An In-depth Larabar Review – Are They Worth a Purchase?
A delicious blend of unsweetened fruits, nuts, and spices, Larabar takes the cake when it comes to all natural and minimal ingredients. Made from whole food, each flavor contains less than nine ingredients, with the cashew flavor having only two – seriously, THAT’S IT! Just two simple ingredients.
Also, these bars are unprocessed, uncooked and never baked. They are as close to their natural state as possible.
But us food junkies want something a bit more than just “It’s healthy and good for you”.
We also want it to taste good!
So how do these Larabars stack up?
After spending hours (nerd alert!) researching and trying these food bars, I’ve put together what I consider to be an honest and in-depth review that should help you decide whether or not these bars are for you.
The only downside is I was only able to try 9 flavors from their massive selection. Even still, I was able to get more than enough information to help me (and you) make a decision.
Let’s do this!
Larabar’s ethics run deep and as you’ll see it’s no surprise why I would grant such a high rating for their quality standards.
When you purchase from Larabar, here’s what you are supporting…
What’s not to love?
The thing that makes Larabar so special is that they only use a handful of ingredients to keep the bars as close to their natural state as possible. At most you’ll find 9 ingredients with the cashew flavor having the least – only 2!
No additional vitamins, minerals or preservatives are added to the bars, which means what you read on the nutrition panel is a result of the quality natural ingredients – nothing more.
Once the ingredients are compiled, they are ground and mixed. Everything is unprocessed and never cooked or baked.
Every bar is going to be different but here’s a list of every ingredient. Keep in mind each bar will only use just a few of the ones listed below:
Allspice, Almonds, Blueberry Juice Concentrate, Carrots, Cashew, Cashews, Chocolate Chips, Cinnamon, Cocoa Powder, Dates, Dried Lemon Juice Concentrate, Dried Lime Juice Concentrate, Dried Pineapple, Dried Pumpkin, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Fair Trade Certified Coffee, Ginger, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Lemon Oil, Lime Juice Concentrate, Nutmeg, Peanuts, Pecans, Peppermint Oil, Raisins, Sea Salt, Semisweet Chocolate Chips, Unsweetened Apples, Unsweetened Bananas, Unsweetened Blueberries, Unsweetened Cherries, Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, Unsweetened Coconut, Vanilla Extract, Walnuts.
Shocking! All the ingredients are easy to pronounce, familiar, straightforward and natural – the way it should be!
Generally speaking, product packaging goes unnoticed in the world of food and snacks. But when you’re food bar is all natural and unprocessed, shelf life is a top priority.
Larabar can achieve a 9-month shelf like with the use of multi-layer packaging. This multi-layer packaging keeps out UV light and is essential to maintain the freshness of the bars without having to introduce preservatives.
Regarding the individually packaged bars, I felt the wrapper was very solid and sealed up nicely. But when it came time to open the bars up, I didn’t have to struggle.
The other thing I liked about the packaging is that when it was opened up, the bar didn’t stick to the inside like other products (I’m sure you’ve probably experienced that before).Overall, my bars came tasting fresh and were seal perfectly.
The bars that I got came in around 1 3/8" x 3 1/4".
To get a general idea of the texture, take a look at the short video below.
Apologies in advance: As I move closer to the camera, it starts to unfocus. But I still think it gives a great visualization of the bars' texture so I decided to keep it in this review.
On the whole, all the bars had a soft, chewy, yet solid texture to them with bits and pieces of nuts throughout. Once placed in the mouth they had a bit of “melts in your mouth” vibe going on, which I liked quite a bit.
But even though the bars were soft, I noticed that the fruity flavored bars (apple, blueberry) had more of a gummy texture and would bend quite a bit before breaking in half. I’m not saying this is a good or bad thing; I think it’s just the nature of adding more fruits to the bar.
Overall I’m quite satisfied with how the texture felt in my hands and my mouth. I much prefer this type texture to hard and brittle like other bars in this category.
Regarding variety, Larabar has done a great job in appealing to as many different palates as possible. A total of 23 varieties can be had in the US and 10 in Canada.
By appealing to more taste buds, I think a greater number people will be able to enjoy the Larabar experience – which is awesome!
