Genius Recipes

The Genius Granola With a Cult Following

This recipe will change your life—just ask its many, many fans.

December  4, 2019

Every week in Genius Recipes—often with your help!—Food52 Creative Director and lifelong Genius-hunter Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that will change the way you cook.

At least once a year, whenever I’m fumbling around for a jolt of happiness and inspiration, I like to go spy on the comment thread for Nekisia Davis’s Olive Oil and Maple Granola.

Photo by James Ransom
Just wanted to express undying appreciation for this recipe. It has been a complete & total staple in our home for years now.
I too have registered on this site purely to comment on this recipe. OMG I love it.
I will never buy granola again.
Beverly J.

Unlike darker crannies of the internet, Food52 has always been an unusually welcoming space to ask questions, to share cooking triumphs (and flat-out fails), to experience the kind of supporting community so many of us crave in a haze of angry tweets and lonely scrolls through Instagram.

But this recipe is my favorite little nook. Everyone loves this granola—undying appreciation kind of love. People make it weekly. They have it every morning for breakfast. They wrap it up to give during the holidays, in mason jars and cellophane bags and Christmas-y tins. Their families and coworkers clamor for it.

And—maybe most notably—they make it their own. Every ingredient has been swapped or doubled or abandoned, depending on whim and what’s in the pantry. The technique, which is essentially just stirring, has spun off to work in a slow cooker; to become crispy granola bars; to get ditched in a cold oven for hours and picked back up. This recipe is unbreakable.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I’ve added raisins at the end, chocolate chips too once, had not enough maple syrup once — you guessed it — PERFECT! Recipe is fool proof and delicious. Thank you!!”
— Nancy S.

I’m rounding up the 50-ish ways community members have customized this recipe to date below to inspire you to do the same, for yourself or for your loved ones. Either way, you’re making a granola that will very likely change lives and become a staple for years to come.

But go read the comments first.

All the Genius Granolas

  • Make the granola in a slow cooker rather than the oven, like Rlsalvati does. "One thing I'm really good at is burning granola in my oven."
  • Or turn the oven off and give it a mid-bake rest to get crispy and errand-friendly like Sara G does.
  • Clumpy granola lovers: Stir less often like Sara G, press down and let the granola cool undisturbed like M, or mix in some egg whites before baking like Windischgirl.
  • "Dissolve the maple syrup & sugar in the olive oil." Jen V swears it coats the ingredients better.
  • Convert the ingredient measurements to weights so you can make your favorite version faster, and all in one bowl.
  • Put your 9-year-old to work, like daisybrain: "He was very happy measuring and then digging his hands in to stir it up perfectly."
  • Swap out the maple syrup for agave nectar: “Hands down, best granola I’ve had in my life! Lots of power for surfing, too!" says Maja.
  • Or swap the brown sugar for coconut sugar.
  • Or some of the maple syrup for honey.
  • Or skip the sugar and add a well-mashed, overripe banana or a bit of applesauce. (Sara G picked up this tip from Nigella Lawson.)
  • Many reviewers like to reduce the sweeteners (but many also don't). Rlsalvati wisely suggests: "I do cut down the sugar and maple syrup for our in-house consumption, but stick with the full recipe for gifts." (And she eats it every day in the warmer months.)
  • Swap in coconut oil.
  • Or hazelnut oil.
  • Or blood orange olive oil. "Simply AMAZING!" says Mary Margaret.
  • Or leave it out (!), like Scribbles does.
  • Switch in shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)—handy, since the bigger flakes aren't always easy to find.
  • Clean out your pantry and add it to the granola, like Windischgirl does, with a mix of Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, and almonds.
  • Or streamline and lean on salted pistachios. "Can it keep getting better?" (Yes, Beautiful, Memorable Food. It can.)
  • Pull in warming spices (ginger, cinnamon, cloves) for “a great fall flavor,” Linda S recommends.
  • Or use five-spice powder!
  • Or vanilla!
  • Or fancy up the salts with Himalayan pink salt (like suzgab) or Maldon smoked grey salt (like Krystal).

Seeds and grains aplenty:

  • Add in oat bran...
  • Or chia seeds or flax seeds “for that extra load of health” as VC does.
  • Or some toasted wheat germ...
  • Quinoa can go in, too!
  • Same for activated buckwheat!

Just about any dried fruits you could imagine:

  • Add in cranberries and raisins once the granola has cooled like Kerry G does.
  • Or banana chips...
  • Or dried dates, apricots, and mulberries...
  • Or dried pineapple...
  • Or diced candied ginger...
  • Or follow VC’s lead: “Add some orange zest. Bam!”

Then there are the wildcard additions:

  • Almond butter.
  • Or chocolate chips (or bittersweet chocolate or crushed mint chocolate pretzels) once the granola has cooled.
  • Or “cacao nibs if you're feeling fancy!” from Jen V.
  • Top ice cream and frozen yogurt and Greek yogurt, of course.
  • Turn it into granola bars! Anna H substitutes the whole batch of granola for the oats and seeds in Merrill's granola bar recipe.
  • Try Sue B’s dessert-turned-breakfast: warmed-up leftover apple galette, tart yogurt, and granola.
  • Snack snack snack snack snack.

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Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps something perfect for beginners? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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    Mathilda McCommon
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Brenda K. March 23, 2024
I added a teaspoon of PENZEYS SPICES Baking Spice (blend of Ceylon Cinnamon, China Cassia Cinnamon, Anise Seed, Allspice, Mace and Cardamon) before toasting the granola.
Peg July 31, 2023
Can this be done without the oats? I would love a granola that is seeds, nuts, and no grain. If I make it with oats, I will use gluten-free oats, but I would love a version with no grains.
Elizabeth F. August 23, 2022
Yummiest snack and such a fun hostess gift. I have swapped honey and molasses for the sweetener, also added wheat germ. Sooooo good!
Jen C. April 30, 2022
I made this last week for the first time and since then have shared recipe (and begrudgingly some of the granola) with no less than 10 people. Made it again today and accidentally added more almond extract than I planned and it still came out fantastic. I do wonder if some type of protein powder could be added but for this week stick with the egg whites. It really doesn’t matter because it’s just MAGICAL.
Mathilda M. October 18, 2020
I've eaten a lot of granola in my many years and I'm so glad to have a good recipe. Like many folks, I scaled back on the sweetener (1/3 C of brown sugar and 1/2 C of maple syrup) but I kept the olive oil as noted. I mixed the sugar, syrup and oil together, then poured over the mixture. This worked very well for even coating. I baked for a full 60 minutes and stirred religiously every 10. The crispiness was perfect, with no oiliness, at all. I look forward to experimenting on future batches!
TheresaMargaret October 9, 2020
I usually use melted coconut oil in my granola, but I will happily try olive oil next. I have also included buckwheat groats, which seem to work well in it.
Katarina October 5, 2020
This has been my go-to granola since I discovered it last year. It is so insanely good, if I ever run out and happen to buy (expensive high quality) granola, I instantly regret it and whip up a batch as soon as I finish the packet.
I routinely give away half a batch and everybody who has tried it so far has been converted.
I have now tweaked it and make my own version, adding quinoa puffs, chia seeds and flaked almonds, and I reduce the sugar and maple syrup by about half.
Highly recommend!
Maryann July 17, 2020
I tried Lyles Golden Syrup instead of Maple brown sugar needed!
Best granola recipe ever...I will never buy granola again!
caroline April 2, 2020
Has anyone made this without nuts and just with seeds? Nut allergy for my granola loving daughter.
Nancy S. April 2, 2020
Yes, I have — my little granddaughter picks the nuts out so I simply eliminated them and added additional oats instead. Came out PERFECT!
katddid January 30, 2020
This is an amazing recipe, I absolutely love it. Do you happen to have nutrition information for it?
Angie January 21, 2020
This is hands down the best granola I have ever made or tasted. I brought it to work one day and was asked for the recipe by several people--always the mark of a truly good recipe! This barely fits on a sheet pan because it's so chock full of amazing ingredients, and I was a bit concerned it wouldn't cook evenly as a result. I had nothing to worry about though and this turned out perfectly after baking for the recommended time.
Nancy S. January 14, 2020
Omg, so easy and so good! Comes out perfect and only need to mix ingredients and pop it in the oven. I’ve forgotten to stir — still perfect. I’ve taken out what I thought was a few minutes early — still perfect. I’ve taken out what I thought was a few minutes late — still perfect. I’ve replaced brown sugar with coconut sugar — yup, perfect. I’ve added raisins at the end, chocolate chips too once, had not enough maple syrup once — you guessed it — PERFECT! Recipe is fool proof and delicious. Thank you!!
mountain January 1, 2020
I just came across this. It's remarkably similar to the recipe my mother gave me several years ago that I've been using ever since. She's been making granola since, probably, the 70's, and I'm not sure where her recipe came from. The only real difference between her's and this one is that she uses canola oil, as I have been. I'll give the olive oil a try next time. While I love the general recipe, especially as it allows me to use less sugar (I just use maple syrup, no brown sugar) I've been long frustrated by the lack of "clumpiness" that most other granolas seem to have. Any suggestions?
Lucienne B. January 1, 2020
That was a tease to talk about using a slow cooker and not give some advice about using it!
Debra January 1, 2020
This is the first granola I've ever made and I'm sure glad it was this one! Super easy and so very good! Not too sweet, not too heavy, just right! I'm going to package it up and give it to my friends for a New Year's gift.
BeaBrown December 28, 2019
I usually make dozens of gingerbread cookies for my grand kids for Christmas. This year, I gave them each their own container of this granola. This is surely a game-changer. Thanks
hannelore December 27, 2019
Lol, you picked my comment to share <3
Seriously though, whenever I make this over and over I always come back to the site and read the comments. It’s such a love feat! My friends who have been gifted this refer to it as crack. :)
Janice December 8, 2019
What could I use instead of the coconut chips?
HalfPint December 10, 2019
Anything you want. I recommend apple chips. If you do substitute dried fruit, them them in the last 15-20 minutes of baking or they become hard as rocks, or worse, burn.
HalfPint December 10, 2019
sorry that should be "add them", not "them them" :)
Leora December 7, 2019
thank you for the recipe. Made it my own with nuts, seeds and small dried fruit. First time I made it I burnt the whole lot but persevered and now the whole family gets gifts of granola and then the recipe to make it how they like it.
BeaBrown December 6, 2019
I have been making David Lebovitz's Granola recipe for awhile now. I am eager to try this one. I'm gonna do it and report back! Thanks for sharing.