Satisfy your sweet tooth cravings the healthy way with these Salted Caramel Chia Energy Bites. They’re naturally sweet, gluten free, and dairy free snacks made with oats and chia seeds!
With a name like “salted caramel chia energy bites”, you might be tempted to think this recipe isn’t healthy at all. But don’t let the name fool you: these energy balls are filled with good ingredients and naturally sweetened with fruit!
This recipe calls for a homemade “caramel” sauce that is made with dates and SunButter. This is a little like our older version of caramel sauce that requires no cooking and is easy to make, but most of all it’s a natural and healthier way to stick these bites together without using a lot of honey, so these are lower in sugar than some other kinds of energy bites.
These bite sized snacks are perfect for fast breakfasts, hands on toddler food (no honey makes these great for little ones!), lunchbox snacks, or quick treats for traveling or camping.
These energy balls are:
- Gluten free
- Naturally sweetened with fruit (dates)
- Dairy free
- Peanut free
- Tree nut free (except for coconut)
How to make salted caramel chia energy bites
Here are the steps to make these dairy free energy balls. This is just an overview of the steps, the full recipe card is at the end of the blog post!
- In a bowl, pour the boiling water over the chopped dates and coconut oil and let soak for about 5 minutes.
- Put the soaked dates plus the SunButter, vanilla, and salt into a food processor or blender and process until mostly smooth. This is your salted “caramel”!
- In a bowl, stir together the oats and chia seeds.
- Pour the date mixture over the oats and chia seeds, then mix to combine.
- This might not be firm enough yet to roll into balls, so let this rest in the fridge for about 5 to 10 minutes until it’s firm enough to roll.
- Roll into balls, place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and place in the fridge to set.
- Melt the allergy friendly chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 second intervals until melted.
- Drizzle the chocolate over the bites and return to the fridge.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Variations for our gluten free energy balls
Like with our other energy bite recipes, these are fun to customize to fit your personal tastes!
Originally this recipe was written by Kirsten with natural peanut butter, but we decided to swap with SunButter for an allergy friendly version.
You can still use peanut butter in this recipe if you prefer, or other nut butters that fit your allergies (like almond butter, cashew butter, etc.). Pretty much any nut or seed butter that fits your allergies will work in this recipe!
If you want a little more chocolate, you can mix mini chocolate chips into the bites themselves to add another layer of chocolate besides the drizzle.
Taking these someplace warm like the beach or on a hike? You can skip the chocolate drizzle so it doesn’t melt and make a mess. You can mix in chopped dried fruit instead if you miss the extra sweetness from the chocolate!
Updates to this post and recipe
This post was originally published on Kirsten Burrow’s blog Treat Yourself Sweeter. Kirsten closed her blog so this recipe found a new home on The Fit Cookie in January 2018, and the text was updated in May 2022. Kirsten created the recipe and the photos in this post.
Salted Caramel Chia Energy Bites – it’s like healthy and deliciously naughty all joined together in some train wreck of a ball when you don’t know if the oats cancel out the caramel? Do I have news for you…!
I am trying to take a swing and a hit at changing my diet… but the sweet tooth wants what the sweet tooth wants…and mine – they’re loud! So these Salted Caramel Chia and Oat Bites sit in my happy place – I can have one or two knowing they are all natural and they give me that sweet kick I am after too.From Kirsten Burrow’s original post
Check out our other allergy friendly energy ball recipes!
- No Bake Chocolate Chip Energy Bites
- Gluten Free German Chocolate Energy Bites
- Fudgy Chocolate Protein Bites
Salted Caramel Chia Energy Bites (Dairy Free)
Gluten free, vegan; Free of: dairy, eggs, soy
- ⅓ cup chopped dates, firmly packed
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- ⅓ cup boiling water
- 2 Tablespoons SunButter (or other nut or seed butter)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup gluten free old fashioned oats
- 1 ½ tablespoons chia seeds
- ¼ cup dairy free dark chocolate chips
- Place the dates and coconut oil in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Let them sit and soften for 5 or so minutes.
- Once soaked, place the dates (with soaking water), peanut butter, salt and vanilla essence in a blender and blend until smooth.
- In a bowl, mix the oats, chia seeds, and peanut butter/date mixture and stir until well combined. You might find it easier to use your hands. If too soft, place in the freezer for 5 minutes, then roll.
- With wet hands, take Tablespoons of the mixture and roll into balls. Place in on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the fridge to set.
- If desired, melt chocolate and drizzle on top of the balls and place back in the fridge.
- Store in an air tight container in the fridge.
Sarah Jane Parker is the founder, recipe creator, and photographer behind The Fit Cookie. She’s a food allergy mom and healthy living blogger based in Wyoming. Sarah is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Health Coach, Revolution Running certified running coach, and an ACE Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist
6 thoughts on “Gluten Free Salted Caramel Chia Energy Bites (Vegan)”
These were delicious! I’m going to add chocolate chips next time!
Thank you Erika! Great idea with the chocolate chips 🙂
These are delicious! I used 3/4 cup of ground rolled oats because they were sitting there left over from another recipe. I also used an ice cream scoop to make the bites which I found easy with no mess. Butterscotch drizzle to finish. I’m going to freeze these and eat them right out of the freezer. A lot. !!
Thank you Joanne, great idea putting these in the freezer!
have you ever tried freezing these for later?
Hi Ashley! I haven’t tried freezing these, but I bet that they should freeze fine 🙂