Cinnamon Oatmeal Date Bars with Chocolate Chunks


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A hearty bowl of warm oatmeal that’s infused with cinnamon is such a comforting breakfast, but I never budget the time for making hot cereal on busy weekday mornings. So I made cinnamon oatmeal bars instead.

A half dozen ladies and I are throwing a virtual baby shower today for Krissy, who’s expecting her first baby, and I figured it wouldn’t be too cool to show up to a party, virtual or not, with a bowl of cold soggy oatmeal in hand. I thought these would be a bigger hit with the crowd.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Date Bars with Chocolate Chunks

Aside from being being portable, they’re no-bake so there’s no chance of burning my mouth on one like I have a tendency to do with oatmeal. I’m always so anxious to dig in that I usually burn my mouth on those scalding little grains.

I made these bars with a healthy dose of peanut butter, and although it’s possible to swirl peanut butter into hot oatmeal, I find it gets a bit lost. Although it’s not the most prominent flavor in these bars either, the cinnamon is; there’s a peanut butter undertone in just the right amount so that it doesn’t overpower the cinnamon or the dates, and instead complements them.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Date Bars with Chocolate Chunks

There’s chocolate involved in two ways, too. It just wouldn’t be a party without it.

After pressing the no-bake dough into the pan, I made a quick and easy chocolate ganache in the microwave and poured the silky brown elixir over the dough.

Then I roughly chopped a 72% percent dark chocolate bar, a Pound Plus from Trader Joe’s, and sprinkled that over the ganache before it set up, trapping the irregular chunks in it’s sleek grip.

Truthfully, I had no intention of adding chopped chocolate, but it’s hard to photograph a really sleek chocolate surface and after looking at that smooth ganache, I decided I didn’t want to struggle with chocolate glare since this was supposed to be a five-minute easy-breezy dessert. The chopped chunks turned out to be a happy accident because those dark little pebbles added both texture and an intensity of flavor that I loved.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Date Bars with Chocolate Chunks stacked

To make these bars, simply combine oats, medjool dates, peanut butter, agave or any of the alternate sweeteners suggested, cinnamon, and vanilla in a food processor or high speed blender and process it until it combines and clumps together. I recommend a food processor over a Vita-Mix or high speed blender for clean up ease, but use what you have.

Some notes about the dough:

This dough needs to be able to hold it’s shape when pinched between your fingers or use an imaginary small marble test. If you can easily form one, your dough is on the right track. For example, look into the canister of the food  processor where 6 o’clock would be. That big, shiny, smooth surface is a good sign because it’s indicative of dough that can easily be pushed into a pan and then sliced into bars with ease without risk of them crumbling or falling apart.

If your theoretical marble crumbles and won’t stick together, the dough is too dry. Either add a few more dates, another dollop of peanut butter, or an additional squirt of agave and process again.

Conversely, if your marble is loose and very squishy or limp, seemingly greasy or too soft to create a well-formed little nugget, the dough has too much moisture in it, likely from the peanut butter. Add another small handful of oats, which will dry out the dough, and process again. I find this issue to occur less than the first issue, but your mileage may vary.

This is not an exact science, and you may need to play with your ratios by a quarter cup of something here or there, but the values suggested in the recipe will set you on the right track, likely with only minor tweaking necessary.

Mix inside of blender

The resulting bars are chewy and have tons of texture. For a texture junkie like me, they’re like hitting the texture lottery. The ground medjools and oats provided one layer of texture. The crunchy peanut butter, which I don’t usually buy but had some on hand, but used in the bars, added another level of texture. And the chopped chocolate bits on top added a third layer.

Make sure your dental floss is handy after all that texture.

Chunk of Cinnamon Oatmeal Date Bars with Chocolate Chunks

The bars are sweetened, but not overly so. They really are a pretty ‘natural’ bar with no refined sugar used. Agave or honey are my first choices for sweeteners because they do a great job of both sweetening and binding the dough, but brown rice syrup, corn syrup, or maple syrup will work. Maple, however, will both alter and mask some flavors much more so than the other syrups, and in this recipe, I preferred the cleaner sweetness of agave because I want the cinnamon essence to be prominent and unmasked.

