Saturday Sweets: Granola Bars

Do you have a food that you just like best store bought?  A packaged-good-weakness you never plan to give up?

I have a couple.

1) Oreos.  Mind you, I haven’t tried these homemade Oreos yet…I’ll report back.

2) Wheat Thins.  Although I think I could challenge that with this recipe, but I know I won’t be stopping buying those crispy crackers anytime soon.

3) Granola Bars.  Until now.

Homemade Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I have tried a LOT of granola bar recipes.  If it’s a popular one, yup, I’ve tried it.

I haven’t shared any here for a reason, that reason being, they were all ok.  Ok, but not “I’m going to make these again” quality.  I have one peanut butter granola bar recipe that I love, and adapt often, but sometimes, you just don’t feel like peanut butter, you feel like eating a granola bar that tastes {almost} like it came from a Quaker box.

I have discovered several things that will NOT result in the kind of granola bar I’m looking for:

1) A “healthy” claim.  These granola bars are not UNhealthy, per se, but neither are they to be considered a breakfast food.

2) A “no bake” claim.  The texture is just different.  Not bad, just wrong.

3) Honey. Leave your honey alone when you’re making granola bars.

So, what DOES work?


Homemade granola bars - sweetened condensed milk makes these the best ever!

Why didn’t I think of this sooner?!  I loooove sweetened condensed milk, always and forever. It should be my go-to answer anytime I can’t quite get a recipe right.  Sweetened condensed milk makes things the perfect texture and flavour, and I now know that includes granola bar things.  I officially have a go-to granola bar recipe.

This recipe is adapted from Esther Brody’s The 250 Best Brownies, Bars, & Squares, which I received to review.  As soon as I saw this recipe I headed to the kitchen thinking “Of COURSE! Sweetened condensed milk!”  I used what I had on hand and kept it simple, but you’re basically looking at a totally flexible recipe.  Use at least 3 cups of oats and make up the remainder with your favourite mix-ins: flax seeds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, raisins…you get the idea!  But please tell me you won’t omit the chocolate chips.

These are a perfect snack to pack in a school lunch (peanut free!), or for anytime you consider snack time. If you have gluten free oats, and substitute the wheat germ for ground flax, you have a great gluten free treat too.  Like any homemade granola bar though, they don’t hold up well to being cut in long bars, so I definitely recommend the square route.

Homemade granola bars - sweetened condensed milk makes these the best ever!

As for the rest of the book,  this is an extremely comprehensive collection of things that look delicious and don’t take a lot of time.  I like both of those things a lot.

I only wish there were more pictures.  I love eating food with my eyes, and this book is just recipe after recipe that sounds great but has no photographic evidence.  I guess I’ll have to go out blindly on a limb and produce my own photographic evidence, because Raspberry Oat Granola Bars and Coconut Dream Squares have me intrigued…along with 247 others!

Give these a try – or have you all figured out the sweetened condensed milk thing already?  I am still totally tickled pink.

Saturday Sweets: Granola Bars
Total time
Sweetened condensed milk gives these homemade granola bars the best flavour and texture of any homemade granola bar I've ever tried.
Recipe type: Granola Bar; Snack
Serves: 24
  • 3½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats or quick cooking oats
  • ½ cup wheat germ or wheat bran
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (miniature are best)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup melted butter or margarine
  1. Preheat ovent to 325 degrees F. Line a 9x13" baking dish with foil and spray foil with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oats, wheat germ, cranberries, coconut, and chocolate chips. Add sweetened condensed milk and stir to coat. Stir in melted butter.
  3. Press mixture evenly into prepared pan (if you prefer a thinner square, use an 11x15" pan) and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until edges are lightly golden.
  4. Cool pan on rack before using foil to lift out bars, transfer to cutting board, and cut into squares.

*Adapted from The 250 Best Brownies, Bars & Squares by Esther Brody © 2013 Reprinted with publisher permission.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher to review.  I was not otherwise compensated for this post, and all opinions are, as always, my own.


  1. Kim says

    I do love the peanut butter one but these look easy and delicious, and surely sweetened condensed milk isn’t any worse for me than corn syrup. I will definitely try them! As for honey, I really like it in recipes where I don’t really taste any honey, like my Honey Bran Muffins. :) Otherwise I shall leave it for the bees and the pooh bears :)

  2. Esther says

    I’m so with you on the honey thing. I’d almost given up on homemade granola bars, but I’ll give it another chance with your recipe! :)

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