Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
We love oats for numerous reasons, some of which are affordability, versatility, and of course the simplicity of using rolled oats as a standard base for any type of oat bar or snack to satisfy all your cravings.
I’d like to present a very easy to assemble and “basic” version of a recipe that is endlessly changeable. Use this as a starting point, and then make slight tweaks each time you make it til you find the perfect combination for your tastes and goals.
Make sure to heat or soak oats thoroughly: While horses and cattle can handle raw oats, we humans cannot. Our stomachs are not set up to break down the fiber and nutrients until some of the work has been done for us. This can easily be done by “toasting” oats in a dry warm sauté pan for a few minutes, or on a flat baking sheet in the oven until you get a slight golden brown color, and some of the oils begin to release, add some coconut oil to even out the heat. To soak, find the right blend of flavors that work for you, some great ideas are ripe smashed bananas, peanut butter, honey, maple syrup and of course your favorite milk.
- This High-Protein Baked Oatmeal is Your New Go-To Breakfast
- Oats: The Unsung Hero of an Athlete’s Diet
No-Bake Oat Bar Recipe
For safety and storage reasons I recommend keeping the base vegan. There are some great recipes out there for oat bars that add butter, tons of sugar, eggs, and milk, but (similar to scrambled eggs or a cup of milk) you will only want to eat these for a day or two after being made. For a bar that stays fresh and edible longer, work with all vegan “shelf-stable” ingredients, sold on dry shelves in your grocery: dry fruit and nuts, honey, nut butters, etc.
- 3 cups rolled oats (not steel cut, not instant)
- Lightly toast and set aside
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 2 cups pitted medjool dates chopped coarsely
- 1 cup crunchy nut butter
- 1 cup chopped pecans (or any nuts you like)
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon (or any spice you like)
- 1 tsp. coarse salt
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
- Line a 9- x 9-inch or similar-sized cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium. Toast 3 cups rolled oats in the dry pan until warm and slightly golden. Add in coconut oil, turn the heat off and continue to mix thoroughly together.
- Pulse together all the “wet” ingredients in a food processor until you get a uniform, slightly chunky mixture. Blend more if you like smaller pieces in your bars, or less if you like big chunks, then warm in microwave for 30 seconds.
- In a mixing bowl, with a spoon blend together the toasted oats with the wet ingredient mixture. Once you have a nice even mix, give a taste and see what you’d like to add.
- Optional ingredients at this stage: chocolate chips, coarse salt, any spices you like.
- Scoop mixture into cake pan with parchment paper, level it out, smooth the top with a spoon or rubber spatula while pressing down gently. Set covered in fridge for an hour. This gives the mixture time to settle in and form.
- Flip cake pan onto cutting board, and cut into the size and shape you like, and enjoy!
For best results, blend all together while the oats are warm from being toasted. If the “wet mix” is too hard to work, put into microwave on high for 30 seconds, just to soften up. Cut then wrap tight into individual bars to keep fresh longer. And finally, always experiment and try new things each time you make these!