Breakfast bars come in all shapes and sizes. From crunchy to chewy, soft, fruity, or nutty – we love all variations of this convenient and tasty snack. But beware: not all oat bars are vegan and not all vegan oat bars are healthy.
To show you that it’s actually really easy to create oatmeal bars that are both healthy and vegan, we want to share this family and fan-favorite with you here.
Because nothing calls our name more than a cheap, convenient and wholesome twist on a comfort food recipe!
That’s why our baked vegan oat bars don’t just contain rolled oats, but also natural sweeteners in the form of fruit, some plant-based omega-3 sources and are entirely oil-free!
To see how versatile our healthy oat bars are, what you need for them, whether they are good for you and lots of tips around making the best oat bars, keep on reading.
Are Oat Bars Healthy?
Well, this depends highly on the ingredients used for the oat bars. In our case, we make sure all of the components in our recipes are as healthy as it gets while still being delicious, easy to make and budget-friendly.
Many commercial brands at the store have a lot of added sugar and fat in their oat bars – even if you’re looking for popular oatmeal bar recipes on the internet, they can call for butter or coconut oil, sugar, syrup and eggs… none of which would fit our definition of “healthy”.
On the other hand, if you focus on whole food and plant-based ingredients, such as rolled oats (of course!), banana or dates for sweetness and nuts or seeds for protein and healthy fats, you’ve got yourself a pretty darn healthy and nourishing snack!
What Are the Healthiest Breakfast Bars?
We get that question a lot, and our response is always that the more whole food-based a breakfast bar is, the better. It always depends on someone’s current diet and what adjustments they are open to make!
Keeping your oat bars vegan already eliminates the potential butter, eggs and honey. If you then swap the coconut oil for nut butter or fruit puree (both are easy oil-free baking swaps), that’s another step – and keeping the vegan oatmeal bars free from added sugar would be best, too.
That being said, our easy whole food plant-based recipe for breakfast bars below ticks all of these boxes and is a great healthy snack! It’s one of our most popular recipes on the blog, and if you think we might be biased because it’s our own creation, check out what so many of our readers have shared in the comments below.
In general, it’s important to have an overall healthy eating pattern, and adding some richer treats and snacks will probably be no problem! Check our following in-depth article for more.
Why Our Vegan Oat Bars Are so Healthy
It’s our passion to share healthy everyday recipes that you can enjoy on a daily basis because they aren’t just tasty, but also actually good for you! Here’s what makes our gluten-free vegan oat bars secretly healthy.
- Whole food plant-based ingredients
- Complex carbohydrates for stable energy
- Fiber-rich and satiating
- Nutritious and low in saturated fat
- Contain essential omega-3 fatty acids
- Gluten-free for those who are intolerant
- Free of added sugars and sweetened with fruit
- Great fuel for your brain & body
Most of these components work in a way that your body is not just optimally nourished when you enjoy this delicious snack but it can actually prevent you from craving unhealthy food! We covered that in greater detail in the following article.
How to Make Vegan Oatmeal Bars
As fancy as they might look on photos, making oat bars is actually really easy. You need:
- Five basic ingredients (plus some baking powder)
- Two mixing bowls for the dry and wet ingredients
- One spoon
- One 8×8 baking dish (non-stick or lined with parchment paper)
It’s a really good recipe for beginners because it’s almost impossible to mess up (unless you manage to burn them, which may or may not have happened in our own kitchen a couple of times due to multitasking experiments).
Even if you don’t end up with the perfect texture and they end up all crumbly, just put the pieces into a bowl, add some fresh fruit and plant-based milk and you got yourself a delicious breakfast!
Speaking of consistency, our vegan oat bars are definitely on the chewy and moist side as opposed to being really crunchy. If that’s not your scene, you can add a whole bunch of nuts for a crunchy texture – which can actually be a great variation on this nutritious favorite!
Our healthy oatmeal bar recipe makes for a simple base which you can use to completely modify to your needs (more on that later). Let’s see what you need to make them!
Ingredients for Our Gluten-Free Oat Bars
- Rolled oats – obviously. They can double up as oat flour if you process them in a blender!
- Bananas – nice and ripe for more sweetness; mash them to create a creamy consistency that replaces oil and eggs in baking!
- Soy milk – more nutrients, more plant-based protein, more creaminess!
- Cinnamon – cheap, healthy, cozy and versatile spice that we put in almost all sweet recipes!
- Maple syrup – just a spritz, can be adjusted to taste and swapped for a different vegan sweetener
If this seems a bit too basic for you, we totally get that. As we said, this creates a healthy and versatile base for all the delicious, colorful, crunchy or chewy add-ons you want to go for!
In our recipe below (and seen in our pictures) are our personal favorite toppings: coconut flakes, chia seeds, walnuts and dates.
We have lots more great ideas for tasty breakfast bar ingredient ideas which you’ll find below!
In case you want to swap the maple syrup for honey, you won’t end up with fully vegan oat bars – should you be interested in learning more about honey and why vegans avoid it, here’s a great article by The Vegan Society.
Tips for the Best Healthy Oat Bars
In our recipe below, we instruct you to add the toppings, well, on top of the oat bars. This makes them look pretty but can cause the coconut flakes and chia seeds in particular to fall off.
That’s why you can just mix them right into the batter instead! And please, do get creative with the add-ins.
To ensure the oat bars are 100% gluten-free, you need to make sure your oats are labeled as such and are not contaminated with glutinous grains.
