Have you ever made granola from scratch? Did you have to buy new ingredients or stay glued to the recipe to do it? Happily, there’s another way. And it’s easy!
Here’s How to make granola. Right now. With what’s in your pantry.
Learning the technique this way (instead of following a recipe) will let you:
- Have granola instantly when you want it.
- Without going to the store (assuming you have a few everyday things on hand).
- Use up ingredients you already have, particularly those tablespoon size remnants of random nuts and seeds.
- Customize the perfect tasting granola for your family, while only including ingredients you can, and like, to eat (allergies, anyone?).
- Spend less money, and usually, create less waste.
- Feel super awesome that you can do this in your sleep.
But first a little story…
I first started making my own granola because I thought it’d be cheaper and healthier than store-bought. It also seemed like I’d be able to make it from stuff I already had on hand, because I always have oats and some kind of nuts or seeds lying about.
But as with most try-it-from-scratch endeavors, as I began looking around for recipes, I got stuck. There were five more things I’d have to buy in order to make the recipe, and the long lists of ingredients seemed silly.
And let’s be serious. I wasn’t looking for the best granola EV-ER, I just wanted something healthier and cheaper than store bought.
Did it really have to be so complicated?
But I’ve discovered that when your goal is feeding people healthy tasteful things (rather than preparing to entertain royalty), most at-home cooking can be boiled down (heh heh) to a ratio and a technique.
If you get in the habit of testing and tasting and thinking, you can make healthy food, from what’s in your pantry, and give your creative self a playground as you do it. Dare I say, it can be fun.
Today I’m going to give you this kind of starting point for granola. Try this with what you have on hand, and think about what it looks and feels and tastes like as you do it. What does 4 cups of oats look like in the bowl? What does the ratio of ingredients look like? How much clumping happens when you add the oil/syrup mixture? Especially note your observations of saltiness before and after baking.
Let’s get started, shall we?
- 4 cups oats
- 2 cups any mix of chopped nuts and/or seeds
- 1 cup mix of dried fruit (chopped roughly, if large)
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1/2 cup syrupy sweetener or mix thereof (honey, maple/golden/Karo syrup, etc.)
How to do it (Technique)
- Get your oven going. At 350F, let’s say.
- Prep a baking sheet. (Line it with aluminum foil if you want the easiest cleanup ever.) Grease it a little.
- Mix your coating (oil & syrup) in a small saucepan and put over low heat. (You don’t have to hover.)
- Dump your 4 cups of oats and your 2 cups of mixed whatever (nuts & seeds) into a large bowl. (Don’t add dried fruit.) Toss it around a bit if you feel like dancing.
- Check on your coating. Is it bubbling yet? If not, turn the heat up a little until it does. Once it’s bubbling…
- Stir the coating, and pour it over the oat stuff.
- Stir the whole mixture, throwing a little kosher salt in there as you go.
- Pour it in the pan, spread it out, and put it in the oven.
- Bake it until it’s golden (about 30 minutes), stirring every 10 minutes or so for even crunchy-getting. (Note, sometimes mine is still a little on the soft side until it cools.)
- Add dried fruit and let it cool, then store it in an airtight container.
- Taste it thoughtfully. Is it:
- Too Salty/Not salty enough?
- Too sweet/Not sweet enough?
- Is any flavor overpowering?
- Make notes somewhere about how you think it could be improved for next time. This ratio should get you started, but you can twist it all around every which way until it’s just how you want it.
This batch should be plenty edible. But the point is to observe and tweak and get it just how you like it. You’re on your way to developing your very own perfect-for-you granola!
Let me take an extra moment to point out how simple this is.
Yes, I used 12 whole steps to explain it. But think with me for just a minute and you’ll probably never have to refer to the steps again:
- You’re making granola. You’re going to need some crunchy stuff and a coating and somewhere to bake it. The most common oven temp is 350, and you can go with that.
- It’s all based on the cup measure. 1 cup dried fruit (the least), twice that of seeds & nuts, twice THAT of oats (the most). The coating is 1 cup of fat and sugar in equal parts.
- The honey in the coating will be more liquid if you heat it up (and the more liquidy the better for mixing), so making the coating on the stove is the way to go. You don’t want hot sugar or oil popping around, so you don’t turn the heat up too high.
- Things taste more (and better) when they’re salted, so you’ll want to add a bit of that.
- And dried fruit gets chewy when it’s baked straight-up, so you’ll want to add it at the end.
If you remember the ratio of ingredients, you can probably think yourself through the steps, even if you have to do it a time or two before you feel truly confident about it.
A few notes for the future:
- Look at other granola recipes for ideas, and add things that sound good to you.
- If adding sugar to your coating, add it when you first put it over the heat. If adding vanilla or other extract, add it when you remove the pan from the heat.
- Have molasses that needs using up? This is a great way to do it. But start sparingly as the flavor can be pretty strong.
Well, how ’bout it?
Let me just say again how awesomely competent you’re going to feel doing this for yourself without a recipe. You’re also going to (eventually) LUHVE the way it tastes because, well, you get to make it taste however you want!
And if it’s not coming along like you expect, drop a line in the comments for goodness sake and I’ll help!
So… think you’ll try it?