Better than store-bought: Best homemade granola.

Well, at least I think it’s the best granola recipe. For proof, there’s the fact that I. Can’t. Stop. Eating. It. In a bowl with milk for breakfast, by the handful as a snack—I’m rather stuck on this stuff.

I’ve been experimenting for weeks with different recipes I’ve found online, and nothing has been quite what I wanted. I’ve tried different sweeteners: honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, agave nectar. I’ve added applesauce and canned pumpkin; I’ve used a bit of oil, and not. I’ve tried different spices, different combinations of fruit, different nuts. But I haven’t hit on what I consider to be the perfect granola … until recently.

This granola recipe is a loose combination of one given to my by my friend Ilise Benun and one I found on the Epicurious iPad app. I’ve tested this granola recipe a couple of times, and it’s exactly what I was looking for: crunchy, not too sweet, packed with fruit and healthy nuts.  It’s also flexible: You could mix in your own fruit and nut combinations to suit your taste. Two things, I think, make this successful: the egg white makes for a crunchy granola, and the agave nectar gives a balanced sweetness.

perfect homemade granola recipe

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pistachios or pepitas (see Note)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg white whisked with 1 Tbsp. water
1 cup dried fruit of your choice (see Note)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet (I use a half sheet pan) with parchment for easier cleanup. In a large bowl, mix together oats, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, nuts/pepitas, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg white and water; add agave and vanilla and whisk until mixture is blended and slightly frothy. Pour agave mixture over oat mixture and, using a large rubber spatula, fold ingredients together until the dry ingredients are well-coated. Spread granola on baking sheet; if you want some clumps, squeeze some of the mixture together with your hands. Bake for 15 minutes. Using a spatula, turn the granola gently, moving the mixture from the outer edges of the pan toward the middle and vice versa. Bake 8 to 10 minutes more until lightly browned. Reduce oven temperature to 250; return pan to oven and bake another 15–20 minutes until the granola is toasty brown and mostly dried. Remove pan from oven and let cool. Carefully break up into chunks and gently fold in dried fruit. Store in a plastic bag or container.

Note: Any combination of dried fruit will work; I prefer some combination of raisins, cherries and cranberries. If you can find it, choose unsweetened dried fruit that doesn't contain sulfur or sulfites as a preservative. Play with fruit/nut combinations: apples, raisins and pecans; cherries, blueberries and almonds (maybe add a skosh of almond extract), cranberries and pistachios. If you love one kind of nuts, use 1 cup plus the 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds. Use dry-roasted, unsalted nuts.

20 thoughts on “Better than store-bought: Best homemade granola.

  1. Egg white! Wow, I’ll have to try that next time. And I’ve never used agave nectar but I’m sure I can find it here in Hoboken!

    For dried fruit, I’ve been enjoying dried rhubarb and dried strawberries lately, but they have to be chopped up a bit.

  2. Ilise: Dried rhubarb and strawberries sound like a lovely, spring-y combination. I like the idea of doing seasonal flavors: dried apple and raisins in the fall, blueberries in the summer …

  3. i started making granola awhile back when my boyfriend was addicted to the carb-heavy stuff in the store. another way to make clusters without sugar is to soak flax seeds until they release their mucilage, and then start mixing in your dry ingredients. flax seeds smell and taste funny raw, but that flavor toasts away in the oven.

    i love that this recipe skews toward protein and not as much with a variety of carbs. nice work!

  4. The fact that it skews toward protein (thanks for pointing that out, Heather) means that just a little bit makes a great breakfast and I don’t get hungry until lunchtime. The difference I notice when I stray from this ritual is unmistakable. I get cranky and can’t focus on my work. So this recipe, in some ways, can be promoted as a productivity tool.

  5. I’ve always made a variation of the Alton Brown granola recipe from food network, which has worked well. One thing I’ve noticed is that the granola keeps longer if you don’t add the dried fruit. There’s just enough moisture in the fruit to cause problems. So I make a double batch of granola — oats, nuts, coconut — and then keep a separate baggie of my mix of dried fruits of choice. I throw it all together with Greek yogurt for the World’s Laziest Lunch.

  6. Alisa — I’ll have to check out Alton’s homemade granola recipe. And thanks for the suggestion about keeping the fruit separate. Although I have to confess that granola doesn’t last too long in our house, so I’ve never had it go bad! Your World’s Laziest Lunch is also one of the World’s Best Lunches. I love having access to my own kitchen at lunchtime!

  7. This is great! My granola hasn’t even finished cooling, and I can already tell that I love this recipe! I had leftover granola fixings from making Heidi Swanson’s Grain-ola (from Super Natural Every Day), so I added some unsweetened coconut flakes and walnuts too. Delicious!

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  9. I have been making many versions of homemade granola since the 1980’s but never used an egg white – what does this do in the baking process?

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  12. I’ve seen many granola recipes, but never one with egg white!
    That’s a great idea to increase the crunch factor. My dad loves the store-bought granola (laden with boat-loads of sugar and preservatives!) so I always try to make him a batch when I’m home. This is next on my list!

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  14. Absolutely delicious! My kids love granola, but we rarely buy it because of the astronomical price and sugar content of nearly every single brand. My 4-year-old and I just whipped up a batch using your recipe, and the 3 of us are happily munching our ‘World’s Laziest Lunch’ right now. This goes stunningly well with plain yogurt. The only mod I made was using flax seed rather than wheat germ, since that’s what we had on hand. Egg white is such a smart addition. THANK YOU for this outstanding, protein-rich, low-glycemic recipe!

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    • Hi, Justine — sorry about that; been having a few technical difficulties with recipes evaporating lately. The homemade granola recipe you’re looking for is there now.