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British Oat Flapjacks (aka, The Original Granola Bar)

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The Brits are responsible for copious inventions that have transformed modern life, including the reflecting telescope, television, stainless steel, hip replacements, military tanks, and the telephone.

Add granola bars to that list.

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Long before Nature Valley and the Quaker oats man were selling their packaged snacks to the world, British home cooks were making the world’s first granola bars to pack into lunches and accompany afternoon tea.

They call them flapjacks.

In their simplest form, they comprise oats, butter, and golden syrup. It’s the kind of minimalism that granola bar manufacturers are longing to achieve with their new artisan- organic- natural -bars (for $2 per bar). But alas, even in the UK, the original version of the flapjack has been maligned by mass manufacturers who pump ready-to-eat versions full of additives, refined white flour and cheap choco bits.

My version is a back to basics version, with a US twist: a combination of honey and brown sugar in place of the golden syrup.

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Let’s face it, most of us do not have a British import store at our disposal; moreover, the point of flapjacks is simple, wholesome eating with a handful of everyday ingredients.

Simply substituting honey for golden syrup, without the addition of sugar, does not work (unless honey-butter granola is your desired outcome). Combining sugar and honey into a syrup, however, works like a charm.

I also add some vanilla and salt to the mix. They may not be traditional , but who cares: the two add-ins elevate flapjacks from good to great with a mere squirt and sprinkle.

Finally, a word for those of us with British heritage: the next time someone maligns British cooking, feel free to insert (degree of force is an individual choice) a flapjack into the offender’s mouth (Note: a buttered scone will also suffice).

Here’s to British cooking, granola bars, and pack-able, portable eats!

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Yield: 16

British Oat Flapjacks (aka, The Original Granola Bar)

British Oat Flapjacks (aka, The Original Granola Bar)
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 2-1/4 cups rolled oats (quick or old-fashioned), divided
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey, brown rice syrup or golden syrup
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick)unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment, leaving an overhang to remove the bars; lightly spray or grease the foil/paper.
  2. Pulse 3/4 cup of the oats in a food processor until finely chopped but not powdery/flour.
  3. In a medium , heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and honey. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and and sugar is melted. Add the butter; cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes longer until mixture is bubbling and begins to thicken slightly.
  4. Remove pan from heat and immediately stir in the salt, vanilla, ground oats and remaining oats until blended. Spoon and spread into prepared pan, tamping down firmly with back of spoon or spatula to compact the bars.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 24 minutes for more chewy flapjacks, 25 to 30 minutes for crispier flapjacks. Set on a wire rack and cool completely in pan set (the bars will firm up as they cool).
  6. Use paper/foil overhang to remove bars to a cutting surface. Cut into 16 bars, squares or triangles, whatever suits your fancy!


Storage: Store in an airtight tin for up to 3 days, or store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Vegan Variation: Use virgin coconut oil or a 1/2 cup stick of vegan margarine in place of the butter (do not use a margarine spread; it contains too much water in comparison to butter and the bars will not set up).

Nutrition Information

Serving Size

1 bar

Amount Per Serving Calories 133Total Fat 6.5gSaturated Fat 3.8gCholesterol 15mgSodium 102mgCarbohydrates 18.1gFiber 1.2gSugar 10.3gProtein 16g

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Tuesday 23rd of March 2021

Work in a malting and got given 20kg of rolled oats today so I'm going to be making the lads some nice flatjacks. Hoping this recipe pulls it out the bag 🤞🙏


Wednesday 15th of January 2020

Is there a recommended type of honey to use please?I made these regularly in England and now want to make them for my American husband and daughter so happy I found this recipe for a substitute to golden syrup. Many thanks


Thursday 16th of January 2020

Hi Jodi, You can use any liquid honey (one that is runny as opposed to something like creamed honey, which is more solid at room temperature). Hope your husband enjoys these! Still a favorite recipe around our house :)


Thursday 12th of December 2019

Well, I have to be gluten free and I even have 2 jars of Lyle's Golden Syrup in my pantry. This sounds great, and a great use for one of those jars. Yay! Thanks!


Thursday 12th of December 2019

How perfect! Enjoy, Alene 😊


Thursday 14th of November 2019

Just made these with my kids...wonderful... brought back memories growing up in Ireland! Thank you.


Friday 15th of November 2019

Oh Mike, that is wonderful to hear, and high praise from someone who grew up eating flapjacks! Thanks a million :)

Elisa Davis

Tuesday 5th of April 2016

These are perfection! I've been making them regularly since you posted. Thanks!

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