Crunchy granola: breakfast meets lifestyle

Since when did one of my all-time favorite snack foods, crunchy granola, turn into a lifestyle designation?

From a Google search I recently did on “crunchy granola”:

“Slang of the Week: crunchy-granola (adjective)

“Example: Janet knew John was crunchy-granola when he came to pick her up in a rainbow-colored 1974 VW Microbus.

“…crunchy-granola students (named for the food they ate) could be easily identified because they were the only ones wearing Birkenstock sandals. Nowadays, lots of people wear Birkenstocks, but it’s still pretty easy to spot crunchy-granola types. Also called earthy-crunchy, they wear natural fabrics (especially hemp) and long hair, sometimes in dreadlocks. They tend to be vegetarians, shop at the Whole Foods market and give money to Greenpeace.” 

Well, there’s no more satisfying snack than a handful of this just-sweet-enough, crunchy-nutty-oaty, maple- and vanilla-scented granola. Add it to yogurt; make trail bars with it; eat it with milk (or cream… oo-la-la!), and bake, pack, wrap, and give it as Christmas gifts.

Try doing all THAT with a bowl of oatmeal.

Come to think of it, perhaps the use of crunchy granola to describe an erstwhile hippie derives from the fact granola is an over-the-top riff on oatmeal. Just as a “crunchy granola” is an over-the-top riff  on… well, Joe the Plumber.

Kinda like putting Mick Jagger and Pat Boone side by side, eh?

I know which one I’d pick.

Crunchy Granola.

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The hardest thing about making your own granola is simply gathering the ingredients. Let’s start with the dry stuff. Clockwise from left, you see diced pecans, stabilized wheat germ, sliced almonds, unsweetened coconut, and sunflower seeds. You can probably pick this stuff up at a market that sells in bulk out of bins. Or you can certainly find it all here.

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Here’s a better view of the coconut. It’s nicer than regular supermarket coconut—finer cut, and not gooey-sweet.

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And here’s my favorite all-around dried fruit mix: our combination of apricots, golden raisins, pineapple, dates, and cranberries. I love this in cookies, muffins… and granola, where it really shines.

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And here’s the bulk of your granola: oats. Use old-fashioned, rather than quick oats.

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Maple syrup and vanilla give this granola over-the-top flavor.  For the syrup, I use Grade B cooking maple, a dark, assertively maple syrup. If you use store-bought pancake syrup, increase the amount by about half to reach the same level of sweetness. And, you’ll be missing the maple flavor. This syrup is expensive; but if you can afford it, as an indulgence, it’s so worth it.

As for the Vanilla Bean Crush—aromatic, flavorful, laced with vanilla bean seeds and crushed bean. Superb.

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So, let’s get all of our dry ingredients ito a big bowl. You probably can’t see that these ingredients aren’t floating in thin air, but are in fact in our big styrene mixing bowl, which I use for pie filling, fruitcake, and other big mixing jobs, like granola.

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Mix to combine. A dough whisk works well here.

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Next, measure the maple syrup and vegetable oil. Since I’m pouring into a measuring cup I don’t really need the scale, but I just automatically weigh everything, since it’s fast and easy.

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Stir in the vanilla.

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See the crushed vanilla pods and seeds?

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Whisk together…

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…and pour over the dry ingredients.

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Mix to combine.

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Nothing sticks to the whisk.

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Line two half-sheet pans with parchment.

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Divide the granola between the two pans.

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Spread it right to the edge.

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And here’s my well-loved hang-around-the-neck timer. You’re going to bake the granola for about 2 hours, stirring it every 15 minutes. I like this timer because it automatically resets itself to 15 minutes each time it gets to zero.

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Bake for 15 minutes.

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Remove from the oven, and bring the edges of the granola in towards the center. This ensures that it all bakes evenly. The easiest way to do this is simply to grab a corner of the parchment, lift, and slide the granola around the edges in towards the center.

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Do the same with the sides, rolling the granola on the outside in towards the center.

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Shake the pan and use a spatula to spread it to the edges again.

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Continue to bake until the granola is golden brown.

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Remove it from the oven. Looking good, eh? Once the granola is completely cool, lift the piece of parchment, and funnel the granola into a bowl.

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Pour in the dried fruit.

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Stir together, using a spoon, your whisk…

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Or your clean hands, an excellent tool.

