Making a batch of homemade granola is easy and only takes a few simple pantry items. For a healthy whole grain breakfast or snack, just combine rolled oats, maple syrup, oil, nuts, seeds, cranberries, and spices. Then bake until crispy clusters form. That’s it!
It’s cheaper to make your own granola
Having a stash of granola to quickly grab a wholesome snack or breakfast is always a good idea. Store-bought versions may be convenient, but often pricey for the amount that’s actually in the bag. The ingredients you need are all shelf-stable so loading up on oats, sweetener, and oil in bulk allows you to make large batches of granola at home anytime. You’ll get way more yield for your hard-earned dollar.
There’s no stirring involved in this baked method, just combine, press into a sheet pan, and let the oven do its magic. For various types of texture and taste, I use whole almonds, sweet cranberries, and salty roasted pepitas. Once you learn the basic ratio of essential ingredients, you can customize the recipe any way you like!
The essential ingredients you need
The only ingredients needed to make granola are old-fashioned rolled oats, a sweetener, and some oil or fat. I like to follow a ratio of 5 cups oats, ½ cup sweetener, and ½ cup oil for the base. Keeping the ratio of 1 part sweetener to 1 part oil allows you to scale the recipe up or down. Just make sure there’s enough to coat the oats and any other add-ins.
Use a neutral oil
A little bit of fat is needed to ensure the granola becomes crispy, but not dry, brittle or burnt. Any type of neutral-tasting oil can be selected that has a moderate smoke point above 325ºF. My top picks are avocado oil, melted coconut oil, light olive oil, and vegetable oil.
The sweetener also helps with the crunchiness
Using a sweetener like maple syrup or honey to coat the oats adds a touch of sweetness and crispiness. The type you chose is based on your flavor preference, I like maple for its deep molasses notes. As the water in the sweetener gets driven off in the hot oven, the sugar solids remain.
The sugar lightly cooks and caramelizes, creating deeper candied flavors and that sought out crunch as the granola cools. If you want to up the sweetness level of the base, add 1 to 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, granulated sugar, or coconut sugar to the mix.
Compress for hearty clusters
Making homemade granola gives you the opportunity to control the size and shape of the oat clusters. By compressing the oats down before baking, similar to making granola bars, the grains pack closer and stick together with the sugar in the maple syrup.
Wait until after the granola cools before you break them apart so the sugars have a chance to bind, harden, and hold the oats together. Unlike most recipes, do not stir during the process, unless you want the mixture to be more separate and pourable.
Elevate and cool to dry
The granola will look golden brown when removed from the oven, but not completely dry and crisp. This is where heat transfer from the warm pan helps to dry out the rest of the moisture. Place the tray on a wire rack to help circulate air under and around so the oats can gradually cool at room temperature. After about an hour they’ll become super crunchy, patience is important!
Get creative with different add-ins
This recipe uses whole almonds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), dried cranberries, cinnamon, and nutmeg to add flavor to the mix. However, any types of nuts, spices, seeds, and dried fruit can be substituted.
- Nuts: Almonds (raw, roasted, sliced, slivered), pecans, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, coconut flakes (toasted is delicious!). Use 1 to 1 ½ cups total of any combination.
- Spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, curry powder, turmeric, black pepper, or chili powder. Use ½ to 1 teaspoon of the spice mix.
- Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds. Use ½ cup of the bulkier seeds and 1 to 4 tablespoons of flax or chia.
- Dried fruit: Cherries, cranberry, raisin, apricot, pineapple, papaya, banana chips. Use ½ to 1 cup of dried fruit.
- Chocolate: Chocolate chips (Dark, bittersweet, semi-sweet, white, mini chips), cocoa nibs, or cocoa powder. Use about ¼ to ½ cup chips and nibs, ¼ to ⅓ cup powder.
Use these oats in particular
The only type of oats that should be used is old fashioned rolled oats. There are instant and quick-cooking options, but when mixed with liquid they hydrate too much and can become mushy if not baked immediately. Use rolled oats as they don’t get immediately soggy when added to milk or yogurt.
- ½ cup (120 ml) maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon (3 g) kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon (1 g) cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup (120 ml) avocado oil
- 5 cups (498 g) old fashioned rolled oats
- 1 ½ cups (213 g) almonds, raw or roasted
- ½ cup (73 g) roasted pepitas, pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup (117 g) dried cranberries
- Set the oven rack to the upper-middle position. Preheat to 325ºF (163ºC).
- In a large bowl whisk together maple syrup, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Add the oil and whisk together until combined and slightly thickened.
- Add the rolled oats, almonds, and pepitas, stir to thoroughly coat the dried ingredients with the maple syrup mixture.
- Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Evenly spread the granola mixture onto the sheet pan. Use the bottom of a spatula to firmly press down on the mixture until the layer is about ½-inch thick. This will create granola clusters after baking and cooling.
- Bake until golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the sheet pan halfway through baking. The granola should feel dry, but won't be completely crunchy when removed from the oven.
- Place the sheet pan on a wire cooling rack. Allow the granola to cool completely, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The granola will dry and harden during this time.
- Break the granola into clusters, then add in dried cranberries, stir to combine.
- Recipe yield: 9 cups
- Serving size: ½ cup
- Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or frozen for up to 1 month.
- Coconut oil, light olive oil, or vegetable oil can be substituted for avocado oil.