Homemade Kind Bars

Homemade Kind Bars Recipe

Middle Eastern and European sweets made from nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and a sweet syrup binding—such as gozinaki in Georgia and pasteli in Greece—have been around for centuries. Here, the essential idea finds new life as an uncomplicated, nourishing energy bar. Before you start making plans to substitute your favorite brand of agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup for the specified syrups, hear me out: It will not work. Instead of a stack of bars, you will have a pile of crumbles. I could go into a lengthy chemical discussion about the structure and properties of various sugars, but I won’t (which will simultaneously disappoint my retired chemist father and please my editor). Just trust me on this one and I know you will be thrilled with your results.–Camilla V. Saulsbury

LC Friend Bars Note

The author refers to these as “Friend Bars,” which we admit initially confounded us. But one of our recipe testers clarified the connection for us in a note he wrote after making the first of several batches. “You want lots of friends?” he said. “Make and share lots of these delicious bars, and you’ll soon have more friends than you can count.” That explains it. You can never have too many friends—or, apparently, too many homemade Kind Bars.

Homemade Kind Bars Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 35 M
  • Makes 10 bars

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped assorted raw or toasted nuts and/or seeds, (e.g., cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, pecans, almonds)
  • 1/3 cup crisp brown rice cereal (you can use an equal amount of other puffed or crisp grain cereals, such as puffed millet, quinoa, or amaranth, in place of the crisp rice cereal)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried fruit (raisins, apricots, berries, dates, figs, mangoes)
  • 1/3 cup organic light corn syrup or brown rice syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (optional)

Directions

  • 1. To make the Kind Bars, preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • 2. Stir together the nuts or seeds, cereal, and dried fruit in a large bowl. Add the syrup and salt (if using) to the nut mixture and stir until evenly coated. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Place a large piece of parchment paper, wax paper, or plastic wrap (the plastic wrap needs to be coated with nonstick cooking spray) atop the bar mixture and use it to spread, flatten, and very firmly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Discard the paper or plastic.
  • 3. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until slightly browned at the edges but still somewhat soft at the center. Let cool 20 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.
  • 4. Using the liner, lift the mixture from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 10 bars. Let cool completely. Tightly wrap the Kind Bars individually in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 days, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 1 month (if frozen, let thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour prior to biting into it).

Homemade Kind Bar Variations

  • Apple Pecan Kind Bars
  • Use chopped dried apples for the fruit, pecans for the nuts, and 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon along with the syrup.
  • Very Nutty Kind Bars
  • Omit the dried fruit and increase the total amount of nuts to 2 cups.
  • Seeds Kind Bars
  • Omit the dried fruit and use 2 cups raw toasted seeds (e.g. pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds) in place of the nuts.
  • Almond Apricot Kind Bars
  • Use chopped dried apricots for the fruit, 1 1/4 cups almonds for the nuts, and 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut. Add 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest or lemon zest along with the syrup.
  • Coconut Almond Kind Bars
  • Use unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut for the fruit and almonds for the nuts. Add 3/4 teaspoon almond extract along with the syrup.
  • Ginger Sesame Kind Bars
  • Use 1 cup almonds or cashews and 1/3 cup sesame seeds for the nuts and seeds and chopped dates for the fruit. Add 1 teaspoon ground ginger along with the syrup.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Steve Dunn

Jan 03, 2014

I love that this Kind Bars recipe is really just a ratio. Keep your nut to cereal to fruit ratios in check with the binder (in my case, brown rice syrup), and you can get as creative with these bars as you wish. I made mine pretty simply the first time with a combination of pecans and cashews, raisins and craisins, and puffed brown rice cereal. They were awesome—not too sweet and loaded with crunchy-chewy goodness. Think KIND bars at just a fraction of the cost. The kids devoured my first batch as lunchbox snacks, so I'll be making more this week, trying a few new flavor combinations in the process. With the dried figs and apricots, hazelnuts, coconut, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) I have in the pantry, the possibilities are endless.

Testers Choice
Jo Ann Brown

Jan 03, 2014

I don't make fruit and nut bars a significant part of my snack options, mostly because they can be pricey if you eat them every day. But how awesome to be able to make your own. To be economical, I bought all the nuts and dried fruits from the bulk section of my higher-end grocer. This way I was able to chose the ratios of my favorite nuts and fruits rather then buying 8 ounces each of 5 kinds of nuts and 3 kinds of dried fruits. This strategy gave me some leeway to be flexible in experimenting, too. This go-around I saw hazelnuts and had to include them in my version of the bar, but I only bought what I needed for one batch. I always chuckle when the cashier is ringing up bulk bags of nuts weighing in at 1 or 2 ounces. I think the grand total came out to be less them $1 per bar. Not too shabby.

Testers Choice
Joan Osborne

Jan 03, 2014

We loved these homemade Kind bars and I know I'll be making these again and again in many variations. They're quite easy to make and so much better than the ones I've tried from the store. At first I thought the bars weren't going to hold together, but I let them cool just a little longer than 20 minutes before cutting and they did quite well. I think any longer and they would have crumbled, any shorter and they would have fallen apart. Using foil to line the pan worked perfectly to lift the cooled bars, and the plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray worked wonderfully to help press the bars into the baking dish. I used light corn syrup and toasted brown rice cereal; cashews, sunflower seeds, pecans, and almonds for the nuts; and for the dried fruit I used apricots and mango. I omitted the salt.

Testers Choice
Adrienne Lee

Jan 03, 2014

This homemade Kind bars recipe was easy to make and could be made with many different combinations. I used brown rice syrup since so few recipes call for it. I liked the bars because I used the combination of fruits and nuts that I like, although my extended family thought they were too healthful.

