Soft-Baked Banana Oatmeal Bars are loaded with wholesome ingredients and make a yummy, portable breakfast or snack!
I recently spent several days ignoring two dark brown, overripe bananas sitting on my kitchen counter. Even though they were attracting fruit flies, had a combined value of no more than 17¢, and numbered too few to make a batch of banana bread, the thriftster in me didn't want to throw them away. And so I didn't...I concocted a pan of Banana Oatmeal Bars instead!
This oatmeal bars recipe is a spin on my Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars. They may resemble granola bars, but they're not crunchy or chewy in a granola bar sense...rather, they're thin and soft with a texture more akin to that of a baked good.
When you cut them into squares or bars, they're like a wholesome, homemade version of those packaged, soft-baked oatmeal squares you can buy at the grocery store. Except, of course, you get to control the ingredients in these!
Now I'm going to be honest...I wasn't sure if this recipe would work once converted from peanut butter to bananas. But I tweaked a few ingredients and ratios, baked 'em until golden, and waited for the verdict from my kids. After taking a bite, my 4-year-old looked up at me with a twinkle in her eye, gave me a big thumbs-up, and said...
"Mama! You NAILED IT."
It took me a moment to make sure I heard her right -- because when did she start sounding like a pre-teen? -- but the take-away message was that these Oatmeal Bbars were not just satisfactory, they were a big hit! My boys agreed, and everyone requested them for breakfast the next morning...and again at snack time later that day.
So what do you need to make 'em?
- Bananas. 1 cup of mashed banana is equivalent to about 2 large or 3 medium bananas. And it's best if they're overripe.
- Coconut oil, melted & cooled. You may substitute a neutral vegetable oil (such as safflower), if you wish.
- Honey. For natural sweetness.
- Vanilla extract. I always recommend using the real stuff.
- Rolled oats, also sometimes referred to as "old-fashioned." I prefer using rolled oats in baking because they have a chewier texture than quick oats. That being said, you may substitute quick oats for a more delicate texture in your bars. However, reduce the amount by about 1/4 cup, since quick oats are denser/more packed down than rolled oats.
- Whole wheat pastry flour. This is my preferred "healthy" flour for baking, as it is 100% whole wheat with a lighter taste and texture than regular whole wheat flour. That being said, you may substitute all-purpose white flour in your Oatmeal Bars instead. OR, see the next section for info on how to make this recipe gluten-free!
- Cinnamon + salt. For flavor! Cinnamon adds a touch of warm spice and salt makes everything pop.
- Chopped nuts. These are optional, but a nice addition. I usually throw in pecans or walnuts. And if you wish to toast them beforehand, it'll give them extra crunch!
If you wish to make this Oatmeal Bars recipe gluten-free, it's super easy:
- Make sure you're using gluten-free oats.
- Instead of whole wheat flour, substitute oat flour! It's a cinch to make by simply grinding some of those aforementioned gluten-free oats. See the "Notes" section at the bottom of the recipe card for more specific directions.
In mere minutes, you can be popping the pan in the oven and perfuming your house with the glorious smell of banana baked goods. And if you're lucky, you may even get a thumbs-up plus verbal kudos from your resident picky eater.
After all, it's not every day you can rest assured in the fact that you nailed it... 😉
More Banana Goodness
- Banana Baked Oatmeal
- Perfect Banana Pancakes
- Banana Blender Muffins
- Quick Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal
Soft-Baked Banana Oatmeal Bars
- 1 cup mashed banana, from approximately 2 large or 3 medium overripe bananas
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 2/3 cup honey
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, or oat flour -- see Tips & Tricks below
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts, OPTIONAL
- Arrange oven rack in center position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with coconut oil or softened butter, or coat with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, beat together the mashed banana, coconut oil, honey, egg, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Blend the oat mixture into the banana mixture and stir until well-combined.
- Scrape the batter into prepared baking dish and smooth the top so that it's an even thickness. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, if using, and lightly press into the surface. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until the edges just start to turn golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing into bars.
- Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
- To make oat flour, use a blender or mini food processor to grind 1 3/4 cups oats into a fine powder. Measure out 1 1/4 cups of oat flour for the recipe after grinding. If you have leftover oat flour after measuring, you can always save it for a Blueberry Muffin Healthy Oat Smoothie.
- To save a dirty dish, I melt the coconut oil in a measuring cup in the microwave, add it to the recipe, and then measure the honey into the same cup. The coconut oil helps the honey slide out of the measuring cup.