Granola Deconstructed | Basic Granola Recipe (Gluten-Free)

A how-to on making clumpy, crunchy granola that can be adapted to suit your tastes. granola deconstructed 1 of 1 9 Granola Deconstructed | Basic Granola Recipe (Gluten Free)

Breakfast for me is about food that requires little energy to prepare and not much effort to eat. I tend to stick to the basics because quite honestly my brain just doesn’t function too well when I first get out of bed.

Lately, I’ve been eating granola because it’s so effortless and lends itself nicely to countless variations. A large batch of granola comes together rather quickly and lasts for weeks, just perfect for those first foggy brain moments of the day.

granola deconstructed 1 of 1 Granola Deconstructed | Basic Granola Recipe (Gluten Free)

Over the years I’ve tried out countless granola recipes, which usually consisted of a basic combination of:  oats, mixed nuts and/or seeds, dried fruits, sweeteners (such as sugar or honey), flavorings (such as spices or vanilla), and some fat (vegetable oil or butter.)

The problem was that although these types of recipes created a nicely browned, crunchy granola, they did not possess the lightness or clumpiness that I find so appealing in really good granola.  I wanted to find out how to achieve homemade granola perfection, so I set out on a fact finding mission. My goal was to determine how to make a light, crispy, clumpy granola, here’s what I discovered:

1.    Adding extra liquid in the form of fruit puree helps the granola cluster.   In combination with the fats and sweeteners, the extra liquid helps to bind the oats together.
2.    Squeeze the cereal mixture into large clumps with your hands before baking, or alternatively just press the granola down firmly and evenly (with wet hands) onto the sheet pan, to further glue the ingredients together while baking.
3.    Use both a granular and a liquid sweetener.  The sugar creates a nice crust on the surface of the oats, while the liquid sweetener helps to bind the ingredients.  I found that granola recipes that depended solely on liquid sweeteners like honey or maple syrup produced a tougher, chewy granola.

granola deconstructed 1 of 1 6 Granola Deconstructed | Basic Granola Recipe (Gluten Free)

4.    Use a combination of old-fashioned and quick cooking oats.  (Yes I know this is contrary to what every granola recipe you have ever tried has advised but give me the benefit of the doubt on this one and try it for yourself.)  The old-fashioned oats bake up crisp, while the quick cooking oats help with clustering.  Using a combination of these is the key.  Granola made with only old fashioned oats will be crunchy but loose, while granola made with only quick cooking oats will be clumpy, but starchy tasting.
5.    Add puffed rice cereal to the granola for an extra lightness and crispiness.
6.    Add seeds and nuts only half-way through baking. This prevents them from burning.
7.    Make sure to let the granola cool completely before storing it. The crunchiness only develops after it has fully cooled down.  Store granola in an airtight container to keep it crispy, and add dried fruit just before serving.

granola deconstructed 1 of 1 5 Granola Deconstructed | Basic Granola Recipe (Gluten Free)

After taking all these facts into account, I think I have finally cracked the granola code and come up with a version that possesses all the qualities that I had been after: large clumpy clusters, with a light and crispy texture.

Serve this granola drowned in your milk of choice, piled on top of yogurt or scooped up by the handfuls directly from the jar!

granola deconstructed 1 of 1 4 Granola Deconstructed | Basic Granola Recipe (Gluten Free)

Granola Deconstructed | Basic Granola Recipe (Gluten Free)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Serves 8

A basic how-to on making clumpy gluten-free granola that can be adapted to suit your tastes.

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups (½ lb / 225g) gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 ½ cups (½ lb / 225g) gluten-free quick cooking oats
  • 2 cups (60g) rice crisp cereal
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup (180g) fruit puree (such as apple, pear or peach)
  • 1/2 cup (160g) honey
  • 3/4 cup (180g) packed light brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (225g) whole natural almonds (or other nuts of your choice)
  • 1 cup (120g) raw green pumpkin seeds (or other seeds of your choice)
  • 2 cups (240g) dried cranberries (or other dried fruit of your choice)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 F placing the oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven.
  2. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the 2 kinds of oats, rice crisp cereal, cinnamon and sea salt. Stir to mix well.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the fruit puree, honey, sugar, melted coconut oil and vanilla extract. Stir to mix well.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones, and mix until completely blended (it’s best to use your hands to get everything evenly coated.)
  6. Spread the mixture out evenly between the two prepared baking sheets. Squeeze clusters of granola together with slightly damp hands, allowing for space between the clumps in order for air to circulate while baking.
  7. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets, flip over the granola with a large spatula and add the almonds and pumpkin seeds. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes (or more, depending on how thick the layer of granola) until completely dry and just golden brown.
  8. Let cool on baking sheets, and store in an airtight container when completely cool. Add in the dried cranberries just before serving.

