than all my other granola bar recipes because of the M&M’s inclusion ha!).

Process shots: combine honey, peanut butter and coconut oil; melt and bring to a simmer; remove from heat and add vanilla and salt; coarsely chop cashews and add to the mixture, along with coconut and oats.

Process shots: combine honey, peanut butter and coconut oil; melt and bring to a simmer; remove from heat and add vanilla and salt; coarsely chop cashews and add to the mixture, along with coconut and oats.

Chewy Granola Bar Tips

  • Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang for easy removal. These bars are nearly impossible to get out nicely in an unlined pan. Aluminum foil will also work in a pinch, but parchment paper is the top choice. 
  • Adjust the salt. If you use salted nuts in the recipe, you may want to decrease the amount of added salt. Additionally, if the peanut butter used is salted, or you are sensitive to salt, you may also want to reduce the amount.
  • Be sure to use old-fashioned oats. Quick oats and steel-cut oats will both create the wrong texture and won’t work properly in these bars — it will end up more like granola than a granola bar.
  • Use M&M Minis baking bits as opposed to buying the small tubes of miniature M&M’s. The baking bits are cheaper and easier to find. They can usually be found with other baking chips in the baking aisle of the grocery store.

QUICK TIP

For extra flavor (without extra effort) use roasted and salted cashews in these bars. If you only have raw cashews, you can quickly toast them in the oven. (Toast the oats while you’re at it!) Add the oats and cashews to a lined sheet pan and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F, stirring once halfway in between. The cashews and oats should smell fragrant, but not burned.

How to keep granola bars from falling apart

  1. Make sure there is enough of the syrup mixture. Make sure to measure the honey and peanut butter to the top of the measuring cup and scoop every bit of it into the pot. Additionally, measure the coconut oil in its solid (not melted) state. Don’t reduce the amount of honey, peanut butter, or coconut oil. Every bit of the syrup is needed to ensure the bars stay together.
  2. Coarsely chop the cashews. If the pieces of cashew are too large, they will cause these chewy granola bars to fall apart easier; plus, whole cashews can be overwhelming in a bite.
  3. Compress the mixture firmly into the pan. Press the granola mixture firmly into the pan; use the bottom of a 1-cup measuring cup to get leverage in pressing the mixture down.
  4. Chill the finished bars. While hot or even warm, the bars will crumble into granola instead of a bar. Make sure the bars are allowed adequate time to set up and harden to ensure they’ll be completely firm. Additionally, Chewy Granola Bars continue to firm up as the oats absorb the syrup mixture.
  5. Cut the bars with a large, sharp knife. These bars are more prone to falling apart if a dull knife is being shimmied into the bars. 

Process shots: mix well and let cool slightly; add M&Ms and chocolate; press into the pan; let cool and cut into bars.

Process shots: mix well and let cool slightly; add M&Ms and chocolate; press into the pan; let cool and cut into bars.

Chewy Granola Bar Variation Ideas

  • Nuts: Pretty much any coarsely chopped nuts will work in these Chewy Granola Bars. You can use a single variety of nuts or a combination of several different types of nuts (as long as quantities remain consistent — 3/4 cup total of nuts in these bars).
    • If you aren’t a fan of cashews, try one of these other ideas: pistachios, almonds (whole or slivered), walnuts, pecans, peanuts, or hazelnuts
  • Chocolate chips: For healthier bars, dark chocolate chips can be used instead of the semi-sweet chocolate chips listed in the recipe.
  • Peanut butter candy: Try some Reeses’ Pieces® or maybe even some Heath® bits to substitute for the M&M’s.
  • M&M’s: For healthier bars, the M&M’s can be left out, no other changes necessary!
  • For thinner bars, use a 9×9-inch baking pan, and for thicker bars use an 8×8-inch pan.
  • Use a different nut butter: Swap out the peanut butter for almond butter, cashew butter, or another nut butter. Depending on the type used, you may need slightly more of it (almond butter tends to be slightly drier than peanut butter). You’ll know you need more if the mixture is crumbling and not coming together nicely. Add additional nut butter slowly; use 1-2 tablespoons at a time.
  • Swap the sweetener: Switch maple syrup for agave nectar or honey.
  • Switch out the oil: While I don’t recommend any other oil besides coconut oil (which hardens again when chilled– unlike other oils), you could use unsalted butter instead of oil.

