Healthy Homemade Almond Joy Bars! (Sugar-Free and Paleo)

Paleo Almond Joy Bars

There are certain flavors that you miss when you strip your diet of most processed foods and sugar. Most cravings can be satisfied with natural foods, but particular taste memories require you to get creative. One of my absolute favorite candy bars was the Almond Joy candy bar, a chocolate coated candy bar with a sticky sweet coconut filling (known as a Mounds bar minus the almonds). My roommate, Bethany, reminded me of this old obsession a couple of nights ago when we were having a quiet night in, doing homework and socializing in the dorm kitchen.

I brainstormed how to recreate the gooey coconut filling sans the sugar. Coconut oil, coconut milk, and unsweetened coconut would add plenty of fresh coconut flavor and moisture to the filling. A blend of natural sweeteners–stevia and erythritol–would add sweetness without the carbohydrates. I came up with a test batch and ceremoniously handed Bethany one of the freshly coated treats on a tiny paper plate. Moments later, she gave me a chocolate covered thumbs up. We had a winner!

 

Real Almond Joy bars contain two types of sugar (corn syrup and white sugar) and two different transfats (partially hydrogenated soybean oil and partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil). Just one candy bar has a whopping 25 grams net carbs! These homemade gluten-free, low carb candy bars will boost your immune system and fuel your cells as opposed to breaking them down. Since they contain no dairy, these treats are incidentally vegan. As one helpful reader pointed out, these candy bars are nearly sugar-free as the Lindt chocolate in the coating contains just 19g net carbs (for the whole 85% bar) or 35g net carbs (for the whole 70% bar). The amount of sugar per serving is low enough to incorporate into my healthy eating plan, but if it is important for you to go totally sugar-free, try experimenting with unsweetened chocolate. Update: If you’d like the coating to be totally sugar-free, try melting down a Lily’s sugar-free chocolate bar. They’re super yummy and available for purchase Whole Foods supermarkets.

You can coat these bars in a snap with 70% cacao content chocolate, or make up a chocolate ganache to lower the carb content. The only problem with the ganache is that it is thicker and must be stored in the freezer to remain firm. Both coatings taste equally delicious, though!

Sugar-Free Almond Joy Bars

Healthy Almond Joy Bars

Yields 20
You can make these sugar-free (recommended for diabetics) or paleo by using your preferred sweeteners. This recipe is flexible, so play around with it! Be aware that if you use honey, the flavor of it will compete with the coconut and chocolate, so it won’t taste exactly like the traditional candy bar, but it’ll still be yummy! You can’t really go wrong with a sweet coconut filling enveloped in chocolate, now can you?


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Prep Time
20 min

Prep Time
20 min

Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups (142g) fine unsweetened shredded coconut
  2. 5-6 tablespoons (75 mL)coconut oil, melted
  3. 1/3 cup (78 mL) full fat coconut milk
  4. 1/3 cup erythritol* (67g) OR 1/4 cup (50g) xylitol
  5. 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) pure stevia extract (I recommend Trader Joe’s organic stevia)
  6. Whole almonds
  7. 2-3.5 oz (200g) Lindt 70% chocolate bars** OR sugar-free chocolate
  8. 1/16 teaspoon (0.3 mL) unrefined sea salt
To Prepare Filling
  1. Chill a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper in the freezer or fridge while you are prepping the candy filling.
  2. If you are making sugar-free candies, start by grinding the erythritol, xylitol, and sea salt into a fine powder using a coffee grinder.
  3. Whisk together coconut oil, coconut milk, unsweetened coconut, and honey (for the paleo version) or powdered sweeteners until you form a smooth paste.
  4. Add stevia, a little at a time, tasting for sweetness. Add more stevia if necessary. If you use one of the recommended brands, the listed quantity should provide just the right amount of non-bitter sweetness!
  5. Drop dollops of the coconut mixture on to aluminum foil or waxed paper, and shape into flat logs with your fingertips.
  6. Top with almonds, pressing the nuts down gently into the filling.
  7. Freeze filling on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, or until it is firm and cold.
To Prepare Coating
  1. Microwave chopped chocolate for 30 seconds on HIGH, and stir until smooth. Add 1/16 teaspoon of stevia and taste. Adjust sweetness level if necessary. Stick toothpicks into cold filling logs. Dip filling log into chocolate, return to wax paper, and remove toothpick. Wait a minute or two for chocolate coating to harden, and enjoy!
Notes
  1. *If you are making the filling with sugar-free sweeteners, I recommended using erythritol with a tablespoon of xylitol mixed in. To learn why I always combine sweeteners, check out the Healthy Indulgences E-Cookbook!
  2. **You can use sugar-free chocolate for the coating, like Lily’s, if you are trying to completely avoid sugar.
  3. ~0.57g net carbs per candy bar without the chocolate coating
  4. ~35g net carbs per 1-3.5 oz 70% Lindt bar
  5. ~4g net carbs per bar made with 70% Lindt chocolate bar coating
Healthy Indulgences http://healthyindulgences.net/

