Cherry chocolate chip granola bars are LOADED with nutritious and filling ingredients making them an awesome, healthy snack recipe. These chewy granola bars feature almond butter, honey, quinoa, dried cherries, oats, and almonds for a deliciously jam-packed snack.
Well hello, 2019! I’ve eaten my collard greens on New Year’s Day (these southern Instant Pot collard greens) so I’m already feeling productive. Our Christmas cookie supply has dwindled, and while I would looove a re-up on buttery chocolate spritz cookies, I’m thinking it’s time for a cookie moratorium while something a little healthier takes the stage.
These cherry chocolate chip granola bars are just the snack bar recipe to make me forget about those cookie cravings. At least for now. 😉
There are SO many delicious mix-ins here that it truly made it tough coming up with what to name these. The base mixture is comprised of rolled oats, almonds, and quinoa. Quinoa! I know, kind of strange. You barely even notice it once it’s toasted and mixed in with the other ingredients, but it adds an extra bit of heartiness.
Along with our base, we have dried cherries and semi-sweet chocolate chips stirred in as excellent flavor complements. ‘Chocolate’ + ‘cherry’ is just about guaranteed to be a flavor combination I’ll like, and these cherry chocolate chip granola bars certainly don’t disappoint. Taking a bite with both flavors included has an indulgent taste for a breakfast or snack recipe. Who can resist that?
How to make chewy granola bars
It starts with the oats! Old-fashioned oats, also known as rolled oats, bring a satisfyingly chewy texture to these chocolate chip granola bars. They hold up very well once the warmed honey mixture is poured in, remaining just the right amount of ‘chewy’ for weeks.
I wouldn’t recommend using instant oats as I’d be afraid they’d break down a bit too much when hit with the liquid and you’d lose some of the texture that makes these bars so hearty.
Flavor variations for chocolate chip granola bars
While you can see this exact variation in the recipe card below, there’s wiggle room in the recipe for you to use up ingredients you have on hand to tweak the flavors to your tastes.
- Instead of dried cherries, you can use dried cranberries, dried blueberries, or raisins.
- Substitute in any other nut for the almonds.
- If you’re really into almond flavor (me!), you can use almond extract instead of the vanilla for a boost.
- Dark chocolate chips or chunks would be delish (instead of semi-sweet).
- Maple syrup works in place of honey for a 1:1 swap if you like.
- Add a few shakes of ground cinnamon if you like a warm, spiced flavor.
The only word of caution I have here is regarding the almond butter. I use almond butter frequently in my granola and chia bar recipes because it adds heft and nutrients to a bar while bringing a fairly neutral flavor. While peanut butter would work texture-wise for this recipe, I’m afraid the bold peanut flavor wouldn’t mesh as well with the other ingredients.
I haven’t tried it, but I bet other neutral nut butters, even SunButter, would work just fine.
How to store homemade granola bars
My go-to is to store homemade snack bars, either granola bars or any variety of reader-favorite date and chia bars, is in the refrigerator. Reason being is that I find they’re much better at holding their shape yet still chewable when chilled. This comes into play especially when you’re packing a bar in a backpack or purse where it can get jostled around.
But since the ingredients are all shelf-stable, it’s not like they have to be stored in the fridge. You can keep them at room temperature, they’ll just be a bit more malleable and not as held-together as store-bought varieties.
I’ve taken a bar out of the refrigerator before work, kept it in my purse all day, then enjoyed it as a mid-afternoon snack no problem. They’re pretty flexible.
Either fridge or no-fridge, I store these bars in a sealable plastic bag, with a layer of parchment paper between the layers if stacking. Usually I’ll use the sheet of parchment that lines the pan to cut down on waste.
Some recipe notes for cherry chocolate chip granola bars:
- These granola bars are VERY filling, and sometimes I find half of a bar is enough for a snack. If you’d prefer a smaller portion, simply slice the refrigerated bars into twenty-four squares and halve the estimated nutritional info in the recipe card below.
- When stored in a sealable plastic bag in the fridge, these bars should stay just fine for several weeks.
- See notes above for different flavor variations and more storing tips!
Cherry Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
- 1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup almonds roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup dry quinoa (uncooked)
- 3/4 cup crispy rice cereal
- 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
- 1/3 cup almond butter
- 1/4 cup neutral-tasting oil, such as vegetable, canola, corn, etc.
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange oats, almonds, and dry quinoa on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Toast for 8-10 minutes, or until golden and lightly fragrant, removing the pan from the oven halfway through to shake everything up. Keep a close eye as it can go from golden to burnt quickly.
- Once toasted, transfer oats/almonds/quinoa to a large mixing bowl immediately to cool down. Add crispy rice cereal to the bowl and stir everything up to combine evenly.
- Line an 8"x8" pan with parchment paper and set aside, leaving the parchment long enough on two opposite sides so you'll be able to easily lift it out of the pan later on.
- Add honey, almond butter, oil, brown sugar, and salt to a small saucepan set over medium heat. Stir to combine, then cook for a few minutes until heated throughout and the very edges of the pan are becoming bubbly.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the honey/almond butter mixture into the bowl with the oats/nuts/quinoa/cereal and stir. Add the dried cherries and the chocolate chips and stir until everything is coated evenly.
- Press mixture into the parchment-lined 8"x8" pan well, arranging in a dense single layer. Pay close attention to the edges, pressing firmly to help ensure they don't crumble off later on when the bars are sliced.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour, or until the bars have firmed up very well. Slice into 12 bars, storing them in the refrigerator to help them hold their shape well.