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raise that bar

Recipe: homemade cherry pie lärabar

Rather than being dismayed at how quickly February has disappeared, I’m actually excited for March. March is when the big storm tracks blow into Colorado. March is the transition to spring skiing. March is when I start hitting the road to shoot. March is longer daylight hours. It’s a month chock full of goodness.

That’s not to say February wasn’t good. I mean, February is…

sushi with my sweetie

splashes of color after sunset

sleeping in the sun after a much-needed bath

jupiter, venus, mercury, and the moon having a little party in the night sky

I made that last one extra big so you could actually see Mercury. Neat, huh? SCIENCE!! February has also been some good skiing around these parts with a foot of fresh snow last Thursday at our local hill. More snow also makes for more enjoyable backcountry ski tours. Whenever I hit a trail, I always pack something to eat – even if I don’t plan to eat it. It’s one of those items you should always have with you in case of an emergency. But barring an emergency, when you are suddenly low on energy, a snack is a great way to put yourself back in the driver’s seat. I’ve tried all manner of those energy bars and have found that most of them make me want to puke. Or they just sit in my stomach like a rock. Or they dry me out. My issue with trail mix is that 1) there are too many pieces and 2) the guy I usually hike with likes chocolate (which I don’t like). I want something easily digestible, natural, and good for me. Luckily, such a thing exists.

lärabar – cherry pie

My girlfriend, Marianne, introduced us to LÄRABAR a few years ago on a summer hike. I was reluctant, but she gave me a piece and… I really liked it. Just dried fruits and nuts. It tasted a million times better than all of those other complicated and barely palatable bars on the market. We were sold. They aren’t just for outdoor activities, but make a great snack to tide you over or to avert a meltdown when your blood sugar is running low. There is no sugar high and no sugar crash. We tried several of the flavors and then one day I looked at the ingredients on my favorite flavor (cherry pie) and said aloud, “I could totally make this.”

dried cherries, dried medjool dates, almonds

pit the dates

roast the almonds

At nearly $1.50 each LÄRABAR, I had a lot of incentive to attempt making my own version at home. It’s not hard to do, you can customize it, and I can make mine organic. I recommend using Medjool dates over Deglet dates. In my experience, Medjools tend to be more gooey than Deglets and you really need that as the dates are the main binding ingredient. I also roasted my almonds because I love that added depth of flavor. The one thing that makes this whole project super easy is a food processor.

process the dates and cherries into a semi-paste

chop the almonds

The cherries kept gumming up the blade of my food processor, but eventually I was able to get it to a gooey mass of dried fruit. There was no way to mix the nuts into the fruit paste without using my hand. The easiest and fastest way to incorporate the nuts was to knead it as if it were a dough. Worked great.

pour everything into a bowl

knead the nuts and dried fruit together

I then pressed the mixture into an 8.5-inch square pan to an even thickness of about 1/2-inch and popped the pan into the refrigerator. If you’ve ever eaten a LÄRABAR in subfreezing temperatures, you know they firm up when cold. After a half hour or so, I took the pan out of the refrigerator and flipped the filling out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut them to whatever size you like, but I find 1.5- x 3.5-inches works well for me. Any leftover squares can be mini snack sizes.

press the filling into a pan

slice the bars with a sharp knife

We wrap these bars individually in plastic wrap or pop them into a snack-size ziploc to take with us. Personally, I think they taste better than the cherry pie LÄRABAR because of the toasted almonds. And there is enormous flexibility in what you can add (spices, other fruits, other nuts, orange or lemon zest, even chocolate if that’s your thing). I’ll be experimenting with more combinations in anticipation of our summer consumption for bike rides, hikes, backpacks, road trips, you name it. I’m stoked! [Update: My new favorite flavor is blueberry muffin and you can find the homemade version here.]

i always have a few of these in my pack

jeremy loves them, and i think kaweah thinks she does too

Homemade Cherry Pie LÄRABAR
[print recipe]
based on the LÄRABAR site

1 1/4 cups medjool dates, pitted
1 1/4 cups dried cherries
1 1/2 cups almonds, toasted (optional)

To toast the almonds, place them on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F for ten minutes. Remove from oven and transfer the almonds to a bowl or plate to cool.

Place dates and cherries in a food processor and pulse until a gooey semi-paste has formed (you want some bits of fruit, but not huge pieces). Empty the dried fruit into a large mixing bowl. Put the almonds in the food processor and pulse to coarse bits. You don’t want to make this a powder. Empty the almonds into the mixing bowl with the dried fruit. Knead the dried fruit and almonds together until combined and evenly distributed. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan to about 1/2-inch thickness. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes. Invert the pan’s contents onto a cutting board and slice to desired size. Makes about a dozen 1.5- x 3.5-inch bars with a few odd pieces leftover.

