Versatile maple syrup granola bars can be tailored to your preferences – and what you have available in the pantry.
I bought a 50-pound bag of oats over a year ago, and let’s just say, I have been dreaming up all kinds of oat recipes ever since.
It’s a great staple to have, and store for long-term food security. Personally, I just love the texture of old-fashioned oats in baked goods, oatmeal and so many types of bars and treats.
If you haven’t made your own granola bars before, you might be surprised how easy they are to make. No more cardboard store-bought granola bars for us! These fruit and nut bars are easy to make, and also easy to double the recipe for take-and-go snacks to have all week.
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Sourcing and storing bulk ingredients for snack foods
About a year ago or more, I noticed the price of oats had gone up drastically. No more buying a few pounds here and there – it was time to buy in bulk. Hence, the 50-pound bag of oats.
I’ve purchased them from local amish and farm supply stores, as well as from Azure standard food co-op.
Oats can go stale if not stored properly. I first stored my bulk oats loose in 5-gallon buckets with gamma seal lids. But, I found they were tasting a little stale after a few months.
So now I vacuum-sealed them in individual vacuum sealer bags, them placed them back in the buckets. This way, I can open just a few pounds at a time.
We also buy bulk dried fruits and nuts when they go on sale and store in half-gallon or gallon mason jars. This way, it’s usually cheaper and more practical to make our own snacks from scratch.
If my fruit trees were producing yet, I’d probably be dehydrating whatever fruit I had on-hand and using those in my granola bars, as well. (Here’s hoping my fruit trees survived the harsh winter we’ve had.)
Knowing what is in your family’s snack foods is an added bonus to any homemade food, and an important one to me. I love being able to get creative with the add-ins for my granola bars, and it’s something the kids can help make as well.
Homemade granola bars with maple syrup (instead of honey)
Most homemade granola bars use honey to bind the ingredients, and you can certainly do the same for this recipe.
Honestly, I use pure maple syrup whenever possible because it’s less messy. That may be a silly determining factor, but it’s true!
But after making these a few different ways, I found that maple syrup works just as well as honey. So, use what you have on-hand.
Tips for making maple syrup granola bars
First: don’t skip toasting the oats and almonds. It only takes a few minutes, but it gives them a firmer texture and prevents them from becoming soggy when you add the wet ingredients.
The type of fruit and nuts is easy to exchange. I’m using dried cherries and almonds in this recipe, but dried and chopped figs, dried blueberries, walnuts, pecans, and unsweetened coconut flakes are also great substitutes.
I would not recommend using fresh fruit even though we’re storing these in the fridge.
If you want your homemade granola bars to be a little less sweet, you can use chopped dark chocolate pieces (or dark chocolate chips) in place of semi-sweet mini chips. Or, leave it out completely.
However, you might consider adding a nut butter of some sort, as the chocolate also helps to bind the bars together.
When storing in the fridge, use parchment paper between the layers to keep them from sticking together.
- 2 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
- 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chips, or dark chocolate chips (your preference)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and set aside.
- Chop the almonds and cherries into small chunks.
- Add oats and chopped almonds to prepared baking sheet. Bake for 4-5 minutes. Gently toss and bake for an additional 4-5 minutes. Transfer oat mixture to a large bowl to cool.
- In a small saucepan on medium heat, add butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Stir while allowing the butter to melt and sugar to dissolve.
- Pour the mixture over the cooled toasted oats and almonds. Stir to incorporate.
- Allow the oat mixture to cool for 5-10 minutes before adding ¼ cup of the mini chocolate chips and dried cherries. Gently stir until incorporated. Some of the chocolate will melt slightly, but that’s ok as it helps the granola to hold better once cooled.
- Line an 8x8” baking pan with parchment paper. Transfer the granola to the prepared pan. Use a spatula to press firmly to flatten the granola into an even layer. Be sure to use pressure as this will help the bars stay intact and hold together better.
- Place in freezer for 30 minutes. Remove the granola bars from the pan and place on a flat surface.
- In a small bowl, add remaining ¼ cup of mini chocolate chips. Microwave for 1 minute to melt. Transfer melted chocolate to a small sandwich bag. Snip off a small corner of the bag and drizzle the chocolate over cooled granola bars in a back-and-forth zigzag pattern.
- Use a sharp knife to slice the granola bars. Store in the fridge for approximately 5-7 days.
I often buy bulk nuts, oats, unsweetened coconut, and pure vanilla extract from Azure Standard Co op. This way I always have ingredients on-hand to make a variety of homemade snacks.
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Maple Syrup Cake Donut recipe (with whole grains)