Healthy Cereal Bars! This cereal bar recipe is made with a combination of cereals, dried fruit and seeds, nut butter and honey. These chewy bars are naturally sweetened, high in fiber, and FULL of flavor. Keep these on hand for a quick on-the-go breakfast, or enjoy as a snack or healthy dessert. 

cereal bars laid out on a white piece of paper

Cereal bar ingredients: 

Cereal: to add a variety of textures and flavors, I like to use a combination of cereal for these bars. Feel free to use as many or as few kinds as you’d like. If all you have is Cheerios, just use those! Got a mix of random cereals? Add ‘em! Keep the flavors simple, avoid any sugary cereals and instead use basic corn, rice and wheat cereal varieties.

Seeds: for healthy fat and fiber, add a combination of pepitas and flax seeds. You can add or substitute whatever nuts and seeds you have on hand. Chia seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are all great options. As are almonds, peanuts, pecans, pistachos, and cashews.

Nut butter: I prefer creamy natural almond butter for these bars, but you can also use natural peanut butter. For added crunch, use crunchy nut butter instead of creamy. And if you need these to be nut-free, use sunflower seed butter or tahini

Honey: to naturally sweeten these bars, use high-quality (local, if possible) honey. Don’t be tempted to substitute with maple syrup—it’s not thick enough to hold the bars together. 

Flavorings: with a combination of flavors from the cereals, nuts, seeds and dried cranberries, it’s best to keep the added flavorings to a minimum. Cinnamon, vanilla and some flaky sea salt do the trick. 

cereal bars and wood-handled knife arranges on white parchment paper

How to make cereal bars

The process for making these cereal bars is somewhat similar to making homemade granola bars or rice krispies (minus the copious amounts of marshmallows).  

Step 1: Combine the cereals, seeds, and dried cranberries in a large bowl.

grid of two images showing how to mix cereals

Step 2: Combine the nut butter, honey, cinnamon and salt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. 

Remove the nut butter mixture from heat and stir in the vanilla. 

grid of four images showing how to mix almond butter, honey, cinnamon, and salt

Step 3: Pour the nut butter mixture over the cereal mixture and gently mix until combined. 

grid of images showing how to mix cereal and nut butter mixture until combined

Step 4: Transfer the cereal mixture to the prepared pan and press firmly into an even layer. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt.

step by step grid of images showing how to press the cereal mixture into a parchment-lined cake pan.

Step 5: Chill at least 1 hour, then cut into bars. 

cereal bars on white parchment with a wood-handled knife

Cereal options:

  • Rice Chex
  • Wheat Chex
  • Corn Chex
  • Crispix
  • Kix
  • Cheerios
  • Rice Krispies
  • Corn Flakes
  • plain Special K
  • Bran Flakes

Variations: 

  • Use raisins, dried cherries, or diced dried apricots instead of dried cranberries. 
  • Add unsweetened shredded coconut. 
  • Play around with the spices, swapping out the cinnamon for some ginger, nutmeg, and/or cardamom. 
  • Increase the protein content by adding a scoop or two of your favorite protein powder to the nut butter mixture. 
  • Increase the fiber content by substituting some of the honey with soaked and puréed dates.
  • Swap the pumpkin seeds for chopped almonds, pecans, pistachios, or cashews.
  • Drizzle with dark chocolate or add chocolate chips for a more decadent treat.
close up cereal bars laid out on a white piece of paper

If you give this Healthy Cereal Bar recipe a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @zestfulkitchen on Instagram. I love hearing about and seeing your ZK creations!

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cereal bars and wood-handled knife arranges on white parchment paper

Healthy Chewy Cereal Bars

  • Author: Lauren Grant
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes + 1 hour chilling time
  • Total Time: 10 minutes + 1 hour chilling time
  • Yield: 10 bars 1x
  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Chewy, crunchy, and nutty, these homemade cereal bars are full of flavor and texture. Naturally sweetened and full of fiber, these make great breakfast bars, quick snacks, or even a healthy dessert. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 cups plain dry cereal (unflavored such as corn, rice or wheat chex, cheerios, kix, etc.)
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup raw pepitas
  • 3 tablespoons flax seeds, optional 
  • ⅔ cup creamy natural nut or seed butter, such as almond butter**
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • Flaky sea salt, optional 

Instructions

Line a 9-inch square cake pan with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two opposite sides.

In a large bowl, combine cereal, cranberries, pepitas and flax seeds. 

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine nut butter, honey, cinnamon and kosher salt; cook just until completely smooth (do not bring to a simmer), 1–2 minutes. Off heat, stir in vanilla. Pour nut butter mixture over cereal and gently, but thoroughly, mix until cereal is completely coated.

Transfer cereal mixture to prepared pan and press  firmly into an even layer using flat bottom of a measuring cup, bowl or glass. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if using. Cover and chill at least one hour, or preferably 4 hours. 

Lift bar out of pan using parchment overhang. Slice into 10 even cereal bars.

Store cereal bars between layers of parchment or waxed paper in an airtight container (or individually wrapped in plastic wrap) in the refrigerator.

Bars will last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.



Notes

VARIATIONS: feel free to swap the pepitas and cranberries for any combination of nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts), seeds (flax seeds, sunflower seeds), dried fruit (raisins, cherries), and/or shredded coconut. If you choose to add nuts, make sure they are chopped. 

NUT/SEED BUTTER: use natural creamy almond butter, peanut butter, tahini, or sunflower butter.

GLUTEN-FREE: use certified gluten-free cereals.

NUT-FREE: swap the nut butter for tahini or sunflower seed butter.

VEGAN: use soaked and puréed dates instead of honey.

CEREAL: any combination of Cheerios, rice and/or corn Chex, whole-wheat Chex, Kix, bran flakes, etc. 

Keywords: cereal bar, cereal bar recipe, how to make cereal bars, granola bar, breakfast bar

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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