There’s never been a better time to break out these No-Bake Vegan Nutella Bars. I mean, it’s 2020, so we could all use a little chocolate, amirite??
Lots of stress means lots of chocolate. And since I know I’ll be eating lots of chocolate, I figured I might as well make my chocolate obsession a healthier indulgence. Enter these No-Bake Nutella Fudge Bars!
They are basically everyone’s favorite chocolate spread turned into a cookie fudge bar and made healthier (but they don’t taste healthy)! They’re made with just 8 main ingredients and require no baking, so they’re incredibly simple to make. Best of all, they are so wildly delicious that you and your whole family will instantly fall in love with them!
Why you’re going to like this recipe
8 main ingredients. Yep, that’s it! This recipe is easy and accessible.
No baking required. Whether baking intimidates you or you’re just looking for a quick, easy, and foolproof treat, this is the recipe for you! The food processor does most of the work for you and it’s easy enough that your kids can help.
Nutella but better for you. Scientific studies show that 99.9% of all humans love Nutella, but unfortunately Nutella is not vegan, and it’s not made with the best ingredients. These bars feature healthy ingredients like roasted hazelnuts, raw cacao powder, maple syrup, and vegan chocolate chips, so they’re so much better for you but they still taste just like Nutella (except in fudge/cookie bar form).
Delightfully chewy. If you’re like most people, you like chewy cookies. These fudgy cookie bars are incredibly chewy and utterly addictive.
Wholesome yet Indulgent. These Nutella bars are made with ingredients that are perfectly acceptable for breakfast, which means you can happily eat fudge bars for breakfast. Plus, they’re vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free. Nevertheless, they are incredibly rich so just a few bites can satisfy your sweet tooth.
Since this is a Nutella-flavored recipe, we have to use hazelnuts. To bring out their nutty and slightly sweet flavor, it’s essential to roast the hazelnuts before blending them. Instructions on how to roast hazelnuts can be found in the next section and in the recipe directions.
If all you have are pre-roasted hazelnuts, that’s fine – just skip the roasting step.
Also, I have not tried this, but one reader said she substituted the hazelnuts with a jar of hazelnut butter (365 grams or about 12.5 ounces) and said it was fabulous, so in case you keep hazelnut butter on hand, this would make the recipe even easier!
These sweet and sticky gems are going to help sweeten the dough and also bring it together. I recommend using soft Medjool dates for the best texture. The smaller, drier deglet dates will not work as well, and your dough will be tougher and less sticky (you’ll likely need to add more coconut oil or maple syrup to get the right texture).
If you can’t find Medjool dates in your local grocery store, you can find them on Amazon.
Rolled Oats or Oat Flour
I blitz old-fashioned rolled oats in a food processor until they’re finely ground, but you could also use store-bought oat flour. The benefit of the store-bought variety is that it’s more finely ground than you can do at home, so the consistency of the bars will be smoother and finer. That said, I make my own oat flour because it’s cheaper and so quick, and the bars still come out delicious.
Be sure to buy certified gluten-free rolled oats or oat flour if you or someone you are making these for has a severe gluten intolerance or allergy.
Raw cacao powder is one of the healthiest foods you can eat (high in magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc), so I love using it here since these Nutella bars don’t get baked and thus the nutrients in the cacao are preserved.
That said, you can also use unsweetened cocoa powder. There won’t be a noticeable difference in the taste.
Using a liquid sweetener such as maple syrup helps bring the dough together while bringing a little sweetness and helping to minimize the amount of oil used in this recipe.
I use just a little bit of coconut oil (2 tablespoons) to help bring the dough together, as well as bring a little extra richness and fat. I recommend using refined coconut oil since it’s neutral in taste, but if you don’t mind a subtle hint of coconut flavor, you can use unrefined/virgin coconut oil.
Any cookie-type recipe needs a good-quality pure vanilla extract.
And any chocolate dessert needs a little salt to balance the sweet. And if you really love the sweet-salty combo, sprinkle some flaky sea salt (e.g., Maldon sea salt) on top of the bars before serving.
Vegan Chocolate Chips or Dark Chocolate
I melt down Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips and pour the melted chocolate over the bars, but you could easily substitute with your favorite dairy-free dark chocolate. Obviously, the higher the cocoa content, the healthier these bars will be.
How to Make No-Bake Nutella Fudge Bars
To make these bars, roast the hazelnuts in the oven at 350°F/175°C for 10-15 minutes or until browned and very fragrant.
In the meantime, make your oat flour. Add the rolled oats to a food processor and blend until finely ground.
When the hazelnuts done roasting, immediately transfer them to a clean dish towel and wrap tightly to steam them for 1 minute. Then rub the towel vigorously to help loosen the hazelnut skins.
