Make Your Own Primal Energy Bars in 10 Easy Steps

Energy BarsYou know the drill. You slept late, your son misplaced his lunchbox, the cat threw up in the flowers. You’re already 10 minutes late for work and there’s nary a minute to scarf down a breakfast, let alone one that a caveman would approve of!

Enter the protein bar – it’s individually packaged, it’s relatively affordable, and you can easily eat it in the car while you’re doing your hair in the rear view mirror and practicing your presentation for later this afternoon – in essence, it’s the ultimate grab-and-go food.

However, there is a downside. In many cases, these protein bars contain ingredients and chemicals that very few people – bar the odd organic chemist or real nutrition expert – can pronounce and still fewer would actually want to ingest.

The solution? It’s time to put your chef hat on, because the only way you’re going to find an energy bar that is Primal and palatable is if you do a little D.I.Y… (and trust us, it’s really not that hard!).


1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup almond or sesame seed meal
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut oil (check your local health food store)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp of raw honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries or blueberries


  1. On a cookie sheet, toast nuts and shredded coconut until golden brown (you may need to shake the tray once or twice to make sure they cook evenly).
  2. Once toasted, pour mixture into a food processor and pulse until nuts are chopped and the mixture becomes coarsely ground.
  3. In a mixing bowl, melt coconut oil and almond butter (about 20 seconds). Remove from microwave and stir until smooth.
  4. Add vanilla extract, honey and sea salt. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Fold in nut mixture and almond (or sesame seed) meal until mixed thoroughly.
  6. Fold in blueberries/cranberries.
  7. Press mixture into an 8 by 4 loaf pan.
  8. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until firm.
  9. Cut “loaf” width wise. Should make 6 good-sized bars.
  10. Enjoy! (or, if you don’t plan to eat immediately, you can store the bars in the refrigerator, covered loosely with a paper towel and plastic wrap.
manray3 Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

How to Make Your Own Jerky

DIY – Butter, Yogurt, Kefir, Oh My!

Homemade Condiment Creations

Choose Your Own Salad Adventure

The Easiest Guide to Safe Household Cleaners You Can Make Yourself

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64 thoughts on “Make Your Own Primal Energy Bars in 10 Easy Steps”

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  1. I keep just looking at this and feeling that it should be bad… haven’t found why yet (even though the honey does make me slightly aprehensive). I am definitely going to have to try this one.

  2. There seems to be a whole lotta protein in this but not much it terms of carbs. Was this intentional? Can you give a nutritional breakdown (qua nutrition label) for your concoction?

  3. How long do you think these will keep un-refridgerated? I would like to bring one to work with me to complement my homeade primal jerky that I have been making. It would be in a plastic bag for about 8 hours unrefridgerated. Think it would hold up?

  4. mh1-

    They aren’t the best protein source (check out the DIY Jerky recipe link at the bottom of the post), but they are a good option for an on-the-go meal full of healthy fats that will satiate your appetite. Here is the breakdown:

    Total Batch:

    Calories: 2288
    Fat: 203g
    Carbs: 110g
    Protein: 40g

    So to hit your serving size just cut into the appropriate size (6ths, 8ths, 12ths etc)

    Here is the per bar breakdown if you cut the batch into 6ths:

    Calories: 381
    Fat: 34g
    Carbs: 18.3 g
    Protein: 6.6 g

    The carb count isn’t ultra-low. But it is at a reasonable level and could easily fit into the daily range of 100-150g of carbs.

    Yes, the fairly low carb content was intentional. It is all about the fat, baby!

    Son of Grok-

    It should hold up just fine over those 8 hours.

    Thanks for the great comments and questions. They are always welcome!

  5. When does the sesame meal get added? Is it toasted? Or do you add it later? Also, could you substitute almond meal?

  6. I think these sound fantastic. I’m going to try a batch. If the kidlets eat them, I’ll be thrilled! Thanks guys!

  7. “you can store the bars in the refrigerator, covered loosely with a paper towel and plastic wrap”

    Don’t the paper towels soak up any of the fat?

