Cinnamon granola bars are a perfect vehicle for all your fave snacking ingredients. Almonds, oats, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, plus nearly anything else you desire. Healthy or a little indulgent? Up to you.
These nutritious cinnamon granola bars travel well and are great either as part of breakfast or as an easy, portable snack throughout the day. Feel free to experiment or make it into crumbled granola that’s great with yogurt or milk. [Editor’s Note: You gotta try the crumbled granola. Take a gander at the variation beneath the recipe.]–Kelli Bronski | Peter Bronski
WHY ISN’T MY HOMEMADE GRANOLA CRUNCHY?
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to homemade granola is getting the texture right. Baking your ingredients at a too high temperature will cause everything to burn before it gets a chance to dry out and crisp up. The ideal temperature is between 300°F and 350°F (150°C and 175°C), giving you golden bits that will stick together and stay crunchy. Stick with a low temperature, keep an eye on your mixture, and stir it from time to time to help it brown evenly.
Cinnamon Granola Bars
- 3/4 cup raw almonds
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup raw pepitas hulled pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup whole golden flaxseeds coarsely ground (optional)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 cup honey or light or amber agave nectar honey will help the bars hold together better
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for the baking sheet
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chopped dried fruit optional
- 1/2 cup chopped chocolate optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Oil a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-centimeter) baking pan.
- Place the blanched almonds in a resealable plastic bag and use a rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy skillet to crush the almonds into small pieces.
- Combine the crushed almonds, oats, pepitas, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, if using, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in a large bowl. Drizzle on the agave nectar, 1/3 cup olive oil, and vanilla extract and mix until evenly incorporated. If the mixture feels dry, add the remaining olive oil. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking pan, pressing it firmly with a spatula. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Stir the granola, toss in the dried fruit and/or chocolate, if using, and once again press the mixture firmly into the pan. Turn the oven down to 300°F (150°C) and bake for 25 more minutes, until the top is golden.
- Let the granola cool completely, about 2 hours. Cut into 12 rectangles with a serrated knife. The bars may be fairly crumbly so handle them gently. Store the bars in an airtight container, separated by parchment paper, for up to 1 week at room temperature or up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Cinnamon Granola variationPrefer crumbly chunks of granola you can dump in a bowl or grab by the handful to a linear bar? Just follow the recipe above with a few tweaks. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C) and line a couple rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread the granola mixture (minus the dried fruit and chocolate) on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes. Stir thoroughly and bake for 15 minutes more, until golden brown. Let cool completely. Crumble to form whatever size granola chunks you desire and add dried fruit and/or chocolate, if using. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. You should have 5 to 6 cups.
Chocolate-Dipped Granola Bars variationWe love kitchen ingenuity. For example, one of our recipe testers made a batch of these granola bars for her kids, but two out of three refused to eat them because the mini chocolate chips had melted into nothingness. The enterprising mom nonchalantly melted some chocolate, dipped the bottoms of the cooled bars in the chocolatey goodness, and waited for them to set. Problem solved. As she noted, “What isn’t made better by a little more chocolate?” Keep calm and dip away.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
These cinnamon granola bars are so good! Don’t even think about decreasing the amount of cinnamon. 2 teaspoons seems like a lot, and it is, but the flavor's not overwhelming. You’ll still be able to taste all those yummy grains, dried berries, and nuts, not to mention the ginger and nutmeg.
However, the bars didn’t stay together too well for me. Maybe I didn’t press down enough? No matter, I just crumbled the bars and ate the result like granola. I was pleasantly surprised to find that a small bowl kept me quite satisfied, and that’s saying something. Usually I’m reaching for a snack an hour or two after breakfast. Not so here!
I made the cinnamon granola bars, not the crumbled granola variation. It was an easy, straightforward recipe that my whole family enjoyed. I can't speak to whether or not the granola bars would last 2 weeks—mine were gone in a couple of days.
I used the recommended blanched almonds. I couldn't find raw pepitas or sunflower seeds, so I used roasted ones. I also couldn't find golden flaxseeds, so I used the only ones my store sold. I opted to add dried cranberries and mini chocolate chips. One of my three children loved the granola bars, but the other two were disappointed that the mini chocolate chips had melted into the bars. I ended up melting additional chocolate chips, coating the bottom of the bars, and letting them set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. That converted my other two into fans. (What isn't made better by a little more chocolate?) I enjoyed the bars both ways, but when I make them again, I will dip them in chocolate.
These cinnamon granola bars are everything they promise to be and are open to endless variation. I followed the recipe as written at home and then again without nuts, so I could send the granola to school. Kids love them, and they are way better for you than packaged granola bars.
