Super chewy homemade muesli bars are cheaper, tastier, and much healthier than store-bought ones. Chewy caramel flavor with nuts and fruits! It’s a great way to get rid of the occasional leftover nuts and dried fruit.
The case for homemade muesli bars
There are things I always (probably) buy in stores. For example, potato chips. And chisels (I love you! Don’t judge me.)
But there are some things I would never buy once I realized how easy and nice it is to make them at home.
Muesli bars are currently at the top of this list. (This is a muesli bar for those in the US!).
I actually bought a box of a famous brand in Australia called Carmen’s and was able to taste test it in parallel with homemade and in-store purchases. The texture is almost identical.
But home-cooked food is so much better. Simply put, it makes all the ingredients taste better. Also, everything in our homemade muesli bars is completely natural. No magical food additives or preservatives to survive on supermarket shelves!
We’re making chewy ones today
The variety of muesli bars these days is endless. No nuts, no fruit, no chocolate chips, no chocolate icing! With today’s recipe, you can customize the taste to your liking.
The texture is generally divided into two types: chewy and crunchy. We make chewables.
And when I say chewy, I’m not exaggerating. It’s like eating a gummie, except she’s smug, because muesli bars are good for the body.
Do you doubt me? Chewing evidence includes:
What goes in muesli bars
The fruit and nut combination I used mimics the classic Carmen fruit and nut muesli bars, a very popular brand here in Australia. As long as you stick to 3 1/2 cups total, you can really use any supplement you want. That’s because the “glue” of peanut butter and honey makes them stick together.
- Natural peanut butter (or almond butter) – Different to commercial peanut butter spread because it’s got no sugar, salt, preservatives etc added. It’s 100% peanuts which means better peanut flavour and it’s runnier (hence why it works better for things like satay sauce).Mix well if separated – The absence of stabilisers also means that the oil and peanuts will separate if left in the pantry for ages. Be sure to mix well to combine before using. If your peanut butter has solidified into cement, try microwaving briefly to warm (remove the metal lid!) then mix with a butter knife or chopstick. If that still does not work, scrape the oil & peanut cement into a jug and blitz with a stick blender (done that plenty of times!).Non-peanut substitute: I think almond butter is best, for flavour and texture. I’ve read in other granola bar recipes that other nut butters work too.
- Honey – For natural sweetness. Maple syrup should also work.
- Rolled oats – not quick oats, just plain traditional oats.
- Almonds – whole, roasted, unsalted. I like to give them a very rough chop so it disperses better.
- Sultanas – or raisins, cranberries or any other dried fruit of choice (if using big pieces like apricots, suggest chopping).
- Pepitas – because it’s in Carmen’s. Like that it adds some colour to all the brown-ness!
- Sesame seeds – because it’s in Carmen’s.
- Coconut – because it’s in Carmen’s. Use desiccated coconut (ie finely shredded) that is not sweetened. Flakes will also work but because they are larger they won’t disperse as well throughout (maybe chop or crush in hands?).
- Cinnamon – a little touch of cinnamon really works in this!
- Salt – Just a touch brings out the flavours in this.
How to make ultra-chewy muesli bars
I love that this is a no-bake recipe!
- Mix the add-ins in a microwavable bowl using a wooden spoon.Why microwavable? Because the peanut butter glue is quite thick and if the air is cool or if you take your time with the mixing or if you take a call from your friend mid-mix, the glue may get so thick it’s too hard to mix. If this happens, a 20 second microwave will do the trick!
- Mix glue – Put the peanut butter and honey in a saucepan over low heat and mix to combine. Use a rubber spatula and cook, stirring almost constantly, for 5 minutes to thicken. Scrape the base of the saucepan, getting in around the edges. DO NOT WALK AWAY during this step as it can catch easily on the base.
- Goal – Thick caramel-like mixture. It should mound like ribbons, as pictured above. Basically, the thicker the mixture, the chewier your muesli bars!
- Immediately pour the mixture all across the surface of the oats. Use the wooden spoon to mix to combine until you can no longer see dry oats. At first this will seem impossible, but persevere as it will happen! Using stabbing motions and smearing against the side of the bowl helps. If it gets too hard to stir, microwave for 20 seconds then it will be a breeze.
- Press – Place a sheet of paper over a 20cm/8″ square pan (no need to grease, why create unnecessary washing up??). Scrape the mixture in then press it into the pan using a combination of the wooden spatula to spread it out, then hands to press it in. Press firmly but keep some of the surface bumpy rather than aiming for completely flat. If you press really, really firmly i.e make the surface almost completely smooth and flat, the bars will be very, very chewy. I personally found it a little too chewy, but maybe that’s what you want!
- Refrigerate for 2 hours to set then cut into 10 bars. Or 8, if you want bars a little larger than store-bought. Then eat! Well, chew.
Matters of muesli bars
I never thought I’d write a section with a title like the one above, but I have a few practical questions I’d like to share with you all about homemade granola bars!
- Are muesli bars healthy? This homemade one is, being made with all-natural ingredients with no fat or sugar added. However, most store-bought ones are not. Look closely at the ingredients list and you’ll see sugar and unfamiliar food additives listed.
- Storage – Airtight container in the fridge keeps them fresh and perky for 2 weeks. Out of the fridge, the oats soften faster over time which alters the texture of the muesli bars. But they don’t go off.
- Cold vs room temp – The muesli bars are firmer / chewier when fridge cold then soften to store-bought muesli bar level chewiness at room temperature. I actually really like them cold, for extra chew. As I mentioned earlier, it’s like a guilt-free chewy caramel!
- When to eat it – Breakfast on the run or snack! Honestly, you’d never even think of these as “healthy” because they’re sweet and tasty. I cut them into squares, drizzle with chocolate (see last point) and serve as an afternoon tea sweet treat.
- Lunchbox shelf life – Easily all day, out of fridge is fine. Fridge storage isn’t about keeping them food-safe, it’s about keeping them fresher for longer.
- Mini choc chips – The choc chips on store bought muesli bars are smaller than the ones used in chocolate chip cookies, they are mini ones. I found them at my local Scoop Wholefoods (Mona Vale, Sydney). You know those stores where you help yourself to fruit, nuts, chocolates etc out of tubs?To add them to your muesli bars, press the mixture into the pan then let it cool slightly else the choc chips will melt. Then scatter the mini choc-chips across the surface and use your hands to press them in. Then refrigerate.
- Chocolate drizzle – You will only need a small quantity of chocolate drizzle. I find it hard to melt small quantities of chocolate in a bowl in the microwave (always seizes). I find the easiest way is to pop about 1/4 cup of chocolate chips (normal ones, this time!) in a small ziplock bag. Seal, microwave for 10 seconds at a time (massage to “mix) until melted. Snip corner, drizzle across muesli bars.