These vegan and gluten-free almond butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies bars are not your neat 'n' tidy, delicately-crisp chocolate chip cookies. Oh no, they are not.
These are your gooey, chocolatey, messy, eat 'em up almond butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookie bars. They've got the crowd appeal, texture, and taste of a wildly decadent cookie bar, yet they're packin' fiber and whole grains like nobody's business. They're also free of refined sugar, gluten, and oil. And they've got chocolate chips tucked away in just about every nook and cranny.
I'm happy to finally be sharing this recipe on the blog after hoarding it for a few weeks thinking I might be able to make room for it in the cookbook. But truth be told, I need to stick to a max of 115 recipes (+ a handful of homemade staples) since each one will be accompanied by a full-page photo, and I have 250-300 pages to do my thing. However, every time I have the lineup of recipes whittled down to 115, I doubt myself and come up with additional recipes to add. Because it can always be better, right?
Note: If you're just here for the cookies, you're awesome and scroll on past the below paragraphs to the recipe. If you're here for cookies and some thoughts on punching perfectionism in the face, you're awesome and keep on reading.
Over the last few months, the pressure of the printed page has summoned the perfectionist side of my personality on a regular basis. And despite the overused cliché of citing perfectionism as a desirable "weakness" in interviews (I admit I've been guilty of this in the past), I'm citing it here as a major, pain-in-my-side flaw in terms of the cookbook writing/creative process and life in general.
Sure, it's a useful quirk when editing or doing more tedious grammatical work, but overall I would love to kick it to the curb permanently or send it on some sort of self-improvement retreat where it would be exposed to oodles of imperfection, thereby reducing its aversion to it. Why? Because it gets in the way, questioning my every move and squashing both intuition and creativity beneath its naysayer (yet probably perfect) feet. Back. It. Up, Perfectionism. And quit stepping on my creativity, because you're nothing but self-doubt//fear dressed up in a socially-acceptable outfit.
Many of us fight this battle with perfectionism, so it must serve a purpose, right? Well then, what is its purpose?
I used to perceive it as a time-intensive filtering method through which all of my efforts must pass in order to yield a successful outcome. Now I consider it to be an overbearing, helicopter parent that has nothing better to do with its time than hover overhead and unnecessarily point out of all the potential fears, unknowns, flaws, and "what ifs" I didn't even know I had. Still not feeling very purposeful, is it?
What would happen if our well-intentioned thoughts, dreams, and aspirations made it out into the world before being silenced by the part of us that doubts the value of what we have to offer? It's absolutely possible that our efforts could result in "failure" as measured by conventional standards, but we're missing the point if we believe that the bulk of our joy resides in the outcome of our efforts rather than the process of moving through them.
At its core, I think perfectionism is a misguided protective strategy we lean on to control the outcome of our efforts because choosing to do nothing feels better than putting forth our best effort and being vulnerable to the possibility of failure. But in its effort to control the outcome, it filters out all the good stuff too. Pretty crappy filter if you ask me.
I've learned the best thing I can do when I'm experiencing the "Are you sure this is perfect? Surely you can do better." thoughts is to trust the guidance of my intuition rather than succumbing to the fears of my ego. I'm learning to believe in the power of my best effort rather than being bound by the fears of unattainable expectations. And it's freeing.
And with freedom, there are cookies. Not because they're perfect, but because they're awesome enough.
Almond Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (Vegan, GF)
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 1 cup natural almond butter
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cups oat flour
- ¼ cup rolled oats
- 1 ½ teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
- ⅓ to ½ cup dark chocolate chips, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8x8-inch square pan with parchment paper (double-check your pan size, because 9x9-inch won’t work for this recipe).
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the coconut sugar, almond butter, and vanilla on high for 1 minute using a stand or hand mixer with paddle attachment.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the oat flour, rolled oats, baking powder, and sea salt. Place the bowl next to the mixer.
