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Gluten/Oat/Casein/Soy Free “Clif” Granola Bars

by Jeanette on March 21, 2011 · 60 Comments
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Gluten Free Clif Granola Bars
I’ve been looking for a healthy protein/granola bar in the local supermarkets that is free of gluten, casein, soy, and oats. This has proven to be quite a challenge. Most granola bars contain oats, and protein bars often contain casein or soy. 

Recently, my allergic child was wishfully dreaming of eating a Clif Bar, one of the many protein bars on supermarket shelves. I perused the ingredient label and not only were oats one of the ingredients, but soy was prominently featured in the form of soy protein isolate, roasted soybeans and organic soy flour, all of which my son is allergic to. In fact, one package I picked up did not list soy as an ingredient, yet footnoted that the product contained soy.

For food allergies, reading food labels is critical as they can be life threatening in some cases. One friend whose daughter is allergic to gluten purchased a “gluten-free” granola bar. Her daughter suffered a seizure after eating the granola bar, so scary! After calling the company, my friend was informed that in fact the granola bar had barley malt in it, which contains gluten. Unfortunately, you can’t rely on “gluten-free” labels on store-bought products. Reading the ingredient label carefully is the best way to ensure no allergens are used. Of course, the best way to ensure safe eating is to make your own granola bars, which is what I set out to do. 

Recently, I came across a recipe for Homemade Clif Bars on Enlightened Cooking, and decided to try it, tweaking it to meet my son’s allergy needs. Instead of quick-cooking oats (he’s allergic to oats), I used quinoa flakes which resemble quick-cooking oats in shape, size and texture. I had originally bought these quinoa flakes to make a hot breakfast cereal; however, my son turned his nose down at the quinoa flake porridge due to an off-taste when cooked. However, in this recipe for gluten-free granola bars, these quinoa flakes work perfectly. 

Quinoa flakes are a nice gluten-free substitute for quick-cooking oats.


This recipe is so flexible as you can use any dried fruits, nuts and nut butters that you like. My son has an almond allergy as well, so I used chopped walnuts and cashew nut butter. 

Brown Rice Syrup and Nut Butter hold this Granola Bar together.

I also threw in a few dairy/soy-free mini chocolate chips for fun. The best part about this recipe is that these bars don’t need to be baked – that’s right, just mix well, pat in a lightly oiled pan, cover and refrigerate. The bar mixture is held together with brown rice syrup and the nut butter.

My kids all loved these bars, and I am thrilled to have added another granola bar to my repertoire. The funny thing is that one of my older boys found it quite humorous that my little guy actually wanted a Clif Bar, as he thought these No-Bake Gluten-Free “Clif” Granola Bars were far better.


No-Bake Gluten/Oat/Casein/Soy-Free “Clif” Granola Bars

Adapted from Enlightened Cooking. 

I’ve used quinoa flakes instead of oatmeal in this recipe due to an oatmeal allergy. This recipe is so versatile as you can change up the dried fruits, nuts, and nut butters depending on your own preferences or allergy needs.

These Gluten/Oat/Casein/Soy-Free Granola Bars are better than store-bought “Clif” bars. 
Printable Recipe
1 1/4 cups gluten-free brown rice cereal
1 cup quinoa flakes
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/4 cup dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, raisins, cherries)
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds)
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup gluten-free brown rice syrup (make sure it doesn’t contain barley malt)
1/2 cup nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan. Tear a piece of parchment paper just large enough to cover the pan.

Combine the brown rice cereal, quinoa flakes, flaxseed, dried fruit, coconut, nuts and chocolate chips in a large bowl.
This recipe is so versatile – you can substitute your favorite dried fruit and nuts.

Combine the brown rice syrup, and nut butter in a microwavable bowl and heat until just melted, about 30-60 seconds. Stir in vanilla extract.

Pour nut butter/syrup over cereal mixture and stir well with a spatula. 

Mix with a spatula first, but then you really have to dig your hands in to mix everything together.


Now comes the messy part. Dig your hands into the cereal mixture and mix everything together really well.

Pour mixture into greased 8-inch pan. Place the sheet of parchment paper on top of the pan and press down firmly to bind ingredients.

Use a piece of parchment paper to press the granola bar mixture down firmly. 

Refrigerate at least one hour. Cut into bars and store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

More Gluten-Free Granola Bar Recipes:
Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Chewy Granola Bars 
Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom’s Crunchy Flax Cereal Bars
Lexie’s Kitchen’s Gluten-Free Almond Power Bars
Cook It Allergy Free Granola Oatmeal Cookie Bars
Gluten Free Easily’s Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free Chewy Granola Bars
The Baking Beauties’ Gluten Free Homemade Granola Bars

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  1. I like finding ways to add more quinoa in my diet. Besides, it sounds really cool to say it! Great recipe!