Add the hazelnuts to the food processor (empty out the oat flour) and blend until you have a finely ground meal.
Return the oat flour to the food processor, along with the dates, cacao powder, vanilla, salt, maple syrup, and coconut oil. Blend until a sticky dough comes together. If using cacao nibs, fold them in by hand.
Transfer the dough to a parchment paper-lined loaf pan and smooth it out with your fingers and/or a flat-bottomed steel cup.
Freeze the dough for 30 minutes to set it. Right before taking them out of the freezer, melt your vegan chocolate chips or dark chocolate. Pour the melted chocolate on top, spread it out, and let it set (if the chocolate doesn’t harden, pop it back in the freezer for 5-10 minutes).
Watch! How to Make Nutella Fudge Bars
Tips for Making No-Bake Nutella Fudge Bars
After roasting the hazelnuts, don’t skip the step of steaming the roasted hazelnuts in a tightly wrapped dish towel. The steam makes it easier to loosen the hazelnut skins.
If your dates are not very soft, soak them in hot water for 5 minutes, then drain and pat dry well. If you can only find deglet dates (smaller, less sticky than Medjool), you may need to add more coconut oil or maple syrup to bring the dough together.
If you like your bars with a little crunch, fold the raw cacao nibs into the dough. If not, leave ‘em out.
If you don’t have an 8×4-inch (20×10 cm) or 9×5-(23×13 cm) inch loaf pan, you can also use a similar-sized Tupperware or glass storage container. If you only have a square baking pan (e.g. 8×8-inch or 20×20 cm), you can use that too, but the bars won’t be as tall/thick as they are in these photos.
Store leftovers in the freezer. They’ll stay good in the freezer for many weeks, if not months. After removing from the freezer, let them rest for 5-10 minutes – it’ll make them a lot easier to slice and eat.
If you give these No-Bake Nutella Fudge Bars recipe a try, be sure to tag me on Instagram with your recreations and please comment with your feedback below!
No-Bake Nutella Fudge Bars
- 1 ½ cups (195-205g) hazelnuts
- 1 ¼ cups (~125g) rolled oats*
- 1 packed cup soft Medjool dates, pits removed (7 ounces)**
- 1/3 cup (27-30g) raw cacao or cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons melted or softened coconut oil***
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) pure maple syrup
- 1/4 (28g) cup cacao nibs (optional)
- 1/2 cup (~85g) vegan chocolate chips (or chopped dairy-free dark chocolate)
- Flaky sea salt for topping, optional but recommended
- Roast the hazelnuts. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Place the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and spread out evenly. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until browned and very fragrant.
- While the hazelnuts are roasting.1. Line a 8×4-inch (20×10 cm) or 9×5-inch loaf pan (23×13 cm) with parchment paper, letting the excess hang over the long sides to form a sling.2. If the Medjool dates are not very soft, cover them with hot water for 5 minutes, then drain and pat dry.3. Place the oats in the bowl of the food processor and pulverize them until you have a very fine oat flour. Remove the oat flour and set aside.****
- Peel the hazelnuts. When the hazelnuts are done roasting, add them to a clean kitchen towel and wrap tightly into a ball. Let them sit wrapped for 1 minute to steam, then rub the towel vigorously to remove the hazelnut skins. It will take a few times, but it’s not necessary to remove all the skins.
- Place the hazelnuts in the food processor and blend until you have a a finely ground meal, but don’t blend too long, or it will start to turn into hazelnut butter.
- Make the dough. Return the oat flour back to the food processor, along with the pitted dates, cacao powder, salt, vanilla, coconut oil, and maple syrup. Process until you have a sticky dough that you can press together with your fingers. If using cacao nibs, stir them in by hand with a silicone spatula or your hands (remove the blade from the food processor to make this easy, or transfer the dough to a bowl).
- Spread the dough out into the prepared pan and smooth the top out evenly, pressing all the way into corners using your fingers or a flat-bottomed steel cup to get the mixture even on top. Place the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes (or longer) to set.
- Before removing from the freezer, melt the chocolate.1. Double boiler method: Add a few inches of water to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Nestle a large heatproof glass bowl that sits on top of the saucepan without touching the water to create a double boiler. Once the water is simmering, add the vegan chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate to the bowl. Whisk frequently with a spatula until the mixture is just melted.2. Microwave method: Add the chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high in 25 to 30-second intervals until the chocolate is almost melted (about 3 intervals). Use a spoon to stir the chocolate until it is melted.
- Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cold Nutella dough and lightly sprinkle with flaky sea salt. If the chocolate doesn’t immediately harden, return it to the freezer for 5-10 minutes to set, then slice into 8 thick bars or into smaller squares. Store leftovers in the freezer (they’ll stay good for several weeks).
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