Naturally sweetened with dates and maple syrup, these vegan chocolate chip cookie dough bars are a great way to satisfy those cookie cravings! Soft, sweet, and made with wholesome ingredients, they’re delicious enough to enjoy for dessert and healthy enough to enjoy with breakfast.
I never thought I’d say this, but I don’t want to eat any more cookies. At least not for the next 2.5 weeks while I recover from the latest instalment of my kitchen shenanigans. I’ve eaten more cookies in the past week than I care to admit, and I can definitely attest to the fact that too much of a good thing… isn’t such a good thing. Someone please pass me a carrot. Or some kale.
But you know when you get an idea in your head that you swear would be absolutely brilliant if you could just pull it off? That’s how I felt about today’s recipe. I wanted a chocolate chip cookie that was naturally sweetened with dates, and while the taste and texture of most of my experiments were on point, they weren’t exactly going to win over the masses in the looks department…
I mean, they’re kind of cute, but they don’t have that traditional cookie look that makes people weak in the knees. Which — let’s be real — is what matters in this food blogging business. I mean, no offence to you guys, but you’re a pretty shallow bunch. Eating with your eyes. Not giving ugly food a chance. Be honest — you wouldn’t give a second thought to an award winning split pea soup if it looked like a bowl of upchuck, no matter how amazing the author said it tasted. But when it’s dressed up all nice with the proper props and lighting, then BAM… you need that in your belly NOW.
I get it. I’m the same way. I wasn’t trying to make you feel bad. The point is, the pressure is on when it comes to making food look good… which is why I scrapped the idea of making date-sweetened chocolate chip cookies and made date-sweetened chocolate chip cookie bars instead…
And how good do those look?!? Good enough to eat with your eyes, I hope. But let’s talk substance, since looks will only get you so far.
These bars are the real deal. They taste and feel so ridiculously similar to traditional cookie bars made with butter and sugar, that my taste testers had a hard time believing they weren’t made with either. Heck, I had a hard time believing it, and I was there during the whole process. But they better taste ridiculously similar considering how much recipe tweaking and consequent tasting I had to do. Like I said… I’m good on cookies for the next 2.5 weeks.
Thankfully, these cookie bars are relatively healthy as far as cookie bars go. The majority of the base is made from oat flour, which adds fiber and dense-ness, with some all-purpose flour thrown in for softness. I experimented with a few different flours (which I’ll mention in the recipe notes), and they all worked just fine, but the regular flour was my favourite as far as texture goes.
For sweetness, brown and white sugars get replaced with date paste and maple syrup. Not only does that add even more blood sugar regulating fiber, but you’re also taking in some minerals like iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, and potassium, which get stripped during the refinement of processed sugars.
Basically, these chocolate chip cookie dough bars are about as healthy as cookie dough bars get without actually tasting healthy. They’re perfectly sweet, with a slightly firmer crust that gives way to soft and chewy center. No eggs or dairy makes these bad boys vegan, and they can can easily be made gluten-free and nut-free with simple substitutions.
I’d love to know if you make this recipe! Leave a comment and rating down below to let me know what you think, and subscribe to our mailing list to receive new recipes in your inbox!Print
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars
- Total Time: 30 mins
- Yield: 16 bars 1x
- 3/4 cup Medjool dates, pitted (about 8 large dates)
- 1 1/2 cup oats, ground into a flour*
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour**
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 3 Tbsp. almond butter***
- 3 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 3 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
- Place dates in a small bowl and cover with enough hot water to fully submerge them. Set aside and let sit for about 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350F and prepare an 8×8 baking dish by lining it with a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang on the sides to allow for easy removal. Spray foil with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine oat flour, all-purpose flour, and baking soda. Mix well until fully combined.
- Drain the dates and place them in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until they begin to turn into a smooth paste before adding almond butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla. Continue processing until ingredients are fully combined and mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Pour wet mix into dry mix and stir until fully incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.
- Transfer mixture to prepared baking pan, and use a spatula or your hands to spread the mixture evenly in the pan, pressing down firmly.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges begin to turn golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing and cutting into bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
* To make oat flour, simply place regular oats into a food processor or blender and process until they become a fine powder. ** You can make these gluten-free by using a gluten-free flour mix or even something like almond or rice flour. The texture may be a little bit different, but they will still work. *** To make these nut-free, use something like soy nut or sunflower seed butter. However, please note that if you do use sunflower seed butter, your bars may turn green upon cooling as the chlorophyll in the seeds reacts with the baking soda.
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
Keywords: chocolate chip cookie dough bars, cookie dough bars, date paste, naturally sweetened, vegan cookie dough bars
Looking for more healthy bar recipes? Try one of these!
Strawberry Banana Oat Bars
No Bake Vegan Oatmeal Fudge Bars
Soft and Chewy Protein Granola Bars
Blueberry Almond Oat Bars
Soft Baked Brownie Breakfast Bars
This recipe really needs 1 cup of date paste. I have a vita-mix and thought that perhaps I could blend the soaked dates into paste but that simply doesn’t work. Nor does it work with a food processor. I finally ended up adding water to the dates to make more liquid, then later when mixed with the dry ingredients I had to add milk to make the correct consistency.
The end result was okay, meh. I wouldn’t make this again.
So I made these tonight and got the same result as some other commenters – really dry, won’t stick together. I did not give up though! I added 5 tablespoons of almond milk from my fridge and they came out great! Not sure where the problem is in the recipe? Maybe the way the oats are worded? The way its written made me think they should be measured dry, then milled and all used. Dunno! Either way, with a little added moisture they came out delish!
Unfortunately I had the same result as another commenter on here. I didn’t even bothering putting them in the oven because they were way too dry to ever have worked out. It also made an absolute mess of my food processor and is a nightmare to try to clean all this gunk out of the pieces. I’m never putting peanut butter and coconut oil in my food processor again, that’s for sure!
It literally just took at least 20 minutes to clean the gunk out of my small food processor.
If I have oat flour already is the measurement still 1 and a half cups? Also, I am not a fan of the way dates taste, do these taste like dates at all or does it all get mixed up in the final product? Thanks!
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
I’d say you honestly can’t taste the dates at all, Meagan, especially with the chocolate chips in there. And if you already have oat flour, it’d come out to a little over a cup, I think. Something like 1 cup + 2tbsp.
These look awesome! Thanks for sharing.
But this was a horrible experience. First off, using the blender to turn the dates into paste, then adding the rest of the semi solids in there had the predictable result of everything sticking to the sides of the blender, each nook and cranny, the blender blades, and the gasket. Probably 10% of the mix was irretrievable, not to mention very hard to clean. In the end, the dry mix was not saturated enough by the semi solid paste. After baking, it pretty much still looked and acted the same as before it was baked, only with a little browning around the edges and bottom.
This was a big aggravating waste of time and ingredients, which is sad, because it seemed full of potential.
In the very least, please advise everyone about the problems using the blender. Also, coconut oil hardens back up pretty quickly unless it’s kept pretty warm, which contributes to the stiffness of the semi-solid mixture. I am not a chef or even a cook, but I normally don’t see failures of this magnitude when I follow the directions.
Made these yesterday and they were very yummy, didn’t feel bad giving them to my kids. However, they were super crumbly. Any tips?
Brandi @ Java and Sole
Hi Amanda – I just wanted you to know that I made these last week before going on vacation and they were a BIG hit! It was my very first attempt at pitting and/or cooking with dates and I loved the outcome.
Reposted the recipe on my IG that day and again on my blog today! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂 Love your tasty (and healthier!) recipes!!