You know what they say: “Different strokes for different folks.”
Personally, I’m more into the chocolate flavors and less into the fruity flavors, but I can also see how someone could love the fruit flavors more.
There’s literally something for everyone here.
TASTE & FLAVOR
Keeping in mind that taste and flavor are very subjective, I've given my thoughts on what each bar tasted like to me. I've also included my taste rating (out of 5 stars) along with images so you can get a better idea of what each bar looks like when opened.
Our Rating: ✭✭✩✩✩
Every time I see the word "Apple" attached to a product I always assume artificial and not good. That's because every "Apple" product in the grocery store is artificial and not good.
This bar definitely didn't fit that category as it wasn't terrible, but something felt off to me.
I'm a fan of apple pie, and this bar just didn't have that vibe, to be honest. You could taste a hint of apple pie because of the apple and cinnamon ingredients, but everything else inside took away from that.
I also felt that the cinnamon was overpowering the apple slightly, but if you're into that you might actually like this one.
INGREDIENTS: Dates, Almonds, Unsweetened Apples, Walnuts, Raisins, Cinnamon
Our Rating: ✭✭✭✩✩
To be honest, I didn't hate it or love it.
The funny thing is that I love fruits, but I just don't seem to like them when they are mixed and turned into things like muffins and fruit bars. I guess I am a little biased in that regard.
That aside, the overall taste was fine and if you're into fruity things, you'll probably like this. If you're more of a chocolate person (like me), this might not be your cup of tea.
It also left an aftertaste, which I didn't like.
INGREDIENTS: Dates, Cashews, Unsweetened Blueberries, Blueberry Juice Concentrate, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Vanilla Extract
Our Rating: ✭✭✭✭✩
This one actually surprised me.
Because of the limited ingredients I was expecting it to just be - meh.
Not that there was a big flavor burst in my mouth or anything, it just didn't hit me in the face like some of the others. It had a more laid back flavor, which I'm cool with.
My only criticism is that there should be more cashew in these things and less dates. I get that the dates are needed to hold the thing together, but when I see "cashew" on the label I sort of want to taste more of that.
INGREDIENTS: Cashews, Dates
Chocolate Chip Brownie
Our Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭
Hot damn, this one's good!
What can I say? I'm a sucker for chocolate.
Overall, I quite liked that this one was less chewy than the others but still soft enough where it felt close to a brownie-like texture.
Not much negative to say here - These things are delish!
INGREDIENTS: Dates, Chocolate Chips, Almonds, Walnuts, Cocoa Powder, Sea Salt
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Our Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭
Again, chocolate. I'm biased (hangs head in shame).
I think they came pretty close to achieving the cookie dough texture with this one - close enough for me anyway. Of course, it's going to be firmer (because BAR), but once it's in your mouth, it's heavenly.
I also like that the chocolate flavor in this bar really overpowers the other ingredients, which is not the case for some of their other bars.
It's sweet enough and has a nice satisfying effect. I could see myself grabbing one of these for a breakfast substitute when I'm in a rush or as an afternoon snack.
INGREDIENTS: Cashews, Dates, Chocolate Chips, Sea Salt
Chocolate Coconut Chew
Our Rating: ✭✭✭✭✩
I love coconut especially when it's mixed with chocolate. I was hoping this bar would stack up, but to me, it's missing that coconut texture and flavor I love.
That said, I don't hate the taste, on the contrary, I quite like it. I reminds me of a rich chocolate fudge brownie mixed with walnuts.
I'd say that the walnuts and chocolate were the two flavors I could taste the most. Again, not bad, just not expected based on the name of the bar.
Overall, I gave this a 4/5 because I couldn't really taste the coconut but I still think it's a bar worth trying - especially if you like fudge and brownie.
INGREDIENTS: Dates, Almonds, Walnuts, Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, Unsweetened Coconut
Coconut Cream Pie
Our Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭
Oh my, I'm in heaven. THIS IS WHERE THE COCONUT WAS HIDING.
After a disappointing coconut experience with the Chocolate Coconut Chew, this was pure coconut bliss.
