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A Nature Valley® Imitation Recipe: Smooth Bake Oat bars! These peanut butter flavored bars are thick, chewy, and peppered with peanut butter baking chips. These naturally gluten-free bars are made with ingredients that are best for you.
Try our other gluten-free treats: gluten-free pumpkin pie, healthy chocolate chip cookies, or blueberry oatmeal bars.
On a recent road trip, we took a box of Nature Valley Peanut Butter Baked Smooth Oatmeal squares as a quick snack in the car. The kids loved the bars and I enjoyed the smoothness of the bars compared to the usual crispy granola bars. However, if I'm honest, they lacked flavor and I wasn't a huge fan of the ingredient list, so the moment we got home, I started planning my own baked peanut butter oat bars.
While these ended up being very different from Nature Valley bars, they still have that classic soft, chewy oatmeal bar texture. They have a rich peanut flavor, they are smooth and sticky: they taste like a thick oatmeal melt and a peanut butter cookie. They also have a pretty impressive ingredient list – they're mostly naturally sweetened with peanut butter, honey, oatmeal, and oatmeal (mixed oats), to name a few. There's still a little bit of refined sugar, especially in the peanut butter baking chips, but those chips can be replaced with dark chocolate for an even healthier treat.
Oatmeal bar ingredients
- Peanut Butter: This is the main flavor in these bars, and provides structure and stability. The protein pack is extremely satiating, so you'll be amazed at how full oat bars are.
- Honey: Oat bars are mainly naturally sweetened with honey. Honey is rich in antioxidants and nutrients.
- Light brown sugar: I wanted these bars to be naturally sweetened, but they really needed a little more sweetness and were just too moist with all the honey. We use a little brown sugar in these bars, but it's only 1/4 cup.
- Egg: The egg provides stability to the dough and adds flavor and protein to these bars.
- Vanilla extract: Vanilla contributes to a pleasant subtle flavor.
- Baking soda: This prevents the bars from being too dense.
- Salt: Salt helps balance and intensify all flavors. If you use salted peanut butter, you will want to reduce the added salt on the bars.
- Old fashioned oatmeal: Oatmeal forms the base of these oatmeal bars and gives them a great structure, as well as that delicious chewing. However, be sure to use old-fashioned oatmeal. Quick oatmeal is overly processed and will cause the bars to become too dry, and steel-cut oatmeal will not soften enough.
- Oats flour: No need to buy special flour; Oatmeal can be made with quick or old fashioned oatmeal. Read more about this below.
- Peanut Butter Chips: These chips are definitely a delight, but they are a lot of fun in these bars. If you want the bars to be healthier, simply replace the peanut butter chips with chopped nuts or dark chocolate chips.
How to make oatmeal
If you have quick oatmeal or old-fashioned oatmeal, you can eat oatmeal in an instant!
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- Place the oatmeal (either old-fashioned or quick oatmeal) in the bowl of a food processor or small blender jar.
- Vegetables the oats are ground to a powder-like consistency that resembles flour.
- Stir the oats around to make sure all the oats are finely ground.
- Measure oatmeal after it has been converted into flour and not the original whole oatmeal form.
Oat Bar Tips
- Cover the pan with parchment paper and leave a protrusion to easily remove the stick. These bars adhere to the pan and are almost impossible to remove without the parchment paper.
- Let the bars cool down: While it is very tempting to eat one straight from the oven (and well, yes!), These bars crumble while hot. They thicken significantly as they cool. I don't recommend cutting them into bars until they are completely cold and ready.
- Don't bake too much: Remove the bars when they are lightly browned at the edges; the center still looks a little sticky, but as long as the bars don't budge, they're ready. Baking the bars excessively will give them an unpleasant taste and they will not be as soft and chewy. Again, these bars set up a lot as they cool down.
More easy snack recipes
- Yogurt bowl recipes (8 flavor variations)
- Do not bake energy bites with miniature chocolate chips
- Peanut butter granola with chocolate and coconut
- Fruit sauce with cinnamon sugar chips
- Unbaked granola bars with dried cherries and almonds
Oatmeal bars Preparation time 10 minutes Total time 30 minutes
An Imitation Nature Valley Recipe: Baked Oatmeal Bars! These peanut butter flavored bars are thick, chewy, and peppered with peanut butter baking chips. They are made with ingredients that are best for you and naturally gluten-free. (See note 1)
Course: Snack Cuisine: American Keyword: Oat bars Servings: 12 bars Calories: 205 kcal Ingredients
- 3/4 cup (168 g) creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup (160 g) of honey
- 1/4 cup (48 g) light brown sugar, lightly packaged
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (98 g) old fashioned oatmeal
- 1/2 cup (44 g) oatmeal (See note 2)
- 1 cup (170 g) peanut butter chips
- Optional: 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
HOMEWORK: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 8 × 8-inch skillet with parchment paper, leaving a ledge to facilitate removal of the bar, and set aside.
BARS: Combine all ingredients except peanut butter chips in large bowl. Beat with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the peanut butter chips and fold with a spatula to combine.
TO BAKE: Transfer the dough to the prepared skillet and smooth into an even layer. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. They may look a little weak or sticky in the center, but as long as they don't budge, they're ready. These bars continue to establish and firm as they cool.
CUT AND SERVE: Remove the bars from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan. Use the parchment paper ledge to pull out the bars and cut into 12 squares. Use a sharp knife to cut the bars.
OPTIONAL: (This is for peanut butter fans!) Once the bars are cut into squares, put 1/4 cup of peanut butter in a small zippered bag. Cut a small tip from the corner of the bag and place the peanut butter on top of the bars.
Note 1: While naturally gluten-free ingredients are used in this recipe, be sure to check your ingredients to make sure they haven't been made in a facility that contains gluten. If having a gluten-free bar is essential for your family, buy and use only products made in a safe (gluten-free) environment. This will be noted on product packages.
Note 2: To make oatmeal, grind the oats in a blender or food processor until the oats have the texture and size of normal flour. Be sure to measure the oatmeal then grinding oats.