Grain Free Granola: Super Easy, Use What You Have

Going grain free, but finding it hard to give up your morning granola? Here's a frugal and easy grain free granola you can make RIGHT NOW!

Homemade granola and yogurt with fresh berries is almost perfection-in-a-bowl for me.

During a grain-free stint we did earlier this summer, I quickly realized that I needed an alternative to eggs or breakfast meat or plain yogurt (without grains, breakfast can get boring fast). Could granola still be filling and tasty without the ever-present oat?

To my delight, I realized it could indeed. In fact, I appreciate this granola more in a sense. It’s a bit heartier than a regular granola because it packs such a protein and good fat filled punch. That means that I’m content to put a handful on a large bowl of yogurt and I find it very satisfying.

Even better, I can whip this up in literally 5 minutes.

If you had a bird’s eye view into my kitchen, you would see that I’m a rebel cook and I prefer to function without measuring cups. I take a bowl, huck a bunch of yummy ingredients into it, stir, and cook. Done. But if that was the recipe I gave you, I may be booed off of Pinterest.

So, here goes… I don’t measure very precisely, but I’m going to attempt to give you measurements. The great thing about not measuring too particularly is that you can adapt, adjust and play around. Cooking should be more of an art than a science, anyways. Free free to use what you have to make this work. Try new flavor combinations. Keep it simple when you just need to whip something up fast.

Ingredients You’ll Need for Your Grain Free Granola

This isn’t a set list, but rather a group of ingredients that I choose from, depending on what I have in the house and what sounds good to me:

  • almonds
  • walnut pieces
  • chopped pecans
  • sunflower seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • flax seeds
  • chia seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • dried unsweetened coconut flakes
  • dried fruit– raisins or currants, or chop up something like apricots, cherries, or mango
  • your choice of oil and liquid sweetener (more on this below)

Remember that with nuts and seeds, it’s best to soak them overnight in a slightly salty water solution, then dry or dehydrate them. This reduces the amount of enzyme inhibitors that they contain, which impair digestion and can make nuts hard on the gut.

I make this a simple process by buying my nuts and seeds in bulk, and soaking several kinds at once. I set out a bunch of bowls on my counter, dump in the various nuts and seeds, fill with warm water and a bit of sea salt, then leave overnight. The next day at some point, I drain them and stick them in my dehydrator for about a day on a low temperature (below 115 F). It honestly doesn’t take much effort, and then I have all of my nuts and seeds ready to use whenever I want them.

If you consider it in ratios, you want to have about: 

2 parts nuts (this can include several kinds)
1 part seeds (again, more than one type is fine)
1 part dried coconut flakes (if you like- optional)
1 part dried fruit (single type or mixed is fine)
1 part oil/honey mixture
pinch of sea salt (could go up to 1/4 tsp or slightly more, depending how big your batch is. Go easy the first time or two that you make it so that you don’t over-salt)
a splash of real vanilla

For the oil and sweetener mixture, I personally like either: 

1/2 raw honey OR 1/2 maple syrup
1/2 coconut oil

You could also substitute butter for a wonderful, caramelly flavor, but I use coconut oil to keep it dairy free for one of my little girls.

If you’re using a cup for your ratio, you would use 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup coconut oil, for example, mixed in with about 4 parts of dry ingredients. To make a large batch, simply double or triple as necessary.

I have also tried using a bit less raw honey and sweetening in part with liquid stevia, to keep the sugar content lower. I honestly can’t remember exactly what ratio I did (I probably used only 1/2 or 2/3 the usual honey and then about 15-20 drops of Nu Naturals stevia) and it was still just fine.

granola on baking sheet

The Oh-So-Intricate Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 325 F.

2. Start by putting a small pot on low-med heat, and adding your honey or maple syrup (or stevia) and oil/butter. You just want it all melted and easy to mix in, but it doesn’t need to be cooked at all.

3. I add any harder nuts (like almonds) to the food processor for a minute, pulsing it to create smaller pieces, but not too small (nope, I don’t wash it out, just give it a quick wipe to save time). Softer nuts can have just a very quick pulse after the hard ones (just throw them into the mix). Not too long in the processor, or nuts like walnuts and pecans will get ground too finely.

4. Next, I add the chopped nuts and all of the seeds, coconut, and dried fruit to a large mixing bowl.

5. Pour in the sweeteners and oil mixture and stir until everything is well combined.

6. Spread out on a baking sheet (I use my stone one, which I adore). Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes at 325 F. If I remember, I take it out once to move things around on the baking sheet, for even cooking, but I have found that this recipe will forgive you if you forget.

My current favorite way to make this is with a mix of almonds and walnuts, whatever seeds I have on hand (I like using lots of chia, plus flax, sunflower and pumpkin), dried cherries together with raisins, and maple syrup as my sweetener. I also think that dried apples with maple syrup and pecans would make a lovely fall flavor. Or go tropical with apricots, mango, almonds, sunflower seeds, plenty of coconut and raw honey. See? It’s endless. Mmmm… 

What would you include in your version of this granola? Has anyone else been trying to decrease their grains?

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  1. So what ways do you serve this? I make the soaked granola from Katie at Kitchen Stewardship, but we’re finding out that our little one with all the allergies and eczema might be sensitive to oatmeal too! This would be a great quick breakfast or travel well as a snack for the week’s extra activities. Might have to make it this weekend. Thanks!

    1. For those of us who eat dairy, I serve it with yogurt, and if we have it, fresh fruit or berries (or sometimes just frozen blueberries). For my little one who is dairy free, I serve it to her more like cereal, with coconut or almond milk (or coconut kefir works well, too- https://keeperofthehome.org/2010/05/video-blog-how-to-make-coconut-milk-kefir.html
      The kids and I also sometimes just grab it by the handful as a trail mix sort of snack. It’s good just by itself. 🙂

    1. To my knowledge, no, they don’t. It would be really difficult with flax and chia, because they’re both mucilaginous (ie. they get slimy and goopy once they come in contact with water), so the process would be challenging, to say the least. I do it with all the other nuts and seeds, but not those ones.

      1. I did soak my flaxseed and did get a big slimy bowl of flax seed goop. However I still dried them on a 9 by 13 pan with parchment paper and got what looks like chips. I threw them in the food processor for just a moment and it worked out perfectly.

  2. This recipe looks great! I’m actually not trying to reduce our grains – we use a lot of whole wheat and oats – but I do enjoy experimenting and will give your no-grain recipe a try! Our favorite granola contains oats, rolled wheat, honey, and peanut butter. 🙂

    Love the “oh so intricate method” – haha!

  3. Stephanie,
    Remembering that you did a stint of non grain foods….After doing gaps for a period of time were you able to eat grains agains? Did you your stomach heal up? Were you ever tested for gluten intolerance? