Paleo Chocolate Pecan Bars make the perfect prep ahead Paleo dessert recipe. These paleo & gluten free pecan bars are made with totally clean ingredients, but taste so decadent, a definite crowd pleaser!
A lot goes into recipe development over here at Prep Dish.
I always strive to bring you recipes that are every bit as delicious as they are healthy. I never want to leave you thinking something tasted okay, but not as good as its not-so-healthy counterpart.
Especially when it comes to desserts, they have to taste GOOD! When I want a treat, I want it to be a real treat. I don't eat a lot of sugar, so if I do indulge in a sweet treat, it had better be delicious!
Well friends, these Paleo Chocolate Pecan Bars definitely fit the bill.
Made with just 11 real food ingredients, no one would eat these and think they were a “health food dessert”. These taste like the real deal but contain only ingredients you can feel good about.
If you're looking for a festive dessert for the holidays or simply a weekend baking activity to do with your kids, give these gluten free pecan bars a try! They will not disappoint.
Paleo Chocolate Pecan Bars
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 T grassfed butter
- 2 T honey
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 T almond butter*
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract*
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips*
- 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut*
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Roughly chop 1⁄2 cup pecans.
- In a medium bowl combine the almond flour, salt and honey and then cut in butter with a fork to make the crust.
- Press crust into the bottom of a greased 8-in pan lined with parchment paper.
- Add the following to a small pot:- 1⁄4 c coconut oil- 1⁄4 c maple syrup- 2 T almond butter- 1⁄2 tsp vanilla- pinch of salt
- Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth, ~5mins. Pour warm sauce over crust.
- Sprinkle the top w/ a layer of each:- chocolate chips- shredded coconut- chopped pecans
- Bake for ~25-30 minutes until coconut turns golden and crust is golden on the bottom.
- Allow to cool completely and store in refrigerator 2 hours before cutting.
What makes these chocolate pecan bars a healthy holiday dessert?
In my mind, two things make these chocolate pecan bars a healthy holiday dessert.
First of all, they are sweetened naturally with honey and pure maple syrup. Yes, these are still sweeteners and should be eaten in moderation but they do contain small amounts of vitamins and, perhaps more importantly, do not contain any of the icky stuff you find in highly processed sweeteners.
Second of all, these bars have both protein and healthy fat. This is key for making a dessert that actually satisfies you and for avoiding the dreaded blood sugar spikes that happen with overly sugary treats.
Furthermore, these treats have quite a few nutritional superstars in the mix! Here are some of the vitamins they contain:
- Almonds: High in magnesium, vitamin E and potassium, almonds are good for your heart and also help lower LDL cholesterol. One serving of almonds also has as much calcium as 1/4 cup of milk! This recipe contains double the goodness with almonds in two forms, almond flour and almond butter. Make sure to choose almond butter that only contains almonds and perhaps salt.
- Coconut: Coconuts provide copper, iron and selenium. They're also very high in manganese, which is beneficial for metabolism and bone health.
- Honey: Honey has antibacterial and antioxidant properties, which are strongest in darker honey. Buy raw local honey when possible as filtering the honey can diminish its nutrients.
- Pecans: Pecans and other nuts are considered excellent for heart health and they also add healthy fat to help keep you full and satisfied.
- Pure Maple Syrup: 1/3 cup of pure maple syrup contains 165% of the recommended dietary intake for manganese and 28% for zinc. It also has a lower glycemic index than table sugar, reducing blood sugar spikes.
How can I vary the recipe?
There are so many fun ways to mix it up with this one! Here are a few variations I think sound delicious:
- Try cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips. This will make the bars slightly less sweet, but I love the deep flavor cacao nibs give.
- Add some dried cherries.
- Use cashew butter instead of almond butter.
- Try almond extract instead of vanilla and top with slivered almonds instead of pecans.
I would love to hear about any delicious variations you come up with!
How can I prep these gluten free pecan bars ahead of time?
As with all Prep Dish recipes, these are totally prep-able. Make them a day or two ahead of time and simply stick them in the fridge.
I haven't tried this, but you could also try making them today and freezing for later! I recommend slicing and freezing individual slices for easy thawing (and, you know, portion control).
Is chocolate Paleo?
Want to know a secret? When I first heard about the Paleo diet, I thought it sounded too restrictive. The more I learned about the Paleo lifestyle though, the more I saw how it was really just a focus on eating super high quality, nutrient dense whole foods.
As I got to know more real life Paleo eaters, I realized that Paleo is not one size fits all. It's not a list of super strict rules or an all or nothing type of approach. In contrast, it has lots of interpretations and variations. I found myself naturally shifting to a Paleo-ish way of eating, and never felt better! (I talk more about this in episode 47 of my podcast, Meal Prep Monday where I discuss my journey from vegetarian to Paleo. You can also read more about the Paleo diet here!)
All that's to say, when it comes to chocolate, you do you. Some Paleo eaters may avoid all sweetened foods while others, like myself, love some quality dark chocolate.
What are some other Paleo dessert recipes for the holidays?
In my years of helping families plan and prep balanced meals I've found that one key to success is not feeling deprived or left out. I don't want people dreaming about all of the foods they're missing out on, I want them appreciating how truly delicious healthy food can be.
This is why I include a dessert on our menus every week! I don't always make the desserts for my own family, but when we are in the mood for something sweet, I know have a simple, wholesome dessert already selected.
Here are a few of my favorite Paleo desserts I've dreamed up over the years:
Pomegranate Chocolate Bark – This one has only 4 ingredients and is perfect for the holidays!
Cherry Pecan Baked Pears: This one makes your house smell amazing and is entirely sweetened by fruit!
Paleo Cherry Cobbler – with a dairy free option!
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