Granola, oh sweet, crunchy, snacky granola. What do I love about you? Let me see: (1) you are great for breakfast – good with milk, or add a bit to your yogurt and suddenly you can call it a parfait; (2) you are great for things besides breakfast too, sometimes Royce puts a little of you on a salad for a bit of crunch and sweetness; (3) you are an amazing way to clean up all those odds and ends in the pantry and a great excuse for a trip to the local bulk food store; and most, importantly, (4) you are a tasty, crunchy, and not totally unhealthy snack that I find suitable for any time of day.
A great granola recipe is an essential life skill. You know on those fashion shows, when they talk about “hero pieces”, or those basic staples that you can build an outfit around? Granola recipes are kind of like that – they are versatile go-to’s, and everyone should have at least one. Fortunately for us, there are about a ba-jillion granola recipes available for use on the good ol’ interwebs. The catch, of course, is that not all granola recipes are created equal.
The perfect granola – by my definition – should be sweet, but not overly sweet. It should have a good balance of textures (different sorts of crunchy, balanced with a bit of chew), and most importantly (to my point #3, above) it should be flexible. Now, I’m not about to add to the vast sea of recipes already out there. I mean, I could make a few tweaks to the basic approach but I’m not convinced there’d be much value in that. In fact, there are already a load of pretty great recipes out there. So, for your granola-loving pleasure, I’ve curated a selection of my current favourites here:
- Pay Chen’s Fully Loaded Granola: This one has been a recent go-to of mine. I was a little suspicious about the addition of quinoa, but it turns out I really like the flavour it adds! I soaked/sprouted mine before I added it but that’s just a personal preference. The oat and nut mixture is baked like a big cookie and then broken up before mixing in the other add-ins. The result has a good level of sweetness and mediums-sized clusters.
- Cook Til Delicious’ Sourdough Discard Granola: This one’s for all the new sourdough enthusiasts out there! It’s a great alternative use for discard, especially if you are getting tired of making scallion pancakes and crackers. I know it sounds a little weird but there’s no sour flavour in the resulting granola, I promise! Like Pay’s recipe, this one takes the big cookie approach to baking. Because it uses flour and water to bind the ingredients, the clusters are a little heftier than your standard granola and it doesn’t require as much maple syrup / honey (the usual binding ingredients). If you find most granola recipes too sweet, this is a good one to try. The resulting granola has serious clusters, and is relatively low on the sweetness scale (so, for the usual level of sweetness you might want to go a little heavier on the sugar / honey). I think it’s great because you can also always adjust the sweetness based on the type and quantity of dried fruit you add.
- My New Roots’ Simple Gourmet Granola: This is a good one too! Again, the base recipe is very simple but has lots of flexibility for add-ins. This is probably the most traditional of the four. The result is a loose-style granola (i.e. no clusters) and is sweeter than the first two recipes.
- Serious Eats’ Buttermilk Granola: This is the honourable mention of the bunch. This recipe is the least conventional, requiring the oats soak in buttermilk first with the aim of producing a fluffier, crispier granola. While it’s an interesting idea, in the end I didn’t find this to be worth the added effort. The result was definitely good, but I didn’t think it was miles better than any of the other recipes listed here. That said, I wouldn’t not make it again if the mood strikes and I happen to have buttermilk on hand. I don’t want to give you the wrong idea – it’s not super labour-intensive, it’s really just an extra 20 minutes of soaking. But add to that the fact that it requires buttermilk, which is not (yet!) a pantry staple for me, and that’s enough to bump it out of the easy peasy, flexible recipe category. I did really dig the addition of wheat germ though, and have been incorporating that into my granolas here and there since then.