When I examine my life rationally, I realize that my self worth is not dependent upon whether or not my household of guests likes my Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars. That said, when I set a plate of the healthy, whole wheat oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip bars before my sister, brother-in-law, and husband—all of whom are highly opinionated about their desserts—I held my breath for the table’s first reaction.

Thick and chewy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars. NO butter, oil, or refined sugar! ONE BOWL. You’re going to love this easy, healthy recipe! @wellplated

Worth, affirmed. Every single person had second helpings. My brother-in-law had thirds, then refused to believe me when I informed him that these chewy, ooey-gooey, peanut-butter-loaded oatmeal chocolate chip bars are:

  • 100% whole grain
  • Contain ZERO refined sugar
  • Contain ZERO butter, shortening, or oil, and
  • Pack 5 grams of protein per bar

Although I make healthy tweaks to every one of my dessert recipes when I can, I’m sometimes hesitant to serve the healthiest of the healthy to guests, because I’m nervous about how they will be received. Sure, I think that these bars are fit to make the angel choirs sing, but would someone who is used to a more traditional, sugar-and-butter-based cookie bar agree?

YES!

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. Healthy recipe with NO BUTTER, no oil, and no refined sugar! @wellplated

The beautiful and terrible thing about family is that they tell you the truth. Where friends and co-workers might politely take a bite of your naturally sweetened, butter-free dessert, then wait for you to walk away before chucking the remainder in the trash, family need not fuss with these formalities. The fact that my family enjoyed this simple, healthy dessert made our weekend together even sweeter.

In addition to being deemed worthy of our family weekend, this recipe has become a part of Ben and my weeknight routine. After dinner, we each warm one up, pour ourselves glasses of milk (truly), then settle in for an episode of The Daily Show and dessert.

Considering that Ben spent the first 10 of the 11 years I’ve known him rarely eating any dessert aside from cookies and cream ice cream, the fact that he’s been eating these healthy oatmeal chocolate chip bars after dinner AND taking one to work with him every day is further testament to their yumminess.

Thick and chewy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Bars. NO butter, oil, or refined sugar! Perfect for healthy desserts or even breakfast. @wellplated

Ingredients for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

These bars only need a few simple ingredients that you probably already have lurking in your pantry.

  • Peanut Butter. Creamy peanut butter works best.
  • Honey. For a touch of sweetness!
  • Applesauce. Adds moisture.
  • Vanilla. I can never resist adding vanilla with peanut butter and chocolate flavors.
  • Cinnamon. Delicious in these bars.
  • Oats. The base of these tasty treats.
  • Whole Wheat Flour. I used whole wheat to lighten this recipe up.
  • Milk. Adds much-needed moisture.
  • Chocolate Chips. For melty chocolatey goodness.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars. NO BUTTER, no oil, and no refined sugar and they are so thick and chewy! @wellplated

How to Store Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

  • To Store. Store leftover bars in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • To Freeze. You can also wrap them tightly and freeze for up to 2 months.

More Oatmeal Bar Recipes

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars with peanut butter and honey. NO butter, oil, or refined sugar. EASY, healthy recipe! @wellplated

Tools Used to Make This Recipe

Healthy oatmeal chocolate chip bars, The Daily Show, and dessert. Exciting married lives we lead! I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thick and chewy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars. NO butter, oil, or refined sugar! ONE BOWL. You’re going to love this easy, healthy recipe! @wellplated

Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

4.58 from 7 votes
Thick and chewy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars. Easy, one-bowl recipe made without butter, oil, or refined sugar. The PERFECT healthy treat!

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 18 mins

Servings: 16 bars

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter I recommend the natural, shelf-stable kind, not the refrigerated kind, as it does not hold together as well and can make the bars dry
  • 1/3 cup honey or swap light agave nectar or maple syrup to make vegan
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder I prefer aluminum free
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats gluten free if needed
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour  or substitute all purpose flour; see recipe notes to make the bars gluten free
  • 1/4 cup milk any kind you like
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips dairy free if desired

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8-inch baking dish with parchment paper so that you have some overhanging the sides like "handles," then lightly coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • With an electric mixer in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the peanut butter, honey, applesauce, and vanilla extract until smooth and evenly combined, about 3 minutes. Beat in the salt.
  • Sprinkle the cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda over the top. Then, sprinkle on the flour and oats. Beat until combined and the batter comes together With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle in the milk and continue beating until incorporated. The batter will be very thick. With a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Once dough is well combined, scrape it into the prepared baking dish, then press the top to make it even. Bake for 16-19 minutes, until the bars are lightly golden and just set. Do not over bake! Allow to cool completely, remove from the pan using the parchment paper overhang, then slice.