  2. Pretend Chef says:

    Your kids sound so cute. These granola bars look amazing and I love the fact that you don't have to bake them. Yummy!

  3. Jeanette says:

    Thanks Marly – I'm really loving these quinoa flakes. I have to agree with my son, I like them much better in granola bars than as a hot breakfast cereal. They make a great substitute for oatmeal in granola bars.

  4. Jeanette says:

    Thanks Rochelle, my kids are funny kids, never a dull moment! These granola bars are so easy to make and since you can basically put anything in them, you can probably just find all the ingredients in your pantry. The only thing you might have to pick up is the brown rice syrup.

  5. Kim-Cook it Allergy Free says:

    Jeanette, these look amazing!! I will give these a try this week. We are headed out of town for spring break next week and these would be a great travel snack. I always love trying new versions!! Thanks so much for including my recipe as well!! 😉

  6. RunningtotheAisle says:

    Have you tried larabar's? They are Gluten free, dairy free, soy free, vegan and kosher. They taste GREAT! And very minimum ingredients.

  7. Ayngelina says:

    Oh wow I cannot imagine being allergic to gluten but now oats, the options you give him look delicious

  8. Jeanine - The Baking Beauties says:

    Your granola bars look fantastic, Jeanette! I think I need to find some quinoa flakes. :) Thanks for including me!

  9. Jeanette says:

    Destini, I haven't tried larabars before, but I saw them in the supermarket today. You're right just a few ingredients, dates and fruit. A nice alternative if you're in a hurry.

  10. Jeanette says:

    Thanks Kim, these would be great for a road trip or for the plane. Your recipe sound yum too!

  11. Jeanette says:

    Thanks Ayngelina, my son's allergies have been a blessing in disguise as it has taught me to be more sympathetic towards people with allergies, as well as pushed me into a whole new realm of cooking more creatively than I cold ever have imagined.

  12. Jeanette says:

    Thanks Jeanine, I am loving these quinoa flakes as an alternative to quick oats in granola bars – they're also high in protein. Your bars look terrific too!

  13. gfe--gluten free easily says:

    Great recipe, Jeanette! They look sooo good and I love that they don't even have to be baked. :-) Thanks so much for the link love, dear!


  14. Jeanette says:

    Thanks Shirley, having a no-bake recipe that can thrown together quickly is definitely a plus. Love your granola bar recipe!

  15. Heidi @ Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom says:

    These are GORGEOUS Jeanette! I can't wait to try them as soon as we are able to have quinoa and rice back in our diet. These would be perfect for school day busy breakfasts!

  16. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen says:

    I really love quinoa and I've been interested in trying to use quinoa flakes for a while now. I love how easy these are to put together too.

  17. Thanks Heidi, your granola bars inspired me to try more recipes now that we are also oat-free. Hope you are able to add back quinoa and rice, rice especially must be so difficult since it is used to often as a gluten free substitute in baking.

  18. Thank for stopping by Sylvie, love your beautiful photography and writing! These bars are very simple to make, and the quinoa flakes work so well in this recipe.

  19. oceangal says:

    This looks so yummy. Is there anything I could use to substitute for the brown rice syrup? What about honey? Or turbinado?

  20. I think honey should work fine, but you probably don't need as much. Brown rice syrup is not as sweet as honey and it's thicker. Just be sure to press down firmly on the granola bar mixture in the pan before refrigerating so everything sticks together well.

  21. I'm looking for another granola bar but unfortunately I can't eat rice or chocolate or almonds. Too bad.

  22. Jeanette says:

    Hi Sandra, I'm not sure what your allergies are, but perhaps you could substitute unsweetened corn flakes or Nature's Path Gorilla Munch for the rice cereal (it's really for a little crunch). If you can eat other nuts, you could also substitute nuts for the rice cereal. Other nut butters work great. I used cashew nut butter since we also have an almond allergy, but sunflower seed butter, hazelnut butter and peanut butter would also work. For the chocolate chips, you can either just leave them out or try carob chips.

  23. Julie M. says:

    Those absolutely look better than a cliff bar. What a gorgeous recipe and I love that it's gluten free. I'll be passing this on to a friend of mine who suffers from celiac's. She is always looking for winning recipes and I can already tell she'll love it.

