These apple granola bars are the perfect fall snack with dried apple chunks, white chocolate chips and cinnamon. They’re both chewy and crispy at the same time and are so delicious.
I don’t know what it is about this fall but I’m on a total granola bar kick! I blame energy ball week. I love having healthy snacks on hand, but if I’m being honest… granola bars take even less effort than energy balls! No need to roll out the balls, just press and let them set!
When I was brainstorming flavors, I knew I needed to try an apple version. Fall is here and one of my favorite fall activities is stocking up on apples at a local orchard and making as many apple treats as possible. Although these granola bars use dried apples instead of fresh, they still give me all the fall vibes and they’re so delicious.
And I have to tell you… these bars disappear quickly in our house!
Healthier Granola Bars
I’m not sure when the last time you looked at your granola bar ingredient list and nutrition facts but… most are pretty alarming! The ingredient list is so long and half of the ingredients are either synonyms for sugar or are unrecognizable! I wanted to create healthier granola bars that use whole food ingredients, natural sweeteners and have simple ingredient lists. Mission accomplished! These apple granola bars are guaranteed to be a hit with both kids and adults!
Easy Granola Bar Ingredients
old fashioned rolled oats
brown rice crisp cereal – this cereal is similar to Rice Krispies, but made with brown rice so it’s a tad healthier. There are several brands that make brown rice crisps which you should be able to find in the organic/natural section of most grocery stores. Some brands to look for: Barbara’s, One Degree and Nature’s Path.
dried apples – be sure to look for chewy dried apples (often called apple rings) as some dried apples are more like apple chips and super crunchy. Those won’t work well in this recipe.
Prep pan – Start by lining a square baking pan with parchment paper. I like to use large paper clips to clamp it down so it stays in place.
Combine dry ingredients – In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, cereal, dried apples and chocolate chips.
Create healthy syrup – In a pot on medium heat, combine the honey and coconut oil. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring continuously. Once bubbling for 30 seconds, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt. Make sure you cook the mixture until it’s bubbling! This reduces the mixture and is what helps hold the bars together.
Combine wet and dry ingredients – Pour the warm mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until everything is well coated. The chocolate chips might melt a bit but that’s okay!
Press mixture – Pour the mixture into the pan lined with parchment paper and lightly press so the mixture is even. Top with remaining apple chunks and chocolate chips and and press firmly with your hands. You’ll really want to press the mixture down well so the bars hold together well. I like to put a piece of parchment paper on top of the mixture so my hands don’t get super sticky.
Refrigerate – Once the bars are fully pressed, place the pan in the fridge for two hours to allow the bars to set. Once the bars are solid or hard to the touch, remove them from the pan, place on a cutting board and slice into 10 bars.
How to Store Granola Bars
These bars will stay together best if you store them in the refrigerator! They will keep for 1 week in an airtight container in the fridge. If you want to store them longer, wrap individually and store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Substitutions & Notes
Wondering about different ingredient substitutions? Here are some that come to mind.
Brown rice crisp cereal – this is what gives them a little crunch and makes the bars taste like store-bought granola bars. If you can’t find brown rice crisp cereal you can use regular Rice Krispies or simply sub 1 cup of oats for the cereal.
Different chips – I used white chocolate chips but these bars with be delicious with peanut butter or caramel chips too. Lily’s makes salted dark chocolate caramel chips that I’m going to have to try out!
Different sweeteners – I haven’t tried other sweeteners, but I’m guessing it would work with agave, coconut nectar or brown rice syrup. I think maple syrup would be too runny and wouldn’t hold the bars together as well as the other options. If you try a different sweetener, let me know!
Dried fruit – of course these are apple granola bars, but if you can’t find dried apples or have a different dried fruit on hand you can certainly try these bars with a different dried fruit.
Bars Too Dry or Crumbly?
Two things likely happened if your granola bars are too dry or crumbly:
1. You didn’t let the honey and coconut oil mixture come to a low boil. Cooking until the mixture bubbles reduces the mixture and is the “glue” that holds the bars together!
2. You didn’t press hard enough! You really want to press the mixture into the pan lined with parchment paper. Put your back into it and compact that mixture!
If you can’t “save” your granola bars I bet they’re still delicious enjoyed like granola! Just be sure to follow these tips for next time.
Line an 8x8-inch square baking pan with parchment. I like to use binder clips to clamp the parchment down so the parchment stays in place.
In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, cereal, 1/8 cup of chopped dried apples and 1 Tablespoon of chocolate chips. Set aside.
In a pot on medium heat, combine honey and coconut oil. Let mixture heat until it starts to bubble, stirring continuously. Once bubbling for 30 seconds, remove from heat and stir in salt, cinnamon and vanilla.
Pour honey mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until well coated. The chocolate chips will likely melt a bit, this is okay and actually helps the bars stick together.
Pour mixture into your parchment lined baking pan and lightly press the mixture so it's even. Top with remaining dried apple chunks and chocolate chips and really press the mixture down as much as possible. Skipping this step will result in crumbly bars. I use a piece of parchment to press so that my hands don't get super sticky.
Set: Once bars are pressed down firmly, place pan in the fridge for 2 hours to allow the bars to cool and set up.
Cut: Once the bars feel solid/hard to the touch, remove from the pan, place on a cutting board and slice into 10 bars. Serve immediately or save for later.
To store: these bars will stay together best if you store them in the refrigerator. They will keep for 1 week in an airtight container in the fridge. For freezing, wrap them individually and store in the freezer for up to 2 months.