My Favorite Granola
About this Recipe
In my 20’s I wasn’t a big granola-eater. I always shied away from the store-bought stuff because of the high fat/sugar content and/or cardboard taste. But this granola changed all that. In my 30’s, as I increased my workout schedule and started running longer distances, the combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fat in high-quality granola gave me much-needed energy, without hurting my stomach. After spending too much money buying packaged granola I didn’t love, I decided I’d be happier making my own. My favorite homemade granola is adapted from the Super-Chunky Granola recipe in Cook’s Illustrated (March 2012) and the America’s Test Kitchen DIY Cookbook – and not just because I worked there, but because so many of my coworkers had raved about it (and I love just about everything Adam Reid does). I tweaked the sweeteners used because I wanted less refined sugars in my granola, but subbing brown sugar for the maple syrup (as in the original recipe) is really good, and gives you bigger granola chunks. Over the years I’ve used this more as a template then a rigid recipe. As long as you’ve got the general amounts covered, you can play with the types of nuts and spices to create your own favorite granola – or something different every single time!
Back when I started making my own granola, I was also inspired by Molly Wizenberg’s dedication to granola-making, and realized it wasn’t too hard to keep making it on a regular basis. That came in very handy when I tackled a food challenge called “Hunt-Gather-Grow.” The goal: gain awareness of eating processed foods in order to reduce intake. The method: For 1 week, eat and drink only things that you could hunt, gather, or grow. Not “you” literally, but you get the idea. Hunt-Gather-Grow speaks more to the original state of the food we’re consuming. Is it a real food? How much has it been processed? It is a call to be mindful of the basic ingredients in everything we eat, and to choose whole foods as often as possible. This granola recipe met the criteria for my Hunt-Gather-Grow challenge, and continues to be my favorite granola many years later. Enjoy!
Don’t be misled by the long ingredient list. This recipe is super simple! All spices, except the salt, are optional – this is just my favorite combination. Feel free to play and figure out what you like. Chopping the nuts by hand is the first choice for superior texture and crunch. If you prefer not to hand chop, substitute an equal quantity of slivered almonds or chopped pecans. (A food processor does a lousy job of chopping whole nuts evenly.) Do not use quick oats.
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup honey
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 3/4 teaspoons allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (trust me, it’s good!)
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (don’t use quick oats)
- 2 cups (10 ounces) raw pecans, almonds, and hazelnuts, chopped coarse (I typically do a blend of 5 ounces pecans, 3 ounces almonds, and 2 ounces hazelnuts)
- 2 cups raisins or other dried fruit, chopped if desired (I use golden raisins, dried cherries, and dried cranberries. Use just one of your favorites, or a combination.)
1. Prep: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine: Whisk maple syrup, honey, vanilla, spices, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in oil. Combine oats and nuts in another bowl (NOT the dried fruit – that goes in after baking), and then fold into syrup mixture until thoroughly coated.
3. Bake: Transfer oat mixture to prepared baking sheet and spread across sheet into thin, even layer. Using a large, stiff spatula, compress oat mixture until very compact. (This is the key to chunky granola! Pressing into a cohesive layer before baking will give you chunks.) Bake until lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating pan once halfway through baking (do not attempt to stir mixture). Remove granola from oven and cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour. Break cooled granola into pieces of desired size. Stir in dried fruit. You’ll likely need a very large bowl for this step, or you can shake it up in zipper lock bags. Transfer to airtight containers. (I like to store mine in mason jars.) Granola can be stored in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
A tray of granola = happiness!