 I’m really glad I didn’t have to bring these to an actual party and could keep them all for myself. See how I am.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Date Bars with Chocolate Chunks


Cinnamon Oatmeal Date Bars with Chocolate Chunks (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free)

Makes one 8-by-8-inch pan, about 9 generously-sized bars


3 cups old-fashioned whole rolled oats (not instant or quick cook)

about 15 medium soft Medjool dates, soft pitted

3/4 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy

1/4 cup agave nectar (brown rice syrup, honey, corn syrup, or maple syrup may be substituted)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon+ cinnamon

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 tablespoons cream or milk (coconut or almond milk may be used)

3 to 4 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (whole chocolate chips or chopped chocolate chips may be substituted)


Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with aluminum foil and optionally spray with cooking spray; set aside. To the canister of a food processor or Vita-Mix (I used a food processor) add oats, dates (I used Trader Joe’s), peanut butter (I used crunchy), agave, vanilla, cinnamon to taste, and process until dough comes together. Dough will be dense and when squeezed between fingers, it should hold it’s shape, not fall apart, nor be crumbly. If dough is crumbly or you cannot easily form a marble-sized ball with it, it’s too dry and needs more liquid or a binding ingredient such as more agave, more peanut butter, or more dates in order for it to come together. If mixture seems too wet, is sloppy and loose, add more oats. This is not an exact science and you may need to play with the ratios of wet and dry ingredients, but the goal is a dough that is dense, thick, holds it shape, can be packed into a pan, and when sliced, will hold it’s shape in bar form. Press mixture into prepared pan, packing it down, pushing it into the corners, and smooth it with a spatula; set pan aside.

For the chocolate topping: In a medium microwave-safe bowl, add 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips and heat on high power for 1 minute to soften them; set aside. In a small microwave-safe bowl, bring the cream or milk to a boil and it will happen quickly, in about 20 to 30 seconds. Pour cream over chocolate and let stand for about 3 minutes. Stir or whisk to combine and if chocolate is not smoothing out easily or combining, reheat mixture for 15 seconds or until it can be stirred smooth. Pour chocolate over the bars in an even layer, smoothing it with an offset knife or spatula.

Evenly sprinkle and distribute the chopped chocolate chunks (I used Trader Joe’s 72% Pound Plus bar) over the ganache before it begins to set up. Place pan in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or until chocolate sets up a bit, before slicing and serving. Bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or can be frozen for up to 3 months. I prefer to store them in the refrigerator.



Cinnamon Oatmeal Date Bars with Chocolate Chunks

Related Recipes:

Microwave Chocolate Peanut Butter and Oat Snack Bars (No-Bake, Vegan, GF) – Makes just 3 bars in 5 minutes

Microwave Chocolate Peanut Butter and Oat Snack Bars

No-Bake Maple Flaxseed Cookies (vegan, GF) – Made with just 3 ingredients, including flax seeds, which gives these great depth of flavor, nutty and almost peanut buttery. They can be eaten as cookies, made into bars, wrapped as snacks, or shaped into pancakes and drizzled with syrup and raisins

No-Bake Maple Flaxseed Cookies stacked
No-Bake Maple Flaxseed Cookie

Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Granola (vegan, GF) – Tis the season for pumpkin along with peanut butter, oats, and chocolate

Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Granola


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bars (No-Bake, Vegan, GF)

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bar

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Bars (vegan, GF) – Fast and easy and people write to me frequently saying these were a hit for them

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites (no-bake, vegan, GF) – These little bites are so easy to make and you don’t even have to dirty a food processor

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Do you make oatmeal frequently or use oats in your baking?

I enjoy oatmeal but don’t make it much because we’re usually running late most mornings and there’s no time for it.

However, I love baking, or no-baking, with oats. They are so versatile, they add delicious chewiness and texture to anything they’re added to, they’re healthier than using all-purpose flour, and I just love their flavor. And when copious amounts of cinnamon and chocolate are involved, even better. I have an arsenal of my favorite Oats and Oatmeal Recipes here

I also have an entire post dedicated to little Balls and Bites Recipes, mostly made from oats, or nuts, with dates

Best of luck with your new baby, Krissy! Check out these other ladies’ blogs who are also taking part in the virtual baby shower for Krissy:

Audra of The Baker Chick | Mini Salted Caramel Brownie Pies
Cassie of Bake Your Day | Red Bell Pepper & Ranch Cheese Dip
Erin of Big Fat Baker | Blueberry Punch
Jacqueline of The Dusty Baker | Kid-friendly Gluten-and-Dairy-Free Chicken Fingers
Lauren of Keep It Sweet | Baby Blue Cake Pops From Scratch
Nicole of Sweet Peony Blog | Roasted Blueberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Thanks to everyone who entered the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies + KitchenAid Stand Mixer + $200 Williams-Sonoma Gift Card Giveaway

