Terribly Inconvenient Granola

I’ve been getting lots of emails asking me to post the recipe for my granola, aka the world’s greatest granola. It’s called the world’s greatest granola because it really and truly is the world’s greatest. Invariably when someone comes to my house for breakfast and sees my granola they say. “I make my own granola too.” And, to be honest, it makes me a little sad because I know that once they taste my granola, the granola, they aren’t going to feel nearly as good about their own. I can actually see it on their faces when they take a bite.

I know how they feel because I too used to make extremely adequate granola too. It had all the key ingredients but the results were just okay. Ho hum. It was marginally better than the stuff you can buy in the supermarket.

So I spent a little time considering granola and what it should be. And more importantly what it shouldn’t be. It shouldn’t be cloyingly sweet, greasy, or taste of artificial vanilla. It shouldn’t be all oats and very little nuts. It shouldn’t be health-foodish.

My new granola is none of those things. I don’t use an exact recipe when I make it. Sometimes it has almonds in it, sometimes it’s pecans. I usually use unsweetened coconut but sweetened will do if it’s all I have in the house. The ingredients aren’t what makes this granola special; it’s the method of putting them together. And, as the title of this posts suggests, it isn’t fast and easy to make.

But it is completely worth all the time and bother. Believe me. Or don’t believe me and try making it just to prove me wrong. The important thing is that you make it because I think you’ll find it so superior to your old granola that you’ll think it’s worth the extra effort too.

One more thing: I make this granola in HUGE batches. It takes a long time to make it and I figure it’s just as easy to make five pounds as it is five cups. Plus, my family eats it in HUGE batches. I’m scaling back a bit to make it more manageable for the home kitchen but feel free to scale up if you have a bowl big enough to mix it in.

Ingredients:

12 cups Old Fashion Oats: It matters not one wit which brand, so go cheap if you can.

3 cups of assorted raw (unsalted) nuts: I use whatever is in my freezer. Almonds work well, as do hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, even pine nuts.

2 cups dried fruit: I  use dried cranberries because they are awesome and because everyone likes them but you can use apricots, blueberries, apples, whatever.

3 cups coconut: Look for unsweetened coconut in the bulk food bins at your market or health food store.

2 cups sesame seeds: Yup. Two cups. You’ll find them in the bulk bins as well. Trust me, you need the sesame seeds.

Honey: You’ll probably use about half a cup but you might want to make it sweeter than I do.

Canola or Vegetable Oil

Salt

Most granola recipes will tell you to throw all the dry ingredients into a large bowl, then pour on the oil and honey and stir it up, then tip the whole thing out on to a couple of sheet pans and bake. Don’t do that. All of the dry ingredients take different amounts of time to brown. Coconut and nuts tend to brown very quickly while oats take longer. And, due to a high sugar content,  dried fruit will be burnt before everything else is even warm. And another thing: what’s the thinking behind coating nuts and dried fruit with oil? Why is that necessary? The answer is it’s not.

Instead of throwing everything together, we’re going to brown each of the ingredients separately. (This is were the inconvenient part comes in.)  That way the nuts will be toasted to perfection, the coconut will be perfectly brown and the cranberries won’t be cooked at all. All of the ingredients will be at their best and be bursting with flavor. (Incidentally, this is also the method for making the world’s greatest roasted vegetables.)

Start with the nuts. I’m using pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and pecans this time. (I roughly chopped the pecans. If I was using almonds or hazelnuts I would chop them as well.) Spread the nuts out on sheet pans and pop them in a 350 degree oven until they are lightly browned. Do me a favor and stay in the kitchen while you’re toasting the nuts. Nuts are notorious for going from raw to burnt in the blink of an eye. Save yourself the heartache and check on them every couple of minutes. When they are lightly toasted, remove from the oven and let cool for a couple minutes, then tip them in to your largest bowl.

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Next toasted your sesame seeds:

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And add them to the bowl.

Now you’re ready to toast the coconut. Here’s the thing about coconut: it’ll burn even faster than nuts. In fact the usual progression with coconut is raw, raw, raw, raw, black. Never turn your back on coconut, not even for a minute. Coconut is not to be trusted.

While you’re checking on your coconut, give it a stir. Stir the browner bits of coconut around the edges into the center. When you’re done the coconut should look like this:

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Let it cool a bit and tip it into the bowl with the nuts. You can add your dried fruit to the bowl now too. If you’re using anything larger than a dried cranberry you’ll need to roughly chop it into smaller pieces.

bowl

Now we’re ready to move on to the oats that will make up the bulk of your granola. Pour the oats in to your second largest bowl. Into a large measuring cup pour half a cup of canola oil and half a cup of honey. Put the oil/honey mixture into the microwave and heat until the honey has loosened up a bit.

Add most of the oil and honey to the oats and start stirring. You want to lightly coat the oats with oil and the more you stir the more evenly it will be distributed. You can add more oil, but you really shouldn’t have to if you stir it enough.

Spread the oats on to two sheet pans and bake until the oats are lightly toasted. You might need to stir the oats a bit the same way you stirred the coconut. When the oats have stopped looking pale remove from the oven and let cool.

Add the cooled oats to your giant bowl and stir everything together. Now you need to sprinkle your granola with kosher salt. Trust me. You’ll need at least a half teaspoon but you can add it a bit at a time if it’s less scary. The salt really pulls all the flavors together, so don’t skip it.

Give everything another good stir and you’re done! Store your granola in an air tight container and it should last a couple of weeks.

granola

I like to serve this granola with greek yogurt and a touch of honey.

Tomorrow I’ll show you how to make the greek yogurt.

49 Comments

  1. I eat this granola for breakfast every day (with the Greek yogurt, without the honey) and it is awesome.

  2. Wow! I think I will take the plunge.

  3. Thanks for finally posting this!! I’m hungry as all get out! Don’t know if I can wait until the recipe for the yogurt is posted…

  4. Sounds great… I love homemade granola and have tried so many different recipes since I started cooking so I’ll just have to try this one!

  5. That sounds wonderful! This is the small version, right? I have eaten many unexciting granolas. Once, I thought I’d found a good one (by Quaker Oats), then realized that it was essentially candied popcorn, only with oats instead. Not what you’d call healthy.

  6. Mmmmm. That sounds delicious! I can’t wait to get settled in the new house so I can try it out.

  7. Thank you! I’ve never made granola before. Now I’m inspired to try your recipe this weekend.

    Have you tried storing it in the freezer? I wonder if that would help it keep longer (I’m alone at eating the stuff)!

  8. This looks wonderful! I’ll have to give it a try sometime when having the oven on won’t bake me out of my apartment. (It’s 102 degrees here in Seattle, no AC.)

  9. It’s not all the different steps that sounds inconvenient–just the cooling part. How many sheet pans do you OWN?? (grin)

  10. Sour cherry – pecan being made. I just tasted it (no it’s not cool yet!) and boy is it GOOD! Such a logical idea to toast everything separately. I always hated making granola the old way because trying to mix it was beastly. This is a snap!

  11. You know, I’ve been making my granola in a slow-cooker which is VERY handy, especially this time of year. I wonder if I could convert your recipe to the slow-cooker? I mean, I don’t see why not, as long as I stick to the same sequence. (And, of course, I’m not going to be able to fit 12 cups of oatmeal in there all at once, either.)

  12. Now I’m hungry!

  13. Good Lord, Woman. I love your style! Take no prisoners. When you’re right, you’re right, right!?

  14. YUM–looks enticingly fresh! The nuts look like pistachios in the last photo. I’m going to search my larder and head for the nuts counter tomorrow. Thanks!

  15. o, charlie, what do you think about…

  16. Wow! It’s been a long time since I found myself actually drooling while reading a recipe. Gotta try this!!!

  17. I have to say, I’m not going to change. My recipe is very similar, but much much simpler. I use the extra thick rolled oats in bulk at the health food coop, maple syrup instead of honey, a little vanilla, and a lot of cinnamon, and usually don’t bother with coconut. I mix everything except the fruit together in my Kitchenaid and dump it in a huge roasting pan, stir it a few times while baking at a low heat. I stir in the fruit when it is still hot, and everything comes out perfect (people also vow never to eat any other granola after they have eaten mine)

  18. We should have a granola bake-off one of these days.

  19. Mary (Grandmatutu)

    July 30, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Totally yum!!! I’m making this for sure! Big daddy will flip over this.

  20. Margaret (Erin's aunt)

    July 30, 2009 at 9:18 am

    You can go ahead and ship a pound south–NOW–please!

  21. I NEED to do this!!!! I’m so excited!!! :)

  22. Yummo!
    What could I use to bind this mixture to make breakfast granola bars? I’m a breakfast-on-the-go kind of gal and would love to try this recipe!

  23. mmmm, will try that when i get bak home from canada! Lol, i just got a yogurt maker yesterday (well, what do you buy when your on vacation>??) and am looking forward to making greek yogurt!

  24. I’ve never been big on granola b/c it’s always too greasy/sweet for me, but this sounds really good. I usually eat Bob’s Red Mill Old Country Style Muesli (no grease or sugar)–you can have it hot or cold & it’s really good (kind of like un-toasted granola, actually). Thanks for the ideas!

  25. wow
    great tips on brown/cook times and the recipe
    i’m like you i cook by feel with quantities so i appreciate the ‘looseness’
    have to try this

    i recently home dried some cherries (mmmmm) and blueberries in the dehydrator
    those’d be REALLY good in there

    will try this sometime soon
    i love sesame seeds (yum yum)

    thank you! xoxoxo…

  26. i *thought* mine was the best, but now i’m having doubts after reading your methods! :) can’t wait to try the inconvenient granola method. And cannot wait for the greek yogurt.

