The Real Clif Bar Recipe

Note: This article has recently (10.22.12) become very popular with you Pintrest users.  Welcome! However, this is a CLIFF bar, not a Granola bar! They’re supposed to be gooey and chewy. When you modify the recipe to include 95% granola, you’ve simply reinvented the granola bar. The big draw of a Cliff Bar is that it’s not a crumbly mess when you try and eat it (along with tasting something unlike a bland, crunchy breakfast cereal). The desired consistency should be closer to a Samoa-style Girl Scout cookie or a (very healthy) Snickers bar. Please keep this in mind before you overload it with crunchy granola or oats and make this in to something it’s not. Alton Brown has some great recipes for that sort of thing. Slightly chewy, and full-of-flavor-without-tasting-like-oats is what made Cliff bars popular and the brand that it is today. Moving right along…

Googling “Clif Bar Recipe” is a frustrating experience. You end up with pages upon pages of recipes for granola bars, which, if you talk to anyone who’s had a real Clif Bar, is the opposite of what you’re trying to make. Clif Bars have a taffy like, caramelized flavor. They usually sell for about $2 a piece, but can often be found on sale for $1 each. I suspect this is due to their relatively short shelf life, owing to their lack of preservatives.

If you’re new to Clif Bars, they’re famous for being an energy bar that doesn’t taste awful (they’re quite good, actually) and have identifiable ingredients. They’re also gluten free, if you’re in to that sort of thing. Rice and Oats don’t have gluten in them (being the primary carbohydrate ingredients in the bars).

Anyways, after years of searching on and off, I finally found a recipe that makes something that resembles a real Clif Bar, without the overabundance of oats held together with a minimum amount of binders. It even looks like an honest to god Clif Bar:


• 1 and 1/4 cups of Rice Krispies
• 1 cup of uncooked quick-cooking oats
• 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal
• 1/4 cup of finely chopped dried cherries
• 1/4 cup of finely chopped roasted almonds
• 1/4 cup of brown rice syrup
• 2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
• 1/3 cup of almond butter
• 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the Rice Krispies, quick-cooking oats, flaxseed meal, dried tart cherries, and chopped almonds.
  2. Combine the rice syrup and dark brown sugar in a saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. You will want to stir the mixture the entire time, it will only take around a minute to boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the almond butter, vanilla extract, and almond extract until your mixture is blended.
  3. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry mixture, and stir until evenly coated.  As the liquid cools, the mixture will become stiff.  I used my hands to combine the mixture, like kneading bread.
  4. Spray an 8-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray and press the mixture into the pan.  Use wax paper to help press the mixture flat and even across the pan.
  5. Allow the pan to cool for about an hour and cut into 6 hearty-sized energy bars.

To store the bars, wrap them and store them in the refrigerator.  For long term storage, you can freeze the bars. Challenged, or novice cooks may add up to an additional 1/4 cup of brown rice syrup to improve adhesion of dry ingredients.

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17 Responses to The Real Clif Bar Recipe

  1. Eric says:

    I have been buying Clif bars every week for quite a while because they make an excellent quick breakfast that doesn’t leave me with the kind of heartburn the cheap high fructose granola bars do, plus they are dairy free.. which is a necessity for me. I am able to buy them regularly for $1 each at Safeway or New Seasons. I am wondering if you have estimated the cost per bar for your recipe? My favorite kind is the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, so I think I may try your recipe with those ingredients and see how it turns out :) Thanks for posting!


  2. Mother F says:

    My family loves CLIFs and generally blows through them like its a job; we generally spend about $100 a month just on CLIF bars for our family of three. I am THRILLED to find this recipe for so many reasons! First of all, they are delicious. No one can resist them. Second, its quick to make and no-bake, which is awesome for this working mama (plus its a really fun way to get the kiddos involved in the kitchen for quality time spendage). Third, this recipe gives a little room for using your creativity. Try using different kinds of dried fruits, different nuts, and different kinds of nut butter (we love peanut butter or Nutella as an occasional sub for the almond butter). Experiment with your fave flavors; we sure did!
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Pingback: Homemade Healthy Cliff Bars « lovefoodlongtime

  4. dodie says:

    Nice. Being in Mexico, I really miss these. I’m sure it’s great, even with a few substitutions. Thanks!

