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Looking for a cacao nibs recipe? These snack bars feature dates, cherries, almonds and cacao nibs for a nutrient-dense vegan and gluten free snack.

Cacao nib recipe | Snack bars

This post was created in partnership with the Cherry Marketing Institute. All opinions are our own.

Snack bars, Larabars, Clif bars: they’re all the rage these days, thanks to the magical technology of: well, nuts and dried fruit. They’re nutrient dense, portable — and there’s something satisfying about taking a big, gooey bite. And something we love putting into our snack bars: cacao nibs! If you’ve bought a big bag of them, here’s a cacao nibs recipe that you’ll love: a snack bar complete with cherries, dates and almonds. It tastes just like a homemade Larabar. Ready to get cooking?

Cacao nibs and cherries

What are cacao nibs?

First of all, what are cacao nibs? Cacao nibs are simply pieces of the cacao bean, which is used in making chocolate. However they are minimally processed, unlike chocolate which has sugar and other ingredients added. So, cacao nibs have all the benefits of dark chocolate without the added sugar!

What do cacao nibs taste like? The flavor is like concentrated chocolate, but dark and bitter. To be honest, I think the taste is more bitter than chocolate-y myself! So if you’re looking to add a true chocolate flavor to something, I’d go with dark chocolate. But if you’re watching your sugar intake and want something evocative of chocolate without the sugar: cacao nibs are the way to go!

Snack Bars with Cacao Nibs Recipe

How to make this cacao nibs recipe

As part of some snacks we’ve been working to create with dried cherries lately (the first of which was this dark chocolate cherry bark), we’ve come up with a snack bar full of delicious nutrient-dense foods: dried Montmorency tart cherries mixed with almonds, a hint of cocoa powder, jumbo caramely Medjool dates, and cacao nibs. They’re a little like homemade Larabars, and the cherries and nuts combo offers both fiber and protein, which is quite the nutritional punch for a little snack bar.

So why go to the effort to make this snack bar with cacao nibs recipe, instead of eating a handful of plain dried tart cherries and dates and almonds? Good question: without a doubt, eat handfuls of dried cherries and almonds! But if you’re like me, variety is key: if I get bored of my snacks, I tend to start to stray to my dark side of compulsively popping sugary treats. These bars keep me intrigued, and they hit the spot with our taste testers. Also, they work for many special diets including gluten-free, paleo, and vegan.

These snack bars were our first “official” cacao nibs recipe, though we’d been using them for years in granola and on oatmeal. As we noted above, cacao nibs are basically chocolate in its purest form, the bean of the cacao plant — sans sugar. That is to say, they are NOT sweet — so make sure to pair with sweet dried fruit to get the full effect. They’re also a bit pricey, but the recipe only uses a few tablespoons. Feel free to omit, and the bar will be just as delicious.

Homemade Larabars | Cacao nibs recipe

Cherries nutrition facts

We’re working with the Cherry Marketing Institute to create a few recipes with tart cherries. A bit of info on them if you are interested: Montmorency tart cherries are mainly grown on small family orchards in the US and Canada, and are available year round dried, frozen, and as juice in grocery stores and online. We love them for their taste, but they’re also rich in nutrients, with health benefits ranging from inflammation and exercise recovery to sleep. They’re a great snack since they can fulfill that sweet craving — you can eat them plain right out of the container (our favorite!) or pair with nuts or seeds, which makes for a fantastic combo of fiber and protein. Check out more details about Montmorency tart cherries and their nutritional benefits here.

Other cacao nib recipes

Want to use up more of that package of cacao nibs? Here are some ideas for ways to use them:

How do you use cacao nibs? Let us know in the comments below.

This recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

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Cacao Nib Snack Bars Recipe

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  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 to 16 bars 1x


Looking for a cacao nibs recipe? These snack bars feature dates, cherries, almonds and cacao nibs for a nutrient-dense vegan and gluten free snack.


  • 1 cup roasted unsalted almonds
  • ¾ cup dried Montmorency tart cherries, divided
  • 12 Medjool dates*
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cacao nibs


  1. Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and process until fully chopped.
  2. Add ½ cup of the dried cherries, the Medjool dates, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and kosher salt. Process until smooth. Add the remaining ¼ cup cherries and cacao nibs and gently pulse a few times to incorporate
  3. Turn out the mixture onto a baking sheet and press it into a flat layer of the desired thickness. Roll a rolling pin over the top to smooth it to a uniform thickness. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes to harden, then slice into bars of the desired size. Store in a sealed container in the pantry or refrigerator.


*Medjool dates are a type of date that is exceptionally large and sweet; it is important to find the real thing for this recipe. They’re sold in bulk at many groceries, and are also available for sale online.

  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: American

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Jess @ says:

    I love anything with tart cherries – we don’t get them much here in Australia! And cacao nibs are my favourite addition to anything and everything these days hehe can’t wait to give this a go!

  2. Erica says:

    Variety is so important. I’ve been reverting back to my clif bar ways for time’s sake and you just gave me some motivation to try making them myself instead of spending ridiculous $$$ at the store. Thanks :)

  3. Samantha says:

    These bars look delicious! :)

  4. Katie @ Whole Nourishment says:

    Cacao and dried cherry is my favorite combo when I make energy bites. I’ve not added cacao nibs before though so I’ll have to do that next time. Thanks for the inspiration! And I like your reasoning for why these snack bars are worth the effort. :-)

  5. Bethany @ Athletic Avocado says:

    Mmmmm I love chocolate and cherry together! These bars are the perfect afternoon snack!

  6. Tori says:

    These bars look wonderful!!! Anything chocolate and cherry is going to be incredible!