Did you ever have those General Mills Milk 'n Cereal Bars as a kid?! I couldn't get enough of them, and I still get cravings for those delicious cereal bars now! I've been dreaming about developing a copycat Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal bar recipe for the longest time, and not to brag but, I think I may have finally perfected it.
The process is similar to making rice krispie treats, except that the gooey mixture that holds the cereal together is made without marshmallows.
The best part about this homemade cereal bars recipe IMO is the milk icing drizzle! It's a pretty standard glaze made with powdered sugar, but it also contains a bit of milk powder to really give it those milk & cereal breakfast bar vibes.
Here's what you're gonna need to make this milk and cereal bar recipe:
- 1 box Cinnamon Toast Crunch (12 oz.) or cereal of choice
- Corn syrup - I love Karo brand!
- Milk powder (whole or nonfat)
- Salt (if using unsalted butter)
- Powdered sugar
- Milk - any type will work - whole, nonfat, etc.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Cinnamon Toast Crunch Milk and Cereal Bars
This milk and cereal bar recipe could not be simpler to make! The process is just like making rice krispie treats.
Start by placing your cereal in a large bowl and lining your baking pan with parchment paper. In a small pot, combine all of the ingredients for the sticky syrup mixture that will hold the treats together. It doesn't matter what order you put them in, just add them all to the pot together.
Heat the mixture until it comes to a boil. Let it bubble and foam up for about 2 minutes until it's slightly thickened. Then, pour the mixture over the cereal and mix well until it's all mixed evenly throughout. Working quickly, press the mixture into the prepared parchment-lined pan.
Press down on a rubber spatula to pack in the cereal the best you can. You can also use your hands, but be careful because it might be hot! I find that it's easier to use a nonstick rubber spatula and then press down on that with your hand to add some force. You can also use the backside of a measuring cup to do the same thing.
And don't be afraid to press down with some force. It's ok if the cereal breaks apart a little bit. In fact, breaking into some smaller pieces will help the bars stick together better.
Now, you just have to wait to let the mixture cool before icing and slicing. This is arguably the hardest part, because how delicious do these look already?!
While the Cinnamon Toast Crunch bars are finishing cooling, you can make the milk icing. Simply combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. You can adjust the consistency of the icing by using more or less milk.
I like to use a piping bag to drizzle the milk icing evenly on top. This is totally unnecessary though and just for presentation. You can also use a knife or offset spatula to spread the icing evenly over the whole surface if you want to. Or drizzle it using a spoon.
- Whole milk powder - I used whole milk powder because it has more flavor than nonfat milk powder, and I really wanted that milk and cereal taste. But admittedly, whole milk powder is harder to find, less healthy, and has a shorter shelf life than nonfat milk powder. If you can't find whole milk powder at your local grocery store, you can easily order it online, or use nonfat milk powder as a substitute.
- Powdered sugar - this isn't exactly a substitute, but did you know that you can DIY powdered sugar from granulated sugar?? This is super helpful if you only have granulated sugar on hand.
Even though everyone knows that Cinnamon Toast Crunch is THE best cereal, you can also make these no bake milk and cereal bars using whatever cereal you'd like, following the same base recipe. Here are some of my other favorites you could try:
- Cocoa Puffs
- Cocoa Krispies
- Fruity Pebbles
- Cap'n Crunch
- Honey Nut Cheerios
Let me know if you do end up trying this recipe using another cereal. I'd love to see how it turns out!
Luckily, this recipe only requires a few basic kitchen supplies. This is everything you'll need to make these Cinnamon Toast Crunch bars:
- 8x8 baking pan - this is what I use to make 8 bars for a fairly small batch. If you're baking for a crowd, you can double this recipe and make it in a 13x9 pan.
- Parchment paper - or wax paper also works, since this is a no bake recipe.
- Rubber spatula - you can also use a spoon to mix everything, but I think a large rubber spatula works best. Not just for mixing, but also for pressing the mixture into the pan.
- Large bowl - or maybe 2 if you need some extra help mixing quickly (see tips below!)
- Measuring cups
- Small pot
- Sharp knife
- Whisk - or a fork
Top Tips for Making the Perfect Milk and Cereal Bars
Not gonna lie, it kind of stresses me out whenever I see a recipe that reads "working quickly." But unfortunately, this is one of those recipes. My top tip for working quickly is having everything in place before you begin cooking. Set up the pan with parchment (see below) and have the cereal ready to go before you heat the syrup mixture.
