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Copycat ZBar Cookies {Vegan, Date-Sweetened, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free}

DIY ZBAR cookies that are just like ZBars! They are naturally vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, and sweetened with dates.

DIY ZBAR cookies that are vegan, and gluten-free

Homemade Healthy Snacks

I am typically wary of any products specifically marketed as “kids food” as they are often loaded with sugar, sodium, preservatives, artificial color and flavors, and all other sorts of gobbledy-gook. Adding insult to injury, the packaging is excessive and replete with an slick advertising overkill.

But exceptions exist, like cheddar bunny crackers (I have probably eat more bunnies than my son and two nephews combined) and unsweetened applesauce in pouches (note: excellent while driving :)).

I also like Zbars, which are made by Clifbar; they feature whole grains, organic ingredients,  and are sweetened mostly with dried fruit (figs).

The fact that both companies are in Berkeley, and literally located blocks from where I grew up, probably makes me prejudiced to the products of both companies, too. Might as well lay it all out on the table.

How to Make Copycat Zbar Cookies

Nevertheless, because I am who I am, I decided to make my own from-scratch version of Zbars.

Nick rarely finishes an entire bar, so I decided on copycat Zbar cookies instead. One cookie is just the right size for a treat or snack. I am a fan of crispy edges, too, and you get more of them in cookie form.

I think I’ve nailed it with both the taste and texture. I sweetened the cookies with dates alone, so they are only mildly sweet. The texture is soft, but with those crispy bits at the edges I mentioned.

A Healthy Snack for Kids of All Ages 

I cannot think of any reason why these copycat zbar cookies should be limited to children of any particular age; one is perfect for a blood sugar boost right around 4 o’clock (that’s my wilting hour) without the sugar jitters that accompany regular cookies or some energy bars.

Hence, my recommended age range for these zbar cookies is 1 to 130. 🙂

Plate of DIY Zbar Cookies , which are vegan, oil-free, gluten-free and date-sweetened.

Can I Make the Cookies without Chocolate Chips?

I made this batch with a smattering of chocolate chips, but you can add dried fruit, nuts, seeds…you get the idea. Heads up: almond butter with a bit of almond extract in place of the vanilla is a smashing variation. Enjoy the tweaking!

Copycat zbar cookies

Yield: 24

Copycat ZBar Cookies {vegan, oil-free, gluten-free}

DIY ZBAR cookies that are vegan, and gluten-free

Copycat Zbar cookies, just like ZBars! They are naturally vegan, oil-free, flourless, gluten-free, and sweetened with dates.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 11 minutes
Total Time 16 minutes


  • 1 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick-cooking)--GF if needed
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal (ground flaxseeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 (semi-packed) cup whole, pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup natural, unsweetened nut or seed butter of choice
  • 1/2 cup plain nondairy or dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped dried fruit


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silpat, or lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a food processor, process the oats to a fine powder. Add the flaxseed meal and baking soda; pulse to combine.
  3. Add the dates to the processor bowl; process until the dates are very finely chopped. Add the nut butter, milk and vanilla; pulse, using on/off pulses, until well-blended. If adding chocolate chips or fruit, transfer dough to medium bowl and stir in one of the options.
  4. Scoop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Dip the tines of fork in water and gently flatten each cookie.
  5. Bake for 10-11 minutes in the preheated oven until edges are golden brown. Cool 1 minute on sheets, then transfer to wire rack with spatula and cool completely.


Super-Dry/Tough Dates: If your dates feel like they have been unearthed from an Egyptian tomb, give them a 5 minute soak in warm water. Drain, then proceed with the recipe.

No Flaxseed? No problem: If you do not have flaxseed meal, you can use an equal amount of additional rolled oats, or or wheat germ, chia seeds, or...just about anything you like!

Even Better after a Day: If you can hold out, wait a day before eating (all/some of) the cookies. Unlike butter-rich cookies, which are best day of baking, these are even more flavorful on day two and three and four.

Storage: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days at room temp or freeze for up to 1 month (thaw at room temp).

Nutrition Information

Serving Size

1 cookie

Amount Per Serving Calories 82Total Fat 3.1gSaturated Fat 0.6gTrans Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgCarbohydrates 11.8gFiber 1.5gSugar 8.2gProtein 2.6g

Did you make this recipe?

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Monday 7th of March 2016

I made these as bars and they are very tasty. Almost the texture of cake. I love Clif Z bars, um, I mean my kiddo does- these don't remind me of them really but are definitely a keeper!


Thursday 5th of May 2016

Great, Stacy!


Wednesday 17th of February 2016

These are really healthy and taste just like the real Z bars. Thanks!


Monday 16th of May 2016

You are so wlecome, Anne!

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Friday 9th of January 2015

I followed your recipe, however used whole dates we got from a friend, that I had to pit myself. Very time consuming for that. I chopped up about a cup of the dates along with the oatmeal in my vitamix. I used the plunger to work the mixture while the motor was running on variable speed. It was too much and I thought I killed the machine, no power. Then I opted for a stick blender, which worked great until the motor sparked, this little machine died unfortunately. But, I actually completed the task of chopping the dates before it died. I think your recipe would work better if you mentioned to chop the dates with the liquids, then maybe add the dry ingredients. This was a lot of work for only 15 cookies, but I was very impressed with the taste. If I do this again, I will probably buy the dates already chopped (the vitamix survived, it eventually reset after the motor cooled).

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