Recipe: 4-Ingredient Banana Oat Bars

Recipe: 4-Ingredient Banana Oat Bars

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Faith Durand
May 21, 2018
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Bananas are an amazing fruit. All by themselves they can turn into creamy, delicious ice cream, and eaten alone they are a satisfying snack. But they also do wonders in baked goods: Bananas take the place of sugar, eggs, and fat in these wondrously chewy, yummy snack bars.

These bars have no added sugar, you can whip them up in just a few minutes, and they'll take care of breakfast, after-school snacks, and dessert. Amazing? You bet.

4-Ingredient Banana Oat Bars: Watch the Video

There are a few optional ingredients here, like vanilla and nutmeg, that add a little extra dimension, but the essential recipe is really just four ingredients: Bananas, oats, dates, and chopped nuts. (I mean, you could argue that it's just three: I think you could leave the nuts out without a problem.) The bananas hold everything together, and the dates give a little chewy sweetness. The sweetness is understated in these bars; there is just enough to satisfy a mid-afternoon craving.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

As you can see these are vegan, and if you use gluten-free oats, they're totally gluten-free, too. They're quite adaptable; if you want a little more sweetness you could add a handful of chocolate chips or cinnamon chips. You could add shredded coconut, too, or raisins.

They last beautifully and hold together in chewy, satisfying bars. Just right for munching on the go in the mornings, or as a high-energy snack before a run.

Bananas, for the win, once again!

Tester's Notes

A wholesome 4-ingredient snack bar may seem too good to be true, but it's indeed possible. While assembling these bars, I had my doubts — the oat mixture seemed too thick to actually hold together and I couldn't imagine how so few ingredients would result in something tasty — but I was definitely proven wrong. These are simple, humble bars that make for a feel-good breakfast or midday snack.

Many of you noted in the comment section that these bars aren't very sweet. They are intended to be a healthy breakfast or snack, so actually aren't supposed to be too sweet. Using the most overly ripe bananas you can find will help bring more natural sweetness to them.

If you're still hankering for more, I've added an optional honey yogurt glaze that's drizzled on top of the bars before enjoying — although I suppose that would make these four-ingredient bars not simply four ingredients, but I think it's worth it. Beyond lending sweetness, it adds a little protein to things, which is never a bad thing. If you've glazed the bars, they're best stored in the refrigerator, and if left unglazed, they can be kept at room temperature.

- Sheela, May 2018

4-Ingredient Banana Oat Bars

Makes 9 squares

  • Olive oil or butter

  • 2

    large, very ripe bananas

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract (optional)

  • 2 cups

    old-fashioned rolled oats

  • 1/4 cup

    pitted, chopped dried dates

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    salt (optional)

  • 1/4 cup

    chopped nuts, such as walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, or almonds

  • Grated nutmeg or cinnamon (optional)

  • For the honey yogurt glaze (optional):
  • 1/4 cup

    whole or 2% plain Greek yogurt

  • 1 tablespoon

    honey

  • 1 tablespoon

    powdered sugar

  • 2 teaspoons

    whole or 2% milk

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9-x9-inch square baking dish with olive oil or butter.

Peel the bananas and mash their flesh in a medium bowl. Mash very thoroughly until no large chunks remain; the bananas should be essentially liquid. (You will have between 1 and 1 1/4 cups.) Stir in the vanilla, if using. Add the oats and stir them in. Stir in the dates, nuts, and salt.

Transfer to the baking dish and pat into an even layer. If desired, sprinkle the top lightly with nutmeg or cinnamon. Bake until the edges just begin to crisp up, about 30 minutes.

Place the baking pan on a rack to cool. Meanwhile, if you’re making the glaze, whisk together the yogurt, honey, powdered sugar, and milk in a small bowl. When the pan is cool, cut into 9 squares. Drizzle each square with the glaze and enjoy.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days. If glazed, store them in the refrigerator; otherwise, at room temperature.

Adapted from Ginger at Friesen Cold.

This recipe was originally published September 2011.

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