The 7 Best Granola Bars of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Find your new favorite on-the-go snack

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Whether you need fuel on a long hike or are craving a chewy snack to power through an afternoon at the office, a granola bar is a convenient, delicious way to pack in some whole grain goodness.

Typically sweet and often flecked with chocolate chips, some granola bars are comparable to candy bars when it comes to sugar. And most products on the market are low in satiating fiber and protein, leaving you hungry for more within minutes. However, there are some excellent options that are packed with fiber, protein, and whole grains that will keep you full and energized for hours.

Here, the best granola bars, as recommended by a dietitian.

Best Overall: Kashi Chewy Granola Bar Variety Pack

Kashi Chewy Granola Bar

If you're looking for a delicious, chewy, and convenient granola bar that's made with clean ingredients, Kashi's Chewy Granola Bars are a top choice. Made with ingredients like sun-sweetened fruit, whole nuts, and honey, these bars are a great snack powered by real and wholesome food. With delicious flavors like Chocolate Almond Sea Salt, Cherry Dark Chocolate, and Honey Almond Flax, there's a chewy treat for every taste preference.

The bars are relatively low in calories, but pack a bit of fiber and protein with little added sugar. One Chocolate Almond Sea Salt bar contains 130 calories, 4 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

Best Budget: KIND Healthy Grains Oats & Honey with Toasted Coconut Bar

KIND Healthy Grains Oats & Honey with Toasted Coconut Bar

A perfect blend of both chewy and crunchy, these KIND granola bars are delicious, nutrient-packed, and satisfying. Like other KIND bars, they’re gluten-free, made of non-GMO ingredients, and contain no trans fat. These tasty bars are made of 100% whole grains, including five super grains: oats, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, and quinoa. They're also "kind"—pun intended—on your wallet.

Stick one in your work bag or backpack for a yummy, healthy snack when hunger strikes. Paired with a source of protein, such as a hard-boiled egg or plain Greek yogurt, they're also filling enough to double as an on-the-go meal for hectic mornings. With flavors like Dark Chocolate Chunk, Vanilla Blueberry, and Oats & Honey, there are plenty of options to satisfy any type of craving. One package of the Oats & Honey flavor bars contains 150 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

Best Allergy-Friendly: MadeGood Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

MadeGood Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

If you're looking for a nut-free and tasty option that's perfect for kids' school lunches and snacks, MadeGood checks all the boxes. MadeGood granola bars are created with ethically sourced, organic, non-GMO ingredients and are parent- and kid-approved. The vegan bars are free of the top eight allergens—including peanuts and gluten—and even contain six veggie extracts for an extra nutrient boost.

These delicious granola bars are perfect as an afternoon energy booster or some healthy fuel before a workout. They come in tons of different flavors—including Apple Cinnamon, Mixed Berry, and Chocolate Chip. Each Chocolate Chip granola bar contains 100 calories, 2 grams of protein and fiber, and 6 grams of sugar. If your kids prefer smaller, bite-sized snacks, MadeGood's Granola Minis are the perfect poppable sweet snack.

Best Organic: Cascadian Farm Organic Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bar

Cascadian Farm Organic Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bar

Your family will love the taste of these Cascadian Farms organic chewy granola bars. All of the ingredients are easy to pronounce, so you know exactly what you're eating. These USDA Organic granola bars are made without GMOs or synthetic pesticides, and they don’t contain any hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors, or preservatives.

Perfect for a snack at the office, in a lunchbox, or on the go, these bars contain 11 grams of whole grains per serving. The dark chocolate chips satisfy a sweet craving, and the nutrition stats are on point. Each Chewy Dark Chocolate Chip bar contains 140 calories, 2 grams of fiber and protein, and 10 grams of sugar.

Best Gluten-Free: Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Chocolate Sea Salt Granola Bar

Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Chocolate Sea Salt Granola Bar

Many granola-based bars on the market contain minimal nutrients and are more like cleverly marketed candy bars rather than nutrition boosters. If you're looking for a great-tasting granola bar that contains gluten-free, nutrient-dense ingredients, Purely Elizabeth's Original Ancient Grain Granola Bar is the best choice. Each bar is sweetened using unrefined coconut sugar, a low-glycemic sweetener that won't cause your blood sugar to spike as drastically as white cane sugar. The satisfying, crunchy bars are made using USDA Organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free ingredients.

Purely Elizabeth Granola bars come in four flavors, including Blueberry Hemp, Chocolate Sea Salt, Vanilla Almond Butter, and Original. The Original flavor bar packs 140 calories, 3 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of sugar. The bar is an ideal snack, especially when you're looking for a light bite with better-for-you ingredients like amaranth, quinoa, and chia.