  5. Mimi says:

    These sound great. Do you happen to have nutrition info?

  6. mark says:

    This looks like a great recipe and all but keep in mind the originals are fortified in a very specific way to provide the nutritional content that they provide. if you’re eating them for taste this may work but for nutrition it may not have the same effect.

  7. deirdre says:

    so happy i found this! can i use something else besides the syrup? coconut oil….? it is the one thing i do not have on hand so i am wondering if it is worth a try using a substitute before i make it to the store next week!

  8. admin says:

    I would make some simple syrup on the stove. Coconut oil is not going to evaporate, making it fall apart and, worse will make it taste horrible(!). If you don’t have a 1/4 cup of sugar sitting around, waffle syrup or fruit preserves would work too. You’re looking for high sugar content as a binding agent.

    To make simple syrup, with equal parts sugar and water, mix the sugar into a saucepan with equal part water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir a minute or two, until the sugar dissolves. Take off heat and cool to room temperature. Simmer until you achieve the correct viscosity. Viscosity will increase as it cools.

  9. Ash says:

    I was really excited to try this recipe, but ended up being rather disappointed with the product. I followed the recipe and directions exactly and I was left with what looks like a giant granola bar. It looks nothing like a Clif bar. At this point, I’m just hoping that it at least tastes good. I will definitely be looking elsewhere for a Clif bar recipe though.

  10. Murray says:

    Just finished making these. I made peanut butter chocolate chip ones! I’m just waiting for them to cool right now. It looks like a bit more of the rice syrup and brown sugar could have made them hold together a little better though!
    Thanks for the recipe!

  11. Jessica says:

    After reading several recipes, I adapted this one to my preferences. I used 1/4 cup craisins and 6 dried whole dates; processed in food processor until they became paste! Added that to the peanut butter/corn syrup (didn’t have rice syrup) mixture… so delicious!

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  13. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the recipe. My 2 year old is obsessed with Clif Kid Zbars. This is a much cheaper alternative. I used mini chocolate chips instead of almonds and sunbittern instead of the almond butter since she can’t take nuts to school. She kept trying to pick out the little pieces of oatmeal so I think next time I make it I will process all the grains in the food processer and see how it works. The Zbars are more cake like so I think this might be closer to what she’s used to anyway. Thanks for posting. They were very tasty!

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  15. N says:

    Good recipe. Have made this a bunch of times now with some modifications. Here’s some advice…

    1. Use honey instead of rice syrup. Soooo much healthier as it is a non-refined sugar i.e. digested and absorbed much slower than rice syrup.
    2. I halfed the amount of brown sugar and it tastes great!
    3. Don’t mix with your hands; that’s stupid. Mix ingredients while hot and use a wooden spoon.
    4. I tried using a food processor to finely chop all ingredients. It didn’t work out well. Bars were to dense and lacked good texture. Leave the oats and rice crispies alone.
    5. I used peanut butter instead of almond butter as a matter of preference. The almond extract is unnecessary either way.
    6. No need for extra binders. Just make sure you use a spoon or rubber spatula to make sure ALL of what you measure ends up in pan.

  16. Riverdog says:

    Has anyone calculated the nutritional information and the cost per bar?

  17. Bob says:

    I plugged it into a recipe calculator for 6 bars and it came to

    Calories 289.9
    Total Fat 12.9 g
    Saturated Fat 1.1 g
    Polyunsaturated Fat 3.0 g
    Monounsaturated Fat 6.8 g
    Cholesterol 0.0 mg
    Sodium 82.4 mg
    Potassium 217.2 mg
    Total Carbohydrate 39.2 g
    Dietary Fiber 4.6 g
    Sugars 16.3 g
    Protein 6.2 g

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