Grain-free granola is a great alternative to classic (oat-based) granola – crunchy, caramel-y, and nutty. You can serve it with plant milk or yogurt, top your smoothie bowl with it, or snack on it throughout the day. It’s vegan, grain-free, and can easily be made nut-free.
What I love most about this grain-free granola is how crunchy it is. I’m talking about a crunch that you can actually hear in your head. While this might not be a big deal for you, crunchiness is something that either makes or breaks the deal for me. As much as I love smoothies and oatmeal, they both lack one important thing: a nice crunch. No matter how much of these foods I eat, I always end up grazing the pantry for nuts, seeds, or even cacao nibs afterwards.
According to neuroscience, what you hear when you bite plays an important role in your experience and enjoyment of food. It turns out that crispness and pleasantness are highly correlated when it comes to our rating of foods. Crispiness is a flavor quality. It’s a sign of freshness. The noise draws attention to the food in the way something silent does not. If you’re eating a banana, your attention can drift elsewhere. But a crunch will draw your attention, making you concentrate on whatever you’re eating.
Once you realize how important the sound is to the overall multi-sensory experience, you stop wondering why food marketers focus on promoting their products on the basis of crunchiness, crispiness, and crackly sounds in their advertisements. Think of all the labels screaming at you “extra crunch”, “exceptionally crunchy”, “stays crunchy even in milk”, or “the crunchy way to say, ‘I love you’”. Food marketers even developed a sophisticated apparatus to measure the perceived level of crunch that consumers hear in their head.
When we hear it, we eat more of it.
Tips for Making Grain-Free Granola
This grain-free granola is extremely customizable. You can use whatever nuts and seeds you have on hand and make the granola your own. While it doesn’t really matter what type of nuts and/or seeds you use, it’s always good to use at least two different varieties. Aim for one kind that is on the harder/crunchier side (e.g. almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds…) and one kind that is on the softer/chewier side (e.g. pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds).
If you like dried fruit, add it in. It increases textural variety and adds a new layer of flavor. I tend to use tart dried fruit, such as dried cranberries or cherries, because they provide a beautiful contrast to the maple syrup-sweetened nuts.
Maple syrup and coconut oil bind all the ingredients together, creating little clusters. The maple syrup also keeps everything extra crispy as it caramelizes in the oven.
The easiest and fastest way to chop all the nuts and seeds is to use a food processor. If you’re using nuts/seeds that are similar in size, you can process all the nuts/seeds at the same time. However, if you’re combining bigger nuts (e.g. almonds) with smaller seeds (e.g. sunflower seeds), you’ll want to process the nuts first, so the seeds don’t turn into a powder. That being said, the smaller the pieces, the more clusters you’ll end up with.
If you’re making just a small batch of this granola, a knife is all you need.
Once you have everything chopped up, add all the ingredients (except for the dried fruit, if using) into a large bowl, and fold until everything is well coated and clusters form.
You can either dehydrate the granola or bake it. Oven-baked granola is deep golden and crunchier than the dehydrated version. The dehydrated version is lighter, chewier and clumpier.
More Breakfast Cereal Recipes
Everyone in my family loves this granola. However, to be perfectly honest, I rarely ever eat anything with added sugar (including maple syrup) for breakfast. My husband and kids do, but I don’t. My go-to cereal breakfasts are grain-free muesli (coming on the blog this week) and chia-buckwheat cereal. Both are high in protein, high in fiber, and don’t have any added sweetener.
If you prefer hot breakfast cereals, you might enjoy this flaxseed porridge.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Food Processor (Breville Sous Chef) | 2. Dehydrator (Excalibur 9 Trays) | 3. Dehydrator Sheets (3-Pack, Silicone) | 4. Griddle (12-Inch, Lodge, Cast Iron) | 5. Knife Set (6 Pieces, Utopia, Stainless Steel) | 6. Cutting Board (24″x 18″, Michigan Maple Block, Maple) | 7. Mixing Bowls (Set of 3, Pyrex, Glass) | 8. Measuring Cup (1 Cup, Anchor Hocking, Glass) | 9. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Bellemain, Stainless Steel) | 10. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel) |
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- 2 cups raw almonds
- 2 cups raw sunflower seeds
- 1 cup flaked coconut
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- pinch sea salt
- dried fruit (optional)
- Chop the nuts and seeds. Using a knife or a food processor, roughly chop the nuts and seeds. If using a food processor, pulse the nuts first, then add the seeds.
- Mix the ingredients. Add the chopped nuts and seeds, coconut, cinnamon, and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Pour in the maple syrup and coconut oil, and fold until all the the nuts and seeds are thoroughly coated. Don't add the dried fruit, if using, until the granola is done baking.
- Bake (baked version only). Preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C. Divide the mixture in half and spread out evenly onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning,
- Dehydrate (raw version only). Set the dehydrator to 115°F/46°C. Divide the mixture in half and spread out evenly onto a dehydrator tray. Dehydrate until lightly golden, 10-12 hours.
- Mix in the dried fruit (optional).