Notes

  • Store leftover bars in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or wrap tightly and freeze for up to 2 months.
  • I haven't tried making the bars gluten free, but I think that you could replace the white whole wheat flour with oat flour or a gluten free 1:1 baking blend.

Nutrition

Serving: 1barCalories: 190kcalCarbohydrates: 19gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 102mgFiber: 3g

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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46 Comments

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  1. In love with this recipe! I also LOVE that sense of victory when you’ve won over your family members’ taste buds. Especially your Italian grandmother who can taste if ANYTHING is out of the ordinary haha! I’ll have to see if these fool her!

  2. Erin those look absolutely delicious!
    I find that chocolate chips and oatmeal go together so well, it always tastes like dessert and makes me one very happy person =) especially when there is also peanut butter in the equation! x

  3. Question, what does the peanut butter provide to the bar? Is it helping it hold together? Is it providing moisture?

    I’ve got a couple of people in my family that don’t like peanut butter and we have friends that have nut allergies so I’m wondering what I could sub in its place. Or if I just need to find a different bar :)

    1. Hi Tracey! I am afraid the peanut butter is essential to the recipe for flavor, moisture, and to hold the bars together. You could try swapping sunbutter, but to be totally honest, I’m not super familiar with its properties, so you’d definitely be in the realm of experimentation. You might want to check my dessert recipe archives (located here—https://www.wellplated.com/category/recipes-by-type/desserts-recipe-type/) . I have lots of great treats in there, including ones that are nut free!

      1. Thanks! I’ll have a look at the archives. :) I’d love to find a couple of good bars to replace the packaged ones my kids currently eat. These do look super yummy :)

  4. OH YES. When family approves…you KNOW they are good ;) they can be a tough crowd to please!

    desserts are especially telling…so I am certainly impressed :)

  5. Count me in! If I tell my hubs that these are from your site, he will eat them. Everything I’ve ever tried has been a huge hit and it is great to have recipes that are healthy! Thanks for this one!

  6. Definitely want to try this recipe. I know that the bars bought from the supermarket are usually filled with sugar. It would be nice to have something like this before I go for a workout or run etc. Thanks for sharing and as always, excellent work (:

  7. These bars have SO many of my favorite things!! You totally can’t go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter!! My girls are always asking for a treat in their lunch boxes and these bars are one thing that I would feel good about giving them!! I’m whipping up a batch of these later this week for sure!

  8. My sweet tooth has been out of control today  and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about these so I whipped up a batch of these and they are heavenly!! These will be a new favorite in our house for sure! :)

  9. These look great Erin! I only have whole wheat flour in my cupboard. Would that work (instead of white whole wheat flour)?

    Thanks for a healthy dessert recipe!! :) 

    1. Elisabeth, whole wheat flour will be fine! It will have a stronger “wheat” taste and the bars will be a little heavier, but if that doesn’t bother you, they will still taste good. I would add an extra tablespoon of milk to the 1/4 cup, because regular wheat flour can be a bit more of a moisture hog. Hope you enjoy them!

  10. I literally have a Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bar and glass of milk next to me right now!  They received a genuine “Well done” from my boyfriend who loves peanut butter, dark chocolate, oats, … and healthy desserts. I made your Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars over a year ago. Contrasting the ingredients is quite remarkable. Thank you for natural sweetness and whole grains in your recipes!
    P. S. Our dinner tonight was your 20 Minute Healthy Ricotta Pasta. I cannot begin to count the number of times we have enjoyed it!

    1. Amy, I am so happy you enjoyed both dessert AND dinner! And I love the healthier update to my prior flourless bars recipes too :)

    2. YAY! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed both dessert AND dinner Amy! And I think I love these new bars even more! Thank YOU for leaving this kind review.

    1. Hi Bob! Yes, the applesauce is critical. It both binds the bars and helps make them moist. If you do try the bars, I hope you love them and would love to hear what you think!

