Mamabars (aka DIY Larabar Recipe)

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Make your own Cherry Pie Larabar with this easy Larabar recipe. All you need are nuts, cherries, and dates to make your own Mamabars.

Mamabars (aka DIY Larabar Recipe) | Good Cheap Eats

As you know, our family took on the challenge of desugarfying ourselves recently. In English that means that we have made an effort to cut out some of the added sugar in our diet. We haven’t rid ourselves of everything. I mean, who are we kidding?! But, where it doesn’t matter, we’re trying to edge it out.

One of those areas is with granola and other snack bars. Previously I had no qualms about buying packaged bars provided they were nut free and safe for my youngest daughter. Label reading has made me rethink some things.

What’s a Larabar?

FishPapa’s daily breakfast for years has been a protein bar of some kind, specifically a Clif bar. Someone who doesn’t think he likes sweets that much, he honestly didn’t know there was sugar in them. During our sugar fast, I started buying him Larabars instead of Clif bars. While they aren’t as protein-packed, neither are they chock full of added sugar. Typically their only ingredients are dates, nuts, and other dried fruits. I guess I converted my husband because he says when he eats the other kids of bars now they make him feel light-headed.

Anyway, suffice it to say, we have gained an affinity for Larabar-type snacks. I never thought I would say that. When I first tasted them five years ago, I think they were grody. to the max. Now, I love many of the flavors I’ve tried.

I recently found that Clif is now making a competing bar: the Kit’s Organic Bar. They’ve upped the ante by making their bars organic as well as gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. I found them at Sprouts recently and they were cheaper than Larabars.

That said, neither are what I would call “cheap”. At a buck a bar, it’s still cost prohibitive to buy them regularly for the whole family. During the sugar fast, I started making what the kids call, Mamabars. This homemade Larabar recipe is my take on the Cherry Cobbler Larabar, one of my favorite flavors.

One of the things that I learned in this bar-making business is that the mixture doesn’t always behave. Sometimes it crumbles and falls to bits and that’s quite annoying. So, here are some of the tricks I figured out to making the bars hold together a little better.

What ingredients are in this Larabar recipe?

These DIY Larabars are just like the store bought version in that its made with simple ingredients. This Larabar recipe is made with just 3 simple ingredients. 

  • dates
  • almonds 
  • dried cherries



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How do I make this homemade Larabar recipe?

Mamabars (aka DIY Larabar Recipe)

I use a food processor to grind the dates, almonds, and dried cherries. Then I plunk down the mixture on a sheet pan like this one, lined with parchment or freezer paper. One easy method is to pat the mixture into balls or patties. I’ve done that with the Fruit and Nut Energy Bites and the Cocoa Apricot Cashew Bites. We’ve found that we prefer the texture of the bites.

Mamabars (aka DIY Larabar Recipe)

So, cover the mixture with a piece of plastic wrap and roll it flat with a rolling pin.

Mamabars (aka DIY Larabar Recipe)

You’ll find that the center compacts really well, but the edges get thin and crumbly.

Mamabars (aka DIY Larabar Recipe)

Fold over the edge of the paper so that you’re also folding the edge of the bar mixture back onto itself. You’re thickening the edges by doing so as well as creating a straighter edge.

Mamabars (aka DIY Larabar Recipe)

Continue to do this on the edge until you get the thickness and compactness you like. Then proceed to squaring off all the other edges so that you have a more rectangular shape than a big blob.

Mamabars (aka DIY Larabar Recipe)

Once you’ve got the thickness you like, slice it into squares with a pizza cutter. Place the squares in an airtight container and chill. We’ve found that the texture and flavor of chilled bars far surpasses room temp.

That’s it. It takes but a few minutes and the bars taste great. These are a great treat on a gluten-free, sugar-free diet, like paleo or Whole 30.

Over time I’ve reduced the amount of cherries in the larabar recipe so that I can keep the cost down. These taste really good with 2 cups of dried sweet cherries, but then it is cost prohibitive. I don’t have a price breakdown yet because we bought this same package of dates months ago and it’s still holding strong. Until I dig out the receipt from who knows where, you’ll have to wait.

How long do Larabars last? 

If you store them in the refrigerator, the bars will last 7 days. Make sure they are in a covered container. 

If left in the pantry, or at room temperature, they will last about 2 to 3 days. Again just make sure they are covered. 

And you can also freeze these bars! That way you can make multiple batches of this Larbar recipe at once. Store them in individual portions, so you can make these a quick grab and go snack. 

Pro Tip: Layer the container with wax paper so they don’t stick to the container. 

Are Larabars Whole 30 approved?

Not all Larabars are but this Larabar recipe is. This is one great Whole 30 recipe for the holidays too!

0 from 0 votes
Mamabars (DIY Larabar Recipe)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
0 mins
Total Time
10 mins
Make your own dried fruit and nut bars as an inexpensive alternative to Larabars. They are a delicious gluten-free dessert or snack.
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: larabar
Servings: 24 bars
Calories: 68 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 2 cups deglet noor dates
  • 1 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried unsweetened cherries
  1. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process the dates, almonds, and cherries until they are coarse crumbs that will stick together easily.
  2. Place the mixture onto a sheet pan lined with parchment.
  3. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and roll it out. Fold the edges of the paper over and firm up the edges. Continue to do this, squaring off the edges and thickening them up.
  4. Cut into squares. Chill in an airtight container until ready to serve.
  5. For longer storage, freeze the bars until ready to serve.
Nutrition Facts
Mamabars (DIY Larabar Recipe)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 68 Calories from Fat 18
% Daily Value*
Fat 2g3%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 1mg0%
Potassium 112mg3%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 90IU2%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 19mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Mamabars - Make DIY Larabars for Cheap!

