Baking For Others: Peanut Butter Granola Bars

This is less a post and more a plea for help. How do you make great peanut butter granola bars?! I’ve made them again and again, and I’m having trouble solving a few issues. So rather than give you a recipe (though I’ve given you my working formula, which is delicious if not quite perfect), I’m imploring you readers for a recipe.

I like crunchy granola bars, so the method I’ve come to use is heating a sticky mixture, made of honey and/or sugar, peanut butter, and oil. Then I pour that over a dry mixture: toasted oats and nuts, puffed brown rice cereal, even ready-made granola and spread it in a pan to come to room temperature and harden. I know some people actually bake the bars, but when I’ve tried to make bars like that, I’ve consistently turned out fragile, crumbly, cookie-like things. I don’t like those.
The aforemetioned stovetop method I’ve been experimenting with reminds me a lot of how you make Rice Krispie Treats, and it has its own problems. Because, of course, granola bars aren’t supposed to remind me of a rice krispie treat–one’s a snack while the other’s dessert. And yet, when I try to decrease the sugar in my bars–especially the honey, which I find a bit grating in large amounts–the texture suffers big time. Suddenly, instead of granola bars, I find I’m dealing with granola. Which turns out to be really good for breakfast, but unfortunately not what I was after.
So that leaves me asking you, readers, for your peanut butter granola bar recipes and ideas. I’ll be eternally grateful if you might deign to help me find what I’m looking for. And of course if I like what you send, you can be sure I’ll feature the peanut butter granola bars of my dreams right here on the blog.
From my kitchen, in search of granola perfection, to yours,

Peanut Butter Granola Bars (a work in progress)
Makes 16

1 1/4 cups crispy rice cereal
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup blanched sliced almonds
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar

Line an 8″ square pan with parchment and spray with oil.

Toast the oats in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes until slightly golden. Cool. Take 1/3 cup and process in a mini prep until it looks more or less like flour. Combine it in a large bowl with the rice cereal, remaining oatmeal, and sliced almonds.

Meanwhile, combine the peanut butter, oil, honey, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring nearly constantly. Let it boil for a minute. Pour over the oatmeal mixture and stir until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Pour into the prepared pan. Press down very firmly and evenly–this will be important for your bars’ consistency.

Cool to room temperature. Turn the bars out of a pan onto a cutting board. Carefully cut in half lengthwise, then cut each rectangle into 8 bars, for a grand total of 16.

Posted in: Baking For Others
  • Meg

    these sound soo yummy! and cheaper than buying them from the store. thanks for sharing!

  • Anonymous

    i don't have a recipe to share, but pulling from a few things i've made before, i'd try using less oil, a little more pb, and subbing brown rice syrup for the honey – it's not as sweet and also a nutty-ish flavor that would probably go well with the peanut butter. if you boil the pb and brown rice syrup together, it will probably harden nicely to hold your bars together. good luck!


  • Anonymous

    oops i forgot to say also add the brown sugar when you're boiling the pb / brown rice syrup!


  • Anonymous

    not sure if this would work but what if you take the peanut butter out of your liquid mixture and then drizzle/layer on/etc. peanut butter at then end

    -leah rosenbaum

  • Maddie

    In my granola bar experimentation, I've found a couple things that might help you.

    1) Go easy on the oils/fats. For whatever reason, they inhibit binding.
    2) Make sure to incorporate some amount of finely-ground binding materials into your dry ingredients (I use flaxseed meal; wheat germ works too), so that you're not just trying to glue together big pieces of oats and fruit.
    3) Crucial: Press your finished granola bar mixture down into the pan! Seriously. Take a spatula and be aggressive…it stops crumbling like no other.

    Hope this helps! Good luck. :)

  • Nina Leek

    The English equivelent is made with less fat, and generally not with PB, but it might help with tinkering with your recipe
    10ozs of good rolled oats (or other grains)
    6ozs butter
    3ozs Golden Syrup( I can buy it at my local supermarker in MA)
    3ozs brown sugar
    Melt fat and sugar together, fold in oats, spread into an 8 inch tin, and bake at 375 until crisp, about 20 minutes

  • Anonymous

    I concur with Elise on using brown rice syrup instead of honey.

    I make Heidi's bars from and Super Natural Cooking every couple months. They aren't peanut butter bars, but they have a great texture and I think the brown rice syrup is key.

    Good luck!

  • Alex

    Oh I can't wait to taste your next experimental batch. Should I buy some brown rice syrup?

  • Michele P.

    these sound good, I am definitely wanting to try them now-thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • Unruhka

    You could try brown rice syrup or maple syrup in place of the honey.

    • Unruhka

      Oh yeah, and way more peanut butter

      • BGSK

        Thanks for the thoughts – will definitely incorporate your ideas into my next version.

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