Easy and delicious homemade cranberry granola, with almonds and pepitas and flavoured with honey (or maple syrup) and a touch of cinnamon. Ready in just 30 minutes!
Why you'll love this homemade granola
If you've never made your own granola, I think you will be shocked (and very pleasantly surprised) to learn how easy it is to make your own granola at home. All you need is one bowl, a spoon, a baking sheet, easy ingredients you probably already have around and 30 minutes in the oven.
What's more, you get to customize your granola. Use ingredients you love and leave out what you don't. Change up the add-ins for the season (or what you have on hand) and enjoy a different set a flavours throughout the year.
This simple cranberry granola recipe is my perfect Fall granola, with dried cranberries, almonds and raw and toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), together with vanilla, honey and a pinch of cinnamon, for warmth. I love that there are only a few ingredients in this one and ones I always have on hand.
Rolled Oats - go with the large-flake, old-fashioned oats, for best results if you can. If you only have quick oats, you can use them, though they will cook much more quickly, so watch quickly and count on less baking time. I haven't tried to make granola with either instant or steel cut oats.
Ground flax or wheat germ, wheat bran, oat bran etc. - or other similar ground grain or seed. This is totally optional, but it's an easy way to add some extra goodness to your homemade granola. I just add a tablespoon, but you can add less or more, as you like.
Honey or maple syrup - you can use honey, maple syrup (or similar syrups) here. Just go with what you have or the flavour that you tend to prefer. I find honey makes a clumpier granola, if that's important to you.
- you can use any type of oil you like, but you really do want to use the oil if you want crispy granola. Vegetable, canola, sunflower are good neutral-tasting oils. You could also use olive or coconut oil, though they will impart some taste to the granola. Nut oils will also work here.
Vanilla - I love vanilla flavour in granola. I use vanilla bean paste, but regular vanilla extra works just a well. You can omit if you like, and just go with the cinnamon spicing, maybe adding a touch more, if you like. Alternately, you can replace the vanilla with a just a touch of almond extract or go citrus-y, with a bit of orange zest.
Dried Cranberries - so this is a recipe for cranberry granola, so I'm assuming you'll want to use cranberries :) You can use sweetened or unsweetened cranberries, as you like.
Raw Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas) - these are the bright green pumpkin seeds, that are raw. If you only have roasted pumpkin seeds on hand, simply add them at the end with the cranberries, as they don't need any more time in the oven. If your roasted pumpkin seeds are salted, reduce the added salt in the granola by half. No pumpkin seeds? Substitute sunflower seeds instead.
Sliced (Flaked) Almonds - these would be the thinly sliced, blanched almonds. You could also used blanched slivered almonds, though you may want to roughly chop them a bit. Pecans or walnuts could also be used here.
You will also need - vegetable (or similar neutral-tasting oil) or coconut oil, salt and light or dark brown sugar
Other possible additions or substitutions:
Coconut, Pecans, Walnuts, Sunflower Seeds, Raisins, other dried fruit, such as dried blueberries, strawberries, cherries or mango. I have also used chopped dried apricots, as well.
The possibilities are almost endless when it comes to granola. You can truly add anything you like. The only consideration is "when" you add things to the mix. Grains, seeds and nuts can usually cook the entire time, with the oats, though if you find certain things get too browned, you can add halfway through baking, instead. Coconut may only need 5-10 minutes in the oven, so should be added near the end of cooking. Raisins, other dried fruits and chocolate chips should be added after the granola is out of the oven and in the case of chocolate chips, only once the granola is completely cool.
- I like to add half the pepitas with the nuts, so that they lightly roast. As they roast, they lose their green colour, but gain some nice roasted flavour. I add the other half of the pepitas at the end, to have some of the nice bright green colour and fresh flavour in the finished granola, too. You can do the same with sunflower seeds, if you like.
Granola: Clumps or No Clumps?
I have to confess, I prefer my granola without clumps, but I do get that a lot of people are all about the clumps. So how to get some lovely clumps in your granola?
The trick for granola clumps it to NOT STIR it while it is baking and then allow it to cool completely on the pan before breaking up into clumps.
A couple of other tips, to guarantee granola clumps ...
1. If you want to be extra sure you get clumps, add an egg white to your granola mixture before baking.
2. I find honey makes better clumps than maple syrup, as well.
How to enjoy your granola
I enjoy this granola on its own, just grabbing a handful when I need a little something. It's great eating a bit with milk as a cereal or my personal favourite way to enjoy my homemade granola is stirred into some vanilla Greek yogurt for a perfect breakfast or snack.
Beyond these conventional options, you can also turn granola into granola bars or snack bites, mixed with some syrup and maybe peanut butter, etc., add it to bread or muffins, use as a topper for salads or baked apples or just stir a bit into regular oatmeal.
How to store your homemade granola
Once the granola is completely cooled, transfer to an airtight bag or container. Jars work great or simply a ziploc-type bag. Store in a cool, dark place at room temperature and away from any heat sources. While the granola should keep well this way for several months, I prefer to make and use it up in about a month, so I like to make smaller batches, more often.
Yes! You can also freeze granola! Simply freeze in an airtight container (or better yet, a vacuum-sealed package) for up to 3 months.
Refrigerating homemade granola isn't recommended, as it tends to become a bit soggy and may also pick up flavours from the fridge as it sits.
Easy Cranberry Almond Granola
- 2 cups large flake old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 Tbsp wheat germ, wheat or oat bran or ground flax seed, *see Note 1
- 1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar, *see Note 2
- 1/4 tsp fine salt
- Pinch cinnamon, or more, to taste
- 3 Tbsp vegetable, olive or coconut oil
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey, or other similar syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract, or vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup pepitas, raw pumpkin seeds
To add after out of the oven:
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pepitas, raw pumpkin seeds
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- In a large bowl, stir together the rolled oats, wheat germ/ground flax (if using), brown sugar, salt and a generous pinch of cinnamon.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together the oil, maple syrup or honey and vanilla. Pour over oat mixture and stir well until the oats are evenly coated.
- Spread mixture onto an un-greased baking tray.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown, stirring well every 10 minutes. *Baking on a dark baking sheet will cook more quickly. Honey also seems to brown more quickly.
- Remove from oven and scatter the cranberries and pepitas over-top. Stir together, then allow the granola to cool to room temperature on the baking pan.
- Transfer granola to airtight container (jars are perfect!) and store in a cool, dark place away from heat sources, for up to 1 month. Homemade granola also freezes well up to 3 months. Refrigeration isn't recommended, as it tends to make for soggy granola.
Nutritional information provided for general guidance only and should not be relied upon to make personal health decisions.