Vegan crispy rice bars, filled with seeds and dried fruit, are quick to prepare and make a good-for-you treat that tastes decadent. No baking or machines are needed to make these yummy bars — just a bit of patience as they set up to firm in the refrigerator.
Brown rice syrup is the perfect binder for these crispy rice bars, since it’s super sticky. It also gives the bars a caramel flavor and delectable mouthfeel.
Here’s one example of a brown rice syrup brand
About rice syrup
Rice syrup is made by combining cooked rice with malted barley. As it stands, the rice starch is converted into maltose, resulting in a thick, naturally sweet syrup. The sugar in rice syrup is primarily maltose, a more complex sugar that’s less shocking to the system than simple sugars like sucrose.
Rice syrup doesn’t contain as high a concentration of nutrients as liquid sweeteners like molasses or barley malt syrup, but it does contains enough trace amounts of minerals and B vitamins to give it an edge over some of the others.
You’re more likely to find brown rice syrup at natural foods stores and online sources, rather than the supermarket. It isn’t as sweet as honey, but the two are fairly interchangeable in recipes, a boon to vegans who don’t use the latter.
One drawback is that it’s very thick and sticky, making it tricky to measure, and it’s not pourable. However, that very stickiness becomes an advantage when it comes to cereal bars like this one.
Some brands have better flavor than others, so if you like this mild sweetener, you might like to try a few types and stick with the brand you like most.
Rice syrup keeps well stored in a cool, dark place and doesn’t crystallize or harden. Try rice syrup to sweeten coffee, hot tea, or blended beverages. Use it instead of jam to spread on muffins and breads.
Can another sweetener be swapped in?
So this leads to the question … can you make these with a more common sweetener, like maple syrup or agave? Yes, though they’ll be a bit less firm. To resolve that issue, you might try freezing them for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or so — in addition to the one-hour setting time in the fridge — before serving.
Which crispy rice cereal is best for these bars
As far as crispy rice cereal, I prefer using the brown rice variety available in natural foods stores rather than the famous national brand or store brands — they’re truly not as crispy!
But if that’s all you’ve got, go for it. Otherwise, you can pick up your crispy brown rice cereal and brown rice syrup at the same time and place, very likely.
Explore more vegan gluten-free dairy-free desserts and sweets.
- 1/2 (scant) cup brown rice syrup or 1/3 cup agave or maple syrup
- 1/2 cup nut butter (peanut, almond, etc)
- 2 cups crispy rice cereal, preferably the brown rice variety
- 1/4 cup toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or crushed nuts
- 1/4 cup hemp or sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, optional
- Combine the rice syrup (or other sweetener) and nut butter in a medium saucepan. Bring to a slow simmer, then stir or whisk together until well blended.
- Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients; stir to combine completely.
- Transfer to a lightly oiled 8 by 8 or 9 by 9-inch baking pan. Pat in very firmly, then score into 9 squares or 8 bars with a knife — it’s easier to cut while still warm.
- Place the pan in the refrigerator until set, about an hour or so, before serving.
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