Dear $12, 8-ounce Bag of Granola:
Never. Again. We will never be fooled by your clever branding, your sexy packaging, your do-goody health claims. You are $12 for two servings of bland rolled oats and oil with way too-too little of what is good and mighty about real granola (nuts, seeds, crunch…flavor). These recipes are proof that homemade granola is only about a million times better than anything sealed in a poly bag. So you can take your overpriced, impulse-food-buying psychological warfare somewhere else. We’re headed to the bulk bins to stock up on inexpensive, awesome ingredients (and maybe also a tub of Nutella). Love good ‘ol rolled oats, but would also like to experiment with other whole grain alternatives? Check out our guide to How to Make the Best Granola.
The DIY Granola Posse
1. Basic Granola
Think of this easy-peasy granola recipe as a template for what will surely become your months-long obsession with making granola. Once you master the ratio of wet to dry ingredients, you’ll start customizing your own blends and making batches big enough to gift for the holidays. Change up the nuts, use olive oil instead of vegetable oil, substitute almond extract for vanilla, shave in a bit of nutmeg or cardamom with the cinnamon, throw in some dried fruit. Hell, toss in chocolate chips if you want. You get the picture. Follow one reader/commenter’s suggestion and warm the honey, oil and vanilla–it makes for easier mixing. Get our Basic Granola recipe.
2. Basic “Oat Cuisine” Granola
Who’s a sucker for Alton Brown’s pun-ny schtick and rock-solid, well-tested recipes? Me. (C’mon, “Oat Cuisine”? Hilarious.) Make no mistake: this is not your goody-goody, healthy granola–this is the delicious, habit-forming granola the fit, kale-eating Granola Police warn you about, all packed with cashews, almonds, sweetened coconut, brown sugar and maple syrup. Reviewers couldn’t give this granola enough stars, except for the one who burnt the batch and recommends keeping a closer eye on the granola and maybe cutting the oven temperature down to 225*F. Get the recipe here.
3. Nutella Granola
When you spend your days stalking the Internet for clever, original recipes that actually work, you run across a lot of garbage that’s been recycled and re-posted a thousand times by people who don’t belong around sharp knives or hot surfaces. These are not those recipes. I’d like to personally thank Miz Sally, the cookbook author, baker, and lover of peanut butter, for giving me yet another way to shove Nutella into my pie-hole. Sally’s Banana Nutella Granola and (you might want to sit down for this) Dark Chocolate Cherry Nutella Granola is the stuff Willy Wonka’s breakfast dreams are made of. Get the recipes here and here.
4. Paleo Granola #1
I’m the food person who suddenly goes deaf, blind, and dum-dee-dum when the words “gluten free” and “paleo” are mentioned in conversation or writing. Until those words are connected to granola, because apparently it means the recipe is jammed with nuts and seeds. Take note of that lightly beaten egg white here–it’s the key to giving this granola “crispy, holy mother clusters.” Get the recipe here.
5. Sweet and Salty Homemade Granola (Paleo Granola #2)
The bulk bin area of your grocery store is your new best friend for whatever granola recipe you’re cobbling together, including this nutty, seedy mix. This paleo-friendly blend is a great framework recipe, so feel free to customize with different nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. Get the recipe here.
6. Paleo Granola #3
Here’s why you love C & Z’s paleo granola: she takes the liquid-to-dry guesswork out of scaling up the recipe by delivering a ready-made, bulk-size (20 servings!) batch. The extra flavorings (cacao nibs, cake spices, lemon zest) add more complexity. One rec: crack up those cacao nibs if they’re in bigger chunks to avoid getting a mouthful of bitter. Get the recipe here.
7. Olive Oil Granola with Dried Apricots and Pistachios
Melissa Clark’s granola recipe was a game-changer when it was published, for the simple reason that it showed us how switching from bland, neutral vegetable oil to rich olive oil makes a helluva difference in the flavor and texture of homemade granola. Also, you’ll probably start adding cardamom to everything once you taste it here. I use freshly toasted and ground cardamom, painstakingly stripped from the pods, because I’m hardcore like that. Get the recipe here.
8. Chai Spice Granola with Almonds and Coconut
If you’re looking for the kind of granola that doesn’t make you feel like you’re eating twigs and leaves, try this flavor-charged mix. The heavy blend of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and cardamom is fragrant and delicious. Get the recipe here.
9. Matzo Granola with Apricots and Pistachios
That’s right. Matzo. You’ll miss out on most of the health benefits of grain-based granolas, but this is a great alternative granola for Passover and other occasions calling for unleavened breakfast items. Crunchy and sweet, this version fares best as a topping for yogurt (or ice cream), because even with the crispy maple glaze, the matzo may turn a little soggy after the first few bites. Get our Matzo Granola with Apricots and Pistachios recipe.
Colleen Rush is a food and travel writer who eats, drinks, cooks, and writes mostly in New Orleans, but also … everywhere else. She is the author of “The Mere Mortal’s Guide to Fine Dining” (Broadway Books, 2006), and coauthor of “Low & Slow: Master the Art of Barbecue in 5 Easy Lessons” (Running Press, 2009) and the upcoming “Low & Slow 2: The Art of Barbecue, Smoke Roasting, and Basic Curing” (Running Press, 2015). Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.