Easy recipe for healthy flapjacks with oats, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, butter and honey (no golden syrup or added sugar) for breakfast or teatime.
There's something about the new year that urges some kind of resolution-making. I always struggle to keep new rules but, adapting to improved routines, change is always welcome. This change came gradually over many years of cutting down drastically on sugar.
As I was toasting the weekly batch (yes, it's popular so make it almost every week!) of our favourite healthy Maple Granola, I thought about using the oats, seeds, nuts and fruits and converting them into these healthy flapjacks.
We're addicted to homemade granola - including a chocolate granola (on video). Once you start making it, there's no turning back to the commercial packeted cereals - and love serving it with yoghurt, fresh fruit or compote.
So flapjacks seemed like a refreshing change. After all, flapjacks are basically granola bars. Albeit, there's added butter to bind them together but that's not a bad thing! So I developed this recipe after a few trials and crumbs later.
Healthy Flapjacks without Sugar
My fond memories of flapjacks were quickly turned to disappointment when I made an old family recipe. Traditionally flapjacks are made with classic golden syrup and a whopping amount of sugar on top of that. The resulting taste was simply FAR too sweet. So I omitted the sugar for a start.
Sugar is really not needed in these flapjacks. No white sugar, no brown sugar - none of it! - Jill
Without the sugar, the flapjacks can still bind together easily with the ingredients in the recipe card below. Just ensure that you leave the flapjacks to cool completely before cutting, so they are less crumbly.
Even as author of two patisserie recipe books, I don't have a really sweet tooth. It sounds bizarre, I know, but that's why I love French patisserie so much. The irony is that the best French cakes, pastries and desserts are not that sweet.
These days there's a rise of healthy pâtisseries around Paris that specialise in reducing sugar (e.g. Helmut Newcake, Noglu, Chambelland - see their GF brownies, Maison Plume, Oh Oui).
See my article on Pâtisseries for Diabetics in Paris for more.
Sugar Replaced with Honey
Honey has many virtues and is a natural way of replacing sugar.
According to Dr Claude Nonotte-Varly for the French 'Que Choisir Santé' Magazine (N°175-October 2022), honey even tastes extra sweet: refined sugar's sugar level is at 100 whereas for honey, it's 130. So less honey is used to achieve the same sweetness level. What's more, honey is not just delicious but contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
What Can I Use Instead of Golden Syrup for Flapjacks?
I replace the traditional golden syrup with runny honey (Acacia). Please use good quality and ensure it's the real thing.
Alas, honey sees one of the biggest counterfeits in the food industry so be aware of cheap own brands and labels that don't say where the honey was sourced.
To test if your honey is the real genuine article, see how to in my recipe post for pork in honey sauce.
Another replacement for golden syrup in flapjacks is maple syrup. So it's up to you.
How to Make your Own Healthy Flapjacks (no added sugar)
To make your own healthy flapjacks, the recipe couldn't be easier. Add honey and melted butter to dry ingredients then pack into a lined shortbread tin and bake for 20 minutes. All details are in the printable recipe card below.
How Long Will They Keep?
These healthy flapjacks are best eaten on the day of baking. Any leftovers or want to save them for later? Store your leftover homemade flapjacks in a tin box or an airtight container in a cool place for up to 3 days.
Healthy Flapjacks with Honey
So my answer is this healthier recipe of oat flapjacks (or granola bars). They are naturally sweetened with just honey and dried fruits to replace the traditional golden syrup and sugar. We've tried and tested them over and over and these receive the thumbs up from the family. What's more, vary the dried fruits: dried cranberries, apricots, dates and/or raisins as well as the seeds.
However, I shall leave YOU to judge them for yourself: would you add extra sugar to them or not? If you do feel they need more sugar, then I dare you make some change to your diet and start cutting back on unnecessary sugar.
- rectangular baking tin 26 x 18 cm (10 x 7 inches)
- 200 g (7oz / 1¼ cups) medium porridge oats
- 20 g (0.75oz) pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 10 g (1 tbsp) linseeds or sesame seeds
- 30 g (1oz/2 tbsp) walnuts or hazelnuts broken
- 50 g (1.75oz) dried fruits (cranberries, raisins, finely chopped dried apricots or dates)
- good pinch salt fleur de sel (Maldon or Celtic sea salt)
- 100 g (3.5oz/1 stick) butter, unsalted melted
- 120 g (8 tbsp) runny honey (e.g. Acacia)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/360°F/160°C Fan (Mark 4).
- In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients then add the melted butter and honey.
- Press the mixture into a high-sided baking tin (a rectangular shortbread tin) lined with greaseproof paper/baking parchment and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool completely in the tin then cut into squares.
This recipe was first published 8 September 2016 but has now been completely updated
These will be perfect for our bike rides. Thank you. Like you I'm not keen on anything too sweet, so I don't imagine I'll be adding any sugar. I've been busy drying plums from the orchard so I'll add some of them.
So pleased that you think the same way on the sugar, Jacqui. Orchard plums? Magic. Am so impressed seeing all of your bike rides and what you cover. What a trooper!
I'll try this next week. Looks so good !
Great - thanks Marie-Christine x
We have granola every morning so thanks for the recipe. Dad is a dab hand now. We even took some to the Lakes. Best with fresh rasps and blueberries. Great start to each day.
Well I do hope you make these flapjacks, Mum! It will be a delicious change and you can still take them to the Lakes ...
Christina | Christina's Cucina
As much as I do like sweets and even sweeties, I too, can't take anything that's cloyingly sweet, especially if there's really no need for extra sugar when honey will do. I'd make these flapjacks exactly as the recipe is written.
I made a British recipe the other day and thought I should cut down the sugar, but the crazy thing was, it ended up not being sweet enough! I usually do leave the sugar alone on British recipes, but 99% of the time, I cut down on the sugar from US recipes (or omit it completely in dishes that just don't need it)! (Like pickled beets!)
We're so similar Christina. I systematically cut down sugar in recipes but that's why I love testing since sometimes it needs a bit more, a bit less.
With just the right amount of sugar, we can even taste the other ingredients better too.
Christina | Christina's Cucina