No Bake Oat Bars with Sour Cherries, Hemp & Chocolate

Created by Laura Wright
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These no bake oat bars with sour cherries, hemp and chocolate are the best granola bar you’ll ever try. Naturally vegan & gluten free! This recipe is excerpted from Alternative Baker by Alanna Taylor-Tobin’s Alternative Baker.

A head on shot of a plate of cut homemade granola bars with a chocolate topping.
An overhead shot of the "ALternative Baker" cookbook.
An overhead shot of chocolate covered granola bars on a grey plate. To the side is a jar of hemp seeds, some amethyst crystals, a plant, and a cup of coffee.
An overhead shot of prep for some no bake oat bars.

It’s Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend, and I’m extra thankful for the abundance of new and great cookbooks right now. I’m in a creative rut, and can’t seem to zero in on any sort of recipe development project that really excites me these days. I really do think that a big part of doing something creative for a living is letting yourself get pulled in other directions to find new inspiration/new paths.

You may already know by now that I approach almost all baking/dessert projects with a little bit of dread. I know some people find baking relaxing, but I just can’t get on that level. Most of my outings with sweets are simple things that can also tag along with a coffee and be called breakfast. If you’re coming over to my place for dinner, you can bet the dessert was based on a trusted source that I followed to a tee (or I bought it haha). I don’t take chances anymore!

I can generally spy a photo from The Bojon Gourmet a mile away. Alanna’s blog is a sophisticated source of whole food inspiration, and her vivid imagery beams me in every time. She comes from a professional background, and it shows in her recipe instructions. Lots of sensory cues and very real anticipation of how a cook is going to use her recipes in real life. ALTERNATIVE BAKER is Alanna’s brand new book, and it is such a thoughtful exploration of flavourful, nutritious, and gluten-free flours. It’s all very smart, and you get a feeling from right off the page that it’s all outrageously good.

These no-bake oat bars stood out for me. Also, I will try any and all renditions of a granola bar-like recipe that has chocolate. This one is extra good. Alanna goes the extra mile and has you toast the oats and the almonds, and it makes all the difference. I made these to the letter and they were perfect. Just the right hit of tartness from the cherries, lots of nutty and roasty flavours, crave-able crunchy/chewy texture, and just enough hemp seeds to push these bars into superfood territory. I only messed up one little thing–I used roasted and salted almond butter and then proceeded to add the salt in the recipe–and they were still great!

Love to you all. Hope all my Canadian pals have a great holiday weekend, too <3

An up close shot of sliced almonds toasting in a pan.
Image shows a hand pouring a saucepan of melted chocolate that is pouring out over a pan of no bake oat bars.
An up close shot of a melted chocolate topping that has been freshly poured onto some oat bars.
A head on shot of a plate of cut homemade granola bars with a chocolate topping.

No Bake Oat Bars with Sour Cherries, Hemp & Chocolate

These no bake oat bars with sour cherries, hemp and chocolate are the best granola bar you'll ever try. Naturally vegan & gluten free! This recipe is excerpted from Alternative Baker by Alanna Taylor-Tobin's Alternative Baker.
No ratings yet
no-bake oat bars with sour cherries, hemp & chocolate - The First Mess
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Setup Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 32 minutes
Servings 16



  • 1 cup smooth unsalted almond butter (stirred and at room temperature)
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • cups certified GF old fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup dried tart cherries
  • ¼ cup hulled hemp seeds
  • ¼ cup cacao nibs


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin coconut oil
  • ¾ cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • flaky sea salt, cacao nibs and hemp seeds, for sprinkling


  • From ALTERNATIVE BAKER: reinventing dessert with gluten-free grains and flours by Alanna Taylor-Tobin
  • Alanna notes this in the recipe, and I agree: these bars look small, but they’re definitely rich and satisfying. I want to try these with hazelnut butter so badly because I imagine there would be a Nutella vibe once everything’s all mingled with the chocolate.


