Make your own nut-free granola in minutes with this easy healthy recipe that's gluten-free, vegan, and refined sugar-free. Makes the crispiest, crunchiest granola clusters!
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. That’s why I love granola because it’s so effortless and lends itself nicely to countless variations.
This granola is one of the first recipes I published on the blog and continues to be a reader favorite. It’s gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free and nut-free so it’s suitable for a number of allergies and special diets. Homemade granola a great option if you need a nut-free snack to tuck into your kids lunch box as many store-bought options aren’t allergy-friendly. It also happens to be incredibly easy to make, just stir and bake.
Why Isn’t My Granola Clumping?
That’s the question I kept asking myself. Over the years I’d tried out countless granola recipes, the problem was that although these granolas were tasty, they didn’t have the light, crunchy clusters that I find so appealing in really good granola. I wanted a light, crispy, clumpy granola, so after much testing here’s what I discovered:
Tips for Making Crispy Granola:
- Adding moisture in the form of a fruit puree like applesauce helps granola cluster. The extra liquid helps to bind the oats together as they bake creating crisp clusters.
- Use both a granulated and a liquid sweetener. The granulated sweetener 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.
- 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.
- Add puffed brown rice cereal to the granola for extra lightness and crispiness.
- Gently squeezing the oat mixture with your hands before spreading it on the baking sheet also helps to ensure you end up with those much sought after clumps.
- 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.
(Here are a few notes about the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe. As always find the full list of ingredients and directions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.)
- Rolled Oats – Make sure to use certified gluten-free oats.
- Quick Oats – Also known as instant oats. Make sure to use a certified gluten-free version.
- Puffed Rice Cereal – Make sure to read the label and choose a gluten-free version as some (like rice krispies) can contain malt extract which is not gluten-free.
- Applesauce – Use an unsweetened version either homemade or store bought or substitute pear sauce.
- Maple Syrup – Using maple syrup keeps the granola vegan but you can also substitute honey for a non-vegan version.
- Coconut Sugar – Similar to brown sugar, coconut sugar gives a caramel-like flavor and golden color to the granola.
- Vanilla – A must for good granola.
- Seeds – I like a mix of pumpkin, sunflower and watermelon seeds but use whatever combination of seeds you’d like.
- Dried Fruit – Once the granola is cooled feel free to add your favorite combination of dried fruits. I like a mixture of dried cranberries, blueberries and cherries.
How to Make Nut-Free Granola:
(Here are the basic steps and some helpful tips on how to make the recipe. Find the full directions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.)
Making granola is easy as can be, all you need is a big bowl and a sheet pan.
- Start by mixing together the oats and rice cereal with the applesauce, maple syrup, coconut sugar, vanilla and seeds. The mixture should be clumpy and hold together when squeezed.
- Using your hands gently squeeze the mixture together to create clusters and spread them over a parchment-lined sheet pan.
- Bake the granola in a low oven (300F) for around 40-45 minutes to slowly dry it out without burning it.
- The granola should be golden and fragrant. Remove it from the oven and let it cool.
- To keep your granola as crispy as possible add in your dried fruit just before serving.
- Serve in your milk of choice, piled on top of yogurt or scooped up by the handfuls directly from the jar and enjoy!
- Use any combination of seeds you’d like including sesame, chia or flax seeds.
- Subsitute honey for the maple syrup for a non-vegan version.
- Use cinnamon in addition to the vanilla.
- Add in any combination of dried fruit you’d like making sure to finely chop any larger pieces.
- Add in chopped chocolate or chocolate chips.
More Healthy Granola Recipes:
Make your own nut-free granola in minutes with this easy healthy recipe that's gluten-free, vegan, and refined sugar-free!
- 1 ¼ cups/ 120g rolled oats
- 1 ¼ cups/ 131g quick cooking oats
- 1 cup/ 40g brown rice crisp cereal
- ½ cup/56 mixed seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and watermelon seeds
- ⅛th tsp sea salt
- 4 ounces/114g fruit puree such as applesauce or pear sauce
- ¼ cup/60ml maple syrup
- ¼ cup/48g coconut sugar
- 1 Tablespoon/15ml coconut oil (in liquid state)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup/60g dried cranberries, cherries and blueberries or dried fruit of your choice
- Preheat oven to 300 F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the 2 kinds of oats, rice crisp cereal, seeds and sea salt. Stir to mix well.
- In a medium bowl, combine the applesauce, maple syrup, coconut sugar, coconut 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 on the baking sheet. 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 sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Flip the granola with a large spatula and bake for another 20 until fragrant and golden.
- Let cool completely on baking sheet (granola will harden as it cools), and store in an airtight container when completely cool. Add in the dried fruit just before serving.
Use any combination of seeds including sesame, chia or flax seeds.
Substitute honey for the maple syrup for a non-vegan version.
Use ¼ tsp cinnamon in addition to the vanilla.
Substitute your choice of dried fruit
Add in chopped chocolate or chocolate chips.
Store granola in an airtight container.
Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Egg-Free, Paleo, Refined Sugar-Free, Nut-Free
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Santa Cruz Organic Apple Sauce, 6-4 Ounce Cups (Pack of 4)
One Degree Organic Foods Sprouted Quick Oats, USDA Organic, Non-GMO Gluten Free Oatmeal, 24 oz, 4 Pack
ONE DEGREE ORGANIC FOODS Organic Sprouted Rolled Oats, 45 OZ
Go Raw Mixed Seeds, Pumpkin, Sunflower & Watermelon Seeds with Sea Salt, Bag Keto Vegan Gluten Free Snacks Organic, Mixed Salted, 13 Oz (Pack of 1)
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.