Recipes

Healthy, Crunchy Homemade Granola Recipe

This healthy, crunchy homemade granola recipe fills the kitchen with warm cinnamon notes. It’s lightly sweetened with honey and baked to perfection in less than 15 minutes.

Unlike store-bought granola which is loaded with added sugar, saturated fats, and other additives, you control what goes in your homemade granola.

Determining what goes in your food is both empowering, saves you money, and ensures you are nourishing your body with healthy ingredients. 

Store-bought granola is a medium to highly processed food depending on the brand and the ingredients. If you have store-bought granola at home, I encourage you to read what’s on the ingredient label. 

Popular brands have some kind of sugar listed as not only the 2nd but the 3rd and  4th and sometimes even the 5th ingredient.

And it’s not always just honey or maple syrup that’s listed. Most of the time it’s cane sugar, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar etc.  

What does that mean? Store-bought granola contains loads of sugar. Every 4 grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon. 

The good news is homemade granola is baked in your kitchen in less than the time it takes you to read this post and you get to decide the ingredient list.

HOMEMADE GRANOLA IS NATURALLY GLUTEN-FREE AND FULL OF FIBER

Is homemade granola worth the effort? In my personal opinion, yes. With store-bought you have no control of what goes in the granola or how it’s processed. 

The beauty of homemade granola is it’s easy to make, contains as few as 6 ingredients at the basic level (oats, honey, oil, cinnamon, salt, vanilla). And will save you money in the long run. 

Plus, from start to finish you can make it in as little as 20 minutes. 

Is granola even healthy? This homemade granola recipe uses whole rolled oats which are full of fiber, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and more. Whole rolled oats are a great source of B vitamins, manganese, and phosphorus. 

Like with any food, moderation is essential. You wouldn’t want to eat the entire batch of homemade granola in one sitting. However, you can enjoy 1/3 cup (which is 1 serving) in your yogurt or in a bowl with almond milk. 

Homemade Granola Recipe: 6 Basic Ingredients

To create the most basic granola you’ll need only 6 ingredients. From there you can decide which additional nuts, seeds, and dried fruits you want to add. 

For a sweeter treat, chocolate or peanut butter chips are options as well.

rolled oats

WHOLE ROLLED OATS

Whole rolled oats are whole grain food full of fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals. They are lightly processed and haven’t been stripped of the germ and bran layers which contain most of the nutrients. 

Whole rolled oats also have a low glycemic index. Meaning your blood sugar won’t spike as quickly when eating them.

You can purchase 100% whole rolled oats in the grocery store in the specialty foods section or at your natural whole foods store. You’ll want to ensure they are not instant or quick-cooking which are more processed than whole oats.

Also, whole oats are naturally gluten-free. However, for those who are gluten intolerant be sure to purchase whole oats with a certified gluten-free label on them. This ensures they are made in a factory away from other gluten products.  

HONEY OR MAPLE SYRUP

Honey or maple syrup add natural sweetness to the granola. For this granola recipe, I used honey but maple syrup works as well.     

If possible, purchase honey from a local producer. I know here in Wyoming we have a local producer that sells their honey in one of the major grocery store chains. Farmer’s markets are another place to look for locally produced honey.  

Local honey, not an option? That’s ok. Just look for honey that contains only honey on the ingredient label. Some brands add other ingredients to the mix. 

And when it comes to maple syrup, make sure it’s 100% maple syrup. Conventional pancake syrup, commonly found in grocery stores, contains high fructose corn syrup. Always read the label. The only ingredient should be maple syrup. 

Honey and maple syrup are certainly healthier alternatives to cane sugar and brown rice syrup usually used in store-bought granola. 

Regardless, sugar is sugar. Therefore, always go easy on the amount added. Making granola at home gives you that ability.

ALMOND OR EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

I use almond oil or extra virgin olive oil. Both are healthier oils and have a light, mild flavor. The recipe contains only a little amount of oil about 3 tablespoons. In the recipe notes, I used almond oil but I’ve made it with olive oil as well.

PURE VANILLA EXTRACT

Don’t skip on the vanilla extract. But do be sure to read the ingredient label. Use pure vanilla extract and not imitation. Pure vanilla extract adds a nice flavor and aroma.

baked granola

CINNAMON

Speaking of aroma, when baking this homemade granola recipe, warm notes of cinnamon will fill the air. Cinnamon is not only flavorful and makes this granola extra tasty but is packed with health benefits.

Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants specifically polyphenols. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity

Bottom line add the cinnamon.

SEA SALT OR KOSHER SALT

A large pinch of sea salt helps bring the flavors together. Salt also makes sweeteners (in this case honey or maple syrup) taste sweeter. 

I use the brand Redmond’s Real Salt. I like the flavor and texture. Plus, I find that it blends well into many recipes. 

I’m also a fan of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. You’ll need to use your fingers to crush the salt flakes into smaller crumbles as kosher salt tends to be more coarse.

Have only table salt? No worries. Simply add a small pinch.  

Homemade Granola Recipe Customization

This is where you can truly customize your granola. Like an artist with a blank canvas, the 6 ingredients used to create basic granola give you a starting point. The additions you choose to add are like the artwork.

Moving on from metaphors. Here are some possible additions to consider:

NUTS

You can mix and match or simply use just one of the nut options below. Of course, the list goes on. A couple of helpful tips, chop the nuts before adding or purchase pre-chopped or slivered. 