- With the mixer off, add the oat flour mixture. Then, pour the almond milk over the oat mixture and begin beating on low and increase speed to medium. Beat for 15 seconds or until just incorporated. Do not over-mix. The dough should pull together into large, moist mounds as it moves around the mixing bowl. Add the chocolate chips and stir to incorporate.
- Transfer the dough to the lined pan and use your fingers to press evenly into the bottom. It will seem like there isn’t enough dough, but keep pressing it outward until it’s nearly touching the sides of the pan. If desired, dot the top of the cookie dough with another tablespoon or two of chocolate chips.
- Bake for 22 to 26 minutes or until the edges are golden and crackled and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean with a bit of moist crumb at the tip. (note: if you want slightly drier, well-set bars, bake for 25 to 30 minutes). Don’t over-bake.
- Let cool completely in pan. Then, grasp the edges of the parchment to gently remove the bar from the pan. Slice into 12 bars.
- You can store the bars in the pan at room temperature (loosely covered with foil) or in the refrigerator. I love the dense, fudge-like texture they take on when chilled, so I usually opt for to store them in the refrigerator.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post (and it's not solely due to the drool-worthy cookie bar pictures). Perfectionism has been engraved in my brain as well, and it is helpful to see that I am not alone in these daily struggles. You are such an inspiration to me, and I often find myself with mouth wide open and stomach growling everytime I visit your sight to check on your new creations. Never doubt yourself because everything I have seen on this sight is FABULOUS!
Hi, Maddie! First of all, I'm so sorry it's taken me this long to reply to your sweet, thoughtful comment! I read it as I was unloading groceries a few weeks back, and it touched my heart. I was feeling particularly drained and worn out from balancing work/blog/book writing that evening, and it renewed my spirit. Thank you for sharing such kindness -- I've carried it with me over these past weeks!
YOU'RE awesome Ashley! You so eloquently expressed how my lifelong struggle with perfectionism feels! I finally now can say (sometimes) good enough really is good enough! Plus these cookies look amazing! Can't wait to make them!
Thank you for sharing this, Diana! I'm touched that it resonated with you. Perfectionism is a crazy beast, isn't it? And being able to say (sometimes) that good enough really is good enough is such an empowering place to be. The self-judgment and criticism really gets us nowhere slowly, but accepting what is and being brave enough to share it gets us somewhere (and quickly, too). Now if only I could remember and adhere to this all of the time... :)
Heidi @ Food Doodles says
These look amazing! And I love the ingredients :) Pinning!
Beautiful bars and really well captured. Gorgeous.
WOW! These are so amazing. No one believes me when I tell them they are vegan and gluten free. I didn't have oat flour, so I subbed in almond flour, and used butterscotch chips in stead of chocolate for same reason. The basic recipe is so easy to make it's unbelievable. Thanks for your blog!!!
I'm so happy to hear that you (and others) are enjoying these so much, Patricia! Also, butterscotch chips sound delicious, and it's great to know that almond flour works well as a substitute. Thank you for taking the time to share your results, adjustments, and kind words!
Kristyn Pertierra says
Oh Yaya!!! I’m glad you posted this... I was gonna see if I could could use almond flour instead!!! Yay! I didn’t have pat flour so amazing. Did you use a blanched almond flour or an almond meal?
Could you mix this all in one? I want to make 'mix in jar' Christmas presents, but this would only work if I can miss the first bit and chuck it all in together? If you mixed the almond butter and milk together first and then added to the dry mix, would that work?
Hi, Ruth! Unfortunately, almond butter tends to react poorly to direct contact with liquid -- it releases its oils which affects the overall texture of the dough and can cause the bars to bake up funny. You can try it, but I have a feeling it wouldn't turn out quite the same.
