In just about 10 minutes, you can make seriously delicious Cereal Bars made with just three super simple ingredients. They’re crispy, flavorful, and a perfect snack for kids.

cereal bars sliced on countertop

I recently had a box of cereal that my kids completely lost interest in, and in an effort to avoid wasting food, I turned it into these delicious bars. They were so much better than I expected, they stayed crisp for days and days, and they are so fast to pull together.

I love making snacks from pantry staples and transforming basic ingredients into super yummy recipes like this one.

This is a nutritious kids snack that can double as a healthy breakfast bar, too!

Serve this toddler snack on its own, or pair with Vanilla Milk, a toddler smoothie, or Blueberry Yogurt.

Ingredients You Need

To make this cereal bar recipe you’ll need the following ingredients on hand and ready to go.

ingredients in cereal bars on counter
  • O cereal (like Cheerios or a store-brand O cereal)
  • Honey: Alternatively, you can use brown rice syrup, which is a little less sweet but similarly sticky.
  • Peanut butter: I used smooth natural style. Any creamy style of nut or seed butter should work similarly as long as it’s not too runny.

TIP: You can make this nut-free with sunflower seed butter. You can also add a little vanilla extract for additional flavor if you like.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at how to make this cereal bar recipe so you know what to expect. Scroll down to the end of the post for the full recipe.

how to make cereal bars step by step
  1. Stir the peanut butter and honey together in a big bowl.
  2. Add the cereal. Mix thoroughly, but gently, with a spatula or big spoon. Take your time to get each piece of cereal coated with the mixture.
  3. Add to a parchment-lined baking pan. Press down so the batter goes to the edges of the pan and is an even thickness. Chill in the fridge—this is key for helping the bars hold together!
  4. Cut and serve.

TIP: These cereal bars hold together best when stored in the fridge, so keepe them in the fridge and serve while still cold.

cereal bars from the side on countertop

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of cereal is best?

I’ve made these with both Cheerios and Trader Joe’s Joe’s O’s. The Cheerios hold up longer (they stay crisper), but both work. You can explore other options, too.

How long can I store these?

These will store for up to 5-7 days in the fridge if wrapped well. They hold up best when stored in the fridge and served cold. They soften at room temperature a little, so I recommend serving them cold if possible. You can also freeze them.

Can I adjust them for food allergies?

You can make them with almond butter or sunflower seed butter. They should work exactly the same with a gluten-free O cereal, though there may be some variation in how long they stay crispy.

How Do You Get Cereal Bars to Stick Together?

The mixture of nut or seed butter and honey (or brown rice syrup) in this recipe helps to hold the bars together. And when you store them in the fridge and serve them cold, they hold together even better.

If taking them out of the house or as a lunch snack, tuck in an ice pack. They hold together better with brown rice syrup than honey, but both can work if they are kept cold.

wrapped cereal bars on counter

How to Store

I like to wrap each cereal bar in plastic wrap, then store in a storage bag or airtight container in the fridge. You can skip the plastic wrap, but do store them in an airtight container in the fridge so they hold together well. You can also wrap and freeze in the freezer.

Best Tips for Success

  • You can make this nut-free with sunflower seed butter.
  • You can add a little vanilla extract for additional flavor.
  • Trade in brown rice syrup for the honey—which is a little stickier than honey, so the bars hold together a little better, and less sweet tasting.
  • These hold their shape best when stored in the fridge and served cold. They soften a little at room temperature.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this recipe if you try it, so please comment below to share!

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cereal-bars-sliced-on-counter

3-Ingredient Cereal Bars

Made with just 3 pantry staples, these bars make an excellent kids snack. They hold their shape best when stored in the fridge and served cold.
5 from 65 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Snack
Calories 97kcal
Servings 16 bars

Ingredients

  • ½ cup smooth natural peanut butter (like Smucker's Natural)
  • ½ cup honey (or brown rice syrup)
  • cups O cereal (like Cheerios)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
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Instructions

  • Line an 8×8-inch baking sheet with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides (which will make it easy to lift the bars out when it's time to slice them).
  • Add the peanut butter and honey to a large heat-safe bowl. Warm in the microwave for 15-30 seconds, or until easy to stir. (This may not be necessary if you keep your peanut butter and honey at room temperature.) Stir together to combine.
  • Add the cereal and vanilla, if using, to the bowl. Stir gently, but thoroughly, using a wooden spoon or spatula. It may take a minute or two to get the mixture evenly coated.
  • Press mixture into the prepared baking pan, gently pressing evenly and into the corners.
  • Chill for at least 20 minutes. Remove from the fridge, lift out using the parchment paper, and slice on a cutting board.
  • Wrap each bar in plastic wrap (optional) and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Serve cold.

