These Easy Baked Oatmeal Breakfast Bars are soft-baked, chewy and gluten-free. They are also healthy and lower in sugar than other oat bars and muesli bars. You can make them ahead of time for a quick breakfast or snack.
The recipe is simple. All you need is a bowl and a spoon to bring everything together. You can also customise the add-ins to suit what you love. Dried fruit, chopped nuts and chocolate chips all work well. More on that below.
Healthy breakfast bars
These oatmeal breakfast bars are pretty healthy compared to other oat bar and muesli bar recipes. They are lower in sugar and made without refined oil. The result is still a deliciously chewy breakfast bar that is subtly sweet and satisfying.
The bars also happen to be vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free. Oats naturally don’t contain gluten, but they are often processed on the same equipment as wheat so they can have traces of gluten. If you are strictly gluten-free, you can buy gluten-free oats. Oats labelled as ‘gluten free’ or ‘wheat-free’ will usually mean that there is no measurable contamination with gluten-containing grains like wheat, rye or barley.
Which dried fruit is lowest in sugar?
Dried apricots tend to be the lowest in sugar of all the dried fruits. This makes sense because they have a slightly tart flavor. Depending on the brand, they are usually about 40% sugar, with 40g of sugar per 100g. Dried figs are another lower sugar dried fruit option with around 50% sugar. Dried cranberries, dates, raisins and dried apple are usually 60% to 70% sugar.
You can check the sugar content by reading the nutrition facts on the packet. In Australia, the sugar content per 100g of product must be stated, so it’s easy to compare sugar content across a range of different products. However, I don’t get obsessive about sugar content. I think it’s ok to enjoy some higher sugar dried fruit in moderation.
What else can I add to these oatmeal bars?
Chopped nuts, chopped dried fruit, seeds, coconut flakes and chopped chocolate or chocolate chips are all delicious add-ins for these oatmeal bars. I love to combine a tart-sweet dried fruit like apricots, figs or cranberries with chopped dark chocolate.
To flavor the base mixture, I use vanilla extract and almond extract. This gives the bars a cookie-like vibe. You could also add spices like cinnamon powder or a pinch of nutmeg.
Ingredients for Easy Baked Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
Rolled oats: Traditional rolled oats form the base of the mixture. Quick oats should also work, although the texture of the bars may bit slightly different.
Almond flour: I find that almond flour, or blanched almond meal, gives the bars the best texture in combination with the rolled oats. You can use oat flour instead of almond flour, but it gives the bars a more gummy texture.
Almond butter: Almond butter helps to hold the bars together and replaces the need for oil. Cashew butter also works, or natural peanut butter if you want peanut flavored bars.
Brown rice syrup: I use brown rice syrup, or rice malt syrup, to sweeten the bars. It is mild in flavor so it isn’t overpowering. Honey also works if you don’t mind the bars tasting like honey.
Vanilla extract: Vanilla gives the base mixture a cookie-like flavor. I use pure vanilla extract.
Almond extract: Almond extract works really well with the vanilla to give the bars an extra flavor boost. It has a slight marzipan taste, which I personally love. You can leave it out if you don’t enjoy that sort of thing.
Sea salt: Seasoning baked goods with a little salt really helps to enhance the flavors. I use finely ground sea salt so it distributes evenly throughout the mixture.
Add-ins: Feel free to use any combination of add-ins. As I talked about above, chopped dried fruit, nuts and chocolate all work really well.
More oats recipes
These No Bake Peanut Butter Oat Energy Balls only take 5 minutes to make and taste like peanut butter cookie dough.
For a a protein boost, these Vegan Peanut Butter Oat Protein Bars are drizzled with chocolate and taste like dessert.
If you want something savory, I love these Herbed Sweet Potato and Oat Savoury Muffins in the morning for breakfast.
You can find all of oat-based recipes on the Oats Recipes page.
Easy Baked Oatmeal Breakfast Bars Recipe
- 2 cups / 180g rolled oats
- 1/2 cup / 48g almond flour (see Note 1)
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/3 cup / 80g almond butter (see Note 2)
- 1/4 cup / 60ml / 86g brown rice syrup (see Note 3)
- 1/4 cup / 60ml / 60g water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
- 1 cup / 100g add-ins (e.g. chopped dark chocolate, chopped nuts, chopped dried fruit)
1Preheat your oven to 160°C fan-forced / 180°C / 350°F and line a 20 x 20 cm / 8 x 8 inch square cake tin or dish with baking paper.
2Mix the oats, almond flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the almond butter, brown rice syrup, water, vanilla extract and almond extract and stir until well combined. Fold through your chosen add-ins.
3Press the mixture firmly into the lined tin (see Note 4). Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until lightly brown.
4Allow to cool completely in the tin, then remove from the tin and slice into bars.
1. Almond flour – I find that almond flour, or blanched almond meal, gives the bars the best texture. You can use oat flour instead of almond flour, but it gives the bars a more gummy texture.
2. Almond butter – You can use any neutral flavored nut butter like almond butter or cashew butter. Peanut butter also works if you want peanut flavored bars.
3. Brown rice syrup – I use brown rice syrup, or rice malt syrup, because it’s mild in flavor. Honey also works and makes the bars taste sweeter, but the bars will taste a bit like honey. Maple syrup or sugar-free syrups should also work, although I haven’t tested this myself. I’d love to hear if you try.
4. Pressing the mixture into the tin – I use a silicone spatula to press the mixture into the tin. The mixture is sticky, so it can stick to metal spoons or your fingers. Alternatively, you can place a sheet of baking paper on top of the mixture and press down with your hands. The baking paper will act as a barrier between the mixture and your hands to stop the mixture from sticking to your fingers.
5. Small batch version – To make a smaller batch of 6 bars, you can halve the recipe and bake it in a 10 x 20 cm / 4 x 8 inch loaf tin for 25 to 30 minutes.
6. Storage – I store the bars in an airtight container in the fridge. This keeps the healthy fats from the nuts as fresh as possible. You can also freeze the bars, then defrost in the fridge as needed.
Serving size: 1 bar (made with add-ins: 40g dark chocolate, 40g dried figs, 20g walnuts)
Energy: 766kJ (183Cal)
Total Fat: 9.4g
Saturated Fat: 1.9g
Total Carbohydrate: 18.5g
Dietary Fibre: 3.3g