Granola bars are one of those foods that is so shockingly easy to make that you’ll wonder why you didn’t attempt them sooner. Seriously, go grab a random recipe for granola bars off of Google right now and read it. Odds are that it’s going to look something like this: Step one: Put a whole bunch of stuff in a bowl along with some other stuff. Stir. Step two: Put all of that stuff in a pan and press it down real good, then bake it. Step three: Cut into bars and boom don’t you feel stupid wasting ten grand on Luna bars. 

You can dress up your homemade granola bars with whatever fruits or nuts you fancy, sneak in a bit of whatever superfood-of-the-month you bought a doomsday sized package of at Costco. The only thing that has the chance of being intimidating is the ingredient list, which on the low end contains things you find in the supermarket, and on the high end ticks off items that can only be found on the organic black market. It can get confusing if you don’t have raw vegan mob ties, so let's break down this DIY granola bar method:

Section 1: Bulk

In a classic granola, this is plain rolled oats. You may be tempted to use steel-cut oats since they’ve been the darling of the power breakfast circuit for a while, but do not do this if you want to keep your teeth. Same goes for any raw supergrain, such as quinoa. A small amount can be used to add some crunch, but in bulk, they need to be cooked. 

It is important to mention that just because we’re baking the granola bars doesn’t really mean we’re “cooking” them. The oven is used to get the granola to set up into a solid bar, and to add flavor by means of lightly toasting. If you’ve got a no-bake granola recipe, you may want to toast up your oats and nuts ahead of time, solely for flavor.

Section 2: Other Stuff

Recipes for granola are highly flexible. Swap out ingredients as you like, just keep your volume ratios the same: for example, one cup of walnuts can be replaced by ¾ cup of cashews and ¼ cup of dried blueberries. You never need to be stressing out over finding niche items like “golden flaxseeds” or “coconut nectar.” Use what you have. 

Section 3: Binders

Your nut butters, honeys, and syrups need only be warm enough so they are loose and pourable, allowing them to seamlessly blend with the rest of the ingredients. The safest, most foolproof way to do this is to microwave them in 30-second spurts. 

Section 4: Molding

Lining the pan with a foil or parchment sling is a must if you want to be able to unmold your bars without excessive foul language. It’s often difficult to spread a thick granola mix easily using a spatula; a far better method is to use your hands. Once spread, cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap, and roll over the surface with a small can or a flat-bottomed glass to smooth the top and ensure evenness. 

Section 5: Cutting

After the bars come out of the oven, use a long knife or pastry scraper to lightly score the top into sections. Once cooled completely, use a serrated knife to cut along those lines.