  • In a large bowl, whisk together the almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Set aside.
  • Place the oats in s wide, heavy-bottomed skillet set over low heat, and toast until golden and fragrant, about 8-12 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour the warm oats into the bowl with the almond butter mixture. Add the almonds to the skillet and place back on the low heat. Toast the almonds until golden and fragrant, about 4-6 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the almonds to the bowl with the oats, along with the dried cherries, hemp seeds, and cacao nibs. Use a strong and flexible spatula to stir everything together until combined. I had to get in there with my hands, so if yours seems quite sticky, that should be fine.
  • Line an 8-inch square pan with a sling of parchment paper that overhangs on the sides. Scrape the oat mixture into the pan and press it down evenly with slightly damp hands until you have a flat surface of even thickness.
  • To make the topping, combine the coconut oil and chopped chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir the mixture often until completely melted and smooth. Pour the melted chocolate over the oat bars. Tilt the pan to distribute the chocolate evenly. Sprinkle the top with flaky sea salt, cacao nibs, and hemp seeds.
  • Place the pan of oat bars in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. When you’re ready to cut, loosen the edges of the bars with the tip of a knife before pulling the bars out by the edges of the parchment sling. Cut bars into 16 even squares. Store the cut bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
06/10/2016 (Last Updated 25/10/2022)
Posted in: autumn, breakfast, dessert, gluten free, refined sugar-free, snack, spring, summer, sweet, vegan, winter


Recipe Rating

  • Rhonda Bell

    These have elevated my definition of culinary crack. Must hike more often so I can make these more often……

  • Charlotte

    hi, I really like those bars and would like to make them… but 16 of them are quite a lot and I don’t think I could/should eat them all within 5 days… do you know if you can freeze them?

    • Laura

      Yep! Just tightly wrap the individual bars with plastic wrap and then keep them in the freezer. They should take an hour or so to fully thaw individually.

  • Poe

    I absolutely love the simplicity of this recipe! The photos are lovely too! One thing I was wondering however, was whether or not i could substitute the hemp seeds for anything. I have not quite seen them sold anywhere near by.

    • Laura

      You could substitute them with any other small seed, like sesame seeds, chia seeds, or even flax seeds would work!

  • Kristen

    I’ve made these twice now with chocolate-covered cacao nibs from Trader Joe’s. These are so delicious (and easy)!

  • Eric

    Looks delicious!

  • Sanne

    Okay yes, I will absolutely make these!

  • Mimazine

    These look absolutely amazing! The perfect pick-me-up snack… definitely going to try these! xx

  • Jessie Snyder

    This was so refreshing to read Laura. As I think I mentioned in an earlier comment on another post, I’m in this same rut right now and find the physical + present moments of doing anything but prepare food to be the most gratifying. Embracing it wholeheartedly seems to be the thing to do, and it sounds like you are doing just that. You go girl. Enjoy this chill time, and alllllll these squares ;) holy chocolate goodness.

  • Libby

    These are gorgeous and I’m craving them right now. :D I’m going to bring these to a potluck next weekend.

  • Sophie

    I’m so happy you made these bars! They were totally the first item I saw from the book and was like “must eat!!!”. Happy Thanksgiving to you and the fam. I think stepping away from the creative process and getting more into physical aspects of life/out in fresh air is so important this time of year. xox and here’s to post-book recovery <3

  • Megan Gordon

    … *Thanks for sharing!
    Ohhhhhh, sleep deprivation :)

  • Megan Gordon

    Yes! Can’t wait to check out this book. These look beautiful, Laura. Tanks for sharing + happy Thanksgiving!

  • Kate

    Whoa, these look bonkers good! I feel you on the creativity rut. Sometimes I get tapped out, too. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a break! I like to take walks and listen to classic music to decompress sometimes. You never know what may give you a creativity spark!

  • Allyson

    This looks fantastic and so simple. Yum.

  • valentina | sweet kabocha

    Happy Thanksgiving Laura! I never feel so comfortable too when I’m baking, but with her book as a guideline, I feel I can never go wrong again!

  • Abby @ Heart of a Baker

    Happy Thanksgiving weekend to you dear friend! I’ve been watching for this book and I can’t WAIT to buy it! I also have been seeing you tease these on social media and they look even better than I could have dreamed. xo

  • Tuulia Talvio

    The creative rut seems to have found its way here too, so a big YES for all things simple and focusing on other projects in the meantime. It’ll find its way back when the time is right, at least I hope so! xo