66 nibbles at “raise that bar”

  1. peabody says:

    I so need to make these for my friend Brandon.

  2. Ariana says:

    You are a genius. I love Larabars! Now I have to figure out how to make the coconut one…

  3. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    I loooove lara bars! This sounds awesome!

  4. m @ random musings says:

    you must have been reading my mind! I’ve been thinking of homemade lara bars all weekend! can’t wait to make this ;-)

  5. Erin says:

    I got really excited when I saw that this was a post about homemade lara bars! I love them but they get really expensive. So thank you- I’m excited to play with flavors!

  6. Kirsten@My German the Rockies says:

    Great recipe. My family eats a lot of Larabars. Also a favorite to take skiing. Thanks!
    Venus is unbelievably bright some nights. We watch the night sky a lot, too.

  7. Esther says:

    I’ve been experimenting with this type of bar lately, too. So delicious! If you put the almonds into the food processor and pulse them into almond meal before adding the dried fruit, the food processor can incorporate all of the ingredients and you won’t need to mix it by hand!

  8. Twila Moon says:

    I’ve been thinking about trying to make larabars myself for awhile, but I’m really glad that you did the heavy lifting to figure out proportions. I like Esther’s advice – or maybe using a kitchenaid for part of the steps would help too? Please do post about other larabar-like flavors/recipes that you make!

  9. Theresa says:

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! I’ve tried lots of trail bars when we go hiking and I don’t like most of them either. I like to keep it simple. My favorites are Kind bars, which are also just fruit and nuts. I was actually planning to try a homemade version of my favorite Kind bar but maybe I will try this instead! :)

  10. Jean layton says:

    Yeah, for making these organically! Great tutorial, offto make my own.

  11. Elle says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Not only do I love Larabars, but the cherry pie is my favorite. I knew they had to be easy to make, but I just never got around to figuring it out. Definitely making these!

  12. what katie's baking says:

    what a wonderful february!
    i love larabars, but they’re so expensive and i can’t afford that. so thank you for the recipe!!

  13. Lisa Mai says:

    Wow that looks so yummy! I love dates, I always thought they were something that grammas ate, but after a few years I realized that grammas actually have it right: dates are awesome. Great post!

  14. Jennifer says:

    Yay! We loove larabars too and have both marveled at their simplicity and realized how easy they would be to make. Cherry is my favorite too.
    We’ve tried making cherry( I love how you roasted your almonds first, I’ll have to try that) and an apricot/pistachio flavor.
    Thanks for all you do, I look forward to your posts, they brighten my day :)

  15. Nan says:

    Excellent idea Jen! Glad you created these. I dislike those protein-packed bars too! Yuck. I’m going to pick up ingredients today and make these. Thanks!

  16. rebecca @ beurrista says:

    i have a bunch of medjool dates that need to be used up- this is the perfect recipe with which to finish them off!

  17. joey says:

    I need to make this for my hubby’s mountain biking trips! He buys those packaged bars but the costs add up plus they are nowhere near as good as homemade I’m sure. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  18. Charlie says:

    These sound fantastic, except for the dates.
    Is there any other fruit that I could use to substitute for the dates.


  19. Barbara @ Barbara Bakes says:

    I’ve always been too cheap to buy the Larabars. I’ll have to try your recipe. I wonder if you could switch to the dough blade to knead it together?

  20. angelitacarmelita says:

    Thanks so much for the recipe! I feel the same way about purchased bars. They’re too expensive and I don’t want to eat half the stuff they put in them. I usually pack all of these things separately and eat them together, but this is a fun way to eat them, yummy and chewy…. and I just bought a big container of dates, now I know exactly what I’m going to do with them!

  21. jenyu says:

    peabody – this is an easy one for a pro like you.

    Ariana – I can’t eat the ones with coconut, they taste like soap to me. I think it’s something strange with my taste (which didn’t use to have this issue). But if you go to the LÄRABAR site, they list all the ingredients for each bar – you just have to figure out the proportions :)

    Esther – yes, although I really like having the texture of the chunks of nuts in there.

    Twila Moon – yeah, I tried using the KA mixer yesterday on another batch and it was a bust. Hand mixing seems to work best for me.

    Theresa – I like those too, but I think these are definitely easier to make!

    Jean – thanks!

