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How to Make Granola Without a Recipe

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Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: You don't need a recipe to make a homemade granola that puts the boxed ones in your cupboard to shame. (Hint: Also makes a great last-minute gift.)

How to Make Granola without a Recipe

Granola is good. It’s good fuel to ensure you have a productive morning. It's a good snack that's filling enough to tide you over until your next meal. It's a good dessert accompaniment, sprinkled on ice cream or a lumpy, bubbly fruit crisp. But homemade granola ... homemade granola is great. Homemade granola is an entirely different species from that thing you find in a cardboard box on the top shelf of your grocery store. Homemade granola is a wildly selfish animal that only you can control.

When you make your own granola, you don the boss's boots and put yourself in charge. Fond of coconut? Throw in 2 cups. Not crazy about sunflower seeds? Don’t let them anywhere in your sight. Infatuated with chocolate? Add half a bag of your favorite chunks -- no, add the whole thing.

I like to think of making granola as more than an exercise in baking (partially because it's not really baking, but more like throwing and mixing and crisping), and more along the lines of a delicious and rebellious takeover. Forget what you know, tuck those traditional granolas back in their boxes, run to your pantry and search until you find that secret, special, fabulous granola animal that is simply waiting to be unleashed.

How to Make Granola Without a Recipe

1. Toss oats and add-ins (minus any chocolate) into a large bowl. Think dried fruits, coconut flakes, nuts, Chex cereal, or seeds. 1/2 cup of oats rounds out to above one serving, so use that as a guide for how much you want to make.

How to Make Granola without a Recipe

2. Drizzle your oaty fruity nutty pile with brown sugar (about 1/4 cup for every 2 cups of oats), a few glugs of maple syrup or honey, a dash of vanilla, and canola or olive oil (around 1 tablespoon for every cup).

How to Make Granola without a Recipe

3. Mix your masterpiece well, get your hands on in there and coat everything there is to coat.

How to Make Granola without a Recipe

4. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and bake at 350? F until crispy, golden, and toasty, about 20 minutes, every so often stirring the granola with a spoon to ensure it browns evenly.

How to Make Granola Without a Recipe

5. Let cool on the sheet before breaking up into lumpy gorgeous globs.

How to Make Granola without a Recipe

6. Mix in any meltables (à la chocolate, butterscotch, or peanut butter chips) once it's completely cool, and have yourself a handful of the final product, the new species you just created.

How to Make Granola Without a Recipe

We're looking for contributors! Email [email protected] and tell us the dish you make in your sleep, without a recipe.

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: granola, breakfast, baking, everyday cooking, special diets, gifts

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Comments (7)


7 months ago toocourt

Any suggestions for fruit accompaniments in the winter (pear/apple compote, etc.?) Want to serve for a group at brunch (make your own parfait sort of thing) but want to avoid way out of season fruit if possible.


over 1 year ago Linda Law

Looks great and is so easy. I can't seem to find a print version, though.


over 1 year ago Betty Mitchell

Made this granola; replaced the oil with avocado oil, used a flax meal egg in place of so much syrup and added 2 tablespoons of food charging powder. The recipe is outstanding.


over 1 year ago Leah Koenig

Leah is the author of The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook on seasonal Jewish cooking.

I find that adding the fruit (raisins, etc.) during cooking leads to burnt fruit. I always add after the granola cooks. What have others found?


over 1 year ago shelly

I agree. I always mix in my dried fruits after taking the granola out of the oven. Also, I find that less stirring during baking yield more granola chunks, which I enjoy immensely.


over 1 year ago emilybrittain

I agree! tried it today and all my sultanas had burnt!


over 1 year ago ducksandbooks

I've found that warmed coconut oil makes the best loose granola (almost no clumps) and ups the coconutty-ness of the granola too, and don't forget a pinch of salt (or just use salted seeds/nuts)