Oh do I know that "perfectionist" side all to well. I gave her swift boot a few months ago when I decided to embrace the wabi-sabi side of things and just let things be, perfect or not. It has tested my limits but, thankfully, no longer stifles my creativity or leaves me feeling exhausted at the end of the day. As for these cookie bars, they look outta this world good. Love that you used coconut sugar in place of the cane variety. <3
I love that you gave her a swift boot, Ashlae! I keep kicking her out yet she occasionally finds her way back to me (looking frazzled and haggard) just to say hello and remind me of all the things I could be doing better -- she's a real pain, isn't she? Thank you for sharing your encouraging experience and kind cookie bar words. Coconut sugar is one fantastic little ingredient; I love the caramel notes it lends in baked goods!
Meagan Cassidy says
Could I use peanut butter instead of almond butter? I don't have almond butter.
Yes, absolutely! My soon-to-be sister-in-law just made these with peanut butter and said they worked out great! I hope you enjoy them!
Meagan Cassidy says
Thank you! Do you know how long these would keep in the fridge? I live on my own and don't want to waste them.
I would say a week? But it really depends on the freshness of each ingredient. I froze extra from testing and they thaw well, so that's an option too!
Meagan Cassidy says
Thank you! I just realized you are a School Psychologist on the North Shore. I'm studying Clinical Mental Health Counseling at DePaul in a Master's program. Small world!
Hi, Meagan! Oh my gosh, seriously, what a small world! How are you liking the program at DePaul?
hi! Love the look of this. I cannot find oat flour around here (live in 'switzerland.) Can I just use more rolled oats - blended? thanks! Judy
Hi Judy! Absolutely -- just process rolled oats into a fine flour and you're set! I hope you enjoy the bars!
I've made these twice already. First time for my kids and I ....well I pretty much ate the whole thing in a day and a half. The second time I made for a girls night and they got devoured. These are so good!! Oh I also used almond coconut butter the first time because it's what I had on hand and they were still so Yummy!
Kerri McGrail says
Oh these look divine! I love that they are oil free, gluten free & vegan! Woo right up my alley!
Thanks so much, Kerri! I hope you enjoy them!
These are life changing :). We have several food sensitivities that we're working around and your DELICIOUS recipes help keep us on track! When you can make something amazing like these, you don't miss the other stuff. Thanks for all your hard work - it makes a difference!
These bars are so good! Too good, they never last long enough to save! My kids love them! I use 1/2 natural peanut butter to cut down costs because my kids devour these. I have made them 3 times since last week. Thanks for an awesome gluten free recipe.
I'm so happy to hear that these bars have been a hit with you and your kids! Using 1/2 peanut butter is a great (and delicious) idea to cut down on cost. I'll have to give that a try the next time I make them. Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback and adjustments!
Aw they look amazing and everyone is raving – what did I do wrong? Thought I followed to the t but mine are dry, crumbly and won't stay intact. WAH!
Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear they didn't turn out for you. These bars lean heavily towards the moist, dense, fudgy side of things, so something must have gone awry somewhere (or varying levels of moisture in ingredients like coconut sugar, almond butter, etc caused an issue). Three questions to problem-solve:
1) When you were mixing (after adding the dry ingredients and almond milk), did you mix until the dough pulled together into large, moist mounds within the mixing bowl? If not, what did the dough look like?
2) Did you use natural almond butter? If your almond butter wasn't natural and contained extra ingredients like palm oil, it could have caused an issue with the moisture as natural almond butter is considerably more runny/liquidy than more processed variations.
3) It's probably silly to ask this because you said you followed it to a t, but I have to ask only because this is so often the culprit in baking gone wild: by any chance did you use coconut flour instead of oat flour? If so, this was absolutely, 100% the problem but I'll hold off on explaining unless this was in fact what happened! :)
Also, did you double-check that your pan size was 8x8? 9x9 doesn't work well for this recipe and can lead to dry bars with that amount of baking time.