  27. Made some of this already. Yum! Thanks for the sesame seeds idea.

  28. Alisa aka "Mandy"

    July 31, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Peace + Love = Granola
    xoxo

  29. I will have to try this, when the weather cools. I hate that artificial vanilla flavor in the store bought. You know, flax seed would be a good addition too. My husband does not like coconut though…any substitutions to recommend?

  30. Sunshine and happiness

    August 4, 2009 at 6:38 am

    This is going to be one of the first things we Jake once our kitchen is done. 2 years with no oven. I am ready.

  31. Becky in South Bend

    August 4, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    This is – hands down – the best granola recipe on the continent! I bought the yummy ingredients on my way home from work last night and toasted away. My husband feasted like a piggy and declared it five-star! Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  32. thank you for posting that; it looks so good!

  33. Mmm, that sounds delicious! My brother devours granola like it’s going out of style, so I am always on the lookout for new recipes. Will definitely give this one a try.
    Thanks!
    -K

  34. this sounds absolutely wonderful!

  35. Thank you for sharing your time and talents! I loved your posting – very humorous…

    I laughed and laughed over the coconut comment – how true!

    This can’t be anymore inconvenient than seeing the coconut brown too soon then having to pull the mixture out of the oven every few minutes to hid the over done coconut underneath the other ingredients so it won’t burn or pluck them out. I have only made granola once and knew there just had to be a better way! I had not yet wasted any energy on figuring this out when while looking up the recipe again I came across your post. I am sure that EVENTUALLY I would have figured this out but… now I don’t have to! Thanks – and you should quit calling it inconvenient! Do you have any idea how many posts I have read about burnt granola!
    Happy New Year!

  36. I love the idea for toasting the ingredients separately. Its brilliant in the way that zippers and safety pins and bobby pins and the wheel are, simple and practical!
    My son is addicted to a very expensive, handmade locally (Maryland) granola, called Michelle’s Granola, that is available in the health food stores. 12 oz for over $6. Armed with the inconvenient approach, I’m going to try to make my own version. Its a pumpkin spice granola. Its ingredients are: organic rolled oats, organic unsweetened coconut, sunflower seeds, organic pumpkin seeds, pecans, sliced almonds, pure cane brown sugar, organic flax seeds, expeller-pressed non-GMO canola oil, filtered water, pure vanilla extract, spices. I figure the ‘spices’ are basically pumpkin spice. My son pours fresh goat milk over it, and agree with him, its wonderful! But I think I can make something similar and save a bunch of money. In all fairness to Michele’s, since I posted her ingredients list, I probably should say that the website for that granola is http://www.michelesgranola.com.
    Knit On!

  37. How very convenient that I have a weekend coming up with no one in the house but me! I think I may see some granola in my future!

  38. Mmmmm. I’m going to have to try it. Only because you’re such a good salesperson. My granola is yummy and not at all inconvenient.

  39. Hi! This sounds wonderful! Do you ever add good vanilla or cinnamon or doesn’t it need it? I was going to sprinkle in some fax seed meal with the oats..
    Thanks!

    • Susan

      March 5, 2010 at 8:05 pm

      Hi Lynne,
      The cocoanut adds so much flavor that I’ve never needed to add vanilla, but I’m sure either it would be a welcome addition, as would cinnamon. Enjoy!

  40. It really is only slightly inconvenient – the recipe/technique is brilliant, and I’ve made it several times now, giving some away here and there, and then having to “fill and order” for it, because, for some people, making anything yourself is terribly inconvenient. From now on, I send them to your blog for directions.
    thanks.
    MM

    • Susan

      March 8, 2010 at 3:51 pm

      Wow! Thanks for the comment, Martin. I’m glad to hear that you and your friends are enjoying it.

  41. This is what happens when you link old posts – you get more comments. Have you tried dessicated coconut? You can get it from Foods of All Nations and it is nothing at all like the coconut you get normally in the states. It is dry, and very small, and, in my opinion, much yummier.

  42. oh I can’t wait to try this!

  43. Just made this for the second time to eat with homemade yogurt- YUM! Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe.

  44. After having bookmarked this recipe over a year ago, I finally made it today. I did all the toasting in a pan/skillet on the stovetop to control and watch the browning a little closer. Aside from all those spoonfuls I’ve been shoving into my mouth, I can’t wait to try in on yogurt.

  45. I made this granola last night and just want to say a big thank you! I’d never made granola before but had been planning to. Anyway your method popped up via Elana on twitter and it made perfect sense. I am now eating the tastiest granola I have ever had for my breakfast this morning. So thanks!

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