  11. I absolutely love these!!! I made them for my family last night and when I woke up over half the pan was gone!! They are also very filling, which is great!! 5 stars

    1. They do have a habit of disappearing quickly. ;) Thanks, Bailey! I’m so glad to hear you and your family enjoyed them, and I really appreciate your taking the time to leave this nice review!

  12. I’ve tried these several times and they are delicious. But it seems to work much better with 1/2 cup milk than 1/4. I’ve tried it both ways. I used unsweetened almond milk. I’ve made the note on my recipe so I remember the change. Thanks!4 stars

    1. Hi Lisa, I’m glad you enjoy the recipe! Thanks for sharing your feedback about what amount of milk works best for you!

  13. I was surfing the web in search for healthy dessert options to satisfy my sweet tooth without blowing my diet and came across this recipe. I gave it a try and I LOVE them! Not only were they easy to make, but they’re so tasty! I tried one warm out of the oven :) Thanks for the recipe. I plan to try some of your other healthy bars. 5 stars

    1. Kim, I’m so excited to hear this recipe was a hit for you! Thank you so much for giving it a try and reporting back. :) I’d love to hear what you think about the other bars on my site if you do try some of those recipes!

    1. Hi Christy, I’m hesitant to make a recommendation because I’ve only tested them with applesauce and it is a really important ingredient. If you want to get experimental, you could try a mix of half oil and half yogurt, but I would suggest sticking with applesauce to be 100% safe.

      1. I was determined to make them last night and used Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt (that was all I had) and they turned out great I think!! No clue how different they are from using applesauce lol but my family approves. Just wish I had made a bigger batch! So yummy!

        1. Thanks for reporting back, Christy! I’m so glad you and your family are enjoying the bars!

  14. I love the idea of this recipe. I just tried it and wonder if mine turned out right. I double checked and followed the recipe quite closely. Mine are about double the thickness and taste a bit dry. I checked the recipe and the only thing I did was follow what another person suggested which is to use 1/2 cup milk instead and I added some walnuts on top for crunch. Any ideas?3 stars

    1. Hi Araina, it’s hard for me to say without being there with you. Did you use the correct size pan? If they rose that much, it might also have been a mismeasurement of the baking soda and baking powder, which could make them thicker and not dry. It’s an easy mistake that can happen to anyone!

  15. Curious – I’ve never seen a shelf stable peanut butter that didn’t have added sugar. The only kind without sugar I’ve seen has to be refrigerated after you open and stir. Wouldn’t using a shelf stable pb would make these NOT refined sugar free?  What kind/brand of pb did you use?  Has anyone made these with the natural, no sugar pb?  Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Jennifer, some brands, such as Earth Balance, do naturally sweeten their peanut butter with ingredients such as agave. You could do a search online to see what’s available near you or visit a local health food store to see what it offers!

  16. I made these bars this morning and have already enjoyed two! I used maple syrup, omitted the cinnamon, and didn’t have applesauce, so I tried another reader’s success with using yogurt (whole milk Greek), and it seems to have worked really well. Yum!

  17. I made these tonight for a friend who is both gluten free and vegan, a tough baking challenge! I followed your directions to make them vegan, and then used the Pillsbury 1:1 gluten free flour blend and they came out perfect! I love butter and eggs and cream in my baked goods, but would gladly eat these every day! Such an awesome recipe!5 stars

    1. Thank you so much, Christine! A 9×13 baking dish is slightly smaller than two 8×8 baking dishes, so there may be a difference in how thick the batter is once spread around the dish. If you want to experiment with this, I recommend checking on your bars frequently during baking to make sure they’re not undercooked or overcooked. I hope this helps!

  18. I found this while looking for something different to use up 3 old bananas. . Got right to dragging everything out and realized I didn’t have honey or applesauce . .already showed the kids . .so swapped ripe smashed bananas for both the honey and the applesauce. . . All stirred together and oops only have bread flour . . So in that goes too. . After I had it in the pan . . I spy the milk on the counter . ..apparently forgot that too . . Happy to report this is a very forgiving recipe in addition to being yummy! Will do again later with all the right stuff!5 stars

  19. Made this last night and very happy with the results! Did not have peanut butter so used almond butter instead. Will definitely be making this again.5 stars

    1. I’m so happy that you enjoyed the bars, Amanda! Thank you for sharing this kind review!