  24. Jeanette says:

    Thanks Julie, I hope your friend enjoys these. I keep a stash in the refrigerator for quick healthy snacks. These bars are so easy to make and more importantly, I know exactly what goes into them.

  25. any ideas on how to make this sugar free? I mean what can I use instead of brown rice syrup? I want to make these but at the momement (for lent) I have given up sugar. do you think honey would work in it's place? Is the brown rice syrup basically the glue?

  26. Jeanette says:

    Hi Janel, brown rice syrup and the nut butter hold the granola bar together, so you could substitute honey for the brown rice syrup. I would use a bit less honey as brown rice syrup is thicker and not as sweet as honey.

  27. Nina Herbert says:

    Thanks for this recipe. These types of muesli bars in Australia almost always have dairy and/or honey in them.
    We are lucky that our children do not suffer with allergies or intolerances but I love knowing EXACTLY what's in (or more importantly NOT in) the foods they eat. :)
    Again, thank you!

  28. Jeanette says:

    Thanks Nina – you're so fortunate to have accurate labeling in Australia. I haven't seen muesli bars in the U.S. but they sound similar to this unbaked granola bar.

  29. I feel so bad for your little guy! It would be a tough life for me to live with allergies like that, and sometimes with false labeling, deadly things could happen too. Thank goodness your a mom that cares like that.
    I know I can't find those flakes so I think I'll make the original recipe. :)

  30. Jeanette says:

    Kathy – you are so right about food labeling being misleading sometimes. I've learned to read all ingredient labels. If you're not allergic to oats, they would be great in this recipe instead of quinoa flakes.

  31. Jeanette – Thank you for the recommendation ^^

  32. Fantastic job, Jeanette! I can eat very few of the commercial bars or even want to when I can tolerate the ingredients. Even a whole Larabar makes me feel like I’ve had a sweetness overload, despite the natural sweeteners. I had several of their mini bars over the weekend while traveling with a gf friend (who had a bag full) and I felt a major need for protein as some balance. Anyway, LOVE your bars, especially the true “Cliff” ones in the first photo! 😉 And thanks so much for including me in your link love at the end of your post. :-)


  33. I love your use of ingredients and the flexibility of this recipe. You really helped people understand that in this case, they can make this to suit their needs. Thanks so much for including my chewy granola bars.


    • Thanks Amy – I do like recipes that can be modified to meet any dietary needs or just to use up different pantry ingredients. Love the recipes on your site!

  34. I found this post because I googled “snacks, oat free, dairy free, soy free.”

    At first I was dismayed because I can’t use nut butters, but then I realized that I could try quinoa flakes in our favorite granola bars and see how that turns out.

    • [I was distracted by my children’s shenanigans so neglected to finish my comment before posting it.] THANK YOU for the idea!! I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with my increased list of food allergies and the food restrictions imposed by my nurseling.

      • Thank you for your comment – I know how overwhelming it can be when you first find out about all the food allergies…but I know it will get easier as you experiment more and find substitutions that you like and work for you.

    • Quinoa flakes are the perfect substitute for oats in granola bars.

  35. These look great! I just found out I have an allergy to oats and dairy. These would be perfect. I am a vegetarian to so take all the protein I can get. Do you happen to know how much protein this would have in it? I am guessing quite a bit since quinoa and nut butters are usually higher in protein! How long do they usually last in the fridge for? Is this something that could be frozen or would they crumbled when thawed out?
    Thanks for the recipe! I am excited to try it!

    • Thanks Jenna, I did not calculate the amount of protein in these granola bars, but you could probably figure it out using an online counter. Of course, it would depend on the size of the bars. I’ve kept these bars in the fridge a little less than a week (or at least that’s how long they lasted before they were polished off). Not sure if they would freeze well, but worth a try. Would love to hear if it works.

  36. do you use life semi-sweet chocolate chips or what brand of chocolate chips do you use, so they are casein free

    • Yes, Enjoy Life chocolate chips are casein free. I’ve seen a few others occasionally – you have to check the labels.

  37. What could I use instead of Nuts… big nut allergy here including sunflower seeds, so no sunflower butter :( I like everything else in your bars. I might have to scrap the whole granola bar idea

  38. or I could use blended dates for stickiness, would definitely add more carbohydrates to this recipe than I need, but would taste good too :)

    • Not sure what other food restrictions you have, but here’s a recipe I found http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Granola-Bars-Iii-Allrecipes (just leave out the nuts). If you have a wheat allergy, leave out the wheat germ and try substituting oat flour for the AP flour. If you have an egg allergy, you could probably just leave it out and add a little more honey to bind the granola mixture together.

