(Because you can’t have a crunchy blog without a good granola recipe, now can you?)
Granola is great. Granola is also expensive if you want to buy anything decent from a store. But, my friends, granola is also really, really easy to make. Stupid easy. And it comes together quickly, especially in cooler weather.
As with many of the foods I make, I like to use whatever I have on hand for granola as far as add-ins, rather than follow a strict recipe. I prefer dried cranberries in my granola, but I also have success with raisins or a combination of both. In fact, you can use pretty much any dried fruit you want – it’s all about ratios. And hazelnuts, my favorite of the nuts, made my favorite granola to date. Have a bunch of little bits of chopped nuts? Combine them all to make a tasty, multi-flavored granola!
This makes a nice, clustery granola, instead of a mess of baked oats. You can decide how big you want the clusters of goodness to be, and the combinations of nuts, fruit, and spices make the recipe infinitely customizable. Do not sub shortcuts like quick oats and fake maple syrup in here – you will be sorely disappointed in the results. Imitation vanilla is fine.
You will need:
- 5 c rolled oats (do not use quick oats)
- 2 c chopped pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, or a combination
- 1/3 c brown sugar, packed
- 1/3 c maple syrup (the real stuff)
- 1/2 c neutral oil (vegetable or canola oil)
- 4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 c dried fruit, such as cranberries, raisins, dates, etc.
- Optional: You can add spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and others. See variations below.
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.
- In a medium or large bowl, combine oats and chopped nuts. (This is optional, but I find it easier to measure these ingredients out first, then pour them all together into the liquids before the oil has a chance to separate from the sugars.)
- In another large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vegetable oil until a homogeneous mixture forms.
- Pour oats and chopped nuts into the brown sugar and oil mixture, and stir to combine using a wooden spoon or spatula. Make sure everything is thoroughly coated with the brown sugar mixture.
- Spread the oat mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet, pressing down with a metal spatula so that the mixture holds together.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes, turning the pan once halfway through baking, until lightly browned and fragrant. Be sure to watch the granola carefully in the last 10-20 minutes of baking, as it can burn quickly once it starts!
- Cool completely on a cooling rack. Break into pieces (whatever size your heart desires), and combine with dried fruit in an airtight container. Will keep for about 2 weeks in a dry environment, and a bit less in a humid one.
- Spiced Apple Granola: Use dried apples or pears for the fruit, and walnuts for the nuts. Add 2 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp allspice to the brown sugar mixture. Proceed with recipe.
- Tropical Granola: Use dried mango, papaya, and/or pineapple for the dried fruit, and replace up to 2 c of the oats with up to 3 c dried unsweetened coconut. You can use pecans or macadamia nuts for the nuts. Add 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger to the brown sugar mixture. Reduce the vanilla to 2 tsp. Proceed with recipe.