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Have the kids take a break from their electronic and let their culinary expertise free with this fun and simple idea! This quick and easy Cereal Bar Recipe is great for kids and adults alike. And it’s a perfect recipe to make together with your little ones. Make them as simple peanut butter cereal bars or follow one of the many modification suggestions to make them uniquely yours.
Right after my daughter was born, homemade cereal bars were my saving grace. As a newly breastfeeding mom, I was hungry ALL.THE.TIME! And in between all the diaper changes, constant feedings, and general sleep deprivation, I could barely find the time to eat full meals; not to mention cook anything.
But cereal bars are quick and easy to make, and can easily be snacked on – even during feedings. Now that my baby is a preschooler, I can share my awesome healthy cereal bars with her. And she loves making them with me.
Yes, this is a really easy recipe not only suitable for kids but also fantastic to make with them.
How to Make a Cereal Bar
There are basically two parts to this healthy cereal bar recipe.
First, the cereal base: I use quick oats for heartiness and puffed rice cereal as lighter airy balance. Second, the ”˜glue’ that holds the cereal together: I use natural peanut butter and honey as a natural sweetener.
I simmer the honey together with coconut oil on the stovetop for at least a minute before adding in the peanut butter. This reduces the sweetener a little and makes it more sticky to hold together the rest of the ingredients. These two parts of the recipe get combined and then pressed into a lined baking pan. And because they are no-bake cereal bars, they only need to go in the freezer for a little bit to set up. Then they are ready to be cut into bars.
Substitution Ideas for these Homemade Cereal Bar
I used puffed rice cereal, but any kind of (airy) breakfast cereal of puffed grain should work just as well. Try puffed quinoa, millet, or even amaranth for an ancient grain twist.
I like to use natural peanut butter that is nothing but roasted peanuts and a little bit of sea salt. You can also substitute any other kind of nut butter like almond butter or cashew butter.
*If nut allergies are an issue, seed butter like SunButter can be substituted. In that case the bars can also be brought to otherwise nut-free schools or daycares.
My favorite natural sweetener to use in this oatmeal cereal bar recipe is honey. I find it gives the best consistency and flavor. But maple syrup and agave nectar are suitable vegan substitutions that also work well.
This cereal bar recipe can be as simple or fancy as you would like.
Without any add-ins, this a delicious and easy 5-ingredient peanut butter cereal bars recipe (I am not counting the sea salt and vanilla extract, which I consider pantry staples). But if you are feeling creative, you can add whatever your heart desires or what you have on hand.
Chocolate Chip Cereal Bars
My favorite and easiest flavor variation is throwing in dark chocolate chips. The recipe can hold about 1/4-1/3 cup added chocolate chips. I add the chocolate chips after combining the cereal with the peanut butter mix. And after letting the mix cool a little. Otherwise, the chocolate chips will melt and spread out all over.
For another healthier chocolate chip favorite, try out my recipe for Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies.
Superfood Cereal Bars
To make these healthy cereal bars even more awesome, I also like to load them with superfoods like dried cranberries, hemp hearts, and chia seeds. The latter two are also great to give the bars a healthy protein punch without any need for processed protein powders.
I don’t measure out the add-ins exactly and don’t make any adjustments to the base recipe. As long as I stay somewhere around 1/4 -1/2 cup of additional ingredients the peanut butter mix will still be able to hold everything together well.
Other dried fruit and seeds that I consider superfoods and also make great add-ins include:
- dried blueberries
- goji berries
- freeze-dried strawberries
- flax seeds
- shredded coconut
How to Store these Healthy Cereal Bars:
Because these are healthier bars made without any refined sugars or corn syrup, I recommend storing them refrigerated in an airtight container. This way they hold together best and should stay fresh for at least a week.
Peanut Butter Cereal Bar Recipe:
Servings: 20 bars
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Chill Time: 30 Minutes
- 3 cups quick oats
- 3 cups puffed rice cereal
- 3/4 cup liquid natural sweetener (honey, maple syrup, agave nectar)
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
optional add-ins: chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, seeds
- Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper or a reusable baking mat. Any overhang will make removal from the pan much easier.
- In a large bowl combine the quick oats and puffed rice cereal; along with any optional add-ins you might like (but add any chocolate chips later only).
- In a small saucepan melt the coconut oil and your liquid sweetener of choice on medium-low heat. Once bubbling, turn heat down to low and simmer for at least 1 minute.
- Then add in the peanut butter, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir to melt and combine.
- Pour the liquid mixture over the dry cereal and mix until all the cereal is well coated.
- Transfer to the prepared baking pan and press the cereal mixture down and into the corners very firmly. Use a measuring cup or glass with a flat bottom to help even things out.
- Freeze the bars for at least 30 minutes to set up. Then lift from the pan and cut into 20 even bars. Store refrigerated.
Note: You can also cut the recipe in half for a smaller batch. Use a 8×8 square pan in that case.
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