Notes

Gluten Free (make sure to purchase gluten free oats), Vegetarian (to make it vegan replace the honey with a similar liquid sweetener).

http://gourmandeinthekitchen.com/2011/granola-recipe/

What do you like to eat for breakfast?


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  1. says

    Believe it or not but I haven’t ever tried granola in my life. But I’m always on the lookout for healthy recipes especially because I love giving my toddler variety at brekkie time. So thanks for the recipe!

  2. says

    I was just researching how to make granola. What a fabulous post and so informative. I can’t wait to try it.

    As always, your photographs are just stunning. I love the whole set, but my favorite has to be the solo picture of the pitcher, the lighting and composition is perfect.

  3. says

    Sylvie: your photographs are always stunning.
    And I can’t thank you enough for this essay on granola. I have – for some reason – always been intimidated by tackling it. It seems simple but then again simple things are the hardest to master. Wonderful, ear-marked! Maybe I will tackle this over the week-end.

  4. says

    The photograph (when i saw in Flickr) blew me away. I love the delicate photo of the milk jar. I usually skip my breakfast; however your photographs make me want to just dive in and indulge.

  5. says

    A very informative post indeed! I’ll be dropping right here when I make granola next time. I’m always running in the morning to get breakfast on the table for everyone and by the time its time for me to be on table, I’m running to reach office in time ;) so yea, quick breakfasts is what I really want!

  6. says

    Nice post! I love the same things about granola – when it’s really clumpy and crispy. I’ve yet to make my own, but I’m always disappointed if I buy some that is too soft or not clumpy at all. Thanks for all of the info – I’m going to save this and try my own!

  7. says

    First of all, gorgeous photos!

    I love your tips about how to perk up your granola. I really enjoy granola, but don’t eat it as much as I would like to. You’re right, it’s healthy and gives you an extra boost in the morning.

    I hope to try your recipe out soon!

  8. says

    I have to admit two things: I have never made granola, and what’s worse: we are not great cereal eaters for breakfast, in this part of the world (I’m talking about adults!) My breakfast is just a cup of coffee..nothing else!
    I will go with your list to G Detout, to see if I find all these ingredients (rolled oats and cooking oats…that’s a tough one here!)
    Fabulous pictures!

  9. says

    This is a wonderful post Sylvie! I love your photos too – makes me want to jump in that bowl of granola! Thank you for all the great tips. I’ve made my own granola for years and never thought of adding fruit purée to it. I will try it for sure. Aside from making the clusters, I bet it adds lots of great flavor.

  10. Lora @cakeduchess says

    Sylvie-your granola looks wonderful! I would love a scoop now with my yogurt. That is my favorite laye night treat;) Have a lovely weekend!

  11. says

    Hi Sylvie..found your blog via Journey Kitchen and I m glad I did…You have a super super site.I love the second picture and the last one..infact all the pics :) Following you now.Hope to learn good photography tips from you besides recipes! Have a nice weekend! Granola is my perfect way to start day..if I am able to grab some.

  12. says

    I’m so happy you did all this experimenting! I’ve been trying to find the perfect granola for awhile too, but like you I find most recipes don’t clump well enough. I had noticed that sugar and honey together gave better results, but now I can’t wait to try the oat combinations. Thanks!

  13. says

    I eat granola with vanilla yogurt every single day, yet never once had thought about making it for myself! What a great tutorial and recipe! Can’t wait to make this myself.

  14. says

    i love making granola and now that my kids have discovered that it is actually a good snack, I am going to need to keep it in the house at all times! i love your ingredients; fruits and nuts! yum!

