These homemade KIND bars are essentially homemade granola bars that are actually healthy for you with nothing but nuts, dried fruit, and a little syrup for sweetness and stickiness. You can also mix in any other add-ins you fancy (coconut, anyone?). They’re low sugar and easy as can be. Author Camilla V. Saulsbury refers to these homemade KIND bars 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 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.” Seems you can never have too many friends—or, apparently, too many homemade KIND Bars.–Renee Schettler Rossi
*Why You Can’t Use Honey, Maple Syrup, or Agave Nectar In Homemade KIND Bars
“Before you start making plans to substitute your favorite brand of agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup for the speciﬁed syrups,” says the creative genius who created these homemade KIND bars, “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.” That’s all the caution we need to hear.
Homemade KIND Bars
- Nonstick cooking spray, (optional)
- 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*, (see * above)
- 1/8 teaspoon ﬁne sea salt, (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Line an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking pan with foil or parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, stir together the nuts or seeds, cereal, and dried fruit. 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 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.
☞ TESTER TIP: To make the mixture even less likely to stick to the paper or plastic wrap, you can spray the bottom side of it with nonstick vegetable spray.
- Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until slightly browned at the edges but still somewhat soft at the center. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
- Using the liner, lift the mixture from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 10 bars. Let cool completely. (You can tightly wrap the homemade 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 VariationApple 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.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
These homemade granola bars 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.
I love that this 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. With the dried figs and apricots, hazelnuts, coconut, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) I have in the pantry, the possibilities are endless.
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.
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 KIND bars.
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.
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.