To help mix everything quickly and evenly, I find that it helps to use 2 large bowls. I split the cereal roughly in half between the 2 bowls. Then, I pour the syrup mixture over one half and immediately pour the contents of that bowl into the other bowl.
This gives you a head start on mixing, and you can transfer the mixture back and forth between the bowls as needed to help mix evenly. Yes, it means you have one more dish to clean, but I think it’s worthwhile if you, like me, have trouble mixing quickly.
How to Line a Pan with Parchment
- For an 8x8 pan, measure a square of parchment that is approximately 12" on each side. If you're using another size pan like a 13x9, you'll want the parchment to go a couple inches up the side of the pan, so approx. 16x12" will work well.
- Using scissors or kitchen shears, cut a slit diagonally at each corner towards the center of the parchment. Each slit should be about 2-3" long.
- Optional - grease the pan with nonstick spray or butter. This isn't necessary because the parchment will prevent sticking. But it will help the parchment stay in place in the pan.
- Press the prepared parchment into the baking pan. The corners should overlap, and then you can kind of just tuck them in. You can also reference the photos below:
Store cereal bars in an airtight container at room temp up to 3 days. If you need to stack the bars, put a layer of parchment or wax paper in between the layers to prevent them from sticking and keep the icing layer in tact.
Is Corn Syrup Really Bad for you?
No! Well, it's not any worse for you than sugar is. Corn syrup is glucose, a form of sugar. And like most things, sugar is only "bad" for you in excess.
It's also worth noting that corn syrup is different than high fructose corn syrup. While corn syrup is basically 100% glucose, high fructose corn syrup is modified to also contain fructose, which is harder for the body to break down. Karo corn syrup does not contain any high fructose corn syrup.
Do I Need Marshmallows for this Recipe?
Nope! This recipe relies on a corn syrup mixture to hold everything together. Corn syrup and sugar are the main ingredients in commercial and homemade marshmallows, which is why you can make this milk and cereal bar recipe without marshmallows.Print
Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal Bar Recipe
Make your own General Mills copycat Milk 'n Cereal Bars at home! This homemade milk and cereal bar recipe is so easy to make, and so delicious. The best part is the milk-flavored icing that gets drizzled over the top... YUM!
- Prep Time: 5 min.
- Inactive Time: 2 hrs.
- Cook Time: 10 min.
- Total Time: 2 hrs. 15 min.
- Yield: 8 bars 1x
- Category: dessert, breakfast, copycat
- Method: no bake
- Cuisine: American
Cereal Bar Ingredients
- 6 cups (10 oz.) cinnamon toast crunch
- ½ cup corn syrup
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ¼ tsp table salt (or ~ ½ tsp kosher salt)
Milk Frosting Ingredients
- 2 tbsp whole milk powder (or nonfat milk powder)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoon whole milk
- 2 tsp corn syrup
- ½ tsp vanilla
- Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper.
- Place the cereal in a large bowl. In a small sauce pot, add corn syrup, butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, and stir until melted and smooth. Cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble vigorously. Continue to cook about 2 min. longer until foamy and slightly thickened. Working quickly, pour the mixture over the cereal, mix well to combine, and press firmly into bottom of the pan. Let cool completely – at least 1 hour.
- Make the milk icing: combine all ingredients in a bowl, starting with just 1 tablespoon of milk – whisk until smooth. If needed, add up to 1 tablespoon more milk a couple drops at a time until you reach desired consistency. Set aside.
- Remove the cereal treats from the pan and cut into individual bars (you can cut them any size you want, but I cut them into 2x4" bars to mimic the store-bought General Mills cereal bars). Drizzle the milk icing liberally on top of the bars. Let the bars sit for another hour uncovered until the icing is set. Store in an airtight container at room temp up to 3 days.
- To make milk and cereal bars in a 13x9" baking pan, double all quantities. The process remains the same.
- You can substitute salted butter, just leave out the additional salt.
Keywords: cinnamon toast crunch bars no marshmallow, cinnamon toast crunch milk and cereal bars, cereal bar recipe without marshmallows