    They do sound yummy, I’ve been looking for something to add to my morning shake that is high in fat. I need something solid as I take my vits, meds with breakfast shake!


  8. Almond meal is a great substitute for sesame meal, Sally.

    If you are worried about losing any of that precious fat store the bars on a covered plate.

    Great questions!

  9. Aaron, could you answer Sally’s question about when to add the almond/sesame meal? I was wondering the same thing.

    Also any clue as to the fiber content to reduce the carb load?

    They sound good. Might have to try ’em.

  10. Sally/Joe,

    Yes, apologies. #5 is meant to include the nut/seed meal addition. It’s been added for clarification.

    Great point, Methusaleh. Apricots are a great addition. In fact they make binding the bar together that much easier. The honey adds a bit of sweetness and helps binding. Without apricots, it should be noted that the recipe may need some tweaking to get the bars to bind well, and that could include adding a touch more honey.

  11. My batch is chillin’ in the freezer as I type (my son is impatiently waiting for some while he does his homework).

    I used dried Montmorency Cherries (unsweetened tart cherries) because that’s the only dried fruit I had. I first gave them a few pulses in the food processor to make smaller bits. Everything else I had in the pantry.

    This is much faster than the baked nut bars I had been making (also grain-free). Probably tastier, too.

    Another good ingredient for snacks like this is Coconut Spread (the only one I know about is from Wilderness Family Naturals, either from their website or some natural food stores).

  12. What is almond/sesame meal? Is it just finely ground almonds/sesame seeds?

    I have been searching for ages for a primal recipe for something to replace the grocery store type granola bar. My children love granola bars, but I refuse to buy them anymore, and they know it! I will certainly give this a try. If it passes the kid test then it is truly a winner!

    My only problem with the recipe is the microwave part. PLEASE do not microwave your nourishment! It turns good food into processed and altered junk.

  13. Very cool post and idea. If you can get hold of the nut meals this is super easy to make and an Ideal snack. I suppose for those of you who want some extra protein it would be possible to add some Unflavored Whey (not sure about this though….I would also suggest adding some ground cinnamon and possibly a TBSP or two of canned pumpkin.

  14. wow these look delicious! Though I think there would be a danger of eating the entire batch in one sitting…. hmm 2200 calories…

    these would be great for when ski/snowboard season starts.. a perfect high energy snack.

  15. These look awesome! Can’t wait to try them.
    Nut meal is just finely ground nuts, in this case almonds. Just stick ’em in the food processor and ground till “flour” consistency. If you don’t feel like making your own, Bob’s Red Mill sells Almond Meal and you can order it online.
    Another great binder (that would add sweetness) is pureed dates…

  16. How about pureed prunes?

    These were a hit with the son and hubby, though my batch turned out a bit crumbly (I might not have processed the nuts fine enough). One went into his school lunch box this morning. Of course, my son asked for chocolate chips in his next time. I think I’ll add raw unsweetened cocoa nib bits to the next batch, though.

    For my own purposes (impaired glucose tolerance) they are still too high in sugar (most of the sugars in this come from the fruit), but the fruit functions as a binder, so I’ll do some experimenting with other binder possibilities. Perhaps some egg white and baking slightly will work. I’ll let y’all know.

    By the way, I wouldn’t fear the calories in this, especially if it is a meal replacement (rather than on top of a huge meal). The fat is so satisfying that even if one overindulges, the resulting satiety is likely to result in delayed or reduced hunger for the next meal, as long as the sugar content isn’t too high (prompting a big insulin/hunger response and fluctuating BG).

  17. Made another batch last night. This time I actually measured instead of eyeballing the amounts – more stuff to wash, though. I chopped the nuts/coconut finer in the food processor than I did for the first batch.