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Done!

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And look at that clean pan.

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Ready to enjoy.

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Serve with fresh fruit and milk, or just as is. Granola is a delicious whole-grain breakfast, snack, or gift. For Mick, OR Pat.

Read, rate and review (please!) our recipe for Crunchy Granola.

Buy vs. Bake

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Buy: New England Natural Bakers Organic Apple, Raisin, and Walnut Granola, $5.29/lb.

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Bake at home: Crunchy Granola with real maple syrup, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, cranberries, apricots, pineapple, pecans, almonds, golden raisins, and dates, $6.70/lb.

Yes, it does cost more to make this granola than to purchase many ready-made granolas. You can save a considerable amount of money by sweetening with corn syrup or honey instead of real maple syrup; or by cutting back on the array of dried fruits (e.g., substituting golden raisins and cranberries for the apricots, pineapple, and dates). This is, admittedly, a deluxe granola, as the recipe is written. And its taste, texture, and just-baked freshness are out of this world… In this case, you get what you pay for.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Christina

    As a newer generation “crunchy” momma, I’m loving your description of your search! lol It reminds me of when I first heard the term. :)

    We’ve been wanting to make granola at home for a while and this looks like the perfect recipe for our family! I’ll be enlisting the help of my nearly 3 year old baker in training. She’ll love helping measure, “dump” (add), and mixing ingredients up in this yummy treat!

    Great job!!!

    I think she’ll really love mixing it all up with her hands, Christina – what a great introduction to making stuff in your own kitchen. Thanks for keeping the tradition going through the next generation- PJH

    Reply
  2. Rita

    I know that stirring the granola shouldn’t be that hard, but once I was making granola and managed to drop it all on the floor–what a tragedy. Since then I discovered that I could make it in my bread machine.

    This is how I do it with the recipe in the KA Whole Grain Book I have to do it in two batches, so what I like to do is combine the oats and wheat germ together in the first batch and the nuts and other ingredients in a second. Then, I combine the liquids and salt in a measuring cup. I set the bread machine to the jam setting and put in one of the bowls of dry ingredients. On the jam setting the bread machine heats up for about 10 minutes and then it starts to stir periodically, that’s when I add half of the wet ingredients. Repeat this with the second bowl of dry ingredients.

    You can mix all of the dry ingredients together first and then divide it in two bowls, but I like how the nuts form nice little clusters.

    mmm… I think I need to go home and make some. Thanks for sharing that great tip. Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  3. Annie Mills

    Hi Mary….our kitchen granola jar is ALWAYS full…and if it’s not..there are a lot of grumpy people in the house :) I just took a batch out of the oven!
    I do love the unsweeted coconut…I also add sesame seeds, ground flax seeds…so good.
    Instead of maple syrup, I do use canola oil and honey mixed, with vanilla extract and a pure maple extract added. Soooo Yummy. I also tend to speed up the cooking process by baking at 350 degrees..stir after 10 minutes…bake another 10-15 minutes or so..stirring after 5 min..and then take it out to cool. It usually works to get pretty crunchy. I add dried blueberries and cranberries to the cookie sheets right out of the oven. We love it best mixed with yogurt!

    Reply
  4. HMB

    I’ve been eating homemade granola nearly every day for breakfast for I don’t know HOW many years. And it never tastes the same because I’m always varying the nuts or dried fruit, and I sometimes mix the grains up a bit too. Breakfast this morning was granola topped with fresh strawberries and blueberries, dolloped with plain yogurt and topped off with a sprinkling of maple sugar. (I was debating between maple sugar, lavender sugar, cardamom/spice sugar … and maple won this morning.) YUM!!! And granola is a breakfast that will hold you all morning — no mid-morning munchies.

    Like the various sugars on top… I’ll have to try that for sure. :) PJH

    Reply
  5. Robin

    We always have homemade granola in the house and I add dry milk to the mix….figure it can’t hurt to boost the calcium intake.

    Reply
  6. Sue in NY

    FYI..Mick Jagger is a health nut and would probably love this granola..as long as it was organic! He’s not the crazy wild man of long ago.