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

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  1. Hi Averie. I was Googling ‘Healthy Breakfast Bars’ and your site was one of the ones that popped up. This recipe caught my eye so I looked for the nutritional analysis. I didn’t find one but saw in your FAQ section a link to a site which would figure it out for me (thanks for the link). This is what it came up with (I used 9 as the number of servings based on what you said in the recipe):

    Serving Size: 116gm

    Amount Per Serving:

    Calories 503 Calories from fat 215
    Total Fat 23.9gm
    Saturated Fat 10.4gm
    Trans Fat 0.0gm
    Cholesterol 9mg
    Sodium 133mg
    Potassium 478mg
    Total Carbohydrates 63.6g
    Dietary Fiber 6.6g
    Sugars 38.4g
    Protein 12.4g

    Vit A 1%
    Calcium 10%
    Vit C 0%
    Iron 24%

    Nutrition Grade C

    Nutritional Analysis:

    Good Points:
    Very low in Cholesterol
    Low in Sodium
    High in Manganese
    Very high in Vit B6

    Bad Points:
    High in Saturated Fat
    High in Sugar
    Contains Alcohol

    So I will likely save this recipe for a dessert/snack (as it was meant to be) rather than a quick, on-the-run breakfast (I realize that this recipe wasn’t posted as a breakfast bar and Google just picked up on key words). I think the ‘contains alcohol’ is referring to the vanilla extract…not sure why that’s a ‘bad’ point :). For the recipe I inputted, I used honey as the sweetener and natural peanut butter. As with other recipes I’ve made, when I use Kraft natural peanut butter, I have to use much less than the recipe calls for otherwise the end product is a little too loose.

    This is the first time I’ve been on your site…I’ve got it bookmarked so it certainly won’t be the last :)!

    Thank you!

  2. where do you find “72% dark chocolate” bars, that tell you what the percentage is? Is that something specific to Trader Joe’s (we don’t have them here) or is that a certain brand of chocolate bar?

    1. Yes I find those bars at Trader Joe’s but if you do some online research you’ll be able to find what stores carry chocolate listed by percentages (it’s actually fairly common) and order accordingly.

    2. Hello! This is me again. My cat’s BDay party is today, and the cinnamon oatmeal date bars worked great! The chocolate ganache on top is smooth, and I had fun chopping the dark chocolate. Because I still don’t have a food processor, I used the coffee grinder again. Thanks, and I’ll use this site again!

  3. Hi can you tell me oats are hard how can grains in food processer can we soak it then put it processor with date(oatmeal date & chocolate chips bar)

  4. Wow! These are so good. I processed them and after pressing them into the pan, decided they were too wet. I didn’t feel like scooping them out to put back in the food processor so I ended up baking them for 12 minutes or so to dry them out a bit. I will try again when we run out and I’ll know how the dough should feel so hopefully will be able to do them no-bake, but man are these good (and healthy and filling too). Thank you for this great recipe.

    1. Good call on baking them a little bit to dry them out for 12 mins. Perfect and I’ve done that too :) Sometimes just 1/4 cup extra dry ingredients can do the trick with no-bake stuff like this and/or use a couple less dates. Either way, sounds like you handled things just fine and glad you like them!

  5. These look beautiful! I want to make them for my class, but a couple students have nut allergies. I love the idea of replacing peanut butter with pumpkin, but I think I’d need to add some sort of oil and/or more dry ingredients to this. Any input on that would be appreciated! Thanks

      1. Hi Averie!

        How much pumpkin would you recommend using in this recipe? I don’t want it too mushy. And then spices to taste? I’ll try the sunflower butter too- my nephew’s class is Nut-free.


      2. I would make the recipe once as written, and then based on what you think, you can remove some of the dates and/or add pumpkin and then add dry ingredients. I’d start with 1/4 cup of pumpkin and adjust as needed. It’s going to be trial and error, based on your own preferences for spices, textures, etc.

  6. Top recipe so far! Made these last weekend and they are all gone! Tried them once before but used store bought peanut butter and they were not as good. This time I used a natural, organic pb and I was short 1/2 cup of oats so I used oat bran as a substitute. Seriously good recipe. I can’t believe I am excited about baking!! Thanks so much.

    1. Thanks for trying these a couple times and for the detailed report! Swapping things out, like oat bran for some of the oats, using a different kind of PB, that’s always great when you hit upon that perfect combo that makes a recipe just pop!

  7. I’m so glad I finally got around to making these! They come together quickly and I love the cinnamon in the bars (I used 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon) with the chocolate on top. Lots of texture to sink your teeth into with the oats and chopped chocolate. They were the perfect outdoor concert snack tonight!

