How to Make Easy 3-Ingredient Energy Bars at Home

Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

Prepare for your minds to be blown. Ready? Homemade energy bars. Three ingredients. No cooking. No tricks. No kidding.

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I am a huge fan of chewy, nutty, fruit-filled energy bars of the sort made by Lärabar. These little bars are enough to spur me on to an afternoon work-out and keep The Hangry at bay. It was looking at the ingredient list of my favorite Cherry Pie Lärabar that made me first consider making them myself. The ingredients were just dates, almonds, and cherries. So simple. So incredibly mind-blowing.

I tinkered with ratios a bit, but in the end, I decided to take the most straight-forward path: equal parts dried fruits, nuts, and pitted dates. Whizz them together in a food processor until they combine into a thick paste, press into a square, chill, and chop into squares for snacking. Done.

My favorite is still cherries, almonds, and dates (which are pictured here), but you can swap out the cherries and almonds for any dried fruit or nut. Keep the dates, though. They act as a binder and also sweeten the bars without needing sugar. 

You can also play around with adding other ingredients into the mix: a few tablespoons of chia seeds, a handful of coconut, even some chocolate chips. Again, keep the same ratio of the base ingredients (1 part dried fruit : 1 part nut : 1 part dates), and add the extras a bit at a time until you get a taste and texture that you like.

Making energy bars really is that simple. You'll never need to buy them again.

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How to Make Easy 3-Ingredient Energy Bars at Home

Makes 8 large bars or 16 small square-shaped bars

What You Need

Ingredients
1 cup nuts
1 cup dried fruit
1 cup (12-15 whole) dates, pitted

Equipment
Food processor
Plastic wrap or wax paper
Sharp knife

Instructions

  1. Roast the nuts (optional). Nuts can be used raw or roasted; roasting will add a toasty, nutty depth to the bars. If desired, roast the nuts at 350°F for 10-12 minutes, until fragrant and golden. Allow to cool before using. (See: How to Roast Nuts in the Oven)
  2. Combine the nuts, dried fruit, and dates in a food processor. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse a few times just to break them up. Separate the dates if they start to clump together.
  3. Process continuously for 30 seconds. By this point, the ingredients should all have broken down into crumb-sized pieces. Scrape the edges of the bowl and beneath the blade to make sure nothing is sticking.
  4. Process continuously until a ball is formed, 1-2 minutes. Continue processing for another 1-2 minutes, until the ingredients clump together and gather into a ball.
  5. Press into a thick square and chill. Lay a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper on your work surface and dump the power bar dough on top. Press the dough with your hands until it forms a thick square, roughly 8" x 8" in size. Wrap and chill for at least an hour or overnight.
  6. Divide into bars. Unwrap the chilled power bar dough and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 8 large bars or 16 small squares, as desired. Wrap each bar in plastic wrap or wax paper.
  7. Store the bars. Store the bars in the fridge for several weeks or in the freezer for up to three months. The bars can be eaten straight from the fridge or freezer and will be firm, but chewy. Room-temperature bars are perfectly fine to eat and can be kept in a lunch bag or backpack all day, but will be more soft and paste-like.

Additional Notes:

  • Energy Balls: The power bar dough can also be shaped into small balls. Refrigerate until firm, then wrap in plastic for longer storage.
  • Try These Combinations! Cherry-almond, apricot-almond, cranberry-pecan, apple-cinnamon-walnut
  • Try These Add-Ins! Shredded coconut, chia seeds, chocolate chips, cacao nibs, cocoa powder, crystalized ginger, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cardamom, lemon zest, lime zest

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(Images: Emma Christensen)

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