Best for Athletes: Bobo's Original Oat Bar

Bobo's Original Oat Bar

For athletes or hikers looking for a more substantial granola bar to fuel their activity, Bobo's is an excellent 100% organic whole grain oat bar that's super nutrient-dense. The tasty bars contain two servings per package, but it's hard to stick to only half a bar. One whole Original flavor bar (two servings) contains 360 calories, 20 grams of sugar, 4 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein. With 58 grams of carbohydrates per bar, Bobo's is a higher-carbohydrate option that's perfect to replenish glycogen stores for super active runners and cyclists.

The delicious bars come in a wide variety of flavors, including Almond Butter, Peach, Maple Pecan, and Chocolate Chip. The Certified Gluten-Free bars are hand-made in Boulder, Colorado.

Best Grain-Free: Simple Mills Almond Flour Snack Bars

Simple Mills Almond Flour Snack Bars

If you're looking for a grain-free bar made with only whole food ingredients, Simple Mills' Soft Baked Almond Flour Bars are a great option. The paleo bars are Certified Gluten-Free and are made with only ingredients that you can read. The decadent bars use a blend of nut and seed flours as a replacement for oats. The mix of almond, coconut, sunflower, flax, and chia flours boosts the nutrition and flavor of each soft-baked bite.

The soft, chunky bars are indulgent yet super healthy, and they come in a variety of flavors, including Chunky Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate Almond, Nutty Banana Bread, and Spiced Carrot Cake. Each Nutty Banana Bread Bar contains 160 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, and only 6 grams of added sugar.

Final Verdict

For an affordable, tasty, and nutritious granola bar, try Kashi's Chewy Granola Bars (view at Amazon). For a super allergy-friendly bar to pack in lunch bags, check out MadeGood's Granola Bars (view at Amazon).

What to Look for in a Granola Bar

Ingredients

When looking for a granola bar, consider your individual needs. Some granola bars contain allergens such as nuts, soy, or dairy that may not be suitable for all individuals. Especially for school-age children who are required to pack allergy-friendly snacks for school, an allergen-free bar may be best whether or not the child has dietary restrictions.

When possible, look for a bar made with non-GMO and organic ingredients. Avoid bars with artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. Always take a look at the ingredient list to ensure that you recognize all of the components.

Fiber

Some granola bars are super high in sugar but lack dietary fiber. Dietary fiber helps to keep you fuller longer and is a nutrient that most Americans don't get enough of. Choosing a bar that contains 3 or more grams of fiber can help you meet your recommended 25 to 34 grams of fiber per day. 

Protein

It's common for granola bars to be fairly low in protein, Many are made primarily from oats, which are higher in carbohydrates than protein. If you're looking for a granola bar with higher protein, you may want one that contains a natural protein source such as nuts or seeds. In general, choose a granola bar that has at least 2 grams of protein.

Sugar and Carbohydrates

Most granola bars are high in sugar and carbohydrates, as they are made up of oats and sweeteners combined with dried fruits or chocolate. When possible, select a bar that is made up of whole grains, which contain higher levels of fiber than refined carbohydrates and take longer for the body to break down. Choose a bar that contains 10 grams of sugar or less per serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are granola bars nutritious?

    Granola bars offer many important nutritional benefits.  They are an easy and convenient source of carbohydrates necessary for energy during that 3 p.m. slump.  The combination of protein and fiber in granola bars provides the most staying power to keep you fuller for longer.

    Certain varieties even have added micronutrients such as calcium and potassium.  Be mindful of sugar content in granola bars, as any with over 10 grams may leave you feeling hungry within an hour after snacking. 

  • What is the shelf life of a granola bar?

    Unopened packaged granola bars can generally last anywhere from 6 to 8 months. They should be stored in a cool, dry area of your pantry. 

    While there is likely a “Best Buy” or “Best if Used By” date on the package, this indicates when granola bars are at their peak quality.  They are still safe to eat after this date, but their texture or flavor may change. Check the granola bar for off odors or appearance to determine if it should be thrown away.

    Bars made from almond flour have a shorter shelf life of about 3 months due to almonds’ tendency to go rancid. 

  • How do granola bars impact digestion?

    Granola bars often have a positive effect on digestion as the fiber helps with regulating the digestive tract. Additionally, if the bar is made from oats, it contains a good source of prebiotics, which are food for the good bacteria in your gut.

    Be mindful of granola bars with artificial sweeteners such as xylitol, sorbitol, and aspartame, as they are not broken down in the digestive system and may cause stomach upset. 

What Experts Say

"I love granola bars for easy and healthy on-the-go snacks. I usually recommend bars that contain both protein and fiber to make them more filling."
Sammi Haber Brondo, MS, RD, CDN

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

A personal note on my recommendations: As a dietitian, I'm a huge fan of bars for convenient on-the-go nutrition. There are lots of great options on the market, such as the products above, but it's important to consider nutrition and quality when choosing a granola bar. In writing this article, I looked at multiple products and brands and consulted with trusted peers in dietetics.

I believe the products in the round-up are made by trusted brands and are composed of high-quality ingredients. I would recommend the above products to friends, family, and clients, and have personally tried all of the products.
Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

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