I typically add between ½ to 1 cup of nuts to the recipe. You can add more or less to your liking. Also, be sure to add the nuts before baking.

  • Pecans
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Walnuts
  • Pistachios
  • Cashews
  • Macadamias

SEEDS

Whether you are allergic to nuts or want to add more texture, seeds are a great option. Try any of these varieties. Also, be sure to add the seeds before baking. 

  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Sunflower seeds

(Helpful tip: Add between 2 to 4 tablespoons per 1 cup of whole rolled oats for pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.)

  • Hemp seeds (hemp hearts)
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds

(Helpful tip: Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of hemp, chia, and flax seeds per 1 cup of whole rolled oats.)

storing

DRIED FRUITS

You’re dried fruit selection just like nuts and seeds is endless. It’s all about personal preference. The one difference here is you’ll add dried fruits at the end once the granola is baked otherwise the fruit will burn. 

Be sure to purchase unsweetened dried fruit as fruit is naturally sweet plus it helps cut down on the overall sugar content.

  • Cranberries
  • Raisins
  • Cherries
  • Apricots
  • Goji berries

SWEETER OPTIONS

If you’re looking for some options to satisfy your sweet tooth, you can always add dark chocolate chips or peanut butter chips. You’ll want to add these after the granola has baked. 

Also, add sparingly to avoid significantly increasing the sugar content. A good ratio might look like  ½ to 1 tablespoon per 1 cup of whole rolled oats. Ultimately, it’s your creation, your taste buds, and your preference. 

TIPS TO BAKE THE BEST GRANOLA

AVOID BURNT GRANOLA

Believe you me, you don’t want to end up with burnt or overcooked granola. It tends to have a sweet but burnt popcorn taste. 

To prevent this, you’ll cook the granola at 325°F for about 10-12 minutes. Halfway through you’ll stir the granola to ensure even browning. If after 12 minutes your granola isn’t lightly browned, you can cook for an additional 1-3 minutes. Keep an eye on it though. 

Once you’ve made this a time or two you’ll get the hang of how long to keep it in. Remember that when you take the granola out it will cool on the pan for another 5-10 minutes and during this time will continue to brown a bit and dry out.

granola

HOW TO CREATE CRUNCHY CLUSTERS

Simply make sure the granola is evenly placed on the baking sheet and press it down firmly with a spatula. Halfway through baking you’ll stir the ingredients and can press down again. 

Once out of the oven, don’t stir. Allow to rest and cool without disturbing the pan. After about 10 minutes or more you can scrape the granola off and into an airtight container. You should end up with some crunchy clusters.  

HOW TO USE HOMEMADE GRANOLA

You’ve made homemade granola now what? The great news is that granola is perfect for breakfast or as a snack. You can eat it on its own or add it to a variety of things. 

parfait

  • Snack: Eat it plain as a snack.
  • Yogurt: Add ⅓ cup of granola to plain whole fat yogurt.
  • Parfait: Make a yogurt parfait with granola, whole fat yogurt, and a handful of your favorite berries.
  • Cereal: Almond milk and granola make a delicious breakfast.
  • Muffin Topping: Want to add a little crunch to your favorite muffin recipe? Try adding homemade granola. Very tasty and satisfying.
  • Granola Bars: Make your own homemade granola bars. 
  • Give it as a gift: Homemade granola is a perfect gift idea. Give some to your neighbors, friends, or family during any holiday season. It doesn’t matter what time of year. 

STORAGE TIPS

Store your homemade granola in an airtight container like a mason jar. Keep it in a cool, dry spot for 2 weeks to 1 month. You can also freeze it for about 3 months. 

Honestly, at our house, it’s gone within a short period of time. My family loves it.

homemade granola

Healthy, Crunchy Homemade Granola Recipe

This healthy, crunchy homemade granola recipe fills the kitchen with warm cinnamon notes. It’s lightly sweetened with honey and baked to perfection in less than 15 minutes. Basic granola is made with 6-ingredients. You can build upon it after that.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Cool down 5 mins
Total Time 22 mins
Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 12

Equipment

  • Sheet pan

Ingredients
  

Dry Ingredients

  • 3 cups 100% whole rolled oats (old fashioned)
  • 3/4 cup pecans, chopped

Wet Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons almond oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons honey or 100% maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (don't use imitation)
  • Big pinch sea salt or kosher salt (I use Redmond's Real Salt or Diamond Crystals Kosher Salt)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 325°
  • In a medium-sized bowl, add all of the wet ingredients and mix together with a spatula.
  • Add the rolled oats and the pecans (or any nuts and/or seeds of your choice). Mix well with the wet ingredients ensuring all of the oats have been thoroughly coated.
  • Spread the granola evenly onto a sheet pan that's been lightly coated with non-stick spray or use unbleached parchment paper. Press the granola down firmly and place the pan in the oven.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Stir the granola halfway through baking to ensure even browning. Keep in mind the granola will continue to dry out after you take the pan out of the oven.
  • Allow the granola to cool down for 5-10 minutes before adding dried fruit and/or serving.

Notes

  • Add a combination of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. Be sure to add dried fruit after baking so as not to burn the fruit. 
  • Store any leftover granola in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. You can also freeze it. 
  • One serving of homemade granola is about 1/3 cup
Keyword crunchy granola, granola, healthy granola, homemade granola

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