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In thinking about needing wholesome snacks to avoid the “hangry traveler” scenario at all costs, I decided it was finally time to achieve soft and chewy, no-bake granola bar perfection.
Because these types of bars don’t meet the oven, getting them to set properly while still being nice and chewy is a challenge. I’ve been working on the recipe for a few months, testing different binders, sweeteners, ratios, and finally found the salty-sweet flavor combined with the bendablity that I was looking for.
Creamy peanut butter.
Salty, crunchy gluten-free pretzels.
Dried cranberries that give you a pb & j kind of memory.
And toasted pecans.
But the real key to chewy, no-bake granola bar bliss? Brown rice syrup. If you haven’t used it before, think of it as a real food version of Karo syrup. It’s made by culturing cooked rice starch, and is sweet like honey, but even stickier. That means it’s an excellent binder that never fully hardens, and works like a charm when you want things to be chewy without falling apart. You can find it in the sweetener section of the grocery store, or here.
You’ll warm the syrup, peanut butter, and a little bit of honey on the stove, then mix it with all the dry ingredients. Press them in a pan and let them chill out in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Yes, I could buy granola bars, but truthfully, I haven’t found one this chewy and flavorful yet. These healthy, homemade beauties land halfway between peanut butter bliss and a warm oatmeal cookie. They travel well.
And it’s a huge bonus to be able to control the exact ingredients going in, without preservatives or other odd additions I often see on labels in the store.
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I can’t eat rice in any form. Is it for sweetness here? Any thoughts on how I might substitute it? Thank you!
I haven’t tested this with a substitute for the brown rice syrup, sorry!
No problem. Thanks for the quick answer.
Could I sub out the nuts and cranberries and add mix-ins or just keep it simple to the base? I’ve made these countless times and they are seriously the best granola bars I’ve ever tasted in my life. By the way, rice crisps cereal produces an even more serious crunch than the pretzels, like a Nestle Crunch bar, and works so well! Yum!!
Hi Christina! I’m so glad you like the granola bars. I think most any mix-ins in equal proportions would work! And thanks for the tip on the crisp cereal.
Could I use brown rice crisps cereal instead of pretzels for these?
Yes, that should work great!
Just wanted to share that I must have made these peanut butter granola bars a million times (that crunch!!). This time I subbed tahini, dried apricots, and roasted pistachios, then topped them with dark chocolate (so it didn’t melt too much). They were equally incredible and totally addictive- thank you Amanda!
Wonderful, so glad to hear that they are a staple at your home! I can’t wait to try with your tahini and chocolate suggestion.
I don’t even know how to begin to explain how long I’ve been looking for a recipe like this. I’ve been yearning for a good granola bar recipe without all the sugar and fats and preservatives of the store-bought versions – but every recipe I try (whether or not it has “chewy” in the title) comes out crumbly, dry, or cakey without that satisfying chew essential to a granola bar.
These bars have that elusive texture. I made them almost exactly as written, except I substituted 4 tbs Peanut Butter Powder instead of the 2 scoops antioxidant powder recommended. Oh, yeah, and they came together in under 15 minutes. Beyond that, they are satisfyingly chewy – although not quite as much as I wanted, I think the Peanut Butter Powder absorbs more water than the antioxidant powder, so next time I’ll add 2tbs instead. The flavour is wonderful! It’s not overwhelmingly sweet, warm, complex and somehow spicy even in the absence of cinnamon. The protein and fibre and satisfyingly high whilst the fats and sugars are low enough to give this some really good nutrition specs.
Overall, an amazing recipe. I’m so glad I stumbled on your blog, thank you!
thank you for these! Had no idea that there is a brown rice “syrup” great way to get what I’m assuming are most of the brown rice nutrients without have to make a traditional rice recipe!
it’s such an awesome ingredient!
Love the bendy pictures !! So legit
I love how soft and chewy these look. And the pretzels are genius! <3
a little salty crunch!
These sound like perfection! We stashed a handful of granola bars in our bag for our recent trip and they definitely saved my life a few times. Wishing you safe travels!
Oooh how I love a good chewy granola bar. These sound so rich + delicious! Love!! <3
Omg, you’re going to love Oregon! I’ve been to Portland and loved it. And I didn’t even explore the majorly famous parts of it! I can’t wait for your trip! Anyways, these peanut butter bars look wonderful–the perfect snack for on-the-go!
yes, it’s beautiful here! i need to explore portland as well. xo
These look like perfect hiking snacks! YUM
indeed! in fact we brought them with to canada last week for that reason. :) xo
Safe travels dear friend! I so agree that I always have to avoid the hangry situation when traveling, it makes for a much smoother trip! xo
thank you, girl! i’m actually eating one right now in the airport. :) xo
Safe travels, m’dear!
thank you, Sarah!