If you love the flavor of coconut but also like to fell the coconut flakes and "grainy" texture than I'm sure you're going to love this one. Hands down, this is my favorite of the bunch.
5/5 - Bravo!
INGREDIENTS: Dates, Unsweetened Coconut, Almonds, Cashews, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
Our Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭
Oh wow, it seems to me as if the bars are getting better as I'm getting through them all. This was another 5/5 for me because of, you guessed it, chocolate. Now add peanut butter to that, and it's over.
You can really taste the chocolate chips in this one, which I like. That's one thing I noticed in the other chocolate chip varieties - I couldn't taste the chocolate chips, so this was a pleasant surprise.
Of all the bars I've tried, this one felt like the biggest guilty pleasure because the dates are almost invisible to my palate. It definitely tastes like something unhealthy and indulgent. Great job!
INGREDIENTS: Dates, Peanuts, Chocolate Chips, Sea Salt
Peanut Butter Cookie
Our Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭
I like the way the flavor hits my taste buds. Not too sweet but not too bland - it's a great balance.
To me, this is a subdued version of the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip flavor, which was sweeter because of the chocolate chips. I like that there are two different peanut butter flavors I can go to based on my mood or craving.
Does it taste EXACTLY like a peanut butter cookie? Well no, but golly it's close enough for me. To be honest, I like that the peanut butter flavor is not so strong - It's like a milder version of the original cookie you know and love. Also the texture is a bit chewier than you'd expect from a cookie. But hey these are "flavors" and not replicas.
INGREDIENTS: Dates, Peanuts, Sea Salt
WHAT I LIKED
✓ The Ingredients!
I love the fact that Larabar uses on only a handful of all natural ingredients to keep the bars as close to their natural state as possible. This means more nutrients and fewer preservatives and additives - Yay!
✓ Natural Sugars
Admittedly I could have placed this one in the "Ingredients" point, but I felt it deserved to stand on its own. I love the fact that the sugar is from that natural state of the ingredients and nothing more. The only added sugar comes in a couple of varieties with chocolate chips, which contain cane sugar. But that isn't a bother to me.
✓ Ethics and Quality Standards
In today's day an age with companies wreaking havoc on the environment, the introduction of GMOs, and the cruelty to animals, it makes it easy to support companies like Larabar whose ethics run deep. I understand that business is business and people need to make money, but why can't they make money and still maintain a moral compass? Well, Larabar does just that.
Larabar is also mindful of sensitivities which is why their bars are also gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free.
✓ Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip & Coconut Cream Pie
Hands down, these are my two favorite flavors. Based on everything that I've tried and the reading other peoples opinions, I'm confident that I'd be making a good solid decision by purchasing more of these two flavors.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
Some Amazon reviewers noted that the package came with fewer bars than written on the box as well as the bars being past their 'best before' date. I didn't experience these issues myself, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
This may be trivial to some people, but I felt the size of the bars were quite small. For some people, it may be just enough to get over the hump between meals, but I found myself wanting to reach for another.
On the flip side, their compact size makes them easier to keep in your pocket, purse or glove box, when you're on the run.
× Greasy Fingers
When eating these bars, my fingers got really greasy. To the point of not being able to touch anything afterward. Though I'm not a fan of greasy fingers, I think this is just something that comes with the territory and certainly not a deal breaker for me.
The easiest way to curb this is to keep the bar in the wrapper and use that as a barrier between your fingers and the bar.
× Dates, Dates, and More Dates
I get that the dates are a critical part of the formula, they bind together all the ingredients, and they provide the natural sugars for the bar. But for some of the flavors, I felt like it was a bit much. Don't get me wrong; I like dates. I just wish there was a way to reduce the flavor of the dates while still maintaining the sweet flavor.
If you’re looking for a healthy snack to tie you over between meals, and one you can feel good about eating, then this a great option for you. If you’re looking for something that’s more of a meal replacement, this might not be ideal as it is on the smaller side. Though, eating 2-3 might suffice as a good meal replacement.
On the flip side, because these bars are smaller they make great companions to carry with you while you’re on the run. Sometimes a quick fix is all you need, and these little guys do come in handy without invading your space.