    Elle – yay!

    Lisa – yes to dates! I love them!

    Jennifer – there are so many combinations I want to make now :) mmmmm!!

    joey – I think I just saved myself $15 for every batch ;)

    Charlie – well, believe it or not, my husband is no fan of dates either. You really can’t tell they’re in there. They are more of a sweet binder and then the other ingredients mask the flavor (dates are pretty mild anyway). Give it a try. You might be surprised. Or you could buy a LÄRABAR and see what you think. I was astonished at how un-date-like they tasted.

    Barbara – the dough blade doesn’t incorporate it well, neither does the KA mixer dough hook.

  22. Jill says:

    February is also good for regulating the Earth…and celebrating Leap Year! Happy me!

    Regarding these cherry pie bars….I think I just found my next years Christmas presents! Everyone loved the trail mix last year, but these look equally yummy. xo, j

  23. Molly says:

    This is a great idea. I love the lemon flavor. Adding candied lemon peel would make them even better. I’ve always wondered why they don’t make an apricot flavor, so the pistachio/apricot idea sounds really good!

  24. vanillasugarblog says:

    i loved the lara bars but when they had that pb recall i stopped them
    i’m sure they are safe now BUT i found a new love.
    have you tried the KIND bars? the pb/choco is the best or no, the coco/choco.
    but the best part? they are ALL gmo free. good stuff

  25. Emily says:

    These sound great. Thank you for sharing!

  26. Elizabeth says:

    I’ll have to try this. I’ve been making various bars lately, and they all come out too sweet. Any suggestions for binders other than dates and honey?

  27. Patryce says:

    These are great! I offered my 8yo a date, plain. He wasn’t too thrilled with it. I can’t way that I love them either. But he loves dried tart cherries, and almonds, and he was eating dry, uncooked oatmeal at the time, so I added rolled oats to these, about a cup, and they really taste like cherries and almonds, not so much like dates. I did cheap out and use Noor dates, at about $2.35/lb instead of the Medjools at $4.99.

    Maybe even more oats would cut the sweetness for you, Elizabeth?

  28. Tracy says:

    Made these last night, but added a couple of tablespoons each of mini chocolate chips and chia seeds. Delicious! Thanks for posting the recipe! (Also, to the date-averse, they really do taste mostly of cherries and almonds.)

  29. caiming says:

    thank you for sharing this, can’t wait to try it and more ways to christen my food processor

  30. Beth says:

    Elizabeth, flax seed that has been waiting in warm warm water can be an egg substitute, this could be a binder if you drain the excess out.
    I tried this recipe with dried cranberries, peanuts, currants and a tiny pinch each of dry flax seed and flaked coconut (all I had on hand) and they came out way too crumbly. Would that be because of the absence of dates?

  31. jenyu says:

    Elizabeth – if you omit honey, I bet it’s not too sweet. The dates are the key ingredient (if you will note, it is the common ingredient in most all of the LÄRABARs.

    Beth – yes, dates are way way way more gooey than the other dried fruits. They are the binding agent.

  32. megan says:

    bought organic dried TART cherries (maybe to offset the dates’ sweetness…plus, they were less $$$), medjool dates, and pesticide-free almonds!! so excited to try this out :)

  33. m says:

    I used dried cranberries because they were half the price of dried cherries. Oh. My. Goodness. So tasty!! Thanks for the great instructions. Happy 15th anniversary!

  34. melissa says:

    I will be trying these today! Thank you for the inspiration!

  35. Nicole, RD says:

    I can’t wait to make these…for sure my favorite flavor!

  36. Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew Bars « The Craving Chronicles says:

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  38. Leah (with Chunks of Energy) says:

    Yay! My dad had the a similar idea 20 years ago and we’ve been selling healthy, affordable, simple energy bars in bulk bins all over the country ever since… It makes us happy to see people DIY!

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  40. Jen says:

    Made these today using Fancy Medjool dates, unsweetened/unsulfered dark sweet cherries, and roasted unsalted almonds — all from Trader Joe’s. (For those who like metrics, after measuring the dates I counted 15 of them.) I pulsed the dates and cherries together (as instructed), then added the whole almonds to the food processor without removing the fruit, and pulsed it all together until the nuts appeared to be the right consistency as shown in the photo. Then, I pressed it into the 8×8″ pan without having to kneed it together in a bowl De-LISH!!! Love the crunchiness of the almonds and the overall taste. My husband does not like dates, but he loves this bar and said he can taste the chocolate — which is funny since I didn’t add any chocolate, LOL! Next time, just to experiment, I’ll add a small amount of cinnamon, or maybe a little orange zest, and may try rolling them into bite-size balls and storing in the freezer until ready to take them on long bike rides for fuel. Oh — in all, I cut 13 bars the same size as a Larabar. After calculating the total cost of the ingredients, each of these bars costs about 62 cents… a great deal! Thank you for sharing this recipe — it’s a keeper!