    I’m the only one in my house that eats granola…do you think I could freeze some without the fruit?
    Thanks,Sue

    Sue, granola freezes very well. Even with the fruit, I’d imagine; frozen cookie dough with fruit is fine. So go for it. And I’m glad to hear Mick is now a crunchy granola! PJH

    Reply
  7. Nancy

    Hi, I make a very similar granola with Honey and Coconut Oil instead. And my son doesn’t want it toasted at all or very little, so I have to heat up the liquid ingredients just enough to melt the honey and Coconut Oil. I toast all the nuts I use (Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds, Walnuts, Pecans and/or Almonds) prior to putting in with the oats if I’m not going to toast them.

    Don’t make the mistake of mixing the fruit in prior to toasting or it will burn! And you can add flax seed (whole or ground) for additional nutrition!

    My whole family loves this granola – especially my grand daughters, who love to eat it with milk or yogurt! Thanks!

    Reply
  8. Jenn

    Wondering if you have any substitution ideas for the sunflower seeds – I’m just not a big fan. Can they be left out completely or are they necessary to the proportions or structure of the recipe?

    Also, do you have any nutritional information (fat, calories, cholesterol, etc) for the recipe as it is written? I love granola, but with a husband who has suffered a minor heart attack – counting these has become important and necessary.

    Thanks for the wonderful blog and all your great recipes and tips. I love getting the email to see what is up for discussion next!

    Just leave the seeds out, Jenn – not a problem. No nutritionals, sorry – I’d assume no chlesterol, given there are no animal products. PJH

    Reply
  9. Nancy

    Plus the fact that oats are GREAT for combating cholesterol! Says so on the Quaker box! The sunflower seeds are, of course, shelled already and I’ve even had to wash the salt off them prior to putting in my granola.

    One of the GREAT things about granola is, if you don’t have any of the ingredients on hand when you’re making, it STILL turns out just great and no one seems to miss the items you didn’t have on hand.
    Too true Nancy! You can create your special blend each and every time you make it. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  10. Stephen

    I have been making granola for years, but to reduce the amount of sugar I add less maple syrup and substitute with organic low fat coconut milk. I also add some boiled cider I purchased from KAF to add a hint of apple to the mix.
    The great thing about granola is that you can add or subtract ingredients each time you make it and it ususally tastes great.

    Reply
  11. Peggy

    I have made the granola before from the catalog. I am the only one that eats it at my house, so I freeze it in bags measuring out 1/2 cup to each bag. I am diabetic but I still can have granola. The person that didn’t think it was healthy should look at the ingredients. There is nothing un-healthy about it if you eat a PORTION. I love KAF and all the products, your blog has been wonderful. Please keep up the good work. And I am glad you will be doing more gluten free receipes for that helps diabetics too, but could you do some for us too? Once again the granola is wonderful.

    Reply
  12. cindy leigh

    I’ve been making this recipe for a while now.
    Try substituting boiled cider for some or all of the maple syrup. I have used honey, too.
    I like to add peanut butter and decrease the oil a bit when I do.
    And some of your extracts are perfect. I like pralines and cream, or pecan.
    I make mine a bit wetter because I like it a bit chunky.
    Great recipe!

    Reply
  13. Doris

    Cindy, how do you make you granola wetter? I like mine chunky also but don’t know how to make it. Help please!

    Reply
  14. Beth

    Yummy! One quick question… does adding the oil cause it to have a shorter shelf life? I assume that granola made with no oil can stick around pretty much forever, because there is nothing to go rancid. How long do you think the shelf life for this granola is? Thanks for sharing!! :)

    Beth, the shelf life is many weeks… several months. And it can be frozen, too. Without the oil, it will be muesli – soft, not crunchy. But you can certainly make muesli in place of granola – same ingredients (sans oil). PJH

    Reply
  15. Lee

    This is my go-to recipe for granola – love it! I’ve started using coconut oil exclusively for several reasons. My favorite variation is to use hazelnuts and dried cherries – very good at holidays!
    To make it extra crunchy I mix up the oats and oil the night before and let it sit on the counter then finish mixing the rest up the next day and baking as directed. Since coconut oil is so stable it really helps everything stay fresh for a good long time.
    To gild the lily I like to use a fresh coconut – shred it into nice big shreds in the food processor – it toasts up so nicely and melts in your mouth in the granola.
    Such a great recipe – I don’t buy boxed cereals anymore!!