Wow, thanks for your prompt & thorough reply! I used natural almond butter but my pan size was wrong AND I actually bought both oat and coconut flour as bulk items and possibly I mixed them up! To answer your question, when I was mixing the dough looked dry and I added a little more milk but I didn't want to stray too far from the recipe. Ha, they're still good but much different than I suspect they're supposed to be. Will try again! Thanks again for you reply :)
Eden Passante says
These look SO good! Love that they're vegan too!
Deryn @ Running on Real Food says
Oh my goodness. Not only do these look amazing but that ingredient list, though. Making soon!! Thanks for such a gem. Love the post too, all so true. xx.
Eden Passante says
These look so delicious! Definitely need to make these!!
I'm trying very hard to let them cool completely, but this is a struggle, they are so good I want them now!
These are delicious! Thank you! I liked them best when they were slightly cooled but still warm and gooey from the oven. Haven't tried refrigerating yet though, so we'll see. :)
Do you have the nutritional information for these bars? i.e., calories, grams of fat, etc.? Thanks!
Hi, DJ! I'm sorry but I don't.
Research the nutritional Values of all the ingredients used and divide them by how many pieces this recipe comes out with. So, I got about 9 regular pieces out of the whole thing. Go to caloriecount.about.com, and see the values and divide by 9.... this is roughly an estimate of course, but you know more or less how much nutrition is in each piece. I hope this helps!!!!
SORRY!!!! the recipe says it serves 12... my pieces were generous hahahahaha
Again.... caloriecount.about.com, take each ingredient (and measuring size) to get values, divide by how many servings of the recipe (or if you're like me, the number of generous pieces) and there is your estimate. I was on weight watchers and I did this to all the recipes that I couldn't find a nutrition value to get my WW Points....
Sage L says
I made these and i am so impressed THESE ARE AMAZING bless your soul
Thanks for a great recipe! I've made these several times with varying ingredients and they're always good. Peanut butter, mini-semi-sweet chocolate chips, stevia in place of half the sugar... Oh and I upped the rolled oats to 1/2 cup, and oat flour to 1 for a little more texture.... still good! Delish and our new go-to dessert. YUM!
So I made these today, and I have to say that they were good. I thought something was missing in my rendition, seeing as though instead of coconut sugar I used brown sugar and my oats were a mixture of oats, flaxseed and some whole wheat 'something' lol (I used whatever I had for my first time).... NONETHELESS, great recipe!!!!
I didn't have an 8x8 pan, so I took a chance with a paper lined cupcake pan. Cooked to perfection at 22 minutes in a convection toaster oven. Super moist and Delilah! Thank you so much for this recipe!
Oops! Meant to say delish!
OMG! These were amazing! I am not a vegan, but am planning a vegan menu for friends that are coming. I wanted to make a desert that would please them, as well as my not vegan family. THESE were amazing!! I had to make another batch, as the first one disappeared! I didn't have almond butter, so used peanut butter. I also used almond meal instead of oat flour, as I was too lazy to pull out my food processor to make the oat flout, and had made more almond flour earlier in the day. I also didn't have an 8 x 8 pan, so used a 8" round and increased the time by 5 minutes. Thank you! Great recipe!!
Hi Ashley! I'm thinking of making these but don't have oat flour or enough rolled oats to grind into flour - could I use whole wheat flour or all purpose instead? Thanks! (:
Hi, Jo! I've never tested the recipe with whole wheat or all purpose flour before, so I can't say for certain whether they'll turn out or not/how different the result will be. If you decide to give it a whirl, I'd love to know how they turn out!
Linda P says
Just discovered your site through this recipe. Great recipe! I made a couple of tweaks because I was out of a few things: made my own oat flour from rolled oats, subbed in homemade coconut milk for the almond milk. They turned out so very tasty, even if they are not quite as photogenic as your's! My oat flour came out as a bit of a course grind. ...so the texture looks rough, but ultimately, I don't mind an "ugly"cookie as long as the ingredients and taste are exceptional! Thanks for sharing!
