Chewy chocolate chip granola bars were one of my favorite snacks growing up, and now it’s one of my children’s favorite foods!
The current back-to-school season brings me so much nostalgia for these nourishing granola bars, as I vividly remember reaching for these bars in between school and sports practice or being excited when I found one in my lunchbox packed by my mother.
As I got older, I phased out on snacking on them and eating most pre-packaged snacks in general for the health benefits of eating more whole foods.
When I became a mom, my kids starting requesting for me to buy more granola bars at the grocery store. I was happy to see them delight in the same snack that I loved when I was a kid, but I couldn’t help but be curious about the ingredients in them. I was shocked to see that our favorite chocolate chip granola bars have around 26 ingredients listed on the wrapper, including tons of processed ingredients like sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, sorbitol, soybean oil and “natural flavor” (whatever that is!).
Determined to create my own homemade version of our favorite chewy chocolate chip granola bars, I found this recipe from Love and Lemons that uses only seven simple ingredients! I took it a step further and made this recipe with nut-free ingredients, so my kids can easily take them to school!
Not only do my kids love these granola bars, my husband and I enjoy snacking on them, too! I actually think they taste better than the brand-name packaged bars! They’re so chewy and naturally sweet! These bars have become our easy go-to for after-school snacks and quick breakfasts when we’re short on time!
Scroll to the bottom of the page for this easy Homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars recipe!
What You Need to Make Homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
Tools & Equipment:
- One 8×8 baking pan or pyrex dish – You’ll use this baking pan or dish to set and cool the granola bars in the fridge. A baking pan is preferred, but I’ve used pyrex dishes, too. If you use a pyrex dish, the granola bar mix may not all lay flat and the edges may turn up.
- One large mixing bowl – I used my largest glass mixing bowl to stir all the ingredients together.
- Measuring cups – Specifically, you’ll need 1 cup (250 ml), 1/2 cup (125 ml), 1/3 cup (80 ml), 1 Tbsp (15 ml) and 1 Tsp (5 ml).
- Parchment Paper – I cut 2 pieces of parchment paper to fit the size of my 8×8 baking pan for setting and cooling the granola bars.
- Cling wrap – Cover the granola bars as they cool with Glad Press’N Seal Wrap. You can also use the cling wrap to cover the granola bars to keep them fresh for the week. I’m obsessed with Glad Press’N Seal and use it in my kitchen all the time.
- Natural Sunflower Seed Butter – I didn’t discover sunflower seed butter until I had to find an alternative for peanut butter for my son’s PB&J sandwiches for school. Most schools these days are nut-free. My son is such a picky eater and basically only eat PB&J sandwiches, so I was very nervous about whether he’d like the new seed butter. I’m happy to report that this SunButter sunflower seed butter is a hit! He’s never mentioned it tasting any different compared to regular peanut butter. In fact, I think he likes it more than peanut butter! For this recipe, make sure you use the natural sunflower seed butter because it’s more runny. The runnier the seed butter, the easier it will be to mix!
- Honey – Almost any honey will do, but I prefer organic, raw and unfiltered for health benefits. Target’s Good & Gather Honey is good.
- Vanilla Extract – This is a staple in my kitchen, as I use it for so many recipes! Rodelle Pure Vanilla Extract is a great, sustainable brand with only 3 ingredients and no sugar.
- Sea Salt – Another easy staple in my kitchen! Can’t go wrong with classic Morton’s Sea Salt.
- Rolled Oats – I discovered Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Organic Rolled Oats after I had children and started making more oatmeal, muffins and cookies from scratch. There’s no better brand! I’ve even started mixing them in smoothies to add more nutrients to my kids’ diet!
- Mini Chocolate Chips – Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips are the best to use if you’re concerned about nut and gluten allergies. My kids love them, so I’ll sneak a couple plain ones in their lunchboxes for a sweet treat.
- Pepitas or Pumpkin Seeds – Pepitas are a type of pumpkin seed that I love tossing in salads, smoothies and granola. These Target brand pumpkin seeds are delicious and nut-free, so they’re school-friendly! I also like to buy the raw pepitas in bulk at Whole Foods, which would work perfectly for this recipe.
How to Make Nut-Free, Gluten Free Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
With the appropriate kitchen tools and ingredients on-hand, any novice chef can make these simple homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars! Here’s what to do:
- Prep your pan: Line your baking pan with parchment paper.
- Stir wet ingredients: Combine the seed butter, vanilla extract, honey and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir very well!
- Mix dry ingredients: Fold in the rolled oats, mini chocolate chips and pepitas. The mixture will appear very dry, but keep stirring until it’s well combined.
- Make the bars: Scoop the mix into the parchment-lined dish and firmly press to the sides of the pan. Add another piece of parchment paper on top of the mixture and use the back of a large measuring cup to continue to flatten the top of the bars.
- Chill the bars: Cover the bars with cling wrap or foil, and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for one hour. It’s very important to let the bars fully chill for at least one hour; otherwise, they won’t stick together!
- Enjoy: Remove bars from the refrigerator, slice into bars, and enjoy! Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer to snack on these bars all week!
Tips and Suggestions for Better Homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
These homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars are already so easy to make, but here’s some tips to make whipping up a batch of these bars even easier:
- Use natural sunflower seed butter – The natural butters are usually the runniest, which will make stirring so much easier!
- Don’t cut the chill time short – I know you’re eager to taste these yummy treats, but please keep them in the refrigerator at least for one hour so you’re able to properly slice the bars without crumbling apart.
- Store in fridge or freezer – Because these bars are made with simple, natural ingredients, they need to be kept in the fridge or freezer to keep them fresh and from crumbling. I like to store them in an airtight container separated by parchment paper so they don’t stick together. You can eat them right out of the fridge. If you’re packing them for school, it’s best to add a cool pack in the lunchbox. If you’re storing them in the freezer, allow them to thaw for about 20-30 minutes before eating. The bars will keep for one week in the fridge and two months in the freezer.
- Only use mini chips – Regular sized chocolate chips are too large for the mixture to stick together. If you can’t find mini chocolate chips at the store, cut the regular sized chips into smaller pieces.
- Try other nut butters – If you’re concerned with allergies or prefer nut butters, you don’t have to use sunflower seed butter! This original recipe from Love & Lemons is made with natural peanut butter, and it’s very delicious!
- Switch up your mix-ins – We keep it simple with mini chocolate chips and pepitas, but feel free to swap in your favorite ingredients! Raisins, dried currants, dried cranberries, crushed peanuts or crushed almonds are really great options! For a sweet swap, trade the mini chocolate chips for mini white chocolate or dark chocolate chips, or try peanut butter chips! Yum!
Below is the simplest recipe for Homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars! Don’t forget to save this recipe to Pinterest!
Recipe: Homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (Nut-Free and Gluten-Free)
- 1 cup smooth natural sunflower seed butter
- 2/3 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2.5 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons pepitas
- Line 8×8 baking pan or pyrex dish with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir together peanut butter, honey, vanilla extract and salt.
- Mix in the rolled oats, mini chocolate chips and pepitas. Stir until well combined.
- Press mixture into baking pan. Place a second piece of parchment paper on top of mixture and use a large measuring cup to press the mixture firmly to the pan and flatten. Cover pan with foil or cling wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least one hour.
- Remove from fridge, slice into bars and enjoy! Store bars in refrigerator for one week or freezer for two months.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear what you think! Let me know if you tried other mix-ins, like crushed peanuts, raisins or white chocolate, too!
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