    Reply
  16. Amanda

    I’ve actually made a very similar granola and I wanted to see what would happen if I omitted the oil altogether. It seemed that the liquid sweetener (a generous amount of maple syrup) was enough of a browning agent and also enough of a binder that the granola still formed those yummy crunchy nuggets.

    Reply
  17. Renee

    Thanks to those who mentioned that this can be frozen. That was the deciding factor in my trying to recipe. I’m cooking for one most of the time, and it’s easy for my eyes to be bigger than my appetite.

    The oils in nuts and seeds can go rancid after a while, so I’m not sure I’d say it’s good indefinitely.

    Granola — oh, yes! I remember that term from the early 80s in college! The dorm I lived in was also where the Earth Studies classes were held. :)

    Reply
  18. Philip
    ->

    sounds good, but what would you add to be able to compact it and cut into squares for granola bars? I’m looking for a good recipe for my luch box.

    Here’s a good recipe for Chewy Granola Bars. It doesn’t start with granola, but I’m betting you could figure out how to do that, if you wanted to… PJH

    Reply
  19. Lauren B

    Hi KA Bakers,

    I’m trying to make a low carb granola, and was wondering how important the amount of sugar is to the texture? Could I halve it and sub in honey for the maple syrup? Could I just up the oil, or use butter in place of it?

    Love learning baking chemistry and techniques from your blog. The posts here are so informative!

    Well, you have an incredible amount of carbs here anyway, though many are whole grain… you can certainly sub honey for maple syrup, so long as you watch it carefully towards the end of the baking time – honey tends to burn. Try subbing some low-carb (Splenda) apple or cranberry juice for some of the syrup or honey, that should help. No need to change the fat from oil to butter, or to increase it. Hope it works out well for you – PJH

    Reply
  20. Barbara

    I love your recipes! Everyone makes my mouth water. I’d never really considered making my own granola but it sounds like a wonderful idea and, I must admit, your pictures are making me drool a little.

    Of course, just today I decided I need to cut back a bit (see http://strangerkiss.wordpress.com/2009/07/01/nightmare-in-my-closet/ for gory details) but this is really tempting. After all granola is very healthy…whole grains, fruit, maple syrup! This is definitely worth making an exception for. However, in the interest of my resolution, besides the Splenda suggestion made to Lauren B. do you have any other ways that the calorie count could be reduced a bit?

    So sorry, Barbara – I struggle with this, because I love granola, and it’s quite calorie-intense. However, it’s also full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, so you’re getting lots of good stuff in those calories. You could leave out the oil, which will yield muesli (not crunchy) instead of granola. You can cut back on the dried fruit and nuts, which will pretty much leave plain, dry oats. Or you can do what I do – ration your portions. I like to stir it into yogurt, which “stretches” the experience and adds calcium, too. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  21. Victoria

    For those looking for alternatives / additions, raw pumpkin seeds are phenomenal in granola! I also love whole, raw almonds.

    Reply
  22. Pat Humphrey

    I’ve been looking for a granola receipe for a long time now. This sounds like just what I want. Thank you.

    Reply
  23. Tracie Koenig

    Just made this super yummy granola today and then had some for dinner! Our store had dried strawberries and blueberries. Cannot wait to make it for Holiday gifts this year. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  24. Kate

    As a former crunchy-granola, my mother’s granola recipe is very similar, but she ‘bakes’ it in the microwave. 4 minutes (2x stirring), plus air drying and you’ve got crunchy granola. She makes it all the time. I always forget to bother and then make googly eyes over hers until she gives me some. ; )

    Basic recipe:

    1/2 cup sliced almonds
    2.5 cups old fashioned oats
    1/3 cup wheat germ
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup honey
    1/3 cup raisins and/or dried cranberries

    Place the nuts in a 13 by 9 inch glass baking dish. Cook on high for 2 minutes to lightly toast the nuts. (The time may vary with your microwave.) Stir in oats, wheat germ and brown sugar until well mixed. Stir in honey, making sure to coat the mixture well.

    Cook on high in microwave for 3 minutes. Stir well. Cook 1 minute longer. Cool slightly. Stir in raisins and/or dried cranberries. Store in airtight container. Sound great. Thanks for sharing. Aren’t mom’s great! Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  25. skeptic7

    I used a similiar recipe by Mark Britten, but I cook it in a slow cooker. On high with the lid covered for about 1 1/2 hours and on low with the lid off to dry it off for a couple of hours more. Stir occasionally. Its hard to burn and doesn’t tie up the oven. I cook the oats and nuts and seeds and oil and maple syrup and add any dry fruit to the mix when I’m ready to eat it. That lets me change from currents to dates to cherries at a whim.

