Out of all the recipes published on my website, I make these peanut butter banana oatmeal bars most often. A one bowl recipe, these healthy snack bars are naturally gluten free, adaptable to many different ingredients, soft-baked, incredibly flavorful, and very easy to make. When filled with chocolate chips, you can count them as dessert too!
Truly one of my favorite homemade snacks, these peanut butter banana oatmeal bars have made their rounds in my kitchen for nearly 10 years. Sometimes I change the recipe based on the ingredients I have and they still manage to turn out wonderfully! Satisfying your sweet tooth and unbelievably easy to make, these healthy oatmeal bars should definitely be on your to-bake list. I can’t get enough.
These Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Bars Are:
- super easy and quick
- mega flavorful and wholesome
- gluten free
- vegan if using dairy-free chocolate
- filled with healthful ingredients*
- soft-baked and moist
- adaptable to what you have on hand
*Ok ok I know chocolate chips aren’t necessarily healthy but they’re good for the soul! And, of course, they’re totally optional so feel free to leave them out.
Ingredients in Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Bars
Over the years I’ve tested a lot of ingredient substitutions for these oatmeal bars. Read about the ingredients and any substitutions below:
- Bananas: You need 2 large ripe bananas, which is around 1 cup mashed. Want to turn these into pumpkin peanut butter bars? Swap canned pumpkin puree for the mashed banana.
- Peanut Butter: I used to make these peanut butter oatmeal bars with 1/3 cup of peanut butter, but recently switched it to 1/2 cup for more flavor. You can use any nut butter you want, natural, homemade, or processed.
- Coconut Sugar or Brown Sugar: I love making these with unrefined coconut sugar. You can use brown sugar instead, but I don’t recommend liquid sweetener.
- Applesauce: I used to make these with an egg, but found that unsweetened applesauce works like a charm instead of the egg. You can, of course, use an egg or even a “flax egg” substitute. See my recipe notes below.
- Almond Milk or Regular Milk: I usually make these with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, but any milk works.
- Vanilla Extract & Cinnamon: Both add flavor.
- Oats: Whole oats or quick oats work here. I recommend whole oats for a little more texture. Use certified gluten free oats if necessary.
- Baking Powder: Baking powder adds lift.
- Salt: Salt balances the other flavors.
- Chocolate Chips: If you want to make these bars vegan, you can skip the chocolate or use dairy-free chocolate chips instead. You can also skip the chocolate chips or replace with peanut butter chips, chopped nuts, or raisins.
Easy Way to Mash Bananas
This trick for mashing bananas is a total game changer whenever I make banana muffins, breakfast cookies, and banana bread. Just use your mixer! Peel and break your spotty bananas into chunks, place in your mixer, and beat until mashed. Beat the rest of the wet ingredients right into this bowl. So easy.
Mixing Bowl to Oven in 10 Minutes
After you mash the bananas, beat in the rest of the ingredients. This is a 1 bowl recipe! If you don’t have a mixer, you can mash the bananas with a fork, then just stir in the rest of the ingredients. Line a 9×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper, then spread the batter into the lined pan. Give it a taste– the batter itself is SO DARN GOOD.
The bars take about 25-30 minutes to bake. Remove them from the oven, then let them cool completely. I usually cool them on the counter for 30 minutes, then place the whole pan in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Without refrigeration, the bars don’t cut as neatly.
What’s the Texture Like?
So what’s the texture of these peanut butter banana oatmeal bars like? Following the recipe, bake time, and cooling instructions below, the bars are somewhere between baked oatmeal and a soft granola bar. They’re very moist, but maintain their bar shape when you’re holding/biting into one. I recommend storing them in the refrigerator.
More Healthy Favorites
- Morning Glory Muffins
- Whole Wheat Banana Muffins
- Breakfast Cookies
- Greek Yogurt Zucchini Bread
- Vanilla Almond Granola
These quick and easy peanut butter banana oatmeal bars are adaptable in many different ways. See my blog post above and recipe notes below. They’re a more solid form of my delicious baked oatmeal.
- 2 large ripe bananas (about 1 cup mashed)
- 1/2 cup (125g) creamy or crunchy peanut butter*
- 1/4 cup (50g) coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (45g) unsweetened applesauce*
- 1/2 cup (120ml) almond milk (or any nondairy or dairy milk)
- 2 and 1/2 cups (200g) old-fashioned whole oats or quick oats (not instant)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (180g) semi-sweet chocolate chips*
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper with enough overhang on the sides to easily remove the bars from the pan. Set aside.
- In a large bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer, mash the bananas. On medium speed, beat or whisk in the remaining ingredients in the order listed. Batter will be a little thick, but still pourable.
- Pour/spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 25-28 minutes or until the center is set (it will still look relatively soft!).
- Remove from the oven and cool in the pan at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. After that, place the pan in the refrigerator for 1 hour until chilled. The bars are difficult to cut if they haven’t been chilled.
- Remove bars from the pan using the overhang on the sides then cut into bars. Sometimes I drizzle melted peanut butter over each, but that’s optional. (Note: the parchment paper is always a little moist from soaking up some moisture from the bars.)
- Cover leftover bars tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
- Freezing Instructions: Freeze squares in single layers between sheets of parchment paper in a freezer-friendly container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Peanut Butter: You can use any nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew) you want– natural, homemade, or processed.
- Applesauce: I used to make these bars with 1 egg instead of the applesauce, but love their flavor with applesauce a bit better. You can, of course, use an egg instead or even use a flax egg substitute. Flax egg = mix 1 Tbsp ground flax with 3 Tbsp warm water and let it sit for 10 minutes while it “gels” up. Use the “flax gel” as a replacement for the applesauce/egg.
- Oats: Use certified gluten free oats to ensure the bars are gluten free.
- Chocolate Chips: You can skip the chocolate chips or replace with peanut butter chips, chopped nuts, or raisins. Or use a combination of any of those add-ins.
- Vegan: Use dairy-free chocolate chips and nondairy milk to ensure the bars are vegan.
- Gluten Free: Make sure your oats are certified gluten free to ensure these bars are gluten free.
Keywords: oatmeal bars, peanut butter bars