Granola is an American invention that was popularized in the 1960s by the "hippie" health-food movement. It consists of oats and whole grains that are baked with honey or sugar and usually nuts and dried fruit. Granola is traditionally served as a breakfast cereal, topped with milk, but it makes a filling snack eaten dry as well. This recipe takes about 15 minutes to prep; however, you do need to stay nearby to stir it occasionally during baking. See the list of tasty add-ins below that let you personalize your batch. You should end up with about fifteen 1/2-cup servings.
How to Make Granola
1. Preheat the Oven to 300°F
In a 15x10x1-inch baking pan combine 4 cups regular rolled oats and 1 cup desired nuts (see the list of Nuts in Granola Variations, below).
Tip: Regular oats are sometimes call old-fashioned oats. Don't substitute instant oats in this recipe. Instant oats have been precooked and dried, which softens them, so you won't end up with the desired crunchy texture.
2. Combine and Heat the Brown Sugar Mixture
- In a 1- to 1-1/2-quart saucepan combine 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup cooking oil or butter, 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Heat and stir over medium heat until mixture is combined and smooth. Remove from the heat and use a wooden spoon to stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
- Carefully pour the brown sugar mixture over the oats mixture. With a wooden spoon, stir until the oats mixture is well coated with the brown sugar mixture.
3. Bake Until Golden
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the granola is golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes to assure even browning and to avoid burning.
- Remove the granola from the oven and stir in 1 cup desired dried fruit (see the list of Dried Fruit in Granola Variations, below).
- To butter a piece of foil, use a clean paper towel or pastry brush to spread about 2 teaspoons softened butter evenly over an 18x12-inch piece of foil. Or rub the end of a stick of chilled butter evenly over the foil. Spread the granola onto the foil, and let it cool completely.
- When the granola is completely cool, stir in 1/2 cup desired other ingredient (see the list of Other Ingredients in Granola Variations, below) and serve.
For room-temperature storage: Place the granola in an airtight storage container or large resealable plastic bag. Store at room temperature for up to 1 week.
For freezer storage: Place the granola in a freezer container or resealable freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Nuts (1 cup whole, chopped, or sliced): Almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts (filberts), unsalted peanuts, and/or substitute 1/2 cup sunflower seeds for the nuts.
- Dried Fruit (1 cup whole or snipped): Raisins, currants, tropical fruit bits, mixed fruit bits, banana chips, pineapple, mango, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, dates, and/or apples.
- Other Ingredients: Flaked coconut (add with the nuts in Step 1), semisweet chocolate pieces, butterscotch-flavor pieces, peanut butter-flavor pieces, cinnamon-flavor pieces, and/or roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas).