Paleo Monkey Bars

June 19, 2013 in Categories: , by

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If you aren’t familiar with monkey bars, they are a brownie-like or coffee cake-like treat with the magical combination of peanut butter, banana and chocolate.  Kind of like a banana bread but with much more than a hint of peanut butter and chocolate.   Yeah, I know… drool.   Well, I though it was high time that I attempted a paleo adaptation of these treats.

I actually started working on this recipe last summer.  It’s a recipe that I made a couple of times, with small variations to improve the texture or better balance the almond butter and banana flavors.  Then, the recipe got shelved while I was working on The Paleo Approach.  So, to celebrate turning in all of my material for the book, I decided to dust this one off for one final (delicious) iteration.  The biggest challenge with this recipe was flavor balance.  I didn’t want the banana flavor to overwhelm them (as banana tends to do), but I didn’t want to mask the flavor completely either.  And I really wanted to keep these sweetened with just banana and semisweet mini chocolate chips, which made balancing flavor and sweetness a little trickier.  Well, the end result has my kids’ seal of approval.  Actually, my kids devoured them even though they really aren’t that sweet.

The secret to getting a good almondy flavor is to use a high quality almond butter and almond meal.  I used NaturAlmond almond butter and almond flour.   NaturAlmond makes hands down the best almond butter I’ve ever tasted (plus they are a local family-owned company and just plain ol’ good people so I love to support them!).  NaturAlmond almond butter is a crunchy almond butter which works so well in this recipe too, giving just that wee bit of texture.  Their almond flour is fairly coarsely ground, more like a meal and I absolutely love it in baking that can handle that texture (I use it in my yeast-based paleo bread recipe and it’s great in some cookie recipes too).  You could easily make your own almond meal by grinding almonds in a food processor (I would suggest roasting the almonds first to boost the flavor).

If you need a nut-free version, I think these would work with sun butter or tahini in place of the almond butter and ground sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds instead of almond meal… but I haven’t tried.

Oh, and another tip:  the riper your bananas, the sweeter these Monkey Bars will be.  Also, I used 80% dark chocolate for the chocolate drizzle on top (my family’s taste buds are very adapted to much less sweet treats now).  You could use bittersweet or even semisweet chocolate instead if you prefer.  You could also double the drizzle recipe and actually do more like a frosting coating over the entire top of the bars instead too.

This is also a great recipe to mix/mash everything by hand.   The slightly chunkier texture you get that way compared to using a food processor or mixer is perfect for these bars.

Yield: 20 large squares

Paleo Monkey Bars


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 9″x13″ baking pan with coconut oil, palm shortening, lard or butter (or use a silicone pan and skip the greasing).
  2. Peel bananas and mash with a fork until mushy and smooth.  Add eggs, coconut oil, almond butter, almond meal, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt.  Mix thoroughly to form a batter.  Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Pour batter into prepared baking sheet, and spread batter out evenly with a spatula or spoon.
  4. Bake for 17-18 minutes.  Let cool.  Cut into squares.
  5. If you are going to do the chocolate drizzle, simply melt chocolate and your chosen fat together.  Use a spoon to drizzle over the top.  You can let the drizzle harden at room temperature or pop it in the fridge if you’re feeling impatient (I cut squares before drizzling, but you don’t have to).

Paleo Monkey Bars | The Paleo Mom


I’m not sure your reason for not wanting to use almond flour but if it’s not due to avoiding almonds then you could try replacing it with more almond butter. I used to make a almond bread that didn’t use any flour just almond butter, it will change the outcome a bit but I think it should work.

I used cashew meal (didn’t realize I was out of a.m. until I started mixing… I was too excited that I had two decrepit bananas!) and they turned out great. I did use the almond butter, though, and my son is the happiest camper right now. Love these! Thank you, thank you!

“If you need a nut-free version, I think these would work with sun butter or tahini in place of the almond butter and ground sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds instead of almond meal… but I haven’t tried.”

Just made these and I’m in heaven. I used half almonds half sunflower seeds since its what I had (roasted, ground up, set aside 1c ground, then made the rest into butter). That was the longest 17 minutes ever waiting for them to finish cooking, but they were worth the wait!

Made them tonight and they are delicious. Followed recipe exactly except my “drizzle” was made of some of the mini chips w/ butter because I didn’t have the dark chocolate in the house and really wanted the chocolate on top. Thank you for sharing, Sarah, the family will love them as a treat tomorrow.

I’ve never seen crunchy almond butter around here. Would smooth work just as good and not mess up the consistency of the batter or anything?

My family loves traditional monkey bars, though I usually add raisins instead of chocolate chips. Now that we are moving toward a gluten/grain-free diet I will definitely try these. Thanks for another great recipe!

I made these yesterday. They are by far the best paleo baked dessert item I have ever made. I did use just smooth almond butter and threw in a few chopped pecans. Thanks for the recipe!

Just made these for lunches this week, kids are gonna love me, they are delish! I had peanut butter instead of almond butter so used that and my nut grinder wouldn’t work so used wholemeal flour instead, so not very paleo but yummy all the same!

