Homemade fruit and nut bars are easy to make and you can use whatever dried fruits you happen to have in your pantry. These bars freeze beautifully for easy grab and go snacks.
This recipe was originally posted in 2011. I've updated with clearer instructions and new photos. Hope you enjoy!
I am totally guilty of impulse bulk food purchases and often find myself with strange quantities of strange things after a trip to the bulk food store. My problem... is I go for just one thing - say some cashews - and come home with 20 other things. Things that have no plan. And I then throw into the pantry only to forget about them eventually. It's not good.
Fortunately, this recipe for homemade fruit bars has taken care of some of my impulse purchases. At least when it comes to dried fruit and raw nuts I know I have this recipe up my sleeve.
And since I've discovered this little trick I would have to say I am no longer guilty of storing dried fruit far too long. I've been told it doesn't really go bad, and I guess it is true that it does not spoil very easily, but at some point, you just have to admit it is just too hard to eat. Regardless, I don't have that problem anymore, and I also know I'm getting some good fruit vitamins into my kids.
Basically, we are making our own Larabars. While this recipe is flexible, I do often rely on a good quantity of almonds, coconut and dates for the base.
Below is a basic recipe. I modify it slightly every time I make it so I can use whatever I have on hand. There is a generous amount of salt and lemon in them. Both the lemon and the salt wake up the flavors of dried fruit, cutting some of the sweetness. So don't skimp.
I like these bars for packing in the kid's lunches or grabbing on the way to afterschool or weekend activities. They are just right for snack time. And provide a little bit of energy and some good healthy fat from the nuts to keep you satisfied in between meals.
🥄 How to make fruit + nut bars
In a food processor, pulse almonds into a fine powder. Don't add the remaining ingredients until your almonds look like the first picture.
Add remaining ingredients and pulse until well blended and it starts to come together. Your food processor may want to wobble across the counter while it does this. Use the pulse function to avoid overheating the motor.
The mixture will start to stick together. You know it is ready when you can grab a tablespoon or so of it and you can easily press it into a ball and it will stay together.
Press the mixture into an 8x8 inch or 9x9 inch baking pan. I've used an 8x8 inch pan. If you use a 9x9 inch pan your bars will be a bit thinner.
To get the bars flat, I like to use one of my dry measuring cups and, using the bottom, push the mixture firmly into the pan.
📋 Ingredient and substitution notes
The basic formula for these bars:
- 2 cups nuts (I like mostly almonds, and sometimes substitute in ½ -1 cup of pecans or cashews)
- 3 cups of dried fruit. I like a base of dates and then add dried plums, cherries, cranberries, blueberries, apricot, or goji berries
- 1 cup flaked coconut
- sea salt
- and one lemon (zest and juiced)
As I already mentioned, you need dates, coconut, and almonds as a base.
- You can use large quantities of apricots, cranberries, cherries, and plums.
- Pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts have very strong flavors. I find I don't like them on their own. Use at least half, if not ⅔ almonds for their neutral flavor
- I like goji berries (totally an impulse purchase) and currents but I find the flavor overpowering so I tend to keep these to ¼ cup.
Homemade Fruit and Nut Bars
- 2 cups almonds raw, skin on
- 1 cup dates pited
- ¾ cup dried apricots
- ½ cup dried plums or prunes
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup goji berries
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut shredded, unsweetened, coconut (fine, medium or large flake is fine)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- juice from one lemon
- zest from one lemon
- In a food processor, pulse almonds into a fine powder.
- Add remaining ingredients and pulse until well blended and it starts to come together. Your food processor may want to wobble across the counter while it does this. Use the pulse function to avoid overheating the motor.
- Line a square baking dish with wax or parchment paper. Leave the paper to hang over at least 2 sides so you can use it pull the bars out later. Press the mixture evenly into the pan. Use your fingers, I find it helps to dampen them slightly with water or use the back of a small measuring cup to help press the mixture firmly into the dish. Chill in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
- Remove from the baking dish and cut into squares. Store the fridge for about 1 week or keep in the freezer for several months.
More easy grab and go snacks: