Homemade almond granola bars with coconut, cardamom and a dash of brown butter are truly delicious. Great for a snack, breakfast or a treat, you can really taste the difference. Made with maple syrup, these are refined sugar free.
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What Are Granola Bars?
A granola bar is a snack food prepared with rolled oats, puffed cereals, nuts, honey or other sweeteners such as maple syrup, brown sugar and flavorings.
These bars are often baked until toasted and golden brown, sometimes crunchy or chewy. They are a popular option for a quick breakfast, lunchbox treat or a snack.
Almond Granola Bars With a Difference
Granola bars are incredible for an easy and quick snack. But most recipes are so repetitive and taste almost the same. But not these delicious almond granola.
With the addition of coconut, ground cardamom, brown butter and maple syrup, these have a special toffee like flavor and taste. They have a rich flavor but are actually not too dense, because we use some puffed rice to lighten it up.
This is the same kind of flavor profile we use for making our Homemade Granola with Cardamom and Cashew, which is a favorite among family and friends. Everyone loves these, when we share them as gifts.
Recipe Ingredients and Substitutes
- Almonds: These are the star of the granola bars. We toast it to enhance the flavor. You can also use these in combination with other nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, cashews, macadamia and such.
- Rolled Oats: These are readily available and often the best choice for granola and granola bars. You can also replace with other flaked grains such as millets, quinoa, brown rice, barley and buckwheat. Be sure to use gluten-free certified products if you need that.
- Dried Coconut Flakes: Choose the unsweetened version. You can easily find these at most grocery stores. Bob's red mill is one of the brands I use.
- Puffed Rice Cereal: You can find puffed brown rice or alternatives in most grocery stores. They are made with whole grain and do not have added sugar. These give the bars more body, while being light. I chose the brand arrowhead mills.
- Creamy Almond Butter: This helps with binding and also adds to the almond taste. Be sure to choose one that is creamy and thin. If the almond butter is very thick and dry, you may have to add more oil and/or maple syrup to help bind the ingredients. You can use other nut butters, or choose sunflower butter for allergy friendly granola bars.
- Maple Syrup: This helps sweeten as well as bind the ingredients. And it works better than honey, when you bake the bars, as it caramelizes and thickens to increase the binding. But you can replace with honey.
- Slivered Pistachios: I top the granola bars with pistachios, which gives a nice visual appeal.
- Seeds: You can use pumpkin seeds instead of pistachios for the bright green color on top. Also, you can replace almonds with pumpkin seeds, toasted sesame and sunflower seeds to make them allergy friendly.
- Flavors: I use ground cardamom and vanilla. You could also try a hint of almond flavor instead of cardamom. Other options are ground cinnamon or holiday spices.
- Brown Butter, Ghee or Coconut Oil: Adds a nice aroma and makes the bars more firm.
- Salt: A small amount of salt enhances sweetness and flavor.
How to Make Almond Granola Bars
**Brief overview here. Full recipe is at the end of post.
- Toast: Take the oats and almonds in a baking sheet and toast. This will make these ingredients more dry to help absorb the wet ingredients well. And will also enhance flavor.
- Dry Ingredients: Combine rolled oats, coarsely chopped almonds, coconut flakes and puffed cereal.
- Wet Ingredients: Mix together almond butter, maple syrup, melted ghee or coconut oil, ground cardamom, vanilla and salt.
- Granola mixture: Combine the wet and dry ingredients very well and transfer to a parchment paper lined baking pan. Sprinkle slivered pistachios on top and pack it down well.
- Chill or Bake: Chill in the refrigerator for one hour or bake for 20 minutes. Let harden and cool and a slice the bars.
Use about 4 cups granola bar mixture for one 8 x 11 inch baking pan .
You can change the ratios of oats to puffed cereal, or even replace nuts with some chocolate chips. You may cut out the puffed cereal and replace oats.
Extra nut butter can help make firmer granola bars that hold together better.
