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Granola clusters

I know you saw the title of this post and thought to yourself: “Not another granola recipe,” but if you struggle to get clusters of granola and to make crispy clumps of granola, as opposed to loose granola, this post is for you!
 
Homemade granola clusters broken into big pieces on parchment paper

I have been looking for a baking method that yields clusters of granola as opposed to a loose mix. I tried stirring a lot as the granola bakes, and I tried stirring a little, but none of my methods made truly clumped granola. It was always tasty, but never as clustered or clumped as I wanted.

Ingredients to make granola clusters measured out in bowls and ready to be mixed: butter, pecans, vanilla extract, oats, salt, maple syrup, and pumpkin seeds

Then, I tried using a smaller rimmed cookie sheet (a quarter sheet pan to be exact), and I patted out and pressed the granola into a thick, dense, even layer from rim to rim. I baked it for 40 minutes straight without stirring. Then I cooled it completely in the pan on a wire rack.

That’s it, that’s all. Seriously. That’s the secret to get clusters of granola. It’s THAT simple! I just patted it tight and baked it for a long time without touching it.

Granola mixture pressed in a sheet pan

Ways of making granola clusters

There are actually 4 ways of getting granola to cluster as it bakes:

  1. add egg whites to your granola before baking: the egg whites will glue the oats together as the granola bakes, yielding a shiny, crunchy granola that is clustered
  2. add flour or starches and water to your granola recipe: this is a trick many use for granola bars, but I wasn’t interested in adding more ingredients to my granola recipe
  3. stir the granola less and use lots of sugar or syrup: the sugar, maple syrup, or honey that is coating all the oats will act as a glue as it melts and dries up, making crispy granola clusters
  4. press the granola in a smaller sheet pan: pretend you are making one giant granola cookie, or like you are making the base to a batch of date squares, so you just spread the granola so that it fills the pan in one even layer from rim to rim, then press it firmly so that there are no holes or gaps, and bake like this, untouched. Let it cool without touching it, and you will have a sheet of granola that you can break up in clusters of the size you want!
Breaking a sheet of granola into clusters

Formula for customizing granola clusters

Because I’m a scientist, I like to turn most of my recipes into formulas that are easy to customize, so here is the formula for clustered, clumpy granola that can be customized according to what you’ve got in your pantry.

  1. 4 cups oats: this is your base and it’s the constant in the formula. Don’t mess with this ingredient, though if you are gluten-free, make sure to buy certified gluten-free oats because regular oats may be contaminated. Use large flake oats, also called rolled oats or old-fashioned oats. 
  2. 1 cup nuts & seeds: this can be almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, flaked coconut, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds… it all works, just make sure to use roughly 1 cup. For larger nuts, you can chop them!
  3. 1/2 cup fat: this can be butter, canola oil, coconut oil, or even a flavourful fruity olive oil to make olive oil granola! 
  4. 1/2 cup sugar: this can be brown sugar (light or dark), maple syrup, or honey. I’ve even used molasses to make gingerbread granola. Coconut sugar is also great here, but maybe combine it with another sugar because coconut sugar is expensive and very flavourful
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt: start with this and adjust to your taste. Some people like a “saltier” granola. Salt brings out the other flavours and makes granola taste less bland. Don’t skimp on the salt!
  6. 1/4–1 teaspoon spices: these are optional, unlike the salt. The amount you use will vary according to the spice. Use more ground cinnamon and ground ginger than you would use nutmeg for example. Start with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, but 1/4–1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, for example. You can try cardamom or allspice in this recipe too.
  7. 1/4–2 teaspoons flavour extracts: you can add extracts, like vanilla extract or almond extract. Use 1–2 teaspoons of vanilla, or 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract (it’s potent so don’t use too much). If you have vanilla paste, you can replace vanilla extract with vanilla bean paste in this recipe, or even artificial vanilla (but use less!).

Homemade granola clusters, broken up into large chunks

Now you can finally make perfectly clustered granola just the way you like it. And that is why I had to blog about granola, yet again.