Linda P says
Ooops, meant subbed for the oat milk.
Delicious! Saw this recipe today on a Masie Jane's Almond Butter post. (They make the best Almond butter!) I made my own oat flour and reduced the sugar by 1/4 cup. I didn't have coconut sugar so I used turbinado sugar which was fine but next time I'd like to try coconut sugar. I may also reduce the sugar by 1/2 next time as well but I'm sure they'll be just as delicious! Thanks for the recipe!
Hi! I found your blog (and this recipe) when searching for recipes to use up a massive stash of almond butter my household amassed. I discovered I am allergic to gluten this year and have had a hard time finding sweet snack outlets for my cravings. I also happen to be allergic to dairy :( I followed the recipe, and I happened to have most of the ingredients in my pantry, These were super easy to make and turned out perfect. Thank you so much. I fully plan on testing out some of your other g-free recipes.
Hello! Silly question but why can’t you just make these into cookies without the pan?
They look amazing! I don’t have an 8x8 pan! :(
Hi, Chelsy! You probably can (would just need to adjust the baking time and potentially chill the dough too as it’s on the softer/gooey side).
Hi! I realise these posts started in 2015..... Did you finish the book? How do we get it? Love the cookies! Thank you, E
Hi, Elaine! Yes, the book was released in 2016. Here's a link to it on Amazon (but it can be found wherever books are sold): https://www.amazon.com/Blissful-Basil-Plant-Powered-Vibrancy-Happiness/dp/1942952457
Just made this last night. I halved the recipe and used half almond butter and half peanut butter as I didn’t have enough almond butter. I LOVE this recipe, so delicious! I have been having difficulty finding recipes for good easy vegan sweet treats that don’t taste vegan as my husband is not vegan....this recipe is a keeper! I will definitely be making this again.
Happy to hear you're enjoying the recipe! Thanks for taking time out of your day to come back and share your thoughts—means so much.
Loved these! Easy to make and easy to eat. Used 2/3 almond butter 1/3 sun butter. Thanks!
So glad you enjoyed them, Brittany! Thanks for taking the time to come back and share your rating, thoughts, and adjustments!
These look fabulous!
Before I attempt to make them, may I ask a question - can I substitute the coconut sugar with brown sugar? Would that impair the taste?
Hi, Rupi! I think it should be okay to substitute the coconut sugar with brown sugar. It will likely alter the texture a bit, but it should turn out well nonetheless. Enjoy!
Theses look amazing! Could I sub with whole milk instead of the almond milk?
Hi, Marlene! That substitute should work just fine. Enjoy!
I just made these cookie bars for the first time, and they were delicious !! I used regular baking powder (not the aluminum free) as it was all i had. I have never heard of that before and just wondered if you called for it because it is obviously healthier, or if there is any difference in the way it works? I never even knew baking powder had aluminum in it until I read this recipe!
Thanks so much,
So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Vanessa! Great question regarding aluminum-free baking powder. No difference in the way it works, but definitely healthier since aluminum is considered to be a neurotoxin. Thanks for taking the time to come back and rate the recipe—means so much.
Angie Freeman says
This recipe is one of our favorites, my husband requests it often. Too bad we eat the whole pan in about 1 day!
So wonderful to hear you and your husband are enjoying the recipe, Angie! And trust me, I FEEL you about that problem. Same problem in our household. :) Thanks for taking the time to come back and share your thoughts—means a lot to me.
Naadia Dass says
I have made this sooo many times in the past 3 years and it has never failed to impress people when I make it. SOOOO GOOOOOD
Happy to hear you're enjoying the recipe, Naadia! Thanks for taking a moment out of your day to let me know. Means so much. :)
Can I double the recipe and bake it in a 9x13 pan?
Hi Seema! Yes, that should work. The bars will be a bit thicker though, so you may need to bake them for a bit longer. Hope this helps and enjoy!