- Store. Leftover granola keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. (You can keep the cereal in a cool dry place as well. I just like to store all my nuts and seeds in the refrigerator or the freezer, so they don't become rancid).
*Nutrition information is approximate and may contain errors. Please, feel free to make your own calculations.
What brand oven you use?
I have KitchenAid, but there are many brands that now produce ovens with dehydrator settings 🙂
What can you use instead of the coconut oil ?
I love all your recipes Thanks
Hi Sherrie – you can just leave it out. However, you’ll need to line the baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or use a silpat (silicone mat) so the granola doesn’t stick to the baking sheet. Let me know if you have any more questions 🙂
Thank you for your videos and recipes. The videos are all very tastefully done, and your husband’s candid reviews give me confidence to try some of the recipes for my own family.
I’d like to make this granola recipe but cut back on the sugars. Is the quantity of maple syrup necessary to the texture, as well as the taste?
Hi Sheri – thank you for such a kind comment. Yes, you can reduce the amount of maple syrup for sure. The maple syrup causes the nuts and seeds caramelize. The nuts/seeds become not only sweeter, but also crunchier (think about biting into granola clusters). If you reduce the amount of maple syrup, the nuts and seeds will still be crunchy (just a little less). Let me know if you have more questions 🙂
Hi Petra- I ran across your videos for flaxseed wraps and psyllium flatbread, both of which I am very excited to try – thank you for sharing your wisdom in the kitchen – I am in my 50s, have had a lot of issues with sugar, and have been seeking to make some kind of granola that has NO sugar – just oil – even if it means adding something like stevia or erithritol, etc. Can granola be made entirely sugar free? I have had some early indicators of heart disease and know that sugar including natural sugars like maple syrup are basically on the “no eat” list for me if I can possibly avoid them. Thanks.
Welcome to Nutrition Refined 🙂 Yes, it can. Have you ever heard of monk fruit sweetener? Monk fruit is a natural sweetener which, technically speaking, contains calories and carbohydrates like other fruits and vegetables. However, these fruits are not commonly consumed fresh. After drying, the trace amounts of fructose, glucose and other components are considered insignificant. Would that work for your diet? You can check it out here: https://nutritionrefined.com/lakanto-syrup (please, note that is it an affiliate link). If that doesn’t work for you, you could use any other sweetener of your choice (ideally liquid).
Thanks Petra – yes, I actually saw the Lakanto syrup at a local health store but purchased the granulated same sweetener at their competitor. I am going to see if melting the coconut oil and the granulated sweetener in a pan on the stove on low heat will work, then try it and see how it goes. Thanks again for your blog.
Yes, you could definitely give that a try 🙂 You probably know this, but just in case, the sugar will not dissolve in the coconut oil. It’s not a problem, but just wanted you to know that. Sugar is a polar molecule and oil isn’t (sugar only dissolves in polar solvents, such as water).
My husband makes a face every time he hears the word «healthy», but when I made this delicious, nutritious, healthy granola he was totally sold. This is our favorite breakfast from now on, I eat it with the macadamia nuts milk or coconut yogurts and some peanut butter. Yum loving loving loving it, thank you so much for this recipe!
Yay! Thank you so much for letting me know, Diana! You don’t even know how happy this makes me. My favorite way to use this granola now in the summer is as a topping on this smoothie bowl. Sooooo good! 🙂
Diana Vartanova Rasmussen
Thanks again! Amazing recipe! Need to practice self control though))
Ha! So glad you say that. I thought I was the only one … 😉
Hello! Where can I find the instructions for soaking the nuts and seeds in a mineral solution? I’ve never heard of this before! Thanks!
Sylvia T Ramos
Hello Petra, this is in my dehydrator at the moment. The recipe didn’t mention soaking the seeds and nuts. Were they supposed to be soaked? Can I soak the seeds and nuts? Will that still work with coconut oil and maple syrup in your recipe? The granola recipe on the Excalibur cookbook calls for soaking, but their recipe doesn’t have oil and maple syrup and takes 24 hours to become crispy.
HI Sylvia – you can definitely soak the nuts and seeds first, but it takes a lot longer to cook and the flavor will be slightly diluted. I tried this method and just wasn’t as happy with it. However, it will be better for your digestion, so it’s up to you.
Sylvia T Ramos
Thank you Petra! I had the granola today and it was very good! Thank you for that recipe! I have another question. For the dehydrator, do you put the granola directly on the mesh? I put it on non-stick sheets and when they were looking too moist I removed the sheets and put it straight on the mesh and was surprised that the pieces didn’t fall through.
I use dehydrator sheets and dehydrate the granola until dry and slightly crispy. However, I guess putting the granola straight on the mesh would work too.
Thank you Petra. I’m excited to add your granola into my breakfast. It looks tasty and healthy. I really like your videos and how you explain how you achieve certain textures, what we can and cannot add, etc. Have a beautiful day
Thank you for the kind words, Macarena! Hope you enjoy the recipe 🙂
Sylvia T Ramos
I’ve made 3 batches already! I make up a new batch as soon as it gets finished.
So happy to hear that, Sylvia! Thank you so much for the rating and feedback!❤️