I made quick nut clusters by dipping raw almonds into the ganache. Grab one from the freezer when you feel a chocolate craving coming on!

freezerclusters

Dark Chocolate Ganache

1-3.5 oz 85% cacao content chocolate bar (I used Lindt)
5 tablespoons organic heavy cream
1/3 cup erythritol or 1/4 cup xylitol, powdered
1/16 teaspoon pure stevia extract

Grind erythritol to the consistency of powdered sugar (see this post) in coffee grinder or Magic Bullet. Chop chocolate and combine with erythritol and cream. Microwave for 30 seconds on HIGH and stir until smooth. Add a couple more tablespoons of heavy cream if coating is too thick. Stir in stevia, and taste. Adjust sweetness level if necessary. Use for nut clusters, Almond Joy bars, topping cupcakes… whatever you like! Store candies made with ganache in the freezer.

~22g of carbs for the whole batch

  • Rachel C

    These look so good, I cant wait to try them. One question, what brand of unsweetened coconut did you use? I found some organic coconut flakes at the health food store, but they are so dry and kind of blah. But maybe that’s the only option for unsweetened? Help. Thanks

  • Lauren

    Hi Rachel,

    I do the Let’s Do Organic brand coconut available at Whole Foods. I think it is reduced fat, so it is quite dry. Your coconut will probably work perfectly for this recipe! :)

  • Kimberly

    I used to love almond joy candy bars when I was a kid! These look really tempting. Thanks for visiting my blog:)

  • Kid Feed Mommy

    Is there any chance you can post pictures of the step where you dip the cold filling into the melted chocolate? This part was a mess for me and I had to use a spoon to spread it on the tops.

    Despite not looking pretty, they taste delish! In the filling I used 1/3 tsp. stevia powder and did not use any other sweetener.

  • Lauren

    Mmm, those look amazing! Yum!

  • Naomi Devlin

    Lauren, those look completely delicious! But how do you stop at just one morsel grabbed from the freezer?

    I don’t want to nit pick, but you do realise that 85% cocoa content chocolate has 15% sugar in it? To make your ganache completely sugar free you need a 100% cocoa content bar, or some cacao and cocoa butter.

    We call those coconut bars bounty bars here and they set your teeth on edge with syrup – your’s look 100% more delicious. x x x

  • Emilia

    Thanks for the recipe, I bookmarked it since these seem just perfect.

    I often take coconut oil before a workout rather than carbs, because the coconut oil seems to give more energy :)

  • Alejandra

    These look amazing! I’ve been wanting to make something like this for a while since I tasted those Atkins versions. They use those terrible sugar alcohols and make me incredibly dizzy. I can’t wait to try out your recipe! I also love virgin coconut oil. I eat it, cook with it, and even rub it onto my skin. It’s wonderful!

  • Carrie

    These look wonderful Lauren!! Great job! You are just ingenious!!

  • biz319

    Those look amazing! I’ll have to give this recipe to my daughter – I am the cook, she’s the baker!

  • Veggie Wedgie

    oh wow, these look good!!

  • fourstubbs

    For those of you looking at thesa little morsels, I would highly encourage you to make them. THESE ARE SOOOO GOOD. You will not be disappointed!!! I was pleasantly surprised when I tried these, because they taste like the real thing to me, but also, much more fresh tasting. This is good stuff…..

  • Lauren

    Kimberly, thank you!

    Kid Feed, thank you for sharing that this works out with solely stevia. The dipping part was messy for me too! I tossed the bars back and forth between my hands for a bit and then slid them gently on the wax paper. Took a bit of practice to get them looking this nice!

    Lauren, thank you!

    Naomi, fortunately the fat content keeps my appetite in check with these. :) Thanks for catching that about the sugar content. I realize that any food besides certain animal products has carbohydrates (carbohydrates = sugar), but I label some of my recipes sugar-free because the carbohydrates are so much lower per serving than typical sweets made with flour and carbohydrate containing sweeteners. The small amount of sugar carbs in extra dark Lindt chocolate and the tablespoon or two of honey I use in recipes I feel fits the sugar-free label because of the low carbohydrate content overall.

    Emilia, taking coconut oil before workouts is a great idea! I do this too. :)

    Alejandra, will have to try coconut oil on my skin, especially since this winter season has been so dry. Thanks for the tip!

    Carrie, thank you!

    Biz, hope your daughter is tempted enough to make these. :)

    Veggie, thank you.

    Fourstubbs, so glad you liked the recipe and came back to share your experience. :)

  • cindy*

    these pretty much look like the original, but better!

  • Elana

    So funny, when we were on vacation in December, I was brainstorming recipes and told my husband that I was thinking about doing mounds bars or almond joy. He told me that no one likes them :-( so I refrained. I like them and was so happy to see yours up here.

    If I make my own, I’ll let you know how they turn out.

    Great blog by the way!