    I was out of all dried fruit except some Trader Joe’s date rolls (date paste logs rolled in coconut shreds with an almond pressed on top – 30g of CHO each!) I call them “sugar bombs”, natural sugars notwithstanding (dried dates are very high in sugar). I put two of those in the food processor *with the nuts* instead of dried cranberries or blueberries.

    Also this time I pressed the mixture into a 6×6″ square shallow covered glass storage container, making them thinner. I pre-cut into 8 pcs before chilling for easier cutting later, so they are also a bit smaller. They are quite rich and filling, so this morning I cut them again in half to make 16 squares.

    This batch also tested well with my son at breakfast and he requested one for his lunch box.

  18. Thanks for the rundown, Anna. I’m sure I’m not the only one who appreciates it when you share your experiences, it’s always helpful!

  19. I made these with cashew butter, and flax meal instead of almond meal. Delicious!

  20. I replaced the almond/sesame seed meal in these while increasing the protein content of the bars using these three different methods, all of them good as gold: either substitute “meal” for 1) a good quality organic whey protein (used Paleomeal), 2) hemp protein powder or 3) a pea/rice protein mixture. I even decreased the carb content further by using fresh or frozen wild blueberries, picked right from my backyard 🙂 Yummy!!! Thanks for the wonderful recipe!!!

  21. One of characteristics about this “uncooked” bar is that it needs to stay relatively cool to keep its form.

    For the last batch I made, I added an egg and mixed it well (I also used two date rolls instead of the dried berries), then baked it for 20 minutes in moderate oven at 325°F. That was my son’s favorite batch so far, and while still a bit crumbly and can’t take being tossed around, keeping it cool isn’t an issue.

    Oh, and he likes an handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips thrown in, too :-). I also added some raw cracked cocoa nibs (unsweetened) for crunch.

    I’ll continue to experiment, because I really like this easy, slow energy snack idea.

    The other tip I have is to have a toothbrush or toothpick handy (or don’t smile too widely right after eating). Those nut bits really like to stick around while. 🙂

  22. Thanks for the update, Anna! Very helpful. Let us know if you come up with any new and exciting creations!

  23. I replaced the almond/sesame meal with whey protein powder in my batch and have been storing the bars in the freezer. They cohere very well. I also found that wrapping them in parchment paper helps the bars hold their shape in my bag on the way to work.

    I love how mailable this recipe is– very easy to alter to a person’s taste. I’m going to be sending this recipe to friends.

  24. I made these and they were delicious! I didn’t use any dried fruit but added a few drops of liquid stevia for sweetness. I also used agave nectar instead of honey and instead of one teaspoon vanilla extract, I used half vanilla and half almond. They’re sinfully delicious.

    I also avoid microwaves, so I just combined the oil and almond butter on the stove. No problem.

  25. I’ve been making bars similar to these for years. The big difference is that I add several scoops of unsweetened whey protein powder to significantly up the protein content. I don’t add any honey to my bars, either — don’t need the fructose. Sometimes I’ll throw in a scoop of raw cocoa powder, which is a super healthy addition, and gives them a slight chocolate flavor.

  26. Scott Miller,

    I’m REALLY interested in trying your modifications to my bars, but could you be more specific when you refer to “scoops”?
    How big is a “scoop” as it relates to the portions of the above recipe? 1/4 cup, 1/2 cup, etc.

    Thanks for the GREAT info!

  27. Hi Dan, a scoop is a non-standard size, I know, but really there’s no need to be super accurate. I think my scoop is 25 grams, and I’ll use 3-4 scoops, which adds about 100 grams of protein to the mix. If you divide that into 8 bars, you have 12.5 grams more protein per bar. They key point is that more protein is better, and Mark’s bars seem way too low on the protein, versus what I want. Mark’s bars come off more as energy bars, IMO, and I prefer a bar that’s more protein and fat focused, with carbs in third place.