If you don’t mind gluten (keep in mind, for the majority of people glutinous whole grains are very health-supporting) and don’t have oat flour on hand or don’t have a blender to create it, simply swap it for another grain flour. You might end up with a slightly different consistency but they are still amazing!
How to Store Oatmeal Bars
What I love about these vegan oat bars is that they are perfect for meal prep! You can make a batch of them and then store covered on the counter for 3-4 days at room temperature or in a food container in the fridge for up to a week.
You can also freeze them, wrapped individually and stored in a freezer bag or food container. They will keep for at least 2 months and are an easy grab and go food! Allow them to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to defrost before eating (or a bit less if you’re up for a very cold oat bar).
Overall, this makes them a healthy and convenient snack option, perfect for school or work as a gluten-free lunch box addition or as a quick breakfast option.
If you’re also into meal prepping, check out our full 1-week meal plan below, which features these vegan oat bars!
Low-Calorie Snack Bar Tips
To make our oat bars even lower in calories and weight-loss friendlier, you can swap the oat flour for instant oats (making the oat bars a bit more wholesome) and play around with the add-ons.
Lowering the overall calorie density is the best approach to healthy weight management, so the whole food plant-based ingredients in our easy oat bar recipe already fill that bill.
But there’s always some room for improvement!
Instead of the higher-fat add-ons, you could use some dried apple or frozen berries, which you can mix right in with the batter. They both offer fewer calories, a good amount of fiber, essential nutrients and some natural sweetness – meaning you can also omit the maple syrup.
Depending on your usual snack choices, our vegan oat bars as written below are probably already comparably low in calories and more nourishing, too!
If you want to go out and buy low-calorie snack bars, make sure to check the label for added oils and sugars (both of which will be super common). Choose those that are made with as many whole food ingredients as possible!
Delicious Vegan Oat Bar Variations
We never get tired of making oatmeal bars simply because we can create so many different versions of them! Here are some great add-ons and add-ins you can try.
- Peanut butter or almond butter
- Raspberries or blueberries
- Chocolate chips
- Dried fruit like raisins, cranberries, apple or banana chips
- Pistachios, almonds, peanuts
- Sunflower, hemp, pumpkin or sesame seeds
- Spices like vanilla, gingerbread, anise, cloves or cardamom
To see how other bloggers like to make vegan oat bars, check out these no-bake granola bars (cherry chocolate chip or coconut apricot sound fantastic!), these peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal bars (which are also gluten-free) or these raspberry oatmeal bars that are made with coconut sugar and applesauce.
More Healthy Vegan Baking Recipes
Our blog has a great collection of whole food plant-based goodness! Here are our top healthy and easy baking recipes that you might want to check out.
All of these snacks, desserts or breakfasts (it just totally depends on when you want to eat them!) help you create a healthy eating pattern. They are nourishing, easy to make and a great replacement for store-bought baked goods which usually aren’t as wholesome.
Now, let’s make your kitchen smell amazing and move on to our healthy vegan oat bar recipe. We hope our tips were helpful and inspired you to create different tasty versions!
How do you like our oat bars and what are your go-to quick plant-based snacks? Feel free to comment below and rate our recipe! You can also Pin the recipe for later or tag us on Instagram if you made them – we’d love to see your creations!
- 1 cup rolled oats (90 g)
- 1 cup oat flour (120 g)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 ripe bananas, chopped or mashed
- ½ cup soy milk
- 1-2 tbsp maple syrup
- ⅓ cup walnuts, chopped (40 g)
- 5 dates, chopped
- ¼ cup coconut flakes (20 g)
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C). Prepare your non-stick baking dish (around 8x8) or line it with a piece of parchment paper so the bars are easier to lift out.
- If you quickly want to make your own oat flour, put 1 ⅓ cups (or 120 g) rolled oats in your blender or food processor and blend or pulse them.
- In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients: your oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix with a spoon.
- In a different bowl, add the mashed banana, soy milk and maple syrup. Mix thoroughly with a fork.
- Now, pour the wet ingredients on top of the dry flour mixture and combine well. You can add any nuts, seeds, dried fruit or add-ins of choice here if you like.
- Put your mixture onto the parchment or baking dish, spreading it evenly. The bars should be 1-1.5 inches (3-4 cm) thick.
- Finally, sprinkle the toppings of your choice onto the oat mixture, press them down gently, then bake for around 18-20 mins until firm and lightly golden. The baking time depends on how thinly you spread your batter and how soft or crunchy you want them to be.
- Once the oat mixture has turned golden, remove from oven. Place the baking dish on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then slice your oat batter into bars. Enjoy warm or store in a container and eat over the next few days!
- You can store the oat bars in an airtight container for 3-4 days on the countertop or up to one week in the fridge. To freeze them, wrap each oat bar individually into parchment paper and place in a container where they will keep well for at least 3 months in the freezer.
- If you don't want to use soy milk, simply replace it with any other vegan milk alternative.
- For a smoother texture, use only oat flour (1.75 cups or 210 g) and no rolled oats.
- You can swap the ripe banana for applesauce if you want.
- Feel free to either omit the maple syrup or swap it for another vegan sweetener, such as brown sugar or date syrup.
- If you need the oat bars to be 100% gluten-free due to intolerances, make sure to go for certified gluten-free oats.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 piece
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 139Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 102mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 4g