Healthy baked oatmeal bars are naturally-sweetened and maple flavored for a delicious and filling breakfast recipe. Easy to customize with fresh or dried fruit and nuts, these bars are great for snacks, too!
I'm no oatmeal connoisseur, but this is how I like to eat oatmeal in the mornings.
A bowl of plain oatmeal is fine, though sometimes I'm not feeling that mush texture so much. Breakfast bars that use oats (like coconut quinoa granola bars) are good too, though I prefer an extra-chewy and kind of crunchy bar like that for a snack instead of breakfast.
These healthy baked oatmeal bars are the perfect in-between. Soft and semi-chewy while holding their own in bar form, they're a wonderful meal-prep breakfast recipe that can stay at room temperature or in the fridge/freezer for whenever the craving strikes.
How to make baked oatmeal
At its simplest form, you'll mix up the dry ingredients, add the wet, and then give everything a stir then bake until the bars are set. Let them cool all the way before slicing them so they hold their shape better, then store in an air-tight container until ready to dig in.
The ingredients are fairly straight-forward, but do pay attention to the type of oats. We're using old-fashioned oats here, otherwise known as rolled oats. They soften beautifully in this healthy baked oatmeal mixture and result in a breakfast baked oatmeal bar that isn't too chewy, but doesn't fall apart, either. Since quick or instant oats have already been processed, they'll break down and likely become mushier than you'd want if you use them here, so they're not right for this recipe.
One tip in relation to the bananas: beat them well by themselves before adding to the recipe. Three very ripe bananas add a ton of moisture and some flavor and sweetness to this baked oatmeal. I love adding them to make baked goods healthier, however I'm not a fan of bigger banana chunks in whatever it is I'm making.
My solution? Add the very ripe bananas to a bowl by themselves and beat using a hand mixer until creamy and just about all smooth. You can see about finagling one of your mixing bowls to do this without creating something extra to wash, but I find this quick step worth adding to the dirty bowl count.
The bananas will blend in seamlessly when added to the recipe along with the rest of the wet ingredients.
What makes these bars healthy baked oatmeal?
Baked oatmeal doesn't necessarily sound indulgent, but I was a bit mystified happening upon baked oatmeal recipes that contain a stick (or more) of butter and a cup (or more) of sugar per batch.
If you've been reading around these parts for a while (in which I say thank you) you'll know that I don't diet, restrict food groups, or follow any eating plan other than a loosey goosey "everything in moderation, including moderation".
So while I would never say no to a breakfast because it has butter and sugar, I'd rather combine my oatmeal with butter and sugar in the form of true blue oatmeal cookies than a quasi healthy-sounding baked oatmeal breakfast situation.
Here though we're getting a fair amount of sweetness from super ripe bananas. Coupled with one-quarter cup of maple syrup, these healthy baked oatmeal bars are just sweet enough to satisfy for breakfast. These two ingredients also provide a ton of moisture, eliminating the need for any butter to be added to the recipe.
Maple is one of my favorite flavors in baked goods, but adding enough maple syrup to something in order to taste a bold maple flavor would likely be waaaay too much liquid (and sugar!) for my liking.
Enter maple extract! One teaspoon does the trick in providing warm maple flavoring without throwing off the balance of wet and dry ingredients. It's become one of my favorite ways to liven up baked oatmeal.
I haven't had trouble finding maple extract in my regular grocery stores, though it isn't the most popular extract out there so your experience may vary. This is my preferred variety which is available online (less than $4 and the bottle will last for awhile!). It has a pretty strong scent so be warned, but it mellows out in recipes.
How to store baked oatmeal
You've got a few options. These bars will stay for several days at room temperature in an air-tight container. I make sure the bars are cooled completely before closing the lid so all of the condensation is out of there. Excess moisture won't be their friend.
Otherwise I'll wrap them in foil and refrigerate, or wrap them and place in a sealable plastic bag in the freezer. Then on busy mornings I'll heat a bar in the microwave until slightly warmed and dig in. I haven't found freezing and reheating them to mess with the texture at all.
Recipe notes: healthy baked oatmeal bars
- See above on baked oatmeal storage tips.
- Go to town on the nut and dried fruit mix-ins! We love pecans and dried cherries, but almonds and dried cranberries or walnuts and dried apples or blueberries are also great. There's wiggle room on the quantities, too.
- Looking for other recipes for using your maple extract?
Healthy Baked Oatmeal Bars
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 large overripe bananas, mashed (about 14-15 ounces total)
- 1 cup milk, any variety
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon maple extract
- ½ cup pecans, chopped (or your preferred nuts)
- ¼ cup dried cherries, chopped (or your preferred dried fruit)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9" x 9" baking pan with parchment paper, with enough excess alongside opposite sides so that you can more easily pull out the bars to slice them when they're done. Spray the pan, including the bottom and sides with parchment, with cooking spray and set aside.
- Add old-fashioned oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt to a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
- Add bananas to a medium bowl and beat using a hand mixer until creamy and mostly smooth.
- Add mashed banana, milk, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla and maple extracts to the bowl with the oats. Beat together until combined evenly.
- Stir in nuts and dried fruit.
- Pour out mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the edges have browned and the center is set. Let cool in the pan before carefully removing and slicing.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer
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Great recipe! How many days can we store these bars and what is the ideal temperature to store them?