Comments
Comments
  1. silversparkle28 says:

    If you wanted to sub Agave, is it 1:1 to the original recipe of 1/3 cup or a different ratio? Thanks!

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi silversparkle, the author of this recipe is pretty darn adamant about not trying to substitute other sweeteners in the bar as it may result in a “pile of crumbles”. I’d stick to the corn syrup or brown rice syrup.

  2. Rosanne says:

    Will glucose syrup work? Neither corn, nor brown rice syrup are available in my country.

  3. Granny w says:

    I like the idea of a power snack for everyone that is good for you, my only complaint is the use of “non stick spray”!! Especially if it contains silicon

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      We don’t use that either, Granny w. You probably already know that just a touch of oil rubbed all over the pan works just dandy…

    • I am so glad that everyone is enjoying my Friend Bars!!! Granny W: I only use sprays that are free of junk, organic, and no chlorofluorocarbons or silicon, like Spectrum (they do not sponsor me, this is simply what I use). But you can certainly rub some oil on the pan, too!

  4. Laurie says:

    Hi…I had never had a Kind bar, but had a sample when I was in Costco yesterday. Since their huge box came in 2 varieties and I only liked one of the two (and knowing I could make my own), I started browsing for a the dark chocolate, nut, and sea salt variety. I didn’t see it listed, but do you have a recommendation for proportions? I use your site for my Larabar variations, so I thought I’d ask. Thanks so much.

    • Laurie says:

      OK, so I’m responding to my own post/question. I decided to wing it. Made your basic recipe (1/2 cup each almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds). Left out the dried fruit (will add it next up or up the nuts b/c it was a bit scarce in the pan). When cool, I’ll dip the bottoms in tempered dark chocolate and drizzle chocolate on top. Can’t wait. And, it’s the first time I’ve used brown rice syrup.

      • David Leite David Leite says:

        Laurie, sorry I didn’t get back to you soon enough. How did they turn out?!

        • Laurie says:

          Well, there was only 2 hours and 9 minutes between my two posts. They came out really well. Brought a couple over to my neighbors’ house. My friend tried it and liked it. The brown rice sugar is a new flavor for me, but it’s good. Would definitely make again and try other variations. Sidebar/question…have you ever tried using brown rice syrup to make caramel? Trying to stay away from high-fructose corn syrup. Didn’t have great luck with the caramel setting (for caramel chews) using honey…though it was fine in sauce form.

          • David Leite David Leite says:

            So glad you liked them, Laurie. And, no, I never have used brown rice sugar in caramel. I don’t use high-fructose corn syrup either. just plain old granulated sugar, butter, and cream.

            • Laurie says:

              I have success making caramel sauce with just the butter, sugar, cream (and maybe some water to dissolve the sugar. But, not with caramel chews. I’ll keep trying.

              BTW, my boyfriend LOVED the kind bars and said I have to make him his own stash. :)

              • David Leite David Leite says:

                Well, never say LC doesn’t have a way with love!!

                • Laurie says:

                  I made a second batch last night for my boyfriend. He actually rolled his eyes when eating one. I wanted frozen yogurt for dessert, so we went out and went to whole goods to buy the ingredients to keep at his house so I can whip him up a batch when I’m here.

  5. ruthie says:

    I make something like this and use popped millet. Believe it or not, you can pop those little seeds just like popcorn. I do them in a pot on the stove. I’ve been afraid they might clog the air popper, although I don’t know why that should be the case. Anyway, those puffy things keep the whole thing from being just too much. I think i’m going to try the ginger sesame version, sounds like a good combo.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      I believe it, ruthie! I’ve done that with millet, it’s fun to witness and results in a puffy, slightly nutty grain. Would love to hear what you think of the ginger sesame bar…

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      ruthie, that’s fascinating! I’m getting some grains, so if I get millet, I’ll try popping it.

      • ruthie says:

        Hi, David and Renee! I don’t remember where I first read that about the millet, but as Renee can attest, it works. I’m always looking for things to make cookies lighter and give them a little crunch, and this makes a really great addition to chocolate chip cookies. I should probably say I grew up with chocolate chip cookies with not only nuts but wheat bran (just a little for crunch and nutty flavor) and the occasional crushed cornflakes. ;) So, with that in my taste learning days, I’m never fond of something that’s too heavy.

        As for the popping, I imagine any seed would work. Grains? I haven’t had the courage to try them. Have to think about the best way to do it, like maybe soak them so they swell, then let them redry and see if they stay puffy. That might let them pop without just burning. How do they make puffed wheat??? ;)

        • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

          ruthie, I recall with fondness the cookies my mom would make with crushed cornflakes! Did you, perchance, grow up in the midwest?! As for the grains, maybe take a stroll down the cereal aisle and buy those plastic bags filled with puffed wheat or brown rice or millet or what have you?

          • ruthie says:

            Nope, I’m a California girl all the way. My grandmother was born in South Dakota, though, and my dad was originally from Minnesota. Not exactly the midwest. Oh, and I switched to wheat germ in my chocolate chip cookies, just a couple tablespoons in a batch, because I like the nuttiness.

            As for buying the puffed grains, where would be the fun in that??? /;)

  6. Ludmila says:

    I couldn’t find rice syrup in my country, and I have personal restrictions to corn syrup. I really wanted to try these bars, so I decided to do them with only honey. I though to myself, worst case scenario I will end up with a yummy nut granola – nothing to lose trying. Turns out the bars hold their form just fine, with only a bit more stickness than expected, but only after a few days, and only at room temperature. So, if you don’t mind a slight sticky bar, you CAN substitute honey for corn syrup.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Ludmila, thank you! That’s fantastic to know and we so appreciate you taking the time to share the information with us. I know a lot of readers will be grateful.

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