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Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bars are a healthy whole grain and protein-packed breakfast you can make ahead and grab on the go. Packed with oatmeal and quinoa, plus tons of tender apples and crunchy walnuts, this easy recipe is also naturally gluten free. Perfect for meal prep because you can make a batch or two and keep these apple breakfast bars in the fridge or freezer to grab anytime.
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Originally published on Sep 22, 2016
Cinnamon Apple Quinoa Breakfast Bars Recipe
These healthy breakfast bars are simple to make ahead. The kids love the sweet, soft, chewy goodness, and the classic irresistible apple cinnamon flavor. You’ll love that they are packed with whole grains, fiber, and protein. And you can keep them on hand for a portable breakfast on busy mornings or quick and easy after school snacks. Plus they are naturally gluten free and dairy free.
Kids always seem to love apple cinnamon anything. And mine happily gobble up these apple bars, even though they don’t always like quinoa. In fact, they are always ready to devour them so quickly that I usually stash some in the freezer so I have a little stockpile for when life gets busy.
Or, you know, since my kids wake up and eat breakfast so early that they require second breakfast before school. Yes, I am apparently raising Hobbits.
So it’s important that I’ve got some nutritious and satisfying options on hand that we can grab on our way to the bus stop, like Healthy Carrot Zucchini Muffins (or Gluten Free Carrot Zucchini Muffins, energy balls, trail mix, and these!
Ingredients for Healthy Breakfast Bars
- Maple Syrup – use the REAL stuff, not pancake syrup.
- Unsweetened Applesauce
- Egg – you can also use two egg whites or 1/3 cup liquid egg white substitute
- Almond Butter – or any other nut butter or even a seed butter for a nut-free option
- Vanilla Extract
- Quick Cooking Oats – these are the ones that cook in about five minutes, NOT the packets of instant oats, and not old-fashioned oats that take longer to cook.
- Quinoa – cooked as per package instructions and cooled to room temperature.
- Baking Powder
- Ground Flax Seed – aka flax meal or flax seed meal
- Apples – peeled and chopped into about 1/4-inch pieces
- Pecans – can substitute walnuts or pumpkin seeds, or omit entirely.
How to Make Apple Breakfast Bars
Here is a brief overview so you can see just how easy it is to make. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for the full quantities and details. But don’t skip my PRO TIPS below!
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a square baking pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Whisk together the wet ingredients in a small bowl.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a laerge bowl and stir until evenly distributed.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir to combine.
- Mix in the apples and pecans.
- Press firmly into the prepared baking pan.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until browned and firm to the touch.
- Cool completely and cut into squares.
Tips for Success
Cook your quinoa in advance: This recipe uses cooked and cooled quinoa. Follow the package instructions, or check out how to cook quinoa using other methods like your Instant Pot or slow cooker.
Make them nut-free: You can substitute the almond butter with sunflower seed butter or another seed butter or even date paste. Then either omit the pecans or replace them with pumpkin seeds for crunch. You can even try white chocolate chips, if you like.
Lower the cholesterol: If you are concerned about the eggs, you can use an egg, egg whites, or liquid egg or egg white substitute in this recipe and it will turn out fine. Use the equivalent of one egg or two egg whites.
Don’t overbake: You’ll know they are done when they are browned on the top and feel firm when you press in the middle.
Serving ideas: It’s perfect for a portable breakfast on-the-go. But my kids actually like to eat them on a plate slightly warmed with a bit of butter or even a drizzle of maple syrup or a smear of almond butter.
Are these breakfast bars gluten free?
Yes, you can make these as gluten free breakfast bars as the ingredients are all naturally gluten free or are available that way. A few items to watch out for:
- Oats – be sure to buy certified gluten free quick oats.
- Flax seed – read the labels, as occasionally flax seed or flax seed meal is processed in a facility with wheat-containing ingredients, so if you are highly sensitive or have celiac, there may be a risk of cross-contamination.
- Baking powder – again, most brands are gluten free, but read labels or use a brand you trust.
- Vanilla Extract – if you are highly sensitive, be sure there are no additives that may contain gluten (like caramel coloring)
Storing Apple Breakfast Bars
You can keep the bars at room temperature in an airtight container for a day or so, but I would recommend storing them in the refrigerator where they will last several days to a week.
These bars freeze well in an airtight container or plastic freezer storage bag. For long-term storage, I’d recommend wrapping the container in plastic wrap, or the bars in plastic wrap before putting them in a plastic storage bag. If you wrap them individually, it’s easy to remove one at a time without cause frost or freezer burn on the others.
Then take one or more out the night before and thaw it overnight in the fridge. Or pop in the microwave for a few seconds if you take it out at the last minute.
Things You’ll Need
- You’ll use a 9-inch square baking pan for this recipe.
- I definitely recommend lining your baking pan with parchment paper. It makes the bars much easier to remove once they are cooled so you can cut them into nice squares.
- Using a serrated knife and cutting with a gentle sawing motion will give you the cleanest cut.
- Remember, real maple syrup gives the best flavor.
Cinnamon Apple Quinoa Breakfast Bars
- 1½ cups quick cooking oats
- 1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled to room temperature
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup ground flax seed
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 egg or 2 egg whites or 1/3 cup liquid egg whites
- 2 Tablespoons almond butter or other nut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cups chopped apples, about 1/4 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9 in. square baking pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine the oats, quinoa, baking powder, flax seed, and cinnamon and stir until evenly distributed.
- In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, applesauce, egg, almond butter, and vanilla.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until mixed thoroughly to form a thick batter.
- Fold in the apples and pecans.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula.
- Bake on the center rack of the oven for 25 – 35 minutes until the bars are golden brown and firm to the touch.
- Remove and cool completely in the pan. Slice into bars and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days, or freeze to keep longer.