    BTW, it’s really easy to be creative when making these kinds of bars, and I never make them the same way twice. I’ll use different combinations of nut butters (always the full-fat versions), and the really high-in-protein soy nut butters. I’ll also add chopped walnuts, or chopped pecans, or sesame seeds, and these add texture and crunch to the bars, making them a lot more enjoyable to eat, IMO.

  28. it would be kinda cool if you could make a video on youtube showing exactly how you do it… because i suck at following written recipes on a language other than my own 🙂

  29. After years of making homemade granola bars I saw this one. It is the best one yet. Especially like the ‘no bake’ aspect. Next time I will double the recipe.

  30. I have made this recipe twice now. The 2nd time I was smarter and used my cuisinart to do the whole process. I just put all of the ingredients into the cuisinart and pulsed until the mixture held togather. I then take the mixture out and dump into a bowl and shape the mixture into small bite size balls. I am now supplying my massage therapists with these delightful morsels and they love them. I made a few changes to the recipe. I added 1/3 cup of hemp herts for protein, 1/3 cup milk poweder, increased almond butter to 1/2 cup of cashew/almond butter, eliminated the coconut oil, added a little more honey, added 1/2cup grd flax seed.

  31. While I know dessert is sort of frowned upon by the primal diet, these broken into little bits make GREAT dessert.

  32. Soaking the nuts in pure water for at least overnight or longer makes them more digestible. The almonds will even sprout a tiny bit. Then soak the almonds in hot water to loosen the skins. The skins have phytic acid which lessens the absorption of B-vitamins. This is more work but imo worth it. I agree with skipping the microwave and using a low heat burner on the range to melt the oil and nut butter. I always double the recipe. Once I used Butter Buds for the binder but wasn’t overjoyed with the resultant texture.

  33. Question: Since I do not like coconut (wish I did) what do you think would be the best substitute for that in this recipe in terms of consistency–more nuts, flax meal, or something else? Thanks–this looks wonderful. Reminds me a little of Larabars (TM), my favorite store-bought bar.

  34. i made these today and cut them into tiny little squares which was plenty! as for the coconut, you can’t taste it at all!!

    i would love to know more about what to do with pumpkin…. it’s my fave and don’t really know how to do anything paleo with it!! (i will probably search pumpkin on this right now and come up with 18 things…!) love the site!

  35. I like this, but I might combine some shelled hemp seeds to bring in a tad of healthy carbs, and some flax seeds whole, and ground..Maybe try them with no honey, or less..

  36. I’ve made these twice now, following the recipe precisely, and both times the bars came out very crumbly, even crumbling when I initially cut them. What can I do to get these bars to hold together? Right now I just have a zip-lock bag full of crumbs!

    1. Maybe use it as a granola cereal add some coconut milk, instead making bars…

      I’m off to get the ingredients 😀 … will report on the results…

  37. LOVEthese bars. But we found them a little dry and the coconut on top was very messy. The next time we increased the honey to 1T, subbed cherries for the cranberries and added some dark choc chips. We left off the coconut on top and instead sprinkled with more pecans before putting under the broiler. So crispy and yummy also very energizing.

  38. I make something similar that I believe came from “Elena’s Pantry”.
    2 Cups Almonds
    1/2 Cup flax meal
    1/2 cup coconut flakes
    1/2 cup almond butter
    1/2 tsp. sea salt
    1/2 cup ooconut oil
    1 Tblspn raw honey
    1 Tblspn vanilla extract
    1 cup dark chocolate

    Add almonds, flax meal, coconut flakes,sea salt and almond butter to food processor. Process to a fine consistency or to your liking. Melt coconut oil over low heat, take off heat and add vanilla and honey. Pour into nut mixture and process until it sticks together. Spread into 8×8 pan and refrigerate for 1 hour. Melt dark chocolate and spread onto bars and put back into refrigerate to set. Presto – ready to eat.

