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Granola is not a health food! Just thought I’d get that out of the way, in case anyone reading this is here for a healthy snack. Don’t get me wrong, with nuts and oats making up the bulk of it, there are much worse things you can eat health wise. But honestly, health is not why I make granola! It’s one of my favorite ways to start the day, and there’s really nothing better than sweet, crunchy, salty granola right out of the oven.
My mom’s been making homemade granola for as long as I can remember. I used to beg to steal on the little tupperwares she portioned it into for my dad’s breakfast. As an adult, the tradition continues in my own house. Its such a regular bake for me, I hadn’t even considered sharing it until my husband, snacking on a handful of it, said I should. I believe his words were, ‘you should post this, it’s like crack.’ So here it is! My Cinnamon Nut Homemade Granola Recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as my husband does.
Why Make Homemade Granola?
Lately as you walk down the cereal aisle in any decent grocery, the options for granola are vast and varied. Fruit, nut, vanilla, maple, healthy, sugary, you name it, you can have it.
So why would you ever make it?
Well cost for one. A tiny box of granola is like $5, I can easily make triple that for that price.
Second, a benefit to anything homemade, is that you can customize it to exactly your and your family’s tastes. I’m going to walk you through how to make my favorite homemade granola recipe, but I’ll also share some quick tips on how to make it your own.
The ingredients for my cinnamon nut granola are simple and easy to get. Each of them plays a vital role in the flavor bomb final result.
- Rolled Oats – Rolled, or old fashioned oats are oat groats (kernals) that have been steamed and rolled flat for quicker cooking. They have a lovely chew and toast beautifully during cooking. Don’t use steel cut which are too hard, or quick cooking which won’t provide the right texture or substance.
- Nuts – I detest dried fruit, so instead I pack my granola full of nuts. I always have at least pecans and peanuts, and when I have them I also throw almonds into the mix. Pecans are so buttery and perfect when toasted, and peanuts have that unique flavor unlike any other nut that’s just delicious with the cinnamon and brown sugar.
- Brown Sugar – My sugar of choice for a lot of recipes. Brown sugar is white sugar that’s had molasses added back into it. You could also use turbanido sugar which basically natural brown sugar, or sugar before the molasses is stripped out of it in the first place. Either way that molasses with the toasted nuts and oats is fabulously sweet.
- Butter – Yes, butter. In all it’s delicious fatty goodness. It’s essential and so very necessary to achieve the color and caramelized end result.
- Maple Syrup – Whatever you do, you must have liquid sweetener. The sticky syrup is absolutely necessary to help bind everything together in the beginning. Without it, you’ll have a loose cereal.
- Cinnamon – Simply my spice of choice. It’s the big powerhouse of flavor and it mingles with the sugars to coat the oats and nuts.
- Ground Flax – Possibly the one ingredient you don’t have handy, I’m going to call this optional. Flax seed, when ground, has impressive health benefits, so I keep it on hand to sprinkle on all sorts of things. Aside from that however, toasted ground flax is ridiculously good. It’s nutty and well, just really friggin good. If you’re curious, get some, the smell alone is something mouth watering. It behaves just like the cinnamon in this recipe.
- Salt – Because as you know by now if you’ve been here before, everything is better with a pinch of salt.
There aren’t many things simpler than making homemade granola. When I’m not taking pretty pictures for a post, I definitely don’t bother with the cute bowls you see above. Just dump and go!
I do recommend you add the ingredients in a somewhat reasonable order, for ease of mixing!
Start with a 9×13 baking dish. You don’t need to grease or do anything to. Measure the nuts and oats into it, sprinkle the brown sugar, cinnamon, ground flax and salt on top.
Pour the butter and maple syrup over the top as evenly as you can. Now stir! Just gently stir and fold until everything looks nice and coated.
Pop it into a 300°F oven and let it bake for an hour, stirring occasionally.
A note on stirring…
Stirring is an absolutely essential part of the cooking process for granola. How often you do it will affect the end result. So,
If you want crumbly, loose, small chunks of granola – Stir every 15 minutes for an hour. Stir gently so you don’t send granola flying out of the pan, but stir well, scraping along the bottom of the pan to lift the sugar and oats from there. This would be three times total, and once immediately upon pulling it from the oven.
