October 10, 2019

Homemade Prune Bars — A Healthy Prune Dessert Recipe

A fun way to enjoy prunes! Lightly sweetened prune puree filling in a whole-wheat cookie crust.
9-12 bars

Homemade Prune Bars! If you like fig newtons, then you will LOVE this version. A lightly sweetened prune dessert recipe, vegan and perfect for kids.

Homemade Prune bars! I’m always on the hunt for healthy-ish treats that I can make for Vander. Now that he’s in school and can see what all the other kids get for snack time, I’ve got to up my game to keep him interested and satisfied in what I pack. 

If you are looking for a fun prune dessert recipe, these bars are it. 

Recently, his class started serving fig newtons for after nap and while I don’t have a big problem with those, I knew I could make something more wholesome and nutrient-dense. These prune newton bars were a huge hit with everyone I shared them with. I brought leftovers to a playdate, and between the moms and the kids– the platter was picked clean.

vegan prune bars

Ingredients and Prep Tips

What you’ll need for the prune filling: 

  • 8 ounces Prunes
  • 1 1/2 cups apple or white grape juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

What you’ll need for the crust: 

  • 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastryflour*
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons vegan butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons water

stewed prunes for prune dessert recipes

How to Make this Prune Dessert Recipe:

Make the prune puree

Start by making the prune filling. Place the prunes, juice and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Let prune mixture simmer for 25-30 minutes, until prunes are very soft. 

Once cool, place the prunes into a food processor and puree until thick and jammy. 

Prepare the Cookie Crust

Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate large bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until fluffy. 

Add in the oil, vanilla and water and beat again. Now add in the dry ingredients and mix until flour is just incorporated. 

Assemble the Prune Dessert Bars

Reserve ~3/4 cup of the dough, wrap in plastic and place in the fridge until ready to use.

Take the other remaining dough and press it into a lined 8×8″ pan in an even layer. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Remove the crust from the oven and spread the prune mixture over the crust. For the remaining crust, it’s up to you! You can dollop the remaining dough onto the prune coating or, you can roll the remaining dough into a square, then place onto the prune mixture. 

If you want to roll the dough, I place the dough between parchment paper and trim the edges, moving dough as needed to make a square. It doesn’t need to be perfect, as shown in these photos.

Place the bars back into the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown, another 25 minutes. Let the prune bars cool in the pan, then remove and place in on a wire cooling rack or the fridge to cool completely, about 1 hour.

Cut into squares and serve! Store leftovers in an airtight container and keep in the fridge.

vegan prune bars

Tips for Perfect Prune Bars 

These bars may seem fairly involved, but I promise that they are easier to make than they seem. I’ve made ~5 batches in the past month and each time it gets easier and easier.

For the top crust, it’s really up to you on how you want to present it. I’ve dolloped the crust on top so that more of the prune mixture shows through and I’ve also rolled out the dough to an 8-inch square to gently press on top, like shown here. That will take a little more effort, but it’s not difficult.

The easiest way is to ball the dough between two pieces of parchment paper, then gently roll out to a square. If the dough becomes lopsided, use a knife to make a clean edge, then add the leftover dough back to another side and roll to edge out the seam. 

These don’t have to be perfect! It’s OK if the dough isn’t a perfect square, like shown in these photos.

Why do you need to stew prunes first? 

The secret is stewing the prunes first before baking. This adds in additional moisture and reduces the need for extra liquid and fat; as prunes have the same rich, smooth mouthfeel as butter and oil.

For these bars, I stewed prunes in white grape juice, though apple juice or other clear 100% juice would also work. This makes the prunes extra plump and syrupy, the perfect texture for gently blending into a paste to spread on the brown sugar crust.

prune filling for prune dessert bars

Health Benefits of Prunes 

I’ve talked about our love of prunes before, but they are such an unsung hero in the nutrition and culinary world, I think they deserve more love.

Prunes are pretty incredible. A single serving, just 4-5 prunes, can help support good gut health! As an added bonus, prunes provide dietary fiber, sorbitol and polyphenols. The naturally occurring sorbitol is also what makes digestion a tad bit easier with prunes. 

Sorbitol has a mild laxative effect, which combined with the prebiotic-rich fiber is a winning combination for a healthy gut. That’s a fancy way of saying if your kiddos are having a hard time going to the bathroom– these bars may help. 

At under 100 calories per serving, prunes contain no added sugar, no cholesterol, no sodium and no fat. Pretty perfect, right? When I’m not enjoying them in these prune bars, I like to eat prunes right out of the bag, or lightly poached in orange juice to spoon over yogurt.

healthy prune bars

Are prunes and dried plums the same thing?

Yup. Depending on what package you grab in the grocery store, they may be called dried plums or prunes. As long as they don’t have any added sugar, they are the exact same thing.  

Other Prune Dessert Recipes: 

bar prune dessert recipe

If you love these prune bars, then you will love my other bar recipes: 

Hope you love these this prune dessert recipe as much as we do. If you try it, make sure to come back and rate it in the comments below. You can also tag your creations using the hashtag #delishknowledge on Instagram. Seeing you make my recipes makes my day!

Print
vegan prune bars

Vegan California Prune Bars

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 9-12 bars 1x
  • Category: dessert, snack
  • Method: oven, baked
  • Cuisine: American, Kid-Friendly
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Homemade Prune Bars! If you like fig newtons, then you will LOVE this healthy homemade version made with prunes! Lightly sweetened and vegan, perfect for kids.