They're very easy to make; however, I think you really need to pack the mixture tightly together when baking if you want to be able to cut the granola mixture into nice even rectangles. The timing in the directions was accurate. The granola bars look like the picture, but I did find it very difficult to cut them into rectangles. So now mine are granola bites.
I'm always on the lookout for THE granola bar recipe, and I think this might be it. These are outstanding. Not too crunchy and not too chewy, they're just right. And they look exactly like the photo! I can tell how crumbly and crunchy they are from the picture, and mine are the same!
I made a few modifications. I used brown rice syrup instead of agave nectar and omitted the spices because they didn't go with the coconut flakes I used instead of the dried fruit and chocolate. I also used ground flaxseeds instead of whole and slivered almonds because I happened to have them on hand. I was worried about the olive oil being too overpowering, but you can't taste it in the finished product. I might use a smidgen less salt if I were to make these again with this choco-coconut combo, but I imagine the salt would work really well with dried fruit.
I waited 90 minutes to remove them from the pan and cut them. I made half a batch of these in an 8-inch-square brownie tin, and it made 8 very generous-sized cinnamon granola bars. I added in all the ingredients at the start because I misread the recipe, but it was fine. The chocolate chips didn't melt, and in any case, I'm not sure how you would give granola packed into a brownie tin "a stir" after 15 minutes of baking. Mine had already started to come together, and it would've been a big mess if I started to mix it up.
I had to keep pressing the bars down with the back of a spatula during the final 25 minutes of baking because they kept puffing up. These held up well overnight at room temperature. I'm not sure if putting them in the fridge might make them too hard? I don't want to mess with the texture, which is perfect right now.
My husband wanted granola, and I realized I could make this recipe in less time than it would take me to go to the store. My entire family loves granola clusters and bars, especially granola that is complex in texture and will stay in clusters. This is a perfect recipe to meet those requirements, and it's easy to tailor to your personal taste or what you have on hand. What my family liked most about this was the variety of ingredients compared to many store-bought granolas.
I made one change to the recipe: my husband loves chia seeds in his granola, and I was out of sunflower seeds, so I subbed chia seeds in. I made the crumbled granola variation and didn't add chocolate or fruit. I cooked it exactly as stated, let it cool completely, and broke it into large chunks and clusters rather than crumble it, which is just my family's preference. The bottom was a little moist and sticky, so I may use more dry ingredients or less wet ingredients next time, but even with this tiny issue, this was one of the best granola clusters recipes we've tried yet. I will definitely be making this again, even this week.
After making this recipe as chunky granola, I decided to make it as bars. The bars stayed together okay, but not great. My family is split on those who like their granola in big chunks and those who prefer bars, but all agreed the flavor of these bars was worth making it both ways. After making the bars 3 times in less than a week—I know, we have a bit of a granola addiction going on in my house—I made some minor adjustments that seem to help make the bars stay together better.
The first batch, the only change I made from the original recipe was to use honey rather than the agave. The bars held together much better and the flavor was the same. The next batch, I continued to use the honey but substituted 1 cup rolled oats for quick oats. These bars stayed together even better. My final version, I used the agave nectar and 1 cup quick oats but also added an egg to the recipe. (I have another granola recipe that uses an egg and just wanted to see what this would do.) It worked—the bars stayed together great. I think it's important when you make your own granola bars are to press the mixture down firmly into the pan as the recipe states. I often cover mine with wax paper and press down firmly before baking. Also, wait until the cinnamon granola bars cool completely before removing the parchment paper from the pan. I cut mine outside of the pan, on a cutting board and sometimes I score the bars first, before baking, with a knife to make cutting easier (and sometimes you can even break the bars apart).
Yogurt and granola is about the only meal I never mind eating over and over, but store-bought granola is expensive, so I've made my fair share at home. I'm generally not into crunchy granola, with as many pricey super seeds, nuts, and natural sugars packed in as possible, but these cinnamon granola bars get my seal of approval.
The seeds included are soft, so they give some texture to the granola without breaking a tooth, and the nuts are ground small enough that they blend in well. I generally prefer honey or syrup to agave, but it didn't bother me here. That said, I only used 1/2 cup, and I think the oil could be cut back as well if making the crumbled version so that the granola isn't so tacky.
The amount of spices and salt was perfect—not overwhelming at all. I purchased an unadulterated trail mix containing almonds, pepitas, and sunflower seeds (in addition to cashews and raisins) instead of purchasing large packages of each. I also added dried apricots and nixed the chocolate. 30 minutes in the oven was spot-on; the lighter pieces seemed to brown up as they cooled on the baking sheet. Some raisins got a little too crunchy. I had trouble finding seeds that weren't roasted and flaxseeds marked "golden." The granola didn't really need to be broken apart at all.
Originally published on April 16, 2015