A granola bar has several ingredients pressed into a solid rectangular shape that can be eaten. The ingredients match those found in loose granola, such as whole grain, rice, nuts and dried fruits. Unlike loose granola, manufacturers press and bake the granola bar to bind the ingredients. The shape and size make the bars easier to eat on the go.
Granola bars use oats and grains as a base ingredient. For example, the main ingredients might include rolled oats, rice and whole grains. Manufacturers often include flax seeds for the added nutritional value. To give the granola bars more flavor, manufacturers include dried fruits and seeds such as dried cherries, coconut flakes, almonds or peanuts. The bars might also contain peanut butter and honey, which adds flavor and helps bind the ingredients.
Although granola bars are primarily marketed as healthy snacks, some include less-healthy ingredients. These types of granola bars often include candy pieces, marshmallows or sugar. Some bars also have a layer of yogurt or chocolate on the top for added flavor. Typically marketed to appeal to children, manufacturers often describe these bars as having less fat or calories than a candy bar or other high-calorie snack.
A traditional granola bar has a thick and coarse texture, making them crunchy when eaten. Manufacturers also sell chewy granola bars. Manufacturers either eliminate the baking process for the oats entirely or reduce the baking time to leave the oats with a softer texture.
The granola bar is most popular in the United States, Canada and parts of Europe. Depending on the brand and area, some manufacturers refer to the bars as trail mix bars, breakfast bars or meal bars. Manufacturers in Germany market a product that is similar to the granola bar, the muesli bar. Regardless of the name, these products have similar ingredients and textures.
Instead of purchasing pre-manufactured granola bars, many bakers opt to make their own granola bars at home. Homemade granola bars typically include the same grains, dried fruits and seeds as pre-manufactured bars. Some bakers might choose to use a store-bought granola product.