/ / No-Bake Granola Bars: Easy Back to School Snack

No-Bake Granola Bars: Easy Back to School Snack

Treat your kids to an easy homemade snack after school. These no-bake granola bars with M&Ms, oatmeal and peanut butter are delicious and simple to make.

It’s back to school season! After a long day in the classroom, the kids get off the bus, ravenous and ready for an afternoon snack. These no-bake granola bars are an easy recipe using just 7 simple ingredients that you probably already have at home.

No-Bake Granola Bars, three granola bars made with oats, honey and peanut butter

Hey there, Idea Insiders! Are your kids back in school this week? My boys just started back on Tuesday. They’re in 4th grade and 1st grade this year. No matter how much food I pack in their lunches, it seems like they’re always starving when they come home in the afternoon, especially when they first start back to school.

All that brainpower and recess must be causing this overwhelming after school hunger. “Can I please have a snack?” is typically the first thing they say when they walk through the door. Not “Hi Mom!” or “How was your day?” or even “What’s for dinner?” They’re straight into snack mode, so I was thrilled when Meaghan from Cook. Craft. Love. shared this easy recipe for No-Bake Granola Bars with us this month.

Close up of four granola bars stacked on top of one another

a delicious and easy BACK TO SCHOOL SNACK

When Meaghan sent me the No-Bake Granola Bars recipe, she said: “I tinkered with these a bit to get them just right and man they did not disappoint.” They’re packed with protein and hearty oats to keep the kids full and satisfied until dinner time. Plus they’re no-bake so there’s no need to turn on the oven or heat up the kitchen when it’s still so hot outside this month.

Meaghan’s got loads of other great back to school snacks on her own blog too. If you like these No-Bake Granola Bars, you’ll love her recipes for Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Bars, Avocado Peanut Butter Smoothies and Healthy No Bake Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, just to name a few.

Granola bars on parchment paper. These treats are fresh out of the pan and sliced into ten separate granola bars as after school snacks for kids.

How to Make NO-BAKE GRANOLA BARS

These tasty No-Bake Granola Bars are packed with peanut butter and oats plus a little sweetness to satisfy after school cravings. Once your kids fuel up on these delicious bars, maybe (just maybe) they’ll be ready to tackle their homework before dinner? (We moms can dream, can’t we?)

Granola bars stacked on top of one another in short piles. These no bake treats are an easy after school snack.

What you need: 

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You’ll find a recipe card at the end of this post with the specific quantities for each ingredient and the instructions to make the No-Bake Granola Bars. First, though let’s cover the basics of what you need as well as some tips and tricks to make your bars turn out perfectly.

Kitchen Tools Needed: 

Ingredients Needed: 

Close up of oatmeal and peanut butter granola bars topped with colorful M&M candies

Tips for making and storing NO BAKE GRANOLA bars

As you prepare this after school snack, you may have a few questions.

DO I REALLY NEED TO BRING THE HONEY, BUTTER, AND SUGAR TO A BOIL?

YES! Meaghan warns, “Do not skip the boiling step!! In this step, you’re basically making a really simple caramel which will help hold your bars together without having to bake them.”

She also goes on to say, “Be careful when adding vanilla to your caramel mixture, the alcohol will cause it to pop and sizzle. I find that adding the peanut butter first and then the vanilla helps bring the temp down enough that it doesn’t react to the alcohol in the vanilla.”

How many oats do I use for no-bake granola bars?

The recipe calls for 2 1/2 to 3 cups of quick oats. So how do you know how much to actually use? Meaghan says, “I start with 2 1/2 cups of oats just to make sure my mixture isn’t too dry.

If you’re able to easily coat the oats and the mixture still looks pretty wet add the remaining oats and stir again to coat. You should have to put some elbow grease into mixing but you should be able to easily coat everything. If you can’t then you added too many oats.”

Four M&M granola bars stacked on top of one another with oat crumbs

What can I add to no-bake granola bars?

This No-Bake Granola Bars recipe is pretty simple. However, here are a few variations you might like to try:

  • Add mini chocolate chips. Meaghan says “If I had this to do over again I’d mix chocolate chips directly into the mixture after adding the oats. The M&Ms have a tendency to fall off when you’re biting into them and…why say no to more chocolate?”
  • Stir in rainbow sprinkles. Rainbows are so trendy right now and adding sprinkles will make the granola bars super colorful and fun.
  • Go nuts. Add finely chopped peanuts, almonds or walnuts.
  • Get fruity. Try mixing in dried raisins or dried cranberries.

WHAT IS A GOOD ALTERNATIVE TO PEANUT BUTTER?

Many kids these days have severe allergies to peanuts or tree nuts. If you’re facing this same challenge, you may be wondering what you can use as a substitute for peanut butter.

I searched Google for you and found a helpful list of 5 nut-free alternatives to peanut butter on Kitchn. Of those options, I would probably try sunflower seed butter first if I were you. They say that sunflower seed butter has the closest flavor and texture to peanut butter.

Close up of M&Ms on top of a no-bake granola bar

HOW do you STORE NO BAKE GRANOLA BARS?

Once they have cooled completely, you can slice them and put them in an airtight container.

DO no-bake granola bars NEED to be REFRIGERATED?

You do need to put the No-Bake Granola Bars in the refrigerator for at least three hours to set after you make them. However, keeping them in the refrigerator overnight is even better. Once they’re set, you can just slice them into bars and then store them in an airtight container on the counter, but they’ll last longer if you keep them in the fridge.

Granola bars fresh out of the pan sliced into ten individual after school snacks for kids.
Individually sliced granola bars stacked on top of one another in short piles, ready for kids to come home for an after school snack.
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No Bake Granola Bars: An Easy Back to School Snack

These easy no bake granola bars made with peanut butter, honey and M&Ms are a great homemade after school treat for kids.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Refrigerate3 hrs
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American, Dessert
Servings: 10 bars
Calories: 332kcal
Author: Meaghan Lamm

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 8 Tbs salted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups quick oats
  • 1/2 cup M&Ms

Instructions

  • In a saucepan combine honey, butter, and brown sugar. Melt butter and bring mixture to a rolling boil. Let it boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat and add peanut butter and then vanilla, stirring until the peanut butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  • Stir in the oats and mix until evenly coated.
  • Press the mixture into an 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper and press down gently, sprinkle the M&Ms over the top and then continue to press down until firm.
  • Refrigerate for at least 3 hours but overnight is better.
  • Store leftover bars in an airtight container in the fridge.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bar | Calories: 332kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 131mg | Potassium: 144mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 307IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg
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No Bake Granola Bars, delicious peanut butter granola bars topped with M&Ms

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