  39. These bars look amazing and I will make them for home ut as I have two kids with two different nut allergies plus in Australia all our schools are nut free zones I was wondering if there was a substitute to nut butter I could use??
    Thanks for the recipe

  40. I made these bars today, with some minor alterations. First off, I *did* sub quick-cook oats for the quinoa flakes (I’m sorry if I’ve totally botched the whole oat allergy/gluten-free thing! :-/ Its all I had on hand, but will try the quinoa next time I make them, especially for the protein factor!). I think the oats soaked up more moisture than the quinoa would have, so I ended up adding some maple syrup and a dash more vanilla extract. I added some cinnamon as well. I used a combination of nuts and seeds, like pumpkin, sesame, hemp, sunflower… and a peanut butter/ pumpkin seed butter combo. I think next time I’ll try using dates too! They turned out great! However, I am looking for something that does not require refrigeration to stay firm, so after slicing them, I baked them on an insulated baking sheet with parchment paper for 15 minutes at 300 degrees, let them cool completely and BAM! They are wonderful! Still soft and chewy but firm enough so you can toss one in your bag and not worry about it getting all deformed and mis-shapen. Thanks for this recipe!

  41. This recipe looks great, but I am wondering what brown rice cereal is, does cream of brown rice cereal work?

    • Brown rice cereal are like rice crispy cereal, light and crunchy. Cream of brown rice cereal would not work as it is a different texture. You could try substituting your favorite cereal (low in sugar).

  42. Elizabeth says:

    This recipe looks great, but I recently heard about high arsenic levels in brown rice syrup – even organic. Do you have a good source for rice syrup that won’t contain dangerous levels of arsenic? Thanks.

    • Hi Elizabeth, yes I recently read the same about brown rice syrup. I think honey should work in place of brown rice syrup.

  43. How did I ever miss this post. Can’t wait to try it. I bookmarked it for our next batch. Good thing you have that side bar with some of your recent recipes or I would have missed it!

  44. OMG I love this recipe. I found it awhile back and have been making it over and over again. I do substitute a few things though, I use oats instead of quinoa flakes because the flakes are sooo expensive and its bad enough trying to pay for crazy expensive gluten free stuff. I also use honey instead of the syrup. Im seriously addicted to these bars!

    • Jeanette Jeanette says:

      Melissa, I am so glad you tried this recipe and love it. Oats are a great substitute. I only used quinoa flakes because my son was allergic to oats at the time. Honey is a nice substitute especially since recently I have read that some brown rice syrup (organic included) contains arsenic, so I’ve stopped using it.

  45. Maria McNerney says:

    I just made these bars ( without nuts or coconut) with cranberries and mini chocolate chips and they are crazy good. I didn’t read the comments before making them and used maple syrup in place of the brown rice syrup…it doesn’t bind enough. They are a crumbly mess! I am going to make another batch with honey now and see if that works with the soy nut butter I’m using. Hopefully it will because I’m trying to pack these for vacation and also find something for my son to take to preschool for snack. Thanks for the oat less recipe for those of us who are allergic!

  46. I just wanted to say THANK YOU! I stumbled upon this post and I’m so happy I did! I have an oat allergy, and while I’ve recently found the Kind protein bars wonderful, ( i found i have a date allergy too, thanks to the larabars!) they add up money wise! I’ve never tried quinoa, but I’m absolutely going to now. It’s becoming easier these days to find things that I can eat (I get so jealous of the Clif Bar eaters!) because of wonderful posts like this.

    Thanks again, I’m on my way to the store :)

    • Hi Amanda, I’m so happy I was able to help. I know what you’re going through – that’s why I made these allergy-friendly bars. Be sure to buy the quinoa flakes – they look like rolled oats. Enjoy!

  47. I made this at home and it is absolutely fantastic

  48. Jeanette:
    I made your “clif” granola bars today, but mine did not stay together – so I just packaged some of the mixture in snack bags. I used raw cocao bits instead of chocolate chips and used natural peanut butter, but the mixture was crumbs. Any suggestions or what did I do wrong. Thanks.

    • Faye – it’s possible the consistency of the peanut butter was different or the brown rice syrup. If you try this again, I would add more peanut butter and/or brown rice syrup and test the mixture out before making the bars by picking up a spoonful and seeing if it holds together when you squeeze it with your palm closed. It should bind; otherwise it will fall apart when you press it into the pan. The other trick is to use a piece of saran wrap and press down firmly on the bar mixture in the pan.

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