A how-to on making clumpy, crunchy gluten-free granola that can be adapted to suit your tastes.
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 homemade gluten-free granola comes together rather quickly and lasts for weeks, just perfect for those first foggy brain moments of the day.
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, 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.
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.
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!
Basic Gluten-Free Granola Recipe
A basic how-to for clumpy and crunchy granola that can be adapted to suit your tastes.
- 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) brown rice crisp cereal
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ¾ cup (180g) fruit puree (such as apple, pear or peach)
- ½ cup (160g) honey
- ¾ cup (180g) packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of neutral vegetable oil or melted 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)
- Preheat the oven to 300 F placing the oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven.
- Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the 2 kinds of oats, rice crisp cereal, cinnamon and sea salt. Stir to mix well.
- In a medium bowl, combine the fruit puree, honey, light brown sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Stir to mix well.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- Let cool on baking sheets, and store in an airtight container when completely cool. Add in the dried cranberries just before serving.
Gluten-Free, Vegetarian. Replace honey with another sweetener such as maple syrup to make it vegan.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 251Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 332mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 5gSugar: 2gProtein: 6g
Nutritional information for recipes contained on this website, such as calories, fat, carbs, etc. are only estimates and are not guaranteed to be accurate.
Sylvie Shirazi is the recipe developer and food photographer behind Gourmande in the Kitchen. For the last 10 years she's been making eating more healthfully easy and accessible with gluten-free, grain-free, paleo and vegan recipes that are free from processed ingredients.
Please tell me what a fruit purée is... do you buy it? Juice, like a nectar? Or do you actually just take a fruit and purée it?
Applesauce is an example of a fruit puree, you can use that or pear sauce with are both easily found in most grocery stores or use a homemade version.
shravani @ ShravsCookBook says
I incorporated so many varieties of granola in my breakfast but was never completely satisfied, either with the heaviness of nuts or with the overdose of sweetness or with some other reason. Thanks for sharing such basic and gluten free version of granola. Loved the recipe and the clicks are awesome.
Glad to know you enjoyed it!
My favourite breakfast is yoghurt, blueberries and granola so this recipe looks perfect! But does anyone know how many cups it makes? I am calculating the nutrition info.
I had a little better luck cooking mine at 285 than at 300, where it got a little too crunchy. Just a thought.
Hi Sylvie, if I were to added some shredded coconut, would I add with the majority of the ingredients or with the nuts toward the end of baking? Also, if I were to eliminate the puffed rice, do I need to adjust the liquids to accommodate? Thank you 🙂 MG
I would add it towards the end since it tends to burn pretty quickly. As for replacing the puffed rice just substitute an equal amount of other ingredients to replace it so as not to have to adjust the liquid measurements. Hope that helps!
THANK YOU for this! I love granola and was buying a certain brand that I think is yummy but the clumps weren't big enough and only flakes at the bottom of the box. I have tried several granola recipes and all are tasty but so far no clumps until I found you! I found several that recommend egg whites to create clumps but I don't want to do that. I'm not vegetarian but I like having this be optional for my vegetarian friends. I love the quick cook oats solution! I also love the applesauce addition. I like the added flavor AND we make our own applesauce from our own tree so this is another great way to use it! I didn't use the rice cereal because I didn't have any on hand (and I'm not a big fan of the taste) and just cut back a little on the applesauce and honey. I also like that you use lots of vanilla...I love it! Thank you again.
I'm so glad to hear you liked it!