    1. You were up late leaving this comment! Hope the concert was a blast and sounds like the treats hit the spot. Thanks for coming back to LMK what you did and that you made them! These bars are quite cinnamon-ey, even for a fiend like me :) They really remind me of cinnamon oatmeal, but in a bar form! And tons of texture, you are right! Without the all the chocolate, you could even probably call them healthy :)

  8. These look amazing I am drooling, but one question: Could I make these with almond butter, or would they not set up right since almond butter is runnier?

    1. You could try them with AB. I would use far less to begin with since it’s thinner. And if you run into issues either throw in some PB, add more dates, or if you have a handful of nuts or even coconut flakes, that will also bind them. However…in order to get the FLAVOR I got, I highly rec PB unless you have reason specifically to avoid it.

  9. I’ve realized lately how delicious healthy, no-bake bars can be, especially when combined with dark chocolate, so I need to take 5 minutes and make this recipe ASAP. I’m not that big on oatmeal (and I always burn myself with it too – never fails), but I love adding oats to things I bake – or don’t bake!
    P.S. Every time I come over to your site I see a billion things I want to try. :) Love it!

  10. So excited that you linked back to this recipe on your snickerdoodle bar post. I love using dates to create healthy, sticky treats, and these bars look fantastic. I’ve been trying to make more of my own granola bars and am collecting recipes. This one is a find!

  11. This is next up on my to-make list. I’m wondering if they will freeze well, so I can have them on hand for when I’m in a pinch?

    1. Yes and they will keep for week(s) in an airtight container in the fridge. I wrap everything super tight in clingwrap, then put it in the fridge inside a little tupperware. I have stored them for 1 month that way – to each her own, but just sharing that has worked for me. Or just freeze them the same way!

      1. Perfect, thank you!

        Though, I just stumbled upon your Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oat Bars and may have to make those first. :)

  12. Thanks so much for this recipe – simple, no-bake, really delicious and a big hit in my household! I love that they are not too much of a guilty pleasure either!

  13. Love the look of these!! Oats, cinnamon, chocolate, are the best!! I am really enjoying your recipes lately Averie, not that I haven’t always, but they seem to combine your old blogging style (the simple but strictly vegan recipes) and the newer trends towards delicious desserts. I’ve loved reading all of it, but This is perfect for me :) I would like to try a spin on these, I don’t have a food processor, but in the past I have just cooked the dates down with a bit of water and they become like a paste. I wonder if that combined with whole oats and PB would work out for these bars??

    1. It would probably work to do it that way. Probably, can’t guarantee of course. If you are going to do it that way, you may want to start with quick cooking oats. And not sure what your budget is but literally for $10 bucks you can find a used and likely perfectly UN-used! food proc at your local thrift store. Or Target for $29.99 for a bare bones model. Just a thought for you to make life sooooo much easier.

      I am trying with the recipes to get back to some level of where I was, with where I went. Not entirely raw/vegan/GF, but not sugar bombs, either. Somewhere in the middle. Thanks for noticing :)

    1. Thanks, Kath. When you’ve been posting about Emily’s date balls, I kept thinking, gosh I’d love Kath to see these. I just like making bars rather than balls because it’s so much faster and then you can slice into small cubes if desired. Chocolate of course optional, but recommended :)

  14. This is a great bar recipe for Krissy! I’m sure she’ll love having a healthy recipe in her new Mom arsenal. Also- these look decadent too- love them!

  15. Oh goodness! Those look good enough to eat! ;-) Seriously though…you and your bars. NO ONE can top you! Cookbook! Just sayin’ ;-)

    Oats and me have a love/hate relationship. I LOVE them. Especially as granola but if I eat them, I don’t feel well. It’s really a bummer. They are my favorite! My boys, on the other hand, eat oatmeal for breakfast usually about 2 days per week. I make it from scratch with rice milk, cinnamon, maple syrup and vanilla. Oh our house on those days! So good! I need an oatmeal cookie or bowl of oatmeal Yankee Candle! LOL! Gorgeous pics and gorgeous food, Averie!

  16. I use oat flour almost exclusively when baking and I never think to buy oats. I am sure making my own oat flour would be loads cheaper too.

    I used to eat oatmeal cookies all the time, but I haven’t in a long time. Oatmeal raisin, with cinnamon, might be the most perfect dessert.

  17. Oh my gosh how amazing do these bars look? Another one of your recipes to bookmark!! They look amazing!!!

  18. I love how you added the chopped chocolate to the melted layer, such a nice look. I bet it would be pretty with white chocolate for the chopped sprinkled on dark melted chocolate too. I have to make this one dairy free. A double batch though!