  • Katie

    I just found your blog last week, and have been anxiously awaiting my ingredients. I finally got them in the mail yesterday and let me just say…. THESE ALMOND JOY BARS ARE DELICIOUS! You would never know these are sugar free and gluten free. I love your blog. I’m hooked and can’t wait to try more of your recipes. (Still waiting for my coconut flour to arrive :))

  • Lauren

    Cindy – They do, don’t they? :)

    Elana – Thanks so much for stopping by! I always draw inspiration from your blog and recipes. A lot of the times I think we are on the same page with recipe ideas, perhaps because we use similar ingredients.

    Katie – Thanks so much for trying these bars and reporting back! Glad you enjoyed them. Hope you have received your coconut flour in the mail so you can get started baking with it! I think you will like it. :)

  • Julie

    These bars are great and easy to make! The only issue I had was making the ganache, but that’s because I was trying to wing it, without reading your recipe. :-)

    Thanks for all of your wonderful recipes!

  • ms. v

    THESE ARE INCREDIBLE! my mother likes Bounty bars (basically the same as a Mounds) and it pains me to see her eating that much sugar. I made these today and I can’t even believe how good they are! you are a genius!

  • Didirina

    Insert some sturdy wooden toothpicks into the cold filling for mess-free dipping:-)

  • Lauren

    Julie – So glad the candy bars worked for you! Ganache can be tricky.

    Ms V – It’s great to hear that these are comparable with your old HC treats! Did your mother get to try some?

    Didirina – That is a great tip! Thanks for sharing. Post will be updated to say that!

  • Kelly

    I just googled for homemade almond joy, and your blog came up. I’m so happy….these look incredible. The perfect treat for my boyfriend. He’s trying to get in shape but he loves Almond Joy!

  • april

    Hello,
    I just found your site (and boy am I glad!). I just have a quick question… I am highly allergic to chocolate and have been really missing these. If I were to use carob (I know you can’t guarantee that they will taste good with carob) how much would I use? I can get a hold of both unsweetened and sweetened chips in addition to the powder. Any help you can provide would make my day (and my belly lol)

    Thank you!!!

  • Steph

    I made these the other day, with a couple variations, but they turned out fabulous! I almost cried! It’s been so long since I had my favorite Almond Joy bar, and this was, in my opinion, just as good!!!
    Thanks for coming up with this recipe :)

  • Carolyn

    omg, these were fantastic. They're no sad sister to an Almond Joy–they taste exactly the same. I didn't worry about dipping them–I just formed the coconut into little piles on parchment paper, put an almond on each pile, then coated each pile with the melted chocolate. I will definitely be making these again in the future–I had no idea that coconut was so low-carb.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Lauren, you really are amazing! Your recipes are delicious! Think you can find a way to make a low-carb Snicker bar?

  • Cat

    Hi Lauren, I was wondering if you know anything about soaking actual almond flour? I have heard that soaking almonds makes them easier to digest but I already have a huge bag of almond flour that is still difficult to digest. Only problem is that the recipes don't call for liquid to be used in soaking almond flour. Would love to hear any suggestions you may have! Thanks! :)

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  • Dannielle

    Can't I use regular baking chocolate to make ganache for sugar-free almond joy bars? it is a lot cheaper than Lindt bars and has 100% cacao. Will I need to add oil?
    Would love some help on this.
    Thanks, Dannielle

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    This is way too delicious for me. I am totally going to get sick if I don't make some.

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    thank you for sharing that this works out with solely stevia…

  • Anonymous

    These are so good I literally had to bring the rest to work and have my co-workers eat them so I wouldn't eat them all – I just couldn't control myself! You should have seen the doubters at work roll their eyes at my "sugar free healthy candy bars" then try a taste with trepidation … then proceed to eat them as fast as they could! You really nailed it with this recipe!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08559448743103933371 Megan

    I have a question; I just started a batch of these for Easter lunch with my family (most of us are grain/sugar free). My filling didn't look anything like yours, and I wondered if I used the wrong kind of milk. You called for coconut milk and I assumed you meant the kind you buy in cartons as a regular milk replacement, but all I had on hand was almond milk and heavy cream. I used a combination of the two, and as I said my filling doesn't look nearly as good as yours. Did you mean the coconut milk/cream in a can? I'm sure they'll still taste great, but I'm a little disappointed by how it looks 'cause I was trying really hard to make something impressive for my father-in-law (he's a hardcore Almond Joy fan but hasn't had them since a heart attack in July 2008 and is a little hard to please, dessert wise). Thanks ahead of time for your help!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12992918908739085132 Lauren

    Megan – Try full fat coconut milk. It is thicker and solidifies better. The candy bars should turn out like mine did following the recipe as written. :)

  • Tammy

    Lauren, I was wondering if I can use full fat coconut milk instead of the cream in the ganache? I'm off dairy.
    By the way, I discovered your blog about 6 months ago. My daughter is on a candida diet. Now I'm gluten free, dairy free and mostly sugar free.
    We love your recipes!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12992918908739085132 Lauren

    Hi, Tammy! I think the ganache would taste fine, but a bit coconutty, if you used coconut milk. :) It should set as long as you keep the candies in the fridge. Perhaps make a small batch to try it out?