Feel free to use this granola to make an apple pie yogurt parfait or to add to a pomegranate yogurt bowl.

A bowl of granola clusters served with a bowl of berries and greek yogurt, striped linen napkin

Granola clusters for real!

Learn how to make granola clusters, for real, with this formula so you can customize it to make your version of perfect granola!
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword granola clusters, granola formula
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 10
Calories 348kcal
Author Janice

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (325 g) rolled oats (or large flake oats)
  • 1 cup (145 g) nuts I used pistachios and sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) coconut oil or butter, melted, or your favourite oil
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) fine kosher salt
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed quarter sheet pan with parchment and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the oats and the nuts.
  • In a 1 cup measuring cup, combine the coconut oil (melted) with the maple syrup, salt, and vanilla, and then pour it over the oat mixture.
  • Stir the oat mixture to evenly coat all the dry ingredients then pour it out into the prepared sheet pan.
  • Spread the mixture from rim to rim and compact it/press it flat with a flat-bottomed glass.
  • Bake for about 40 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
  • Cool the granola completely, then break up the granola slab into clusters and transfer to a large container to store.
Tried this recipe?Mention @kitchenhealssoul or tag #kitchenhealssoul!

Nutrition

Calories: 348kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 121mg | Potassium: 239mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 2mg

Bowl of granola clusters with yogurt and raspberries, striped linen napkin

Granola clusters on a cast iron plate

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22 Responses to Granola clusters

  1. Medeja January 7, 2013 at 6:04 AM #

    It’s not breakfast time, but would have this granola! I am glad you found how to make it exactly the way you wanted 😀

    • Janice Lawandi January 11, 2013 at 11:05 PM #

      Me too! Thanks for reading and you hope you get to try this granola some day soon.

  2. cherie January 7, 2013 at 1:06 PM #

    Well, I’m glad you posted about granola again LOL I will be giving it a try as I’ve been wanting a clustery and uncluttered granola without all the extra stuff – sounds perfect

    • Janice Lawandi January 8, 2013 at 6:31 PM #

      Thanks! I simplified the mix and kept the essentials! And, I omitted any dried fruits because I don’t always like the texture the dried fruits take on in the oven.

    • Anonymous January 15, 2013 at 5:52 PM #

      That is why you add the dried fruit after it is baked…but then again you don’t want to stir after…lol.
      Enjoy!!

    • Janice Lawandi January 21, 2013 at 3:13 AM #

      Exactly!

  3. Lizzy Do January 10, 2013 at 1:56 AM #

    YES!!! I love my granola in clusters, too! Thanks for the excellent tip!!!

    • Janice Lawandi January 11, 2013 at 11:06 PM #

      You’re welcome! I felt funny blogging about it again, but I was so excited when I made this huge slab of granola that could easily be crumbled.

  4. Lauren January 11, 2013 at 1:26 AM #

    Great tip, I love clustered granola and will definitely try this out!

    • Janice Lawandi January 11, 2013 at 11:07 PM #

      Awesome! Let me know how it goes 🙂

  5. Maral January 11, 2013 at 12:59 AM #

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon your post on Foodgawker! I am a granola fanatic, and my favorite part are the big, crunchy clusters. The last photo with the greek yogurt and raspberry is absolutely gorgeous. I can’t wait to try this recipe!

    • Janice Lawandi January 11, 2013 at 11:06 PM #

      Thanks and I hope you do try it. Please stop by to tell me how you like it when you do!

  6. Jessica January 11, 2013 at 8:49 PM #

    I’ve been making granola like a madwoman lately, and while it’s utterly delicious, I do miss the clusters – I’ve got a pan of your recipe cooling on the counter right now! I’d love to have clumps of granola again – much easier to snack on.

    • Janice Lawandi January 11, 2013 at 11:08 PM #

      Yay! Please let me know how it turns out (though I’m fairly certain you will love it)!

  7. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite January 13, 2013 at 9:54 PM #

    This is awesome Janice…. I just made a bog batch of granola bars and these will be next… I’m on a granola kick too 🙂

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