Back to School Overnight Oat Bars (nut-free)
These no-bake back to school overnight oat bars are a god-send to all parents, kids, teens, college goers, and even young professionals heading back into the office. You will love them when you’re on the go, your kids will love them when they’re on the go, they are just perfect and so so easy to make. The recipe is gluten-free, nut-free, have no added sugar (unless you choose to add in chocolate chips, which in that case, no judgement here).
This year my daughter is starting school, delayed by a year because of the COVID pandemic, she is finally conquering Pre-K. I had planned to have to go live this morning to celebrate her first day but I totally under-estimated the back to school duties of a mom, it was my first time packing a lunch and I’ve been out of labeling practice since her daycare closed March 2020.
If you’re like me and new to the pack snack/lunch routine, or if you’re a long time veteran of the duties, everyone is now going nut-free to protect against allergies. This is completely understandable and I’m 100% in support of making sure our kids are safe but it leave me with a big giant “WTF.” My preschooler lives on peanut butter, I’m convinced my picky eater is alive because of it. So I started thinking about alternatives. My original old overnight bars recipe uses PB powder and she loves them, so I decided to make them but this time without the nut butter to see if I could pass them off. These ended up being even better.
All about them OATS!
Oats by nature are gluten-free, however if you are gluten-intolerant I would check your package because there is always the chance of cross contamination in the way they are processed.
There are three types of oats; steel cut, rolled, and instant. For overnight oat bars I recommend rolled oats. Here is the breakdown of what is on the market.
Steel Cut Oats are not processed at all, this makes them the most authentic in texture and taste, however they usually require cooking to make them the most delicious. They are too textured for these no-bake breakfast bars.
Instant Oats are the exact opposite of steel cut oats. They are the most processed and purposely created for fast cooking. They are thin and have less texture. You can substitute rolled oats with instant oats but you will lose a little of that chewy bite.
Rolled Oats The Goldilocks of the three options, this would be your bowl of perfect porridge. They are the perfect middle of steel cut and instant oats, thinner than steel cut oats but still hold their texture and shape.
Overnight Oat Bars
Banana: You need one. It has to be RIPE. The flavor is better and it holds the bars together better when it is ripe. You want one that has a few brown spots on the outside, if you are thinking “oh this only has a day or two left” that is the perfect ripe.
Granola: There are so many types of granola choose your favorite. I love vanilla granola so that is what I use. Any flavor should do, or just plain would work. My current granola du jour is Purely Elizabeth – the company is amazing and brand is Grain-Free, Keto & Paleo Certified – all of the current trends and the flavor is ON POINT, so amazing, shockingly so to be honest and it is very very addicting. It’s so good. My go-to flavor of choice is the Vanilla and Almond Butter, but the almond butter is not allowed in schools, so make sure your choose wisely. If you’re looking for fall flavors, they have a Pumpkin Cinnamon too! This is not sponsored, I am just a huge fan, if you’re reading this Purely Elizabeth, Thank you!)
Coconut Oil & Honey: These bind the bars together and help soften up the oats. You can also use Bee-Free honey, it’s a one for one substitution.
The Add-Ins: make these overnight oat bars your own. It’s not what you add in, it’s how much. You only want to do about 4-8oz of add ins so if you want to do dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds, like I did, you would want to do about 4oz each, not to exceed 8oz total. Some other ideas would be: any bite size dried fruit, chocolate chips, regular m&ms, flax seed, or chai seed.
How to Make your Corners with Parchment Paper.
I like to line my 8×8 pan with parchment paper because it makes it easier to pop the bars out to cut evenly into 8 or 16 serving squares. It also makes clean up so much easier. Here is tip to make it easier to lay parchment paper down in a square pan with sides.
(Picture 1) After you tear out a piece of parchment paper that is large enough for your pan, cut the corners in a slight diagonal about a 1/2 inch or so, just enough that it lays in your pan flat.
(Picture 2) Lay the corner down so that it overlaps but it should not longer be forced in the corner causing uneven wrinkles. Pour the overnight bars mixture into the pan.
(Picture 3) Press down with your hand to make sure the bars are even. You want to press down hard to make sure the bars are pressed together so they can bind together.
Back to School Overnight Oat Bars
- 3 Cups Rolled Oats
- 1 Cup Granola
- 1 Very Ripe Banana
- ½ Cup Virgin Coconut Oil
- ¼ Cup Honey
- ¼ tsp Salt
Add ins (not to exceed 8oz) – see blog notes
- 4 oz Dried Cranberries
- 4 oz Pumpkin Seeds
- Line a 8×8 pan with parchment paper and set aside. See blog notes for a tip on how to get the corners.
- Mix together all of the ingredients, except the add-ins. You can do this easily with a paddle attachment to a stand mixer, or by hand. Mix until the ingredients are combined and you may see the oats become a little sticky.
- By hand, stir in your add-ins until they are evenly distributed.
- Press into your 8×8 pan. You want to make sure to press down with a little but of weight so that the bars are evenly pressed down.
- Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours – overnight until firm.
- For easy cutting, pull out the bars using the parchment paper. Take a sharp knife and cut into 8 rectangles or 16 squares. Store in the refrigerator, good for about a week, if they last that long.