Homemade granola from scratch is such a simple thing to make and is infinitely customisable! If you hate dried fruit, leave it out. If you can’t eat nuts, leave them out or replace with seeds. Add spices or extracts! Add cocoa powder!
This is my favourite granola as it’s not too sweet but has that perfect crispy crunch to it. The benefit of making it at home is that you can also put LOADS more nuts in AND add seeds – something which is quite rare in a shop-bought granola.
Why add seeds to granola?
I like to add a mixture of seeds to my granola – a personal fave combo is sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. They add a lot of flavour & texture as well as increasing the protein/fibre content with a much lower cost than nuts. This is a great hack for if you find many nuts are out of your price range but still want the nutritional benefits of them. (p.s. another option is to add peanuts which are much lower in cost than other nuts). No need to chop the seeds before adding!
Seeds to add to your granola: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed (linseeds), poppy seeds
When is best to add nuts to your granola?
I’ve found that if you add the nuts to the granola from the start, they can sometimes burn which gives them a rancid flavour. For this reason, I prefer to add them around halfway through the cooking time at the same point as I lower the oven temp. This ensures that the nuts still get nicely toasted (which enhances their flavour) but prevents burning. I tend to roughly chop the nuts before adding them so they are a more manageable size in a cereal bowl.
Nuts to add to your granola: desiccated or flaked coconut, pecans, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, cobnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts
When is best to add dried fruit to your granola?
For those of us who like a bit of dried fruit in granola, the best time to mix them in is right at the end just before the granola is about to be transferred to a jar. This is because dried fruits have a high sugar content so if you heat them up in the oven they have a tendency to burn. Even if they don’t burn, I’ve found that heating them can make the dried fruits dry out even more which can make them quite stick-in-your-teeth chewy. With smaller dried fruits you can add without chopping but larger ones (e.g. apricots, dates) will need to be roughly chopped before mixing in.
Dried fruits to add to your granola: raisins, currants, sultanas, pitted dates, dried apricots, dried figs, prunes, goji berries, dried blueberries, dried cranberries, dried cherries
Clustery, crunchy granola tips
The best way to get bigger clusters in your granola is by adding wet mix ins which bind the clumps of oats/seeds together. I’ve seen this done with egg whites in the past (which is an excellent way to use up random leftover egg whites!!) but I’ve also experimented with using fruit purees (applesauce and mashed banana are my personal faves) and aquafaba (liquid from the can of chickpeas). Both of these options work just as well as egg white and are vegan.
I prefer to use a homemade applesauce as it can be quite hard to find a smooth, unsweetened applesauce in the UK. It’s very easy to make (I’ve put a note under the recipe for how I make it) and, if you’re in a weekly granola groove, you can batch make it and freeze in portioned bags for your future granola making. Use applesauce if you prefer your granola to have a more neutral flavour. If you don’t mind the flavour of banana, you can use that instead.
For the aquafaba, I’ve found that the liquid from many types of canned beans works – chickpea, black bean, kidney bean, cannellini bean and butter bean. Again, you can portion and freeze this when you have any aquafaba left over from other recipes. If you need to, you can also replace the aquafaba with extra applesauce.
Sugar/syrup options when making granola
In the recipe below, the sweetener you use is pretty much up to you. I’ve kept the amount of sweetener quite low as I prefer a granola which isn’t too sweet. Usually the sugar/syrup in a granola is quite important to how crispy it gets but thanks to the applesauce/aquafaba, we don’t need loads of sugar to achieve the same level of crunch.
- I sometimes like the mildness of maple syrup but it’s quite expensive so I prefer to keep it for drizzling on pancakes.
- I LOVE to use golden syrup as, when combined with the oats, it definitely gives this granola a flapjack vibe (if you use it, just wait until you’ve got the granola in the oven. Your kitchen will smell AMAZING).
- A quick go-to is light brown sugar which gives a bit more flavour than a white sugar but it’s absolutely fine to use a granulated/caster sugar if that’s what you’ve got.
- You can of course use an alternative sweetener like rice syrup, palm sugar, agave syrup, honey (if not vegan), coconut sugar if you prefer.
Other oaty recipes:
- Oatmeal chocolate chip pancakes for one (vegan)
- Baked pear, chocolate & hazelnut oats
- Banana-walnut oatmeal bars with salted caramel
Granola Recipe (vegan)
- 80 g (1/3 cup) unsweetened, smooth applesauce or mashed banana see notes on how to make homemade applesauce
- 60 g (1/4 cup) aquafaba or egg white, if not vegan. See notes for substitute.
- 60 g (1/4 cup) maple syrup, golden syrup, light brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 50 g (3 tbsp + 1 tsp) light olive oil, vegetable oil/sunflower oil or melted coconut oil
- 3/4 tsp fine table salt
- 300 g (3 cups) oats you can use a mixture of jumbo/porridge oats
- 60 g (~1/2 cup) mixed seeds optional
- 150 g (~1 cup) mixed nuts, roughly chopped optional
- 75 g (~1/2 cup) dried fruit optional
- Preheat the oven to 150°C fan / 170°C non-fan (300°F fan / 340°F non-fan).
- In a large bowl, combine the applesauce (or mashed banana), aquafaba (or egg white), syrup/sugar of choice, oil and salt. Once combined, add the oats and mixed seeds and stir together until fully coated.80 g (1/3 cup) unsweetened, smooth applesauce or mashed banana, 60 g (1/4 cup) aquafaba, 60 g (1/4 cup) maple syrup, golden syrup, light brown sugar or coconut sugar, 50 g (3 tbsp + 1 tsp) light olive oil, vegetable oil/sunflower oil or melted coconut oil, 3/4 tsp fine table salt, 300 g (3 cups) oats, 60 g (~1/2 cup) mixed seeds
- Spread the mixture out on a large, rimmed baking tray in an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.
- Remove the tray from the oven and turn the heat down to 120°C fan / 140°C non-fan (250°F fan / 290°F non-fan). Scatter the nuts over the granola and return the tray to the oven.150 g (~1 cup) mixed nuts, roughly chopped
- Bake for a further 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
- Allow the granola to cool on the tray before scattering in the dried fruit and transferring to an airtight container/jar. It will keep for up to 3 weeks at room temperature.75 g (~1/2 cup) dried fruit
Cinnamon granola: add 2 tsp ground cinnamon to the mix along with the oats.
Vanilla granola: add 1 tbsp vanilla extract to the mix along with the applesauce.
Chocolate granola: add 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder to the mix along with the applesauce. Once the granola has cooled, chop up 150g chocolate of your choice into small chunks. Add to the cooled granola before transferring to a jar.
Peanut butter granola: add 4 tbsp warmed, smooth peanut butter to the mix along with the applesauce. Use chopped peanuts in your mixed nuts.
How is granola prepared
- Combine the wet ingredients – in this case: applesauce, aquafaba, syrup/sugar, oil and salt.
- Next fold in the oats and seeds.
- Bake the mixture at 150C fan for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and add the nuts.
- Return to the oven at 120C fan for 20-30 more minutes.
- Allow to cool, stir in the dried fruit, transfer to a jar.
Is Granola actually good for you?
As with most things, moderation is key to a healthy, balanced diet. Nutrition is also an incredibly personal thing which will vary from person to person so something that works well for one person’s mental & physical health can be damaging to another. That said, granola is a tasty breakfast or snack option which should maintain your energy levels until lunch thanks to the protein, fat & fibre from the oats/nuts/seeds. Fibre is an incredibly important nutrient for overall health and, as most people don’t consume enough fibre, having granola can be a great way to boost your fibre intake.