No-Bake Energy Bars are chocolatey, date-sweetened, healthy snacks that are easy to make and travel-friendly. They’re packed with whole oats, nuts, and coconut, with a rich, chocolate flavor. Skip the packaged energy bars and make your own!
Healthy Chocolate Energy Bars
If you’re looking for that super healthy snack for lunchboxes, meal prep, road trips, outdoor activities, or a fun kitchen activity with the kids, I have a tried and tested winner!
ENERGY BAR INGREDIENTS
- pitted dates
- cocoa powder
- rolled oats
- sliced almonds
- cashews or walnuts
- shredded coconut
- oat bran or oat flour
HOMEMADE ENERGY BARS THAT CHECK ALL THE BOXES
- naturally sweetened
- gluten-free and vegan
- low sodium
- made with nuts (peanut-free)
- no-bake and EASY to make
- packable – not gooey/messy
- kid-friendly, but also loved by adults
HOW TO MAKE ENERGY BARS
* See recipe below
Step 1. Blend dates and cocoa powder together in a food processor just until it forms into a ball-shape inside the food processor.
Step 2. Finely chop the cashews (or walnuts), almonds, and pecans.
Step 3. Add chopped nuts, oat bran, coconut, and sea salt to the food processor.
Step 4. Pulse the food processor just until ingredients are incorporated. It should look like this…
Step 5. Press the mixture onto an 8″ x 8″ baking sheet. No need to spray with cooking spray. Use a sheet of wax paper over the mixture and the flat side of a meat tenderizer to compress the mixture.
Step 6. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for an hour, or cut into squares and serve immediately.
Store the energy bars in an airtight container chilled or at room temperature.
INGREDIENTS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
In order to keep this healthy snack exactly what it is, I recommend using as many RAW and unprocessed ingredients as you can find.
Dates – These beauties add the natural sweetness to this recipe, which means you don’t need to add any sugar. You can use pitted dates (often called Deglet Noor) or Medjool dates (you need to remove pits). Either will work fine for this recipe, but the Medjool dates tend to be stickier, so you may need to adjust the cocoa powder or oat bran to achieve the right texture. You get to pick!
Cocoa Powder – Unsweetened. Boom! I really don’t recommend using sweetened cocoa powder in any of my recipes. I’m a control freak and I like to be in full control of the sugar in my food preparation. When you use unsweetened cocoa powder, you know exactly what you’re getting. Otherwise, you don’t.
Rolled Oats – I love to use whole, uncooked, rolled oats for this recipe. You can also quick-cooking oats. If you’re gluten-free, make sure to buy gluten-free rolled oats. The awesome folks over at The Kitchn published The Oat Conundrum: Are Oats Gluten-Free? Check it out!
Almonds – Unsalted sliced almonds are my favorite cut of almond to use for this recipe. They’re so delicate because they’re so thinly sliced and I (very) loosely chop them because I love the texture as they are.
Unsalted Cashews or Walnuts – You can use cashews or walnuts for this recipe. I prefer whole raw cashews as they’re more nutritious than roasted, salted cashews. Hot tip: cashew pieces can be less expensive than whole cashews. I absolutely LOVE walnuts in this recipe. They add a rich texture you just don’t get from any other nut.
Unsalted Pecans – These add so much richness to the recipe. You can use raw pecans (these can get spendy) or roasted pecans. Totally up to you. Either way, I still say go with unsalted and you can add in your own. I personally buy the pecan halves from Costco and chop them as needed.
Shredded Coconut – First, make sure you use unsweetened coconut. Second, you want shredded coconut pieces sold as an ‘ingredient’, not as a ‘snack’. The snack-ey coconut is probably a sweetened snack.
Oat Bran – You want fiber? You got it! Oat bran is one of my favorite ways to add fiber and protein to any recipe!
Sea Salt – You can use any salt you like for this recipe. I prefer fine sea salt because it dissolves more quickly than Kosher salt. I generally don’t use table salt for cooking.
ENERGY BAR RECIPE TIPS
Tip #1. Blending the ingredients
You could throw all of the ingredients in the food processor and blend them to an equal consistency, without the added step of chopping the nuts. But, I like to keep the oats “whole” and the nuts finely chopped for added texture and visual appeal.
If you try to blend the ingredients together all at once in the food processor, you end up overblending the nuts into a ‘meal’, which means you lose the texture, and the bars can become stickier.
Tip #2. Customize the ingredients
What’s really great about this recipe is that you can customize the ingredients. For instance, you might want to add sesame seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, or dried fruits like cranberries, apricots, or cherries.
If you prefer a sweeter bar, you can add 1/4 cup of raw honey to the wet mixture ingredients…or add more dates.
Tip #3. Consistency
The recipe is forgiving. I mean, I hardly call it a recipe. It’s more like “mix a little of this with a little of that” until it feels right.
Here’s the test: When the batch is mixed, you should be able to form a firm ball without stickiness or crumbles. This results in a perfect consistency for pressing, cutting, and eating.
Tip #4. Get the kids to help make this recipe
This recipe is easy enough that the kids can measure, pour, stir, and work with their hands to mix and later smoosh the ingredients. And they can eat it as a raw dough. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Another healthy snack recipe to make with kids are these No-Bake Energy Bites. Like these, they’re date-sweetened and there’s NO cooking necessary.
- 7-cup food processor
- mixing bowl
- stirring utensil
- 13″ x 9″ baking sheet
- waxed paper
- meat tenderizer or pancake turner for compressing the mixture (or your hands)
No Bake Energy Bar Recipe
In a food processor or blender, place DATES and COCOA POWDER together; pulse or blend until it forms into a nearly solid ball in the food processor.
Add OATS, ALMONDS, CASHEWS, PECANS, COCONUT, OAT BRAN, and SEA SALT to date mixture in the food processor.
Pulse the food processor in short spurts just until everything is evenly distributed. CAUTION: Do not overmix, as your energy bars may turn out gooey and hard to manage.
Transfer mixture to an 8″ by 8″ pan. Lay a sheet of waxed paper over the mixture and press it firmly into to compress evenly across the surface. (I like to use a flat meat tenderizing tool).
Place bars in the refrigerator for an hour, or cut into squares and serve immediately. Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator, or at room temperature.
NOTE: Refrigerating these bars and eating them chilled will prevent them from becoming sticky.
Nutrition data provided as courtesy estimates using unbranded ingredients from a nutrition database. Please consult preferred resource for precise data.