Recipe: Pecan Peanut-Butter Protein Bars

I’m sharing another recipe with you today, as part of my not-too-sweet treats series. (You can find the full list of recipes here. The recipe series began as a response to my post, Why I’m Glad Natural Sweeteners are Expensive.)

This recipe is adapted from Katie Kimball’s Protein Bars, from the e-book Healthy Snacks to Go. I’ve made them a bunch of times, and everyone in the family loves them.

Katie says you can substitute any nut for the pecans, but I suspect the pecans contribute quite a bit of their natural sweetness to this tasty snack, which is why they need so little additional sweetener. Her recipe also includes 1/4 cup optional chocolate chips, but I don’t find them necessary. Your family  might, if you’re used to sweeter treats.

Another bonus with this recipe is that it contains molasses, which is high in vitamin B6 (something my body tends to need), iron, potassium, and calcium. All important nutrients. It doesn’t taste very strong, though — the peanut butter seems to mask the flavour. You might want to start out with only two tablespoons and work your way up if you’re not fond of molasses. Personally, I find that after one taste of these bars, I start to crave more of the molasses flavour. Perhaps my body recognizes and appreciates the Vitamin B boost?

Pecan Peanut-Butter Protein Bars


  • 2 cup pecans
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2/3 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 2-3 Tbsp blackstrap molasses (unsulphured)
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • Drizzle of maple syrup or honey, as needed

Preheat oven to 250.

Process nuts in a food processor until they become a coarse meal.

(This is my Ninja food processor)

Pour nuts into a large bowl and mix in the remaining dry ingredients, followed by the peanut butter, molasses, honey, and vanilla.

Stir well, until it all sticks together. Add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup if it’s too dry.

Grease a glass 8-inch square pan. Pour in nut mixture and press flat (It may help to moisten your hands first, if it’s really sticky). Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until golden around the edges.

Allow to cool, and then cut into bars with a sharp knife.

peacan peanut-butter squares

pecan peanut-butter squares - cutVoila! Store in the refrigerator for best quality.

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  1. Looks delicious! I’ve tried several “homemade Cliff bar” recipes, and this definitely sounds like the winner. What temperature did you bake the bars at?
    Shianne recently posted..Santiago, Monsanto y MásMy Profile

  2. i want to eat these right now!! they look so yummy. and i just got the food processor this weekend so i have the means and ingredients to do it!
    alison recently posted..THE SweaterMy Profile

  3. Carolyn says:

    These are wonderful! I had everything on hand except for the peanut butter (oddly) so I substituted almond butter and gave them a try today. Wow! This recipe is definitely a keeper. Thank you!

  4. Samantha says:

    These look so good! How do you like your Ninja? I don’t have a food processor and my blender is pretty weak, so I’m looking for one. It seems like everyone has a BlendTec or Vitamix, but spending so much money on a blender makes me uncomfortable, haha. I’ve heard decent things about the Ninja, but wonder how it holds up?

    • I really, really love my Ninja: it does a wonderful job crushing/grinding/blending. (I have the food processor system, a.k.a. “Master Prep Pro System,” not the blender. Though it looks kind of like a blender.) My only hesitation is that it doesn’t seem to be very well-made in terms of longevity. It feels like it would easily break (and, in fact, I once broke my mom’s without even doing anything out of the ordinary. A little piece just snapped inside, I think because I didn’t have the lid on perfectly straight. Fortunately, the company replaced it for free, but still: I worry that it won’t last that long.) So it works amazing for now; I just don’t know if I can count on it for the long term. It’s definitely a lot more affordable than a Vitamix.

  5. I made these for my ultimate frisbee tournament (lots of running for two days straight) this past weekend and they were great. They tasted great and were an excellent source of some quick dense energy.

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