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Laura says

    Do you have any ideas on what the dayes could be replaced with? I have a date allergy and it is nigh unto impossible to find granola or protein bars without either dates or oodles of sugar!

      • Diana says

        I’ve used raisins instead of dates before too. You might have to modify some other things, depending on the recipe.

        Jessica, have you tried the Almond power bars from Kitchen Stewardship’s site? Those are really good too. (I forget if your daughter is just allergic to peanuts or if it’s tree nuts too.) Your fruit/nut bars always look so good! I should make more of them 🙂

        • Diana says

          ha! just saw this recipe calls for almonds, so I guess those are fine 🙂

        • I haven’t tried those recipes. When I’m in recipe development I put blinders on. Someday I’ll be able to look at a cookbook that’s not my own. Ha!

    • Melinda P says

      Any sticky dried fruit will work, you just have to adjust the ratios depending on how sticky or not as sticky your fruit is compared to dates. Figs work well.

  2. Donna says

    Thank you for sharing this, Jessica. Have you experimented with any other flavors yet? I love Larabars, but the cost makes me ration them! May have to play around with my food processor and see what I can come up with. My favorites are the cashew cookie one and the cappuccino.

    • I’ve made two that are very different. The two I linked above. My daughter has nut allergies, so there aren’t too many different ones I can get based on cross-contamination issues.

  3. Sara K. says

    Where do you find dates at? I think I have seen them one time in the produce section of my store. It is possible that I have just overlooked them since I have never really used dates in cooking before. Can you find them anywhere else (like near the raisins)?

    • My husband bought a ginormous tub at Costco. I’ve seen them near the bulk food aisle at Sprouts. I think they would be near the raisins in a regular store.

      • Kim in AZ says

        Where did you find the dates at costco (what department)? I tried looking yesterday so we could try this recipe but couldn’t track any down. Thanks!

        • Melinda P says

          Dried figs are in the produce department at Costco

        • Every Costco seems to have a different layout and it changes often. Sometimes the dried fruit is near produce but other times it’s near the crackers and snacks. I haven’t figured out the method to their madness.

  4. Elissa says

    Do you think you could sub raw or toasted sunflower seeds for the almonds, my kids can’t have any tree nuts.

    • Yes, that would be fine.

    • Melinda P says

      You can also use coconut flakes and pepitas. I usually do a mixture of a bunch of different seeds, nuts, and coconut. The main thing is to keep the ratio of dry to sticky the same.

  5. June says

    I am trying dried figs to replace dates? They are still inthe cupboard so i can’t tell you how they taste but the consistency is similar? Dried dates are very sweet so maybe some honey is needed????

  6. I really need to try making my own granola bars. My husband brings one to work every day and at $1+/bar it really adds up fast!

  7. sona says

    Just wondered if you broke the nutrition value down on any of your new low sugar ideas? The cliff bars I have at the moment are 23 gms of sugar! I understand fruit is high, but wondering still how healthy that can be?

    • I haven’t run any numbers. My focus has been to reduce the processed stuff and to get “real food”. I think Clif Bars have an enormous amount of added sugar because they are designed for folks who work out and need the carbs.

  8. Susan says

    I think it is easier to put the ingredients in a gallon zip lock bag (or quart) depending on how big your batch is, press with your hands (or you can use a rolling pin if you wish). They form easily into a large rectangle the shape of the bag with no mess. Cut the bag open around the edges and cut the bars into squares. Voila. Easy and no mess.

  9. Corrie says

    I understood on the whole30 you should avoid dried fruit as well as almonds?? Did I misread…that would be great if I’m understanding this wrong!! 🙂 I have started the whole30, but wanting to this week!

  10. Anna Bromley says

    A tip that can help the mixture bind more easily is to stir in a little melted coconut oil, once you’ve pressed the mixture in to a tin refrigerate before cutting into pieces. Also, do watch your dates, deglet noor dates in the uk commonly have a sugar syrup added. We love adding a little cocoa powder to the dates and a few drops of peppermint oil for a great treat!

  11. Krystylyn says

    nutrition info anyone??

    • Sorry. I don’t provide that info. But, I believe there are several online calculators you can use if you want to figure out the calories.

  12. Tabitha says

    Has anyone tried using a high-speed blender (like Vitamix or Blentec) instead of food processor)? Did it work just the same?

  13. ok, what in the world are “deglet noor” dates, and where would I be able to find them? I know my grocery stores here don’t have them. thanks a bunch!

    • There are many kinds of dates available worldwide. The leading type in the US are deglet noor. Chances are if your stores have dates, they have this kind.

      • Julie says

        I have used Medjool dates from our Costco.

  14. Lisa says

    I made these last night and they were tasty! I made some changes on the fly…and I’m pretty sure the changes made it so they are NOT Whole 30 compliant, but it was yummy! I added 1/2 tsp almond extract, one scoop of chocolate protein powder (I use a super clean version), and 2 tsp raw cacao powder. Thanks for the recipe idea and detailed instructions 🙂

    • The recipe is very forgiving. Add or subtract however you like, use different fruits, whatever.

  15. Ann says

    Where do you find unsweetened cherries. I have only found them at natural grocers where I live.

    • I have found them at Trader Joe’s in the past. It’s a little hit or miss. You can use regular dried cherries or other dried fruit. The unsweetened is just to keep it truly sweetener free/whole30

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