  15. says

    I have been eating meusli and granola more and more often in yogurt and love it. But have never made it. I love yours and may just be inspired…

  16. says

    This is the second granola post I’ve stumbled upon today, and it really is a sign that it’s time for me to tackle making my own. Gorgeous photography, Sylvie! I agree that the best granola is a perfect blend of large clusters, crunch and tang (cranberries in granola is my favorite). Thanks for the inspiration!

  17. Jean says

    I really need to start making my own granola and when I do, I’ll note your useful tips. Beautifully photographed but what else is new? :-)

    Hope you’re having a great weekend, Sylvie!

  18. lizzybef says

    This recipe is GOLD! Combines all my favorite things about granola–light and crunchy, yet still substantial. Thank you!!

  19. says

    Oh, this looks entirely yummified! Thanks for sharing!

    BTW, I am a newbie to your fabulous site [came here from Amanda's blog: i am mommy] – but am definitely going to browse around now and see what else you’ve cooked up~! =-D

  20. sara says

    I don’t know how I found my way over to this recipe but i’m so glad I did! I just whipped up a half batch using some banana puree and it is awesome! Thank you for taking the time to figure out all these great little tricks for perfect granola – this totally made my day!

  21. Hipjazz says

    Thanks for explaining what each ingredient does for the recipe! I’ve finally got this in the oven right now…I made the fruit puree by putting some mealy-but-edible old apples and a handful of leftover frozen berries into the crockpot for a couple of hours. It’s delicious, and the raw granola is delicious, and I’m so looking forward to tasting the finished product in…*checks time*…53 minutes.

  22. says

    Amazing photography…@spiceandfood mentioned to me about your beautiful photography…Glad I visited…beautiful and a lovely recipe for granola as well…used to make this at home all the time and then laziness prevailed :-)

  23. says

    amanda swore to me that this was life changing! Life changing is where I am at right now, so this comes at a perfect time! mmmmm.

  24. says

    I’ve been making lots of recipes, trying to find the perfect one, and this one is amazing! I love that it doesn’t have a stick of butter but still tastes delicious. Next time I’ll make it with a little less salt but otherwise, perfect! Thanks!

  25. says

    I love how you deconstructed granola into all its components – so interesting to mix both dry and wet sweeteners, rolled and quick oats, and pureed fruit. Sounds like granola perfected!

  26. Amanda Marie says

    Hi Sylvie – I’ve just made your granola recipe. I did not deviate from your recipe (it’s tempting to fiddle isn’t it?!) It is a huge success. I used mango baby food for the fruit puree (three little jars), and although I was looking for peach or apricot, it does not taste overwhelmingly of mango. Do you make your own fruit puree, or buy a particular brand? I look forward to trying many more of your recipes – I’m new to your site, so I have a lot to catch up on. Happy New Year!

    • says

      I’m so glad you liked it, thanks for telling me! The fruit puree isn’t meant to give a very distinct flavor to the granola it’s mainly there to help with clumping and add a natural source of sweetness so you can really play around with the kinds you use. Go ahead and play with the recipe and maybe make it with pumpkin puree and some pumpkin pie spices or pear with chai spices, whatever sounds good to you. I usually make my own puree from some frozen fruit that I have stashed in the freezer but you can use baby food too.

  27. Elizabeth says

    Love this recipe! That way you explain each part is so helpful. Do you have any suggestions for making this sugar-free? Maybe agave nectar instead of honey? What could I use instead of brown sugar?
    Thank you so much!

    • says

      I don’t recommend agave nectar because of the high fructose content and don’t use it in myself, also keep in mind that agave is still considered a sugar and would not make the recipe sugar-free. If you are looking for a truly sugar-free sweetener you can experiment with stevia. I think however that it would be difficult to make this particular recipe entirely sugar-free as I use both sugar and a liquid sweetener because the sugar creates a nice crust on the surface of the oats, while the liquid sweetener helps to bind the ingredients. Hope that helps!

      • Elizabeth says

        I didn’t realize agave nectar had a high content of fructose. I was under the impression it had a low glycemic index so I thought maybe it would be healthier. I see how the sugar is crucial, this really is the best granola I’ve ever had. I would hate to change it and loose the delicious crunch!!
        Thank you!

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  1. [...] I took a shot at making my own and adjusted the proportions to my liking. I was inspired by this recipe and loved the fact it only uses 2 tbsp of oil and mostly natural sweetener. Make a big batch then [...]