So glad you like them! In an air-tight container they'll stay either at room temperature or refrigerator (I usually stick them in the fridge). They'll stay for around 3 days, if not longer. You can also wrap in foil, stick in an air-tight container, and freeze them. They reheat well in the microwave on half-power or so until warmed.
Lori Ann says
How many grams is 1 serving of this recipe?? I want to add into my fitness pal. They are DELICIOUS btw...my entire apartment smells like cinnamon oats. ☺️
Hi Lori Ann, when cut into nine about-equally sized bars, I get around 115 grams per bar. So glad you like them! 🙂
How many would you have for breakfast please
Hi Jacqui, I find one bar (one-ninth of the batch) to be a filling breakfast. 🙂
Delicious! I make these over and over again. I change it up a little each time. Sometimes I add a little dark chocolate chips or a little cacao powder. I have them for breakfast or dessert. Also, freezing the squares works great.
I'm so glad you like them, Linda! 🙂
This has changed the way I eat breakfast and snacks and I like the versatility of the recipe. Thank you for this excellent recipe!
You're very welcome! So glad you like it.
I did Google the substitution. I used the flaxseed with water for one egg and for the other egg I used 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce. I have already made, baked and cooled them! It was delicious! Thank you so much!
So glad you found a way that works! Thanks for letting me know how it went.
This recipe sounds delicious! What is a good substitution for eggs? I would like a zero free cholesterol recipe because I'm trying to lower my cholesterol. Thank you!
Hi Dawn, I haven't tried egg substitutions in this recipe but I think they might work. Have you heard of making a flax 'egg'? It's when you combine ground flaxseed and water and let it sit to thicken and use in place of an egg in baking-type recipes. I haven't made them in awhile so I don't have a go-to ratio of the ingredients, but if you Google how to make a flax egg you should find exact recipes for it. There are also egg replacer products, but I haven't personally used them. I know there's one by the Bob's Red Mill brand that doesn't have any cholesterol. I hope that's helpful! 🙂
Can I sub honey for the maple syrup? Not fond of maple syrup And do not keep it on hand.
Hi Martha, that would work just fine!
Lorrie Davis says
Excellent and easy! I will be making this again. It's a small enough portion to be a good breakfast for me for a few days. Thanks for a good recipe and a reasonable sized dish!
I did use dried cranberries and pecans as that what I had handy. I'll make this again but with a different fruit / nut combo just to vary it up.
You're so welcome, Lorrie! Glad you like it. Cranberries and pecans sound like a delicious combo!
I have made these 5 times we like as a snack in stead of eating junk food i cook them on 1/2 steet pan they last me and my wife about a week I added 1/2 cup of organic flour i do not know if that’s necessary
So glad you like them, Frank! I haven't tried them with added flour, but it probably firms them up a bit more and makes them more of a sturdy snack bar.
Shannon CM says
I just made this recipe according to directions and chose 1C chopped walnuts as an add in. The house smells Amazing! I was a little tool eager and tried slicing while still warm. Things went Much better once fully cooled!
While happily munching I couldn’t help but think chopped apple would need to go in next time, and there will be a next time! Couldn’t help but notice the fruit options are all dried? Have you had any success with using a fresh chopped apple? Thank you for this recipe, it’s a Great Alternative to the butter laden recipes!
So glad you liked them, Shannon! Hmm I haven't tried fresh apple in this recipe but I don't see why it wouldn't work. The bake time should be more than enough time to soften diced fresh apple nicely. Please let me know if you give it a try!
Hi, any ideas what I could sub in for the bananas? My husband is allergic to them but I'd like to try making these, seems like an easy morning breakfast when we're in a hurry.
Hi there, would something like Greek yogurt and/or pumpkin puree work? Texture-wise they're not too different than mashed bananas. The only thing with the pumpkin puree is that it might need an extra bump of sweetness/spices. Applesauce is another option, though subbing all of the mashed banana for applesauce might make this baked oatmeal too dense and heavy. I'm thinking it could be used in combination with other ingredient(s) to make up the full 14-15 oz amount though. I hope that helps!
How much Greek yogurt is used to substitute each banana? Thanks!
Hi Alexandra, I'd say around 5 ounces of Greek yogurt would replace one banana.
Ashley B says
I wanted to double the recipe and didn't have enough bananas so I'm trying half banana half sweet potato! I much prefer using sweet potatoes than bananas, and they're usually pretty interchangeable. I had 2 medium baked sweet potatoes In the freezer so I thawed them out and blended with the bananas.
Can you use quick oats?
Hi Rebecca, I haven't used quick oats with this recipe but my concern would be that they'd break down quicker and lead to a mushier texture than you'd like.
This recipe for Oatmeal Bars is Outstanding!!!! Moist, sweet and full of goodness! Perfect for Breakfast and snacks! Thanks You
I'm so glad you like them, Judith! Thanks for letting me know how they went.
Jacqueline Foster says
Omg these are amazing! So filling. Thank you x
So glad you like them! 🙂
Hi there. I am making these now and i’m so excited! It smells delicious baking in the oven. I have one question though: How long do you put them in the microwave after taking them out of the freezer? Thanks!
Hi Hannah! I usually give an individual bar two rounds of 30-seconds on half-power, then see how the center is. Maybe another 15 seconds (also on half-power) will do the trick. I hope you enjoy. 🙂
Easy and delicious grab and go breakfast! Thank you!