    Reply
  26. tph

    To answer the nutritionals question, above: I use My Food Diary, an online service, to track my daily food intake. The webside allows you to enter recipes and then it figures the nutritional content. I don’t use coconut in mine but otherwise use the exact KAF recipe. Here’s the info My Food Diary gave me for 1/4 cup:

    Calories: 229
    Total Fat: 10.1 grams (Saturated fat: .9 gram)
    Cholesterol: 0
    Sodium: 111 mg
    Carbs: 32.2 grams
    Dietary Fiber: 3.8 grams
    Sugars: 16.6 grams
    Protein: 4.3 grams
    Vit. A: 0% RDA
    Vit. C: 0% RDA
    Calcium: 3% RDA
    Iron: 12% RDA

    Of course, this is not exact, but at least it provides a close estimate. Hope this is helpful!

    Reply
  27. Nicole

    I love a good crunchy granola. This sure is worth a try. If I live in a humid environment do I have to refrigerate this? How long is it’s shelf life? Could I use other nuts instead of almonds?
    You certainly can use any type of nut or leave them out completely. Do you refrigerate your other cereals because of the humidity? If so, you’d want to store the granola the same way. If it gets soggy, you can reheat it in the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes. In an airtight container, it will last about 6 months. Molly @ KAF

    Reply
  28. GJC

    Help!!!!!!!!!! I was on a cruse the first part of June and got up early one morning. Went to coffe shop on ship and ate a torte/bar that was whole grain and wonderful! Can anyone give me a recipe for this torte it was sweet/chewy and conforting.
    Your best bet is to contact the cruise line and tell them the name of the ship you were on, and when, and which restaurant on board that you were in. If they share recipes, they should be able to send it to you. Keep in mind it may be in large quantity and you might have to reduce it. Good luck! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  29. Jessica

    Looks delectable, I have been making my own granola for a few months now and have decided I may never buy store bought again. I use honey, add cinnamon, and go with raisins instead of dried fruit. Its amazing. I was just thinking today though about an apple pie flavored one.

    Reply
  30. Chris

    Help!!! No oven temp given in this, otherwise, very detailed entry.

    How could something so important be left out?

    Chris, we didn’t print the entire recipe in our earlier blogs – just gave the directions, expecting the reader would click to the recipe from the link at the end of the blog for ingredient amounts and other details. Here’s what the recipe says: “Spread granola on a couple of large lightly greased baking sheets; a half-sheet pan is ideal. Bake in a preheated 250°F oven for about 90 minutes, stirring the mixture with a heatproof spatula, spoonula, or turner every 15 minutes or so.” Sorry for the confusion – PJH

    Reply
  31. Celeste

    I’ve never made granola before and this was my first attempt. Absolutely amazing and worth the effort. Sent a big batch to my daughter in college and she has asked for more. It is great with yogurt or as a cereal with milk. I will never buy granola again. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply
  32. sohn

    Delicious. The best part is that I made some without the wheat germ for my young son who has wheat and egg allergies–he loves it. Thanks!

    Reply
  33. "Mary from Michigan"

    Hello, I have all the ingredients to make this except the stabilized wheat germ. The KAF website says it is out of stock and I cannot find it anywhere. If I use regular raw wheat germ (such as Bob’s Red Mill) will my granola go rancid quickly? Should I use some other ingredient instead? I am making this to give as gift treats for Christmas, so any help on what to use would be most appreciated. Thanks! Yes, we are no longer carrying the stabilized wheat germ but you can certainly use regular wheat germ in this recipe. Given the other ingredients (almonds, sunflower seeds, pecans, walnuts, etc.), you’ll want the granola to be gobbled up within a few weeks of making it, regardless! ~Kim@KAF

    Reply
  34. Feby

    I used to make granola using similar recipe with this one. I used virgin coconut oil, but not the shredded coconut itself [I never like the taste], then ground cinnamon…a teaspoon or two, I forgot exactly. It’s yummyy…
    I never add vanilla extract, but I think it’s awesome. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for the recipe.

    Reply

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