Full of whole grains and natural sweetness, these homemade chewy Popcorn Granola Bars will quickly become your family's favorite snack!
Brett and I are snackers and we have definitely passed that down to Harper. Well, I actually think that toddlers in general need to eat smaller portions all throughout the day to keep the meltdowns at bay (at least that's the case for our Harper girl). It's a rare occasion for us to not have a homemade snack in the house. You all know about our energy bite obsession, but I wanted to branch out recently and these homemade granola bars were the wonderful result of some late-night inspiration. They have the most amazing chewy texture which is speckled with more chewy dried fruit and crunchy chopped nuts. Popcorn, however, is the star of the show as it adds some unique flavor and texture. For these bars I used air popped popcorn to keep them light and healthy. These popcorn granola bars can easily be adapted to use whatever dried fruit, nuts and nut butter you have on hand and I'd love to hear what combinations you all come up with! Also, in case you don't have a hot air popcorn machine, don't worry! Neither do I. I'll share how I'm still able to pop my popcorn at home without one below.
How to make popcorn in the microwave
My favorite way to make the air-popped popcorn for this recipe is to use a paper bag, popcorn and a microwave. Simply put about 3-4 tablespoons of un-popped popcorn into a paper bag, close the top of the bag by folding it over 1 to 2 times, and microwave the bag on high. After about a minute or two the popping of the popcorn will become less frequent and you'll know the popcorn is done when you can count 3 seconds between pops. As soon as you can get to three seconds between pops, stop the microwave. You don't want to over-microwave the popcorn or else it will burn. And that's it! You now have easy and healthy air-popped popcorn!
Popcorn granola bar ingredients
I love making homemade granola bars because you can get so creative with the ingredients you use. Our favorite granola bar recipe is still my Adaptable 5 Ingredient Granola Bar recipe (which we often roll into balls) and for those I use quick oats, ground flax seed, a mix-in, nut butter and a thick, liquid sweetener. These popcorn granola bars contain a lot of the same ingredients, but with a few variations. These bars start with a base of air-popped popcorn, rolled oats, dried fruit and chopped nuts. Then a sticky mixture consisting of peanut butter, rice syrup, coconut oil, cinnamon and sea salt is poured overtop to form a chewy, sticky batter. As I mention in the notes of this recipe, you can substitute the peanut butter for another kind of nut or seed butter and you can also vary the dried fruit and chopped nuts that you use. Honey is also a great sweetener for this recipe if you aren't vegan. Get creative and let me know what combinations you come up with!
Healthy school snacks
In addition to these homemade popcorn granola bars, in the video below I'll also be sharing two other super simple and healthy school snack ideas. Like I mentioned in the video, use whatever nut or seed butter you want for these recipes, especially if you have a peanut allergy or can't take peanuts to school. I just often use my homemade peanut butter for snacks like these because it's cheap and delicious! The two other snack ideas are some banana cereal pops and homemade trail mix!
Homemade chewy popcorn granola bars photos
Okay! Enough chit chat. Scroll down to find the recipe for these homemade chewy popcorn granola bars. Let me know if you make them and what you and/or your kiddos think. Also let me know if you try out any of the other snacks I share in the video. If you like the recipe, be sure to give it a five star rating and share it with your friends!
- 3 cups air popped popcorn, crushed
- 1 ½ cups rolled oats
- ½ cup almonds, chopped
- ½ cup craisins*
- ½ cup rice syrup (or honey if not vegan)
- ½ cup peanut butter**
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, crush the popcorn with your hands until there are no large pieces remaining. Stir in the rolled oats, chopped almonds and dried fruit.
- In a sauce pan, combine the remaining ingredients and heat the mixture over low heat for about a minute, stirring constantly until smooth and combined.
- Pour the peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir everything well until all the dry ingredients have been coated in the sticky peanut butter mixture.
- Pour the mixture into your lined baking pan and, using damp hands, press the mixture down until level and compact. You can use the base of a cup to press everything down even more tightly.
- Place the pan in the fridge to set for 1 hour. Once chilled, remove the mixture from the pan and cut it into whatever size bars you desire. I love making 9 large squares.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a week or longer!
*You can use whatever dried fruit you desire. Just make sure it's cut into small pieces.
**If you have a peanut allergy or want your kids to take these to school, feel free to use a different nut/seed butter!
Nutrition InformationYield 9 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 226Total Fat 14gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 0mgSodium 167mgCarbohydrates 24gNet Carbohydrates 0gFiber 3gSugar 12gSugar Alcohols 0gProtein 5g
Nutrition information is a rough estimate provided by Nutrionix and should be used for informational purposes only.