{recipe} Crunchy Oil-Free Granola Made Exactly to your Liking

I used to think eating granola was healthy. I would eat a big bowl with milk for breakfast, feeling virtuous about starting my day right with one of those “balanced breakfasts” people are always going on about. Several years back, I took a temporary job making granola for a high-end, organic boutique granola business. I was more than mildly surprised to learn that this expensive, hand-crafted, and much sought-after granola was loaded with Wesson oil. I mean, we’re talking bottles and bottles of the stuff for a reasonably small batch. Virtuous? Hardly. I might as well be eating a giant plate of french fries dipped in mayo for breakfast. An order of large fries from McDonald’s has fewer calories than a cup of most kinds of granola! Of course some of the granola’s calories come from the sweetening and the nuts, but the oil is definitely not helping. So why not make your own?

The weird thing is you can make really terrific granola with no oil, so it’s unclear to me how that practice got to be so commonplace. You do need something sweet, or else you just have some dried-out oats, so let’s not be crazy here. But you actually don’t need very much sweet stuff to make good granola. Also, making it yourself is really cheap, especially if you’re like me and you use it as a way to clean out the hodgepodge collection of nut remnants that lurks in your freezer. (Or am I the only one who has miniscule amounts of 15+ different kinds of nuts leftover from other projects?)

This is more of a how-to than a recipe, because you should be allowed to put whatever you like in your granola. I mean, it’s a free country so if you hate raisins then by god you shouldn’t have to wake up to them. This is a basic formula I use that can be adapted depending on which types of dried fruits, nuts, and seasonings you like. Compared to store-bought granola, this version is a lot cheaper, it’s a lot less caloric, and it tastes better because you can make it just how you like it.

Oil-Free Granola Made Exactly to your Liking
makes about 7-8 cups


  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • about 1 1/2 cups dried fruit, raisins, etc. of your choice (I used a medley of dried cherries, dried apricots, dried bananas, and dried mango)
  • about 1/2 cup chopped or sliced nuts or seeds of your choice (I used sliced almonds)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (could substitute date sugar, white sugar, raw sugar, your choice)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla (more or less as you like it)
  • big pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon or other spice of your choice (powdered ginger, pinch of cloves, allspice, etc.)
  • optional: handful of flax seeds, dried coconut, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, etc.


  • Preheat oven to 275 F. Prepare a half sheet pan or other cookie sheet with sides with a piece of parchment or foil. Spray with cooking spray or brush lightly with oil. (If you are super anti-oil you can skip this without too much harm, but it does help it prevent sticking.)
  • In the microwave or on the stovetop, heat the brown sugar and maple syrup or honey with 1/4 cup of water until the sugar is melted and combined. Add salt and any seasonings like vanilla or spices to the mixture and stir to combine.
  • Toss the sugar mixture with the oats to coat well. Add the nuts, seeds, and dried fruits and toss again.
  • Pour onto prepared pan and flatten into an even layer. Bake 15 minutes at a time, stirring well in between. After 45 minutes, test a few oats to see if they are crunchy. When oats are crunchy, remove from the oven. Total cooking time should be about 1 hour.
  • Let cool to room temperature, tossing occasionally during cooling process. Store in an airtight container.

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5 Responses

  1. Dinah says:

    Thank you!

  2. I know that this is a little late, but I really love granola but hate how high in calories it is and knew that there had to be a way to make it w/out all of that oil. Thank you for sharing this recipe and I’ll be making it this weekend with my recently roasted pumpkin seeds.

  3. Mari says:

    This recipe is FABULOUS! Thank you so much for sharing. My 3rd batch is in the oven now 🙂

    I can honestly say, I will never make granola any other way. Cheers!