Salted Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Bars

It’s fun in the sun and it’s all about adventure. If you want to go where the next road takes you, be prepared. Get packed for your journeys with plenty of snacks and healthy food to eat along the way. Here are a few strategic things you can do before you head out on the road. 

Fresh fruit and veggies can be notoriously hard to find, so to eat nutritiously and save money, pack your own. Veggies that will travel well include carrot and celery sticks, cucumber slices, snap peas, red pepper strips, baby tomatoes and jicama slices. Pack these in cooler-ready containers, but also think about packing some in individual servings so that you can pass them out along the way. 

Less messy fresh fruit is a great option to pack and go. Think bananas, small apples, grapes, plums, apricots, raisins, or other dried fruit like cranberries or blueberries. Fruit can also be cut up and portioned into small containers, but stay away from anything that can be too juicy or sticky. If you’re going to pack those watermelon chunks, plan to serve them out of the car. 

For protein, pack jerky or jerky sticks, hard-boiled eggs, protein bars, string cheese, nuts, crunchy chickpeas, trail mix, or single-serving containers of hummus, cottage cheese, or low-fat Greek yogurt. I like to pack a small jar of peanut butter because it doesn’t require refrigeration. You can smear it on a banana or some apple slices, or spread it on crackers or bread for an easy way to add protein on the go. You can do this with other nut butters that don’t need to be refrigerated as well. 

Have some packaged treats on hand, too. Buy individual servings of healthy snacks like popcorn, veggie chips, and guacamole and you won’t be tempted, or forced, to buy less sensible offerings at the gas station. Let everyone pick something they like, but throw in a surprise, too. Having an unexpected treat can really make the miles go by faster. 

These Salted Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Bars are easy to make and they tote along well. Made with a mix of gooey peanut butter and chewy oats, they are gluten-free and naturally sweetened with coconut sugar. Add whatever suits you for the mix-ins. You can use just chocolate chunks, or add chopped candy, like peanut butter cups, along with some salty pretzels. You could also top these with M&M’s in school colors and they’d be perfect for a graduation party. 

I reduced the coconut sugar by half and used 1/2 cup instead of the full cup in the recipe. I also swapped in olive oil for the coconut oil, but feel free to use any kind of neutral oil you prefer. I wanted to make them nut free so I used sunflower seed flour (1 cup of finely ground sunflower seeds) in place of the almond flour. I used 1/2 cup of rolled oats and they came out just right – plenty thick, and oat-filled.

Be sure that your peanut butter and your egg are at room temperature. No need to pack the coconut sugar, but you should pack your almond or sunflower seed flour just like you would with brown sugar. Use your own dark chocolate bar and cut your own chunks. They will melt even better than regular chocolate chips. Add some of the chocolate and mix-ins to the cookie bars, but reserve some for the top so you can see what’s inside. 

Keep an eye on them once they’re in the oven. Mine baked in exactly 20 minutes and you want to slightly underbake them so that your bars will be nice and chewy, with crisp, cookie-like edges. You can store these on your counter for a day or two, if they last that long, but for longer storage keep them covered and refrigerated. (They are delicious cold!) 

Set some up for the freezer by wrapping individual cookie bars in plastic wrap, then in foil or a resealable bag. They’ll keep frozen for up to 3 months, so you can make them well ahead of time and have something fun to take along on your travels. Let them thaw at room temperature before enjoying. These cookie bars are so fun to make and they’re even more fun to share. 

Have food, will travel. Summer waits for no one, so get out there and do it up.

Salted Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Bars

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (154g) coconut sugar (or substitute brown sugar)
  • 3/4 cup (192g) natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup (56g) melted and cooled coconut oil (or any oil you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (112g) packed fine almond flour (or sunflower seed flour for nut-free)
  • 1/2 cup (48g) rolled oats (or 3/4 cup for thicker, more oat-y)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 – 1 cup (125g) dark chocolate chunks or chocolate chips (dairy-free if desired), divided, plus mix-ins of your choice: peanut butter cups, chocolate bars, M&M’s, Chex Mix, pretzels, cookies, etc. 
  • Maldon sea salt flakes, for sprinkling on top 

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line an 8×8-inch pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine eggs, coconut sugar and peanut butter and mix until smooth and creamy. Add in melted and cooled coconut (or other) oil and vanilla and mix together again until very smooth and well combined. Mix at least 30 seconds, or until there is no oil separation. 

Add almond (or sunflower seed) flour, oats, baking soda, and salt; mix until well combined. Roughly chop candy, then fold in 3/4’s of the chocolate chunks/chips and other mix-ins, reserving enough to sprinkle on top. 

Add batter to prepared pan then evenly spread with a spatula toward edges. Sprinkle top with remaining chocolate chunks and mix-ins. Bake 20-25 minutes until edges are barely golden brown, slightly underbaked. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Allow to cool 15-20 minutes to firm up before cutting. Cut into 16 squares. 

-adapted from


Donna Ferguson

Donna Ferguson

I love to cook, garden, and write about all the things in Vancouver and the Northwest that make life so great.

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