These healthy no-bake vegan salted caramel granola bars are naturally sweetened with a date "caramel". They are gluten-free and made with an array of nuts, seeds and wholegrain oats. This recipe is sweet, salty and chewy with a light drizzle of dark chocolate!
A Healthy Granola Bar
While these vegan salted caramel granola bars sound decadent, they're full of nutritious and delicious ingredients. Granola bars make an excellent snack or treat and this recipe is no exception.
However, conventional or store bought granola bars can contain a lot of refined sugar and other processed ingredients. Instead, why not make granola bars at home? These healthy no-bake granola bars can be made with basic pantry ingredients you likely already have on hand, plus, they come together quickly!
These Vegan salted caramel granola bars are
- Gluten-free (if you use certified gluten free ingredients)
- Naturally sweetened with dates (if you omit the chocolate drizzle)
- Sweet and salty
- Chewy and crunchy
- A plant-based protein source
- Made from everyday staple ingredients
- Easy to make ahead and store
Why you'll love this recipe
These no-bake granola bars might sound decadent but they are full of healthy and nutrient dense ingredients. These bars are naturally sweetened with a caramel made from medjool dates. These healthy granola bars are sweet, chewy, salty and so good for a quick healthy snack.
This recipe for vegan salted caramel granola bars is quick and easy to make and requires no baking time. This recipe can also be make ahead of time for easy snacks and healthy grab-and-go treats during the week.
How to make Vegan Salted Caramel Granola Bars
This recipe comes together quickly with the help of a food processor and mixing bowl, plus a little elbow grease. This recipe takes, from start to finish, roughly 3 hours and 15 minutes to make, however active preparation time is only about 15 minutes!
The ingredients you'll need for this recipe are:
- rolled oats
- sea salt
- ground flaxseed
- unsalted peanuts or unsalted almonds or cashews
- sunflower seeds
- soft medjool dates
- vanilla extract
- fresh lemon juice
- natural smooth almond butter or peanut butter
- melted coconut oil
- semi sweet dark chocolate chips melted
- flaked sea salt
The most time consuming part of this recipe is making the date caramel, but it is easy to do. Simply add soft, pitted medjool dates, vanilla, lemon juice, almond butter, and melted coconut oil into a food processor and blend until the mixture is smooth and even.
Then to a large bowl combine the dry ingredients, mixing to combine evenly. Next, add in the date caramel mixture and combine with a spoon or spatula until everything is mixed well and all the oats are incorporated.
Press the mixture into the prepared baking dish and then leave them in the fridge to set up. Once set, portion the bars and drizzle there melted chocolate mixture and sprinkle flaked sea salt on top, then allow them to set in the fridge for one more hour.
Tips to make this recipe perfect
There are a few key points to make sure this recipe turns out perfectly.
- Use soft and sticky medjool dates- this is integral to the bars sticking together and holding their shape. Don't use any other kind of dates for this recipe.
- If your medjool dates are on the harder side - pop them in hot water for 5 minutes to soften them up, drain them, and proceed with the recipe.
- Natural nut butter is key- it should be drippy and well stirred.
- Use rolled oats - steel cut or quick oats won't work as well for this recipe.
- Make sure ingredients are certified gluten free if this recipe is to be true to its name
- Use unsalted nuts otherwise this recipe will be too salty.
- Add parchment paper on the bottom of the baking pan to ensure easy removal.
- Use the bottom of a measuring cup OR the palm of your hands if you find it hard to press the ingredients together with a spoon or spatula.
- If you exchange peanuts for other nuts be sure to chop them so they're easier to eat.
Substitutions and Notes
Feel free to add or replace any nuts or seeds in this recipe. Overall, granola bars can be quite versatile, so feel free to adapt to suit your preferences. Below are a few ways this recipe can be adapted:
- Exchange chopped peanuts for chopped almonds or cashews
- Add a few tablespoons of hemp hearts if you like
- Add a dash of ground cinnamon
- Replace nuts with more sunflower seeds or a mixture of sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- Omit the chocolate drizzle if you want this recipe to have no refined sugar.
- Use seed butter instead of peanut or almond butter. Or try cashew butter.
After portioning the granola bars, this recipe is best kept covered in the fridge to ensure the bars keep their shape and chewy texture. They will last up to 7 days (assuming you have any left). You can also portion and freeze this recipe in a freezer safe container; take one out and leave it a room temperature to thaw before enjoying.
Notes About Gluten
Oats are naturally gluten free, however, be sure to source certified gluten free oats to ensure there is no cross contamination which can happen during the processing period before they arrive on store shelves. Also, be sure to double check all your ingredients to ensure they are certified gluten free if there is a gluten sensitivity, intolerance or allergy.
Tree nuts & allergies
Obviously, keep in mind that because this recipe contains tree nuts and other possible allergens, this is not a school safe snack or a recipe for anyone with an allergy to any ingredient in the recipe.
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Easy Vegan Salted Caramel Granola Bars [gluten-free]
- 1 ½ cups rolled oats
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup ground flaxseed
- ½ cup unsalted chopped peanuts, or chopped almonds or cashews
- ¾ cup sunflower seeds
- 12 soft medjool dates, pits and stem removed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- juice of ½ lemon
- ¼ cup natural smooth almond butter, or smooth nut butter of choice
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil
- ¼ cup semi sweet dark chocolate chips
- ½ teaspoon coconut oil
- 1-2 teaspoon flaked sea salt
- Line an 8x8" baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough to overhang two sides (this makes it easy to remove the bars once set).
- In a large bowl, combine the oats, sea salt, ground flaxseed, peanuts and sunflower seeds. Set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the pitted medjool dates, vanilla, lemon juice, almond butter, and melted coconut oil. Process until the mixture is smooth and even (you may need to stop the machine and scrape down the sides a few times).
- Scrape the date caramel into the oat mixture and stir until all the ingredients are evenly coated. If it is too hard to work with a spoon, use clean hands to incorporate everything.
- Place the mixture into the prepared dish and evenly spread. Then flatten and smooth the top of the mixture with the palm of your hand, or use the a flat bottom of a cup (I use a flat bottom measuring cup). Place into the fridge for 2 hours to set up.
- Remove from the fridge, then carefully run a knife along the edges of the pan. Using the parchment paper, pull up to release from the pan. Cut into 15 equal portions.
- In a small bowl, combine the chocolate chips and coconut oil. Melt in the microwave (about 45 seconds) or over a double boiler (about 3 minutes). Stir until smooth, then drizzle over the squares with a small spoon. Sprinkle flaked sea salt over the top and pop back in the fridge for 1 hour to allow the chocolate to harden before serving.
Disclaimer: all recipes on this site are developed and tested in a Canadian kitchen with Canadian ingredients at normal elevation using an electric oven and stove. Results may vary.
This is an approximation of the nutrition offered in this recipe, and is created using a nutrition calculator. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your preferred calculator.