Skip to main content
Recipes

For the Best Homemade Granola Bar, Puree Some Dried Fruit

It’s the unexpected key to unlocking the perfect chewy texture.
By

Published Mar. 17, 2023.

Granola bars are meant to be reliable—but I’ve found the brands at my grocery store to be anything but. 

As I’ve worked my way through the snack aisle, I’ve encountered disappointing bar after disappointing bar. Some are sweetened to the point that they feel more like dessert than a wholesome breakfast or snack. Others are so light on hearty add-ins such as nuts, seeds, and dried fruits that I’m hungry again before the wrapper even makes it into the trash. And texture is almost always an issue, with some bars being so crisp that they shower crumbs all over my desk or car, while others are so soft that they fall apart and leave my hands unpleasantly sticky. 

The solution to my quest for the perfect granola bar? You guessed it: Making my own. Luckily, my colleague Andrea Geary developed a recipe a few years ago that yields two dozen hearty, not-too-sweet, perfectly chewy granola bars (that keep for three weeks!). 

How did she do it? The key to that perfect texture and sweetness was an unexpected ingredient: pureed dried apricots.

Sign up for the Cook's Insider newsletter

The latest recipes, tips, and tricks, plus behind-the-scenes stories from the Cook's Illustrated team.

How We Engineered the Chewiest Granola Bar

As Andrea refined her granola bar recipe, she fixated on attaining perfect chewiness, meaning each bite would be met with repeated resistance while chewing.

This meant that she needed to carefully choose binding ingredients that would make the bars cohesive without making them too rigid and dry.

Her baseline recipe started off with toasted oats, sunflower seeds, and chopped walnuts (the nuts and seeds would provide that extra hearty bulk that would make the bars feel more substantial). 

She bound the ingredients at first with brown sugar, peanut butter, honey, and vegetable oil—but the bars were tacky and fell apart.

After copious testing, she landed instead on a combination of brown sugar, vegetable oil, water, and a cup of pureed dried apricots: The stickiness of the dried fruit, combined with some water for a little extra moisture, was just enough to create a distinctly chewy bar that could bend into a shallow arc. 

And the fruit’s light sweetness (combined with brown sugar) was just enough to balance the toasty, nutty ingredients without verging into dessert territory. 

How to Make Homemade Granola Bars

One of the best things about Andrea’s granola bar recipe? It comes together quickly from ingredients that you may already have stashed in the pantry. The basic method is as follows:

1. Toast nuts, oats, and seeds until lightly browned and fragrant.

2. Process dried apricots, sugar, salt, oil, and water in the food processor and transfer to a large bowl.

3. Add the warm oat mixture to the bowl and stir with a rubber spatula.

4. Add rice cereal and dried fruit.

5. Transfer to a foil-lined 13 by-9 inch baking pan.

6. Top the granola with a sheet of parchment and press the mixture very firmly until the granola is level and compact.

7. Remove parchment and bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around edges.

450+ Baking Recipes

The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book

Our popular all-in-one baking book is now in full color! The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book has it all—definitive recipes for all your favorite cookies, cakes, pies, tarts, breads, pizza, and more, along with kitchen-tested techniques that will transform your baking.

How to Store Homemade Granola Bars

If you store them properly, our homemade granola bars can keep for three weeks.

Our favorite method is to keep the granola bars in an airtight container at room temperature between sheets of parchment or waxed paper.

As your stock diminishes, transfer the bars to a smaller container to minimize their exposure to air, which can dry them out.

Ready to say goodbye to grocery store granola bars for good? Click below for Andrea’s three recipes.

Recipe

Chewy Granola Bars with Walnuts and Cranberries

We love the idea of chewy granola bars, but store-bought versions are overly sweet, contain mostly filler, and are soft, not chewy. We took matters into our own hands.
Get the Recipe
Recipe

Chewy Granola Bars with Hazelnuts, Cherries, and Cacao Nibs

We love the idea of chewy granola bars, but store-bought versions are overly sweet, contain mostly filler, and are soft, not chewy. We took matters into our own hands.
Get the Recipe
Recipe

Nut-Free Chewy Granola Bars

We love the idea of chewy granola bars, but store-bought versions are overly sweet, contain mostly filler, and are soft, not chewy. We took matters into our own hands.
Get the Recipe

0 Comments

This is a members' feature.