Cherry Chip Granola Bars with Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

I’ll admit it: I love having shortcuts. If the Easy Button was a real thing, I would own at least one. Maybe two.


Everyone is busy – I get it. We have a 40 minute commute each way to work, 40 hours of work each week, a house and yard and dog and cats to take care of, house projects to start (and hopefully finish), bills to pay, meals to make, laundry to do, and on and on and on. And we don’t even have kids yet! My days may just spontaneously combust whenever that happens.

And while there are some shortcuts I love when it comes to food (frozen veggies, fresh made bread from the bakery when I don’t have time to make my own), there are some things that are worth making yourself.


Things I’ve found that are worth the time:
Homemade breads / croissants / biscuits / pancakes / waffles
Homemade mayo (recipe coming soon – and it only takes 1 minute. I’m serious!)
Homemade jams

And now, homemade lactose-friendly sweetened condensed milk to use in all your incredible home-baked desserts.


I know – it’s another step. But if you have some time when you’re around the house anyway (doing laundry or painting, napping or watching football), it’s easy to whip it up on the stove top to use in your favorite dessert.

Plus, making your own means you get to customize it. Want it fat free? Easy. Lactose intolerant? No problem. Lactose intolerance doesn’t mean dairy avoidance as different people can handle different amounts of lactose. Try a small amount of low-fat or fat-free milk to find the amount that works for your tolerance. You can also substitute with low-fat or fat-free lactose-free milk, which has the same essential nutrients as dairy milk, just without the lactose. Your dessert can still be exactlywhat you need it to be, and it will taste even better since everything will be fresh and homemade.


One of my favorite things to make with sweetened condensed milk are these granola bars. I love having some no-bake options, but these bars are our favorites – they hold together really well, they aren’t too sweet, and you can add whatever mix-in you want to make them different every time.

In this batch, I did some of our top choices: sliced almonds, dried cherries,and chocolate chips. I don’t think a granola bar is worth having if there’s no chocolate….but that’s just me.


Cherry Chip Granola Bars and Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

Are you still looking for the perfect homemade granola bar? This might be it. After years of trying different recipes, this one has always worked for us. You can change the flavor with spices or different mix-ins and make it whatever you want. Easy to make - and perfect for a quick breakfast or delicious afternoon snack.


Granola Bars:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled for a few minutes
  • 1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sweetened Condensed Milk

  • 1 and 1/2 cups lactose-free milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch mixed with 3 Tbsp water


For the bars:

  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with no-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Mix the oats, cherries, and almonds in a large bowl.  Add the vanilla, sweetened condensed milk, and melted coconut oil and stir everything together. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes (so the coconut oil can cool off a bit more), then stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. Pour the mix out into your 9x13 and press it into an even layer.
  4. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let the bars cool before cutting.

For the Sweetened Condensed Milk

  1. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water together.
  2. Pour the milk, sugar, and butter into a pan on the stove top and cook over medium heat until the mixture just comes to a simmer.
  3. Once the milk is simmering, put 1-2 spoonfuls of the hot milk into the cornstarch mixture and stir together.
  4. Add cornstarch mixture back to milk/sugar and stir.
  5. Bring mixture back to a boil until thickened. Take off the heat and set it aside to cool before using.

Want to know more about LI-friendly dairy dishes?

Join National Dairy Council’s (NDC) Foodies’ Night In #FNIchat Twitter chat with culinary group Cooking with Caitlin on Monday, September 30 at 4 pm ET, featuring the #BeyondLI hashtag. The chat will cover tips and tricks for LI-friendly eating,
cooking, and meal-planning, including:

• Menu-planning techniques for entertaining those with lactose intolerance

• Clever lactose-intolerant friendly spins on recipes to include dairy in classic comfort food favorites

• Simple solutions for making on-the-go lactose-intolerance friendly dairy meals and snacks

And make sure to check out my other lactose-free recipes from this summer! I’ve had fun coming up with these in the kitchen, and they’re definitely part of the regular rotation:

Spicy Iced Chai Tea

Peach Clafouti

Easy Chocolate Coffee Pudding Cups

Cookie Dough Frozen Yogurt with Homemade Magic Shell

Vanilla Bean Pudding with Pineapple and Coconut

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by NDC – all recipes and opinions are my own, as always.