Muesli checks all the boxes of a perfect weekday breakfast. You can make it in advance, it will last throughout the entire week (if you make a large enough batch), and it's extremely versatile in both how you make it and how you eat it. It’s toasty, nutty, chewy, and truly satisfying. This particular muesli recipe is vegan (dairy-free, egg-free), grain-free (gluten-free), soy-free, nut-free, and refined sugar-free.
Muesli originated in Switzerland at the end of the 19th century by a physician named Maximilian Bircher-Benner. His version, often referred to as "Bircher muesli", called for a lots of fresh grated apples with a small amount of raw oats (soaked overnight in water or juice), chopped nuts, and mixed with lemon juice, cream, and honey. Bircher-Benner believed that a diet rich in raw foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, could cure many ailments, and served this dish to his patients before every meal, not just breakfast.
However, it wasn't until 1950s that muesli became mainstream, and today it is one of the most popular breakfast cereals in Europe and Australia. What we think of as muesli today is actually a descendant of the original recipe created by Bircher.
Tips for Making Homemade Muesli
Today's muesli is typically made with rolled oats, nuts and dried fruit, and maybe some spices for good measure. There isn't an optimal ratio of ingredients per se. However, after playing around with a few different ratios, I think that the following formula makes perfect muesli every time - 4 parts grain/pseudo-grain, 1 part nuts/seeds/coconut, and 1 part dried fruit.
- Quinoa flakes: the most common bulking ingredient in muesli is rolled oats. However, you can use any rolled or puffed grain or pseudo-grain you like including amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, etc. Also, there's no reason to stick to one variety only.
- Coconut flakes: I really the wonderful buttery flavor, and a crispy-chewy texture the coconut flakes provide in this recipe. If you don't like coconut, feel free to substitute any nuts or seeds you like - sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
- Fruit: dried fruit lends some extra sweetness, chewy texture and irresistible fruity flavor. I love any dried fruit, but in this batch I used dried raisins, blueberries, and currants. Often times I use cranberries, goji berries, chopped cherries, or even apple chips. Mix and match any dried fruit you like, but try to find fruit with no added sugar. If you prefer muesli without dried fruit, go ahead and skip it but keep in mind that your muesli won't be really sweet (unless you add an extra sweetener).
- Cinnamon: for a flavorful muesli, don't skip the cinnamon. It adds a subtle warming spice, and once the muesli is in the oven (if you decide to bake it), it will make your kitchen smell amazing. I love cinnamon here, but other warm spices, such as cardamom, ginger, cloves, or nutmeg would be great additions too.
- Salt: I add a pinch to highlight the sweet, nutty flavors.
*While a muesli recipe is super versatile, try to choose ingredients that are about the same size. This is particularly import when making a large batch because significantly smaller ingredients, such as chia seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, or even cacao nibs, tend to end up at the bottom of whatever you store the muesli in.
How to Make Muesli
- Toast the quinoa and coconut flakes. Raw muesli is lovely, but toasted muesli is phenomenal! Toasting adds a depth of flavor, intensity, and a crunchy, crisp texture to the quinoa and coconut. (The same would apply to nuts and seeds). You won’t believe the way toasting can transform the most bland ingredients.
- Mix all the ingredients. Making muesli is as simple as adding all the ingredients into a bowl and stirring well. If you're adding chocolate chips, let the muesli cool completely first otherwise the chocolate chips will melt.
How to Serve Muesli
Given the versatility of muesli, there are endless ways to serve it and eat it.
The most basic way to serve muesli is exactly like you would cereal - adding one part of cold milk to an equal part of muesli in a bowl. I usually eat it with almond milk, my husband prefers rice milk. and my kids love oat milk. The choice is yours. Alternatively, you can also enjoy it simply stirred into yogurt or layered into a parfait with fresh fruit.
A great way to change up the texture of muesli is to soak it overnight (or for at least 4 hours) in cold milk, so it softens and becomes porridge-like. Think of it as a relative of overnight-oats. Coconut milk makes for an amazing soaking mixture, adding gentle sweetness and subtle flavor to the muesli. While it might sound odd, another common soaking liquid is juice, preferably not from concentrate. Apple juice tends to strike the right balance because it's less sharp than orange juice but less cloying than some others such as mango or pineapple.
Another option is to cook the muesli like stovetop oatmeal. Simply toss it in a pot of simmering water, lower the temperature, and cook it for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the desired consistency. Enjoy it warm or hot.
Once you have tried the basics, try adding muesli into your breakfast smoothie, folding it into baked goods, packing it into energy bars, or sprinkling it over a nut butter toast.
This basic muesli is a good base recipe to play around with. Here are a few ideas for changing it up:
- Add mix-ins. Other than nuts and seeds, dried fruit, and coconut, which are the classics, you can also add lemon/orange zest, chocolate chips, extracts, cocoa powder, etc. to create any flavor combination you like.
- Sweeten it. Many people find muesli a bit bland. The solution is to add a small amount of sweetener to make the muesli taste more satisfying. Maple syrup, agave, honey, or molasses are all good options.
- Spice it up! As I already mentioned, I love cinnamon, but other warming spices, such as cardamom, ginger, cloves, or nutmeg would be great too!
If You Love This Recipe ...
... try this grain-free granola or this high-protein cereal. Both these breakfast options are vegan (dairy-free, egg-free), grain-free, soy-free, and refined sugar-free. The cereal is also nut-free and the granola can be easily made nut-free.
So, what is the difference between muesli, granola, and cereal? Well, cereal is actually an encompassing word for all types of breakfasts made from cereal grains, including warm cereal, such as porridge or grits, and cold cereal, including muesli and granola. Muesli is commonly consumed in Europe and Australia, is uncooked (although some of the ingredients might be toasted), and typically contains no added oil or sugar. Granola, on the other hand, is very popular in North America, is baked, and often contains oils and sweeteners to help the ingredients form clusters.
Whichever recipe you choose, try out different variations and add-ins to make your own very best version.
If you prefer hot breakfast cereals, you might enjoy this flaxseed porridge.
Tools You'll Need
1. Griddle (12-Inch, Lodge, Cast Iron) | 2. Mixing Bowls (Set of 3, Pyrex, Glass) | 3. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Bellemain, Stainless Steel) | 4. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel) |
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- Toast the quinoa and coconut flakes. Preheat the oven to 325°F/162°C. Add the quinoa flakes and coconut flakes onto a baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake until fragrant and lightly golden, 10-15 minutes, tossing halfway.
- Mix all the ingredients. Transfer the toasted quinoa flakes and toasted coconut flakes into a large bowl. Add the dried fruit and any optional ingredients.
- Serve individual portions in bowls with plant milk or yogurt. Top with fresh fruit and a drizzle of maple syrup, if desired. Alternatively, cover with plant milk of choice and allow to soak for 30 minutes at room temperature or covered in the refrigerator overnight.
- Store. Leftover muesli keeps well in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to one month. For a longer term storage, freeze for up to 3 months.
**I used dried blueberries, currants, and raisins.
***Nutrition information is approximate and may contain errors. Please, feel free to make your own calculations.