Granola Bars – Sugar and/or Fruit-Free!

These granola bars are chewy, sweet, and travel well for work, hikes, and school lunches! They are potato free, sugar free, egg and soy free, and can easily be made fruit-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free as well. 


2 ½ cups rolled oats (gluten free if needed)

½ cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped

⅓ cup local honey*

¼ cup unsalted butter*

¼ cup coconut or maple sugar (or brown sugar)*

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ – ½ teaspoon sea salt*

½ cup dried fruit (or fruit-alternative), coarsely chopped

¼ cup chocolate chips* (or additional fruit)


*See notes on asterisked ingredients below



  1. Heat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8” or 9×9” square pan with aluminum foil. 
  2. Spread oats and chopped almonds on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Stir to promote even cooking, and bake for another 3-5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Combine butter, honey, and coconut or maple sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until butter melts & sugar completely dissolves. It’s okay if it bubbles up a bit, this will just make the caramel thicker! Once sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and add salt and vanilla.
  4. Pour butter mixture over the toasted oats & almonds and mix well. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then add the fruit and/or chocolate, stirring to combine. (If chocolate melts a bit it will just add to the glue.)
  5. Transfer mixture to the prepared square pan and press down firmly. *I use wetted fingertips to prevent sticking. Take your time here and make several passes. The more densely it is compacted the better they’ll stay together when cut.
  6. Place in freezer for 10-20 minutes to help it set. Then lift the granola from the square pan and peel aluminum foil away.
  7. Cut into 10-12 bars and store in an airtight container at room temperature or in fridge.



Intolerance Facts, Substitutions, & Ingredient Notes

This time I used mostly raisins, and in place of chocolate chips a mix of unsweetened dried cherries & apple juice sweetened cranberries.


Local Honey – In order to be fruit-free it’s best to go with a small-batch local honey. Some large producers introduce citrus strips to hives when mites become a pest for the bees. To be fruit-free the honey should not be a fruit-blossom honey (e.g. apple blossom, or orange blossom). Buckwheat and clover honey are good fruit-free choices! Do not use large batch imported honey from China, these are often adulterated with sugar-water. 


Unsalted Butter – 

Unsalted is important both for flavor profile, and in order to be potato-free

For a dairy-free version, substitute with coconut oil. 


Sugars – 

To make fruit-free use maple sugar or brown sugar. 

To avoid a “fruit & sugar” combination use coconut sugar or maple sugar. Coconut sugar is fruit. Maple sugar is neutral (neither fruit nor sugar). 


Sea Salt Mined salts are different from sea salts. If you need to be potato-free (or avoid a potato & grain combination) you want real sea salt. In my home baking I use “Sel Gris” fine stone ground French sea salt from Salt Works – a company based in Washington State. 


Fruit-Substitutes – For a fruit-free granola bar the fruit can be omitted entirely, or you can use a fruit alternative. “Golden berries” are my go-to fruit substitute. Dried they look like yellow or orange raisins, have a texture like dried figs, and taste like mango or pineapple. They can be found dried at many health food stores. They are also known as “ground cherries” and “cape gooseberries.” And I repeat, these are not fruit! They’re like a small, sweet tomatillo (the main ingredient in green salsa). *You can also grow these delights in your garden!


Another fruit substitute could be candied rhubarb. Additionally, cinnamon could be added to the caramel, and additional nuts or seeds to the bar itself. 


Chocolate Chips – 

For a fruit-free granola bar use your favorite chocolate chips – minis are best. 

For a dairy-free bar, make sure the chips are vegan. 

For a sugar-free bar either omit chocolate chips (that’s what I usually do) or use chips sweetened with coconut sugar! They’re expensive, but if you love chocolate, they might be worth it!