OMG I’m making these TOOONIGHT!!!!! I’m lucky have all the ingredients except the Enjoy Life Choc which I’m going to get after work! Thanks for sharing!!!

I have these in the oven right now! I only had smooth almond butter, so I broke up some whole raw almonds to throw in for texture. I used 3 medium well freckled but not over ripe bananas, and the batter was pretty sweet. I think my kids are going to love these!

I made these last night, and they taste amazing, but mine turned out a bit more flimsy, like I cant really grab them and go like shown in the picture, any suggestions of why that might be? I did use smooth almond instead of crunchy.

I made these tonight. Super simple, easy recipe and they are delicious!! I will definitely be making these again!

This is the second recipe I try from Paleo Mom and wow!!! this recipe and the paleo granola bar recipe are just amazing! I am a pastry chef but I eat paleo, not easy to satisfy a pastry chef’s sweet tooth and expectations! Excellent recipes, keep them coming! 🙂

Dearest Paleo Mom: I have to watch sugar and carbs in general. Is there any way you could include nutritional information with all of the wonderful recipes you post? Thanks so much. Look forward to all of your posts!

Not currently, but you can use or to determine the nutritional information. — Tamar, Sarah’s assistant

Thanks for a stunning recipe – again! I’ve made these twice now and they were loved by both kids and adults. In fact, they’ll be at my 3 year olds birthday party this weekend.

Hi Sarah, I’ve made these a few times now and really love them. Thanks for the recipe! You mentioned you hadn’t tried making them with sunflower seed butter and I just wanted to let you know that they’re still every bit as delicious, possibly more so since sunflower butter tastes a bit more like peanut butter. (To me, anyway!) They look a bit greenish due to the colouring of the sunflower butter I buy, but taste great!

These were excellent! I added about 2 tablespoons of maple syrup because my bananas weren’t super ripe and I was bringing them to work and my co-workers are crazy sugar addicts who are always amazed that I can make treats without a ton of crap in them. They absolutely loved them. Eeasy to make, delicious, and an all-around great recipe.

Yum! These are amazing. I made them with LSA instead of almond flour. My end product did turn out quite green in colour, what causes them to do this? Still very very yummy so won’t be changing the recipe but just curious.

I suppose it could have been the LSA, since Sarah’s are not green, though I’m not familiar with it. Some foods go through a harmless chemical reaction when baked that turns them green. – Christina, Sarah’s assistant

I’ve never baked with coconut flour or oil – is there a strong coconut flavor – because I’m not a fan of coconut?

Ok, thank you. So, is there something else I should use as a substitute – or can I just leave it out? And adjust the amount of almond flour?

Coconut flour is very difficult to sub because it’s more absorbent than other flours. You can try replacing it with almond flour, but will probably need to use about twice as much, and I can’t guarantee the results. – Christina, Sarah’s assistant

Lisa- I would make it with the coconut flour…I don’t think you’ll taste or notice it at all! They did not taste coconutty to me one bit!

My little one gets constipated w bananas. Could I substitute applesauce or something else with ruining the consistency? Thanks.

My daughter (who has just decided to go Paleo) and I made these together, and they are DELICIOUS! We used cashew butter instead of almond (she doesn’t like almond butter). The “enjoy life” chocolate chips (found them at Whole Foods) are incredible. You can’t tell they’re dairy free at all! This was so so so good. We both LOVED them! In fact, it reminds us both of a family recipe: applesauce chocolate chip cake. We’re thinking next time about subbing apple sauce for mashed banana and then adding some cinnamon, allspice, and mace (the ingredients in our family recipe) to make our favorite dessert a paleo treat! Can’t wait!! Thanks for this recipe!

Made these recently and I love them! I have such a sweet tooth and this kicks it in the bud! My daughter is also a huge fan! Double win! Thank you!

Amazing!!!! I made these a couple weeks ago and am still thinking about them! Everything came together perfectly, baking time was spot one, and I loved the combination of chocolate, almond butter and banana.

Just made these using ripe (super black) plantains instead of bananas and they are fabulous! (I added 1 tablespoon honey, left out the chocolate chips, and “frosted” it with melted chocolate–a combo of 100% dark choc bar, coconut oil, and honey.) We’re packing these for a camping trip tomorrow. 🙂 Thank you so much for all of your fabulous recipes! This is yet another winner!

I just made these last night, and they are such a hit! I’m addicted to sweets basically, so finding this recipe that I don’t have to feel bad about eating them? Made my day! Thank you!

If using pumpkin or applesauce can anyone guess how much to use? I don’t eat bananas. No idea how much that bananas would yield.

My granddaughters love these! They have requested them just out of the blue! So excited that they love them.

Just made these! Thumbs up from the teenager! I used cashew butter and peanut butter instead of the almond butter. They were delicious before drizzling with chocolate, but after—another level. 🙂 Love how fluffy they are and not too sweet.

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