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  43. kitty says:

    I made the blueberry bars from your recipe a few weeks ago and loved them (big hit with my 5 yo). Just made these today with the addition of about 1/4 c of baked quinoa for an added crunch. Yummie. Thanks for the recipes. I am sure they will coming on our summer backpacking trip!

  44. Kara says:

    I am making these bars right now! I am so excited to taste the results. Thanks for sharing with us.

  45. aurora says:

    these are my fave type of Lara Bar–I am totally going to make these!! thanks for sharing…

  46. carmen says:

    love this! thank you
    clif bars are a little hard on my system, so i like larabars but the expense killed me too!
    i should have done this a long time ago.

    i too like some nut chunks, but not a gummy processor blade, so i just removed all but about half a cup of the nuts prior to adding the fruit, then mixed the fruit into the nut chunks i’d places aside.
    i’m looking forward to trying variations on this to satisfy my sweet tooth as well… maybe coconut, chocolate and cashews with the dates and cherries

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  48. rhubarbandrose says:

    If you feel like serving these as a slice- blend some soft avocados and cocoa/carob powder plus a little honey or rapadura sugar- spread over the top while in the tray and then place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes (keeps in the freezer really well too!). makes a glorious frosting, vegan if need be. YUM.

  49. Sarah says:

    I have a batch of these chilling in the fridge right now! Thanks so much for the recipe :) I kept my almonds raw, and I added 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp allspice, a very generous pinch of dried shredded coconut, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. It smelled great while I was kneading it!

  50. Gianna says:

    I made these last night. They taste identical to Larabars but making them myself, i got to go Raw Organic! awesome. Thanks for the recipe, i want to use it as a base for some raw truffle ideas.

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  52. Jo-Jo says:

    Thanks for the recipe! Fresh dates are quite expensive in Australia, so I tried substituting with a mix of packaged dates and sticky dried figs. Worked a treat! :)

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  54. Sara {House Bella} says:

    I made these today and they are awesome! Grocer was out of cherries so I went for cranberries instead. Added a pinch of salt too.

    My food processor wasn’t happy about the process, but I found that mixing the fruit in smaller batches worked better. Couldn’t get the whole slab out of my pan, but was able to cut bars and scoop them out with a spatula. Thank you…delicious!

  55. brenda says:

    How do I find the instructions for Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Lärabar its not on the site. Can you email the instructions to me please. Thanks!

  56. jenyu says:

    brenda – it’s not on this site because I haven’t made them, so I can’t really email you the recipe.

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  58. Chris G. says:

    1-1/4 cup dates
    1 cup blueberries
    1-1/4 cup cashews
    1/2 cup coconut shreds
    1 Tbsp (heaping) chia seeds
    1 Tbsp wheat germ

    Thanks for inspiring!

  59. folgen hier says:

    Oh my!!! this looks delicious! I love the ingredients, this would be my perfect snack :D
    Thanks for the recipe.

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  61. Nabeela says:

    I got inspired by your larabar making and created one of my own using your basic proportions guideline.
    15 oz. or 2 1/4 cups deglet noor dates(you’re right….should have gone with medjool, better binding power)
    1/4 cup dried mission figs
    3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
    3/4 cup toasted almonds
    1 tbsp cocoa powder
    2 tbsp raw sunflower seeds
    2 tbsp raw unsweetened coconut flakes

    At first when I tried them, they tasted ok to me…..somehow I kept tasting cashews even though it had none. After being in the fridge for a day, holy moly I LOVE them now :)

  62. Christina says:

    I know I’m late to the party, but HOLY COW these are so easy to make and so YUM! Thank you!

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  64. Natalie says:

    I just wanted to say thanks for this recipe. I’ve sent many friends over to this page when they love the ones I’ve made. I’ve played around with the fruit/nut mixes and they’ve always been awesome. Making some for my upcoming trip so I don’t have to resort to airport food. Thank you!!

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  66. michael says:

    I have looked everywhere online to find if Larabars are ORGANIC and GMO free. Even if the latter, its important to have organic sourced food. I have to assume they are not organic and they are being produced by CocaCola corp. Thanks for the homemade recipe!!!!

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