Notes

  • I like to wrap each bar, then store in a storage bag or airtight container in the fridge. You can skip the plastic wrap, but do store them in an airtight container
  • Store in the fridge for up to two weeks. (Ones made with Cheerios are likely going to be fine in the fridge if tightly wrapped for up to a month. Other brands may start to taste stale after 1-2 weeks.) You can also wrap and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Nut-free: Use sunflower seed butter.
  • You can add a little vanilla extract for additional flavor.
  • These hold their shape best when stored in the fridge and served cold. They soften a little at room temperature.
  • Brown rice syrup is an alternative to honey that is a little less sweet tasting and stickier, so it helps the bars hold together a little better. You should still plan to serve them cold for best results.

Nutrition

Calories: 97kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 1g, Sodium: 28mg, Potassium: 87mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 152IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 23mg, Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This post was first published June 2021.

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Comments

  1. Hello, I made these today and they have glued together properly to stay in shape. Did I do something wrong ?

  2. 5 stars
    These are so yummy! We sprinkled chocolate chips on top because I wanted my three year old to help make them, and if “baking” doesn’t include sampling chocolate chips, he’s not interested. They do seem to fall apart but that’s no big deal. Can’t wait to stick these in his lunchbox!

  3. Hey! Trying to lower the carbs in this for a diabetic little one. Do you think I could sub some of the honey for coconut oil?
    Thanks!

    1. I don’t think I’d add oil but you could maybe use more peanut butter in place of some of the honey.

      1. It should work similarly as long as the almond butter isn’t super runny.

  4. 5 stars
    I liked this recipe because it had only 3 ingredients that are common in my house! I want to try the brown rice syrup (not a typical pantry food for us), because the bars kind of fell apart and were really messy..tasted great, just super messy. I did keep them in the freezer which helped some. There was peanut butter all over hands and face and clothes when my smalls ate them…my twins also seem able to create messes my oldest never did. 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    This is so easy and so yummy! I’ve made it twice in the last 2 weeks. The first time with cheerios and the second with rice krispies. Loved both (and so did my kiddos), but do prefer the rice krispies. I found everything stuck together better with rice krispies and the bars are nice and crunchy! 5 stars either way 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    Hi Amy! Could this work with any leftover cereal? I have a bag of kamut wheat puffs that aren’t exciting- but would be tastier as cereal bars..

  7. 5 stars
    This was so good!! My 3 year old and I made it together. So easy and he enjoyed making them! I added a little bit of date syrup! Can’t wait to make it again!

  8. 5 stars
    Great recipe for the kids! I’m vegan, so I replaced the honey with maple syrup. I think it made them a little more wet, which was my fault because I wasn’t thinking about the syrup being less sticky and runnier than honey. (If anyone is making that substitution, I’d add just a little less than a 1/2 cup.) But this one’s a keeper, for sure. I wonder, has anyone tried other cereals? Captain Crunch? Life? Maybe even Rice Krispies? I’m seeing nothing but peanut-buttery possibilities!

  9. 5 stars
    Super easy! I like that. A little too sweet for me though. So I would try rice syrup or less honey next time, maybe more peanut butter to keep it a cup of sticky content.

    1. The honey is there to both sweeten and also to help the bars hold together, so don’t omit it. You might be able to lower the amount a smidge though.

  10. 5 stars
    The best thing about this recipe is how easy to make it is. My 2 and 4 year old helped mix. Neither one was a fan of the stickiness, but I didn’t mind. These are a fun, tasty treat. I’d make it again and maybe try a drizzle of chocolate on top.

  11. Do you think freezing them might help them hold up best in a lunchbox? They would also have an icepack.

    Thanks!

      1. If you take them out from the fridge, I bet they’d pop out and not stick, but you could very very lightly spray with nonstick spray if you wanted to.

  12. These taste great but are really sticky. I followed the recipe as written but am not sure why they ended up so sticky. Kids ate them with a fork in the end. ha!

  13. Do you think you’d need to make any adjustments if I added in some raisins or chopped almonds? More of the binder?

    1. You could try crushing up some additional cereal and lightly pressing each bar into those crumbs. That might help!

  14. i always love your recipes and these taste delicious but they fell a part after 20 mins in the fridge when i tried cutting them and they were a sticky mess! i don’t get how you get the top to be flat in your photo either, mines a huge pile of mess.

    1. I’m really not sure why that happened and I’m sorry to hear it did. Did you change anything?

    1. I haven’t frozen them, but ones made with Cheerios will last for up to a month in the fridge if wrapped tightly.