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 9-12 bars 1x
  • Category: dessert, snack
  • Method: oven, baked
  • Cuisine: American, Kid-Friendly
  • Diet: Vegan
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 9-12 bars 1x
  • Category: dessert, snack
  • Method: oven, baked
  • Cuisine: American, Kid-Friendly
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

Prune Filling: 

  • 8 ounces Prunes
  • 1 1/2 cups apple or white grape juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Bar Crust: 

  • 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour*
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons vegan butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 tablespoons water

Instructions

  1. Make the Prune filling: First, place the prunes, juice, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Then, let simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the prunes are very soft and there is little liquid left (about 2-3 tablespoons.) Let cool slightly.
  2. Next, place the prunes and remaining liquid in a food processor and puree until the mixture is thick and jammy. Set aside.
  3. Next, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then, line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly spray with cooking spray to grease. Set aside.
  4. Make the crust: First, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until fluffy. Then, add in the oil, vanilla and water and beat again.
  5. Slowly stir in the flour mixture and beat until the flour is just incorporated. Reserve ~3/4 cup of the dough, wrap in plastic and place in the fridge until ready to use.
  6. Then, take the other remaining dough and press it into the prepared pan in an even layer. Next, place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.
  7. Remove the crust from the oven and spread the prune mixture over the crust. For the remaining crust- up to you! You can dollop the remaining dough onto the prune coating or, you can roll the remaining dough into a square, then place onto the prune mixture. If you want to roll the dough, I place the dough between parchment paper and trim the edges, moving dough as needed to make a square. It doesn’t need to be perfect, as shown in these photos.
  8. Place the bars back into the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown, another 25 minutes. Let the prune bars cool in the pan, then remove and place in on a wire cooling rack or the fridge to cool completely, about 1 hour.
  9. Finally, cut into squares and serve! Store leftovers in an airtight container and keep in the fridge.

Notes

*I used whole wheat pastry flour for these to make them more wholesome, but you can also use regular flour or a whole wheat white flour.

did you make this?

Tag @delishknowledge on Instagram and hashtag it #delishknowledge

If you love these prune bars, then you will love my other bar recipes: Dark Chocolate Almond Oat Bars, Kitchen Sink Bars, Vegan PB&J Oatmeal Bars 

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

17 comments
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    1. Sharon
      April 6, 2022 AT 10:23 am

      The dough ended up being really sticky, not sure why. But the end product was really tasty although more like a cake than a biscuit

    2. beth m phillips
      September 5, 2021 AT 7:59 pm

      This recipe sounds great! Do you know if a batch would freeze well? We have A LOT of prunes to do things with!

      1. Alex
        September 18, 2021 AT 7:03 am

        I’m not sure but I would assume so. I freeze a lot of cookies/balls and they always turn out great.

    3. Cathy Moran
      April 20, 2021 AT 1:00 pm

      Did you include the nutrient facts? I can’t find them.

    4. Irina Dicovsky
      December 25, 2020 AT 8:32 am

      Absolutely divine! Although I had no vegan butter and I substituted it for coconut oil (cooled beforehand, it’s summer here) and before placing them in the fridge, the crust didn’t seem right…After cooling they are totally amazing!
      Next time, I’ll try to make some homemade vegan butter to use with your recipe (they don’t sell any in my region). Do you have any suggestions on options to substitute it?
      Thank you!!!

      1. Alex
        December 31, 2020 AT 8:12 am

        So glad the coconut oil worked! They should keep in the fridge with the coconut oil as it will “melt” at room temperature.

    5. Susan
      October 12, 2020 AT 5:04 am

      What a great recipe – I’m a California girl living in the Netherlands and this was a wonderful taste of home. I used orange juice since it was all I had, and added a little maple syrup to the dried fruit because I think I overdid the lemon. It tastes super lekker (yummy in Dutch) – my family and I thank you!

      1. Alex
        October 12, 2020 AT 7:09 am

        So glad you liked it!

    6. Paolo
      October 8, 2020 AT 3:23 am

      Hi! I have the sunsweet dried plums – pitted prunes pack from kirkland. I’m from the philipoines and prunes are hard to come by. Can i use them for this recipe?

      1. Alex
        October 8, 2020 AT 11:45 am

        Those will work great!

    7. Anna
      September 20, 2020 AT 5:07 pm

      I want to make these but have no apple or white grape juice. Can I use apple sauce instead?

      1. Alex
        September 21, 2020 AT 10:14 am

        Hi Anna– applesauce is too thick to sub in. You can use water and I would add in a little maple syrup to help sweeten the water (or, any other liquid sweetener)

    8. Sandy
      September 7, 2020 AT 2:19 pm

      I just made them today and this is an awesome recipe! I especially like the prune filling because it’s a great alternative to the canned stuff I make kolaches with. I used regular flour and butter. Thanks for the great recipie!

      1. Alex
        September 8, 2020 AT 5:20 am

        Glad you liked them!

    9. Catherine
      April 6, 2020 AT 6:55 am

      I want to make this recipe but do not have a food processor. Would it be possible to make this by mashing the prunes once they’ve been stewed?

      1. Alex
        April 13, 2020 AT 11:43 am

        Yes! The filling just wont be as smooth

    10. Lisa
      February 12, 2020 AT 10:54 am

      So creative and fantastic!! I can’t wait to try them. My kids are at the fly out of the house stage but will eat most things I have ready to grab and go. It is one of my best chances to sneak in healthy foods.