If you want nice big chunks of granola (my preferred way) – Stir gently every 20 minutes. Again carefully scrape along the bottom, but fold very gently to let most of the chunks hold together while doing so. Do not stir when you’ve taken it from the oven, unless you see chunks that are too big.
This recipe yields about 6 cups of granola and will store in an airtight container for 3 months. I prefer a glass mason jar (large 64 oz) for storage. Just keep in the cupboard!
Customizing Your Homemade Granola Recipe
SO you’ve read this post, you get what’s needed to make the granola: oats, liquid fat, liquid sweetener, sugar, and flavor. But does it have to be cinnamon and nuts? No, definitely not. Here are some easy ways to customize this homemade granola recipe to your particular tastes.
- Dried Fruit – If you like raisins, cranberries, dates, apricots, and apples or any other dried fruit, feel free to replace any or all of the nuts with it.
- Vanilla – Add a tablespoon of vanilla, or even maple extract after you add the butter and syrup.
- Molasses, Honey, or other flavored syrups – If you’re not into maple syrup, you can absolutely use a different liquid sweetener. Honey is the most obvious to me, and it will definitely affect flavor. Corn syrup and molasses are also options, but just be aware of how the overall flavor will be affected. I’ve also used date syrup, a unique dark syrup with similar properties to molasses, without the overwhelming intensity.
- Nuts – You have a wide range to select from when it comes to nuts. Leave out the peanuts for example, and it becomes a different granola. Pecans, almonds, and peanuts are my favorite, but walnuts, macadamia, or pistachios are also great options. If you’re up to it, choose flavored nuts to add in! Honey roasted peanuts are fun, cocoa dusted almonds add a unique chocolate pop, go ‘nuts’ and have fun!
- Spices – Instead of just cinnamon, go with allspice, clove, nutmeg, or try something exotic like tumeric. Blend them all together. Just adjust the volume of what you add to reflect the intensity of the spice (less clove than you’d add of cinnamon.)
A Few Ways to Enjoy it
That’s it! You’re ready to go, with 5 minutes of prep, and an hour in the oven, you can have piping hot, delicious homemade granola waiting to be eaten. But what are some ways to use it?
- Yogurt topping – My husband and I eat yogurt a lot for breakfast, but neither of us are particularly fond of the texture. Adding granola and fresh fruit makes it soooo much better. Create yogurt parfaits by layering the three for an easy, sure to impress brunch for guests.
- As Cereal – As a kid I just dumped granola in a bowl and poured milk on top. It’s still a favorite way to eat it!
- A Quick Fruit Topping – want a hot syrupy fruit crisp or crumble? Dump your fruit and some sugar into a pie plate or individual baking ramekins until it has thickened and become bubbly. 5 minutes before it’s finished, layer a healthy amount of granola on top for the quickest topping ever.
- Ice Cream – Vanilla ice cream is so good with some granola sprinkled on top. Add some Homemade Chocolate Syrup or Strawberry Syrup and you’re in for a decadent treat.
- Trail Mix – I snack on our granola dry all the time. It’s easy to transport and stays good at room temp for a long time. Add in some m&m’s, preztels, raisins, or other dried fruit for a quick trail mix.
However you enjoy it, I’m positive you’re going to love using this homemade granola recipe to make a big batch for your pantry.
Whether you go with my cinnamon nut version, or make your own, I wish you Happy Eating!
- 4 1/2 cups rolled (old-fashioned) oats
- 3/4 cup peanuts
- 3/4 cup pecans coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbs cinnamon
- 2 tbs ground flax optional
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup melted butter unsalted
- 3 tbs maple syrup
Preheat oven to 300°F. Pull out a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
Measure oats and nuts into the dish. Evenly sprinkle sugar, cinnamon, ground flax and salt over the top.
Melt butter and pour over the top with the maple syrup. Mix until ingredients are evenly distributed and well coated by butter and syrup.
Place on middle rack of oven and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.*
Let cool and store in and airtight containers in the cupboard for up to three months. Makes 6 cups.*