Granola bars are practically required for camping. Usually I just purchase the standard crunchy kind in the green box. But, as I was making my grocery list and going thru cookbooks, I saw this recipe and realized I had everything to make these already in my cupboard. Homemade, I’d have control of the ingredients and they’d be a whole lot less expensive than buying a couple boxes. Double win! These are a great healthy snack packed with oats and nuts. Lightly sweetened with honey and brown sugar they are crunchy, filling and delicious.
If you aren’t sure your family could go thru a batch of these bars, remember you could always crumble a few bars up to use for breakfast with milk on top. Or as a delicious topping to a parfait with fruit and yogurt. Mmmmmm. Just look at all that hearty goodness! Can you also see how my bars weren’t completely even? Oh well. They still taste amazing.
A couple tips on these bars. Don’t use quick cooking oats. The texture will not work at all because the oats will just dissolve as they cook. Also, any pan smaller than 18×13 will not allow your granola to cook evenly, and the bars will be too thick to be easily cut or eaten.
Crunchy Granola Bars (America’s Test Kitchen)
7 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole almonds, pecans, walnuts or peanuts (I used almonds)
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)
1. Adjust oven rack to the middle of the oven and set the temperature to 375 degrees.
2. Line an 18 x 13 inch rimmed baking pan with aluminum foil.
3. Combine the oats, oil and salt in a large bowl and mix until the oats are evenly coated. Transfer the mixture to the baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until pale gold, 20-25 minutes. Remove the oats and lower the oven temp to 300 degrees.
4. Place the nuts in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Or just chop coarsely with a big sharp knife (watch your fingers!).
5. Combine the honey and brown sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and cinnamon (if using).
6. Combine the oats, nuts, and honey mixture in a large bowl and stir with a large rubber spatula until the oats are thoroughly coated with the honey mixture. Spray the baking sheet (still with foil sling) with non-stick spray then transfer the granola mixture to the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Spray a large metal spatula (like the ones used for cake frosting) or a square dish with non-stick spray and firmly press the mixture into the pan. Make a flat, tight, and even layer. Bake until golden, about 35-40 minutes.
7. Cool in the baking sheet, on a wire rack, for 15 minutes before cutting into bars. I used a pastry scraper to cut which was great…no dealing with a knife handle hitting the rim of the baking sheet. Cut the bars all the way through (about 2 inches by 3 inches is a good size) and then allow the granola bars to completely cool. Do not wait longer than 15 minutes before cutting the bars. They harden up significantly as they cool. Any longer and you’ll have a very hard time cutting thru them.
The bars can be stored, covered for up to 2 weeks.