Homemade Kind Bars

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!

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