  19. Those look awesome. Though I have for some strange reason been craving a packet of instant cinnamon apple oatmeal that used to comfort me on days off from school when I was young, I can’t remember the last time I ate a bowl of oatmeal. I love baking with it and am always looking for new recipes!

  20. I haven’t used dates in a while but I love this no bake recipe! I use oats quite often in baking and sub them in for part of the flour. My husband makes oatmeal for breakfast a few times a week…and I make it for dinner sometimes when he is working in the evening. The ganache on top is to die for–you probably know by now how much I love frosting!! I could definitely justify eating this for breakfast after a morning run!

  21. I used to make oatmeal a lot, but I am more into eggs for breakfast lately. I love oatmeal in baking!

  22. OMG did you see my tweet yesterday (probably not)??? I was saying that I just burned the top of my mouth on my oatmeal…again!! Too funny. These look like a great solution ;)

  23. I’m a totally breakfast eater. No matter how crazy, I have to grab something. This looks perfect tohave on hand for those extra crazy days

  24. With those chunks of chocolate on the top they will a huge hit at party you can name of, virtual or not! :)

    1. they were a big hit with me :) i was glad I didn’t actually have to bring them to a party & share them..ha!

  25. These look too good to be true. I love that you added the dates. I am going to make these today for a few of my clients. Thank you!!

    1. No way they’d stick together without the dates. You could use more PB but then that would overwhelm the oat-ey taste. Dates are nature’s perfect glue!

  26. Chocolate and cinnamon just may be one of my favorite combinations. Besides cinnamon and caramel and PB&J, that is :) okay, so I have a lot of favorites, but there’s something so spicy and rich about pairing cinnamon + chocolate that I’m so glad I discovered! These oatmeal bars look phenom; I want the whole pan!

  27. You know I love oat bars! Baking with oats is something I really just started doing last year. Granolas, granola bars, oatmeal bars, etc. I’ve never used dates as a binder in any of those recipes, though. Sure I see it from time to time but have never actually gone there! I love dates though – perfect snack with a heavy smear of PB! Oats are the “flour” in my recent sknny brownies too. I feel much better eating goodies with oats in them… plus the whole texture aspect!

    I love your rationale for the shaved chocolate! I would’ve done the same thing.. but maybe with chocolate chips… the shaved chocolate is MUCH prettier and fancier in my opinion though! These look dense, moist, and chewy — all things I love in a good oatmeal bar! Pretty lighting and pics :)

    1. Plus I had this opened bar of TJs choc that was just staring at me in the face so thought, why not. And without all that chunkiness, these wouldn’t have been the same. A true happy accident! When I was strictly GF for about 5 yrs, I would use oats as the flour in just about everything. I’d just put 1/4 c or 2 c or whatever i needed of oats in my Vita, blend for 10 secs, and flour was ready – so it’s just second nature for me reach for oats! LOVE THEM!

  28. Another great dessert creation and it looks wonderful. Especially with the creative presentation! :-)

  29. I love crunchy PB. In fact I picked up creamy by accident yesterday and was nearly heartbroken LOL. I am a big fan of oats and use them all the time, not just for breakfast. Love using oat flour for my veggie burgers.

    1. I never buy crunchy (or very rarely) but randomly had just enough in the bottom of the jar for these..and it worked out perfectly!

    1. thanks for all your comments today – been thinking about you and hoping your settled in after the move and all you’ve had going on xoxo

  30. Problem is, I could eat a LOT more of those in much quicker time than a bowl of oatmeal! I need the scalding heat to slow me down.

    1. LOL that’s how I feel about hot vs iced coffee. I can slam both, but iced coffee and me is deadly b/c I can chug it like water…probably faster!

  31. The bars look totally yummy! Especially that top layer of chocolate. Great selection for the shower. I eat oatmeal at least once a week and really enjoy oatmeal in baked goods

  32. Oh boy, I love the idea of this recipe. I could actually see myself making this! I love all things oatmeal and dark chocolate. I also like easy, and not having to use butter and sugar. I just don’t keep those things on hand. I’ll be saving this try in the upcoming weeks. Thanks!

    1. Vegan, GF, easy, there’s lots of pros with these I thought, too. I can’t believe though that you don’t keep butter & sugar on hand. If you could only see my baking supplies :)

  33. Yep. These beat the heck out of a bowl of oatmeal! I love the chocolate shavings on top. It really gives them personality. It says, “I’m sophisticated AND delicious!”

    1. I thought so, too. And it saved me so much struggle with any chocolate glare. And they added so much flavor in a sophisticated kinda way :)