QUICK TIP

For gluten-free Chewy Granola Bars: While the ingredients in these bars are naturally gluten-free, make sure to check all your ingredient labels to verify they weren’t processed in a facility with gluten.

An overhead view of the Chewy Granola Bars being cut into serving sizes.

An overhead view of the Chewy Granola Bars being cut into serving sizes.

Chewy Granola Bar storage

Wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap and then keep the wrapped bars in a larger container or resealable plastic bag in the fridge — perfect for on-the-go snacks! We do prefer these bars straight out of the fridge.

Chewy Granola Bars will stay fresh for up to a week when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. 

To freeze: Space the bars on a lined plate or tray in the freezer. Once they’re firm (about 1-2 hours), individually wrap each bar and transfer to a larger airtight bag or freezer container. They’ll last up to 6 months in the freezer.

To thaw: Simply pull one out and let it stand for about 30 minutes. You could also pop them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.

More nutritious snacks

QUICK TIP

Take your time pressing the granola bar mixture into the pan; the harder and firmer you press down, the better they’ll hold together.

Chewy Granola Bars

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These simple (no baking required) Chewy Granola Bars are made with oats, cashews, honey, peanut butter, miniature M&M’s, and chocolate chips.

Chewy Granola Bars

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These simple (no baking required) Chewy Granola Bars are made with oats, cashews, honey, peanut butter, miniature M&M’s, and chocolate chips.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (163g) creamy peanut butter (we use Skippy)
  • 1/2 cup (175g) honey
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) coconut oil (measured in solid state)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt Note 1
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (194g) old-fashioned oats (not quick or steel-cut oats)
  • 1/4 cup (20g) shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup (100g) roasted and salted cashews, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (53g) + 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/4 cup (45g) + 2 tablespoons miniature M&M’s divided

Instructions

  • PREP: Line an 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang for easy removal. (8×8 for thicker bars and 9×9 for slightly thinner bars.)

  • SYRUP MIXTURE: Add the peanut butter, honey, and coconut oil together in a medium-sized pot. Cook, over medium heat, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. Bring to a simmer (just below boiling, but don’t boil) and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool for 3 minutes. Then stir in the salt and vanilla.

  • OATS, COCONUT, AND NUTS: Add in the oats, coconut, and coarsely chopped cashews. Stir until completely combined. Set aside to slightly cool (this keeps the chocolate and M&M’s from melting too much) for about 15-25 minutes. Once cooled to room temperature (it’s okay if they’re still a little warm and chocolate melts a bit; that actually helps hold the bars together), stir in 1/4 cup chocolate chips and 1/4 cup M&M’s. Mix until just combined.

  • FORM BARS: Transfer the mixture from the pot into the prepared and lined pan. Press the mixture very firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan. Use the bottom of a 1-cup measuring cup to get leverage in pressing the mixture down. Once evenly and firmly pressed down, sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons M&M’s onto the tops of the bars and gently press. Cover the pan and refrigerate for 1 hour.

  • ENJOY: Using the parchment paper overhang, lift the bars from the pan and cut them into individual bars. We typically cut out 12 bars.

  • STORAGE: Once cut, wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap and then keep the wrapped bars in a larger container or zipper-top plastic bag in the fridge — perfect for on-the-go snacks! We prefer these bars straight out of the fridge. These bars will stay fresh for up to a week when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. 

  • TO FREEZE: Space the bars on a lined plate or tray in the freezer. Once firm (about 1-2 hours), individually wrap each bar and transfer to a larger airtight bag or freezer container. They’ll last up to 6 months in the freezer. To thaw: Pull one out and let it stand for about 30 minutes. You could also pop them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: If you use salted cashews in the recipe, you may want to decrease the amount of added salt. Additionally, if the peanut butter you use is salted, or you are sensitive to salt, you may want to reduce the amount. Add slowly to personal preferenc

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 448kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 282mg | Potassium: 345mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 22IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 3mg

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