Toast the grains and nuts for 10 to 15 minutes at 350ºF to enhance flavor and texture. Do not over bake the nuts, or they may burn.
If using more dry ingredients (almonds, oats and puffed cereal), then make sure to increase the amount of almond butter and maple syrup. These help with binding, but you will also need more of these to balance the taste.
Use a spatula, flat wooden utensil or the back of a flat glass to press down on the granola mixture to compact it well.
These almond granola bars are gluten-free, vegetarian, low sodium, soy free and egg free.
- Vegan and Dairy Free: Skip brown butter or ghee, and use coconut oil.
- Gluten Free: Use gluten-free oats and puffed rice cereal
- Nut Free: Replace almond butter with sun butter; and use sunflower or pumpkin seeds instead of almonds and pistachios.
- More Protein: Increase the amount of hemp seeds as they are a great source of protein. You can also add more chia seeds or flaxseed meal.
- No Added Sugar: Make a paste of soft Medjool dates and use that instead of maple syrup. The bars will have a softer bite, unlike those made with maple syrup.
- Dried fruit: Try adding chopped dried fruit such as apricots, cranberries, figs or cherries, but you may need to increase the amount of almond butter.
Refrigerate the chilled bars up to a week. Store the baked granola bars at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
The bars can also be frozen food in safe freezer bags for two months. Place parchment paper between layers of bars, if they are sticky.
Granola bars are often considered a healthy treat. But many store-bought options are actually not healthy at all. They have too many artificial ingredients, fillers and loaded with sugar.
And not all granola bar recipes are good. Quite often, they are literally calorie bombs loaded with rich ingredients. Those may work well for gaining weight.
A healthy treat such as these almond granola bars use whole foods, are packed with nutrients and contain no artificial ingredients. And they are full of fiber but low in sugar.
If you are looking for a balanced and healthy treat, choose recipes that use a combination of grains, cereals and some nuts, dates, honey or maple syrup instead of refined sugar and nut butters in place of dairy butter.
Using a combination of puffed cereal with rolled oats actually lightens up the granola bars by cutting down a little on the calories and carbs, since the puffed cereals are not as dense.
More Healthy Treats
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Almond Granola Bars (Energy Bars)
- 1½ cups rolled oats gluten free if needed
- 1 cup almonds
- ½ cup dried coconut flakes
- 1 cup puffed rice cereal
- ¾ cup creamy almond butter 1 cup if not using brown butter or ghee
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons ghee brown butter or coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom use 1 teaspoon if not using vanilla
- 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar or extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons pistachios slivered, or pumpkin seeds
- Toast: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the oats and chopped almonds on a baking sheet, in separate areas, and toast for about 10 minutes.
- Chop: Allow to cool and process the almonds in a food processor, using pulse option, until coarsely chopped.
- Dry Ingredients: In a medium mixing bowl, combine rolled oats, coarsely chopped almonds, coconut flakes and puffed cereal.
- Wet Ingredients: In a small saucepan gently heat the almond butter. Stir in maple syrup, melted ghee or coconut oil, ground cardamom, vanilla and salt. Remove from the stove.
- Granola mixture: Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and combine very well. Transfer the mixture to a 8 x 11 inch baking pan lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle slivered pistachios on the top and pack it down well, using a wide and flat glass or utensil.
- Chill or Bake: Chill in the refrigerator for one hour. Or lower the temperature to 325°F and bake until the edges are barely golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let the mixture harden and cool. Using a sharp knife slice the bars.
- Use about 4 cups granola bar mixture for one 8 x 11 inch baking pan.
- You can change the ratios of oats to puffed cereal, or replace nuts with chocolate chips.
- Extra nut butter can help the granola bars hold together better.
- Increase the amount of almond butter and maple syrup if using more dry ingredients.
- You can try to replace cardamom with ⅛ teaspoon natural almond flavor.
- Check the full blog post above for more tips.
More Breakfast Treats
This post was previously published and has been updated with improvements in pictures, tips, FAQs and additional enhancements.