  39. I see that alot of the recipes call for coconut milk. Is there a subsitute for coconut milk my daughter is allergic.

  40. I’ve tried these three times now and haven’t been very successful. First they aren’t binding very well. Perhaps I am not grinding the sesame seeds fine enough? Secondly I tried to take them along with me and they melted! Any ideas? I am trying to find something that I can bring along in the car for a few hours…

    1. Mary–Try Almond Meal (I got mine at Whole Foods…over $10/bag, but it will last you several batches…Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour). My first batch came out very nice, and I bet it is because of the Almond Meal.

      Also, I can see how these would NOT hold up if not chilled somehow. Likely would do well in a plastic sandwich container (the hard kind with lid), tucked into a chilled lunch bag….

  41. This info and website is nothing short of awesome!!!! I’m glad I found this site because the internet is filled with misinformation and junk but Mark is the real deal. This is my primary source of quality info on health and fitness. Thank God for you Mark!!!

  42. Just tried this recipe today. This instantly became one of my all-time favorites!

    QUESTION: It is SO good (and a bit sweet–not too much, just that it IS sweet)…did I do something wrong?

    I can tell the effect of the almond butter and coconut oil in the satisfying fats and incredibly rich, luxurious taste….just didn’t expect the sweetness (even with a little honey).

  43. I just made these and they are awesome! I had all the ingredients in my “primal pantry”. I used just pecans and added 1 scoop of whey . The fruit I had on hand was dried apricots. I also used a larger pan and cut into 18 squares. The plan is to use them for my driving home from work snack or for dessert craving emergencies!

  44. Hey do you have any recommendations for making homemade protein/energy bars that will keep for extended periods of time? I am looking for recipes to make and mail to my adopted solider in Afghanistan … I have a vacuum sealer to keep the air out but I don’t want to send him something that could spoil before he was able to enjoy it!!!! Any help would be great please email me [email protected] and put solider recipe so I know its not spam! !!!! Thank you

  45. Delicious! Thanks for sharing. I used PB, cherries and semi-sweet Choc chips, and frozen fresh coconut that I toasted.

  46. The first time I made them I had somehow listed the wrong item on my grocery list and bought coconut flour (instead of Almond meal)…tasted both bars and…to me it was quite an happy mistake! 🙂 Can’t wait to play some more with that recipe!

  47. love these! however, when I make them they don’t seem to hold together very well!.. 🙁 I’m not quite sure how to measure the ‘liquid’ ingredients aka the coconut oil and almond butter!! Melt first? Measure in dry measuring cups and melt after?! HELP! I’ve had two mishaps and hate to waste all these great ingredients because it’s to oily or won’t hold together properly.. any tips guys?! Also, I added 1 tsp of chia seeds just for some punch!! Thanks! 🙂

  48. I wish that someone would come out with soy and nut free bars like this for those of us who have allergies but also are trying to live a Paleo/Primal lifestyle. I’d love to be able to make something like this to have for breakfast on the go, but so far I haven’t been able to find anything at all that I can eat. 🙁

  49. I made these with a few tiny modifications and they worked great and didn’t crumble. I didn’t use honey, used dried apple instead of berries, and used half flaxseed meal and half almond meal instead of all almond meal. I also added a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and about a tablespoon of chia seeds.

    I pressed it down really really firmly onto a tray lined with baking paper and I put it in the freezer for an hour or two. Once it was hard it was easy to cut into bars without it breaking. I don’t know if it was the freezing or the addition of flaxseed meal and chia seeds that helped!

    And it tasted great! I’m so glad I’m learning to appreciate more subtle sweetness in foods.

  50. These are awesome! My 12-year-old boys loved them – kept coming back for more – I’ve gotta make a bigger batch next time. Way better than a cereal breakfast, thanks!

  51. Thanks so much for this recipe – they are awesome! My 12-year-old boys loved them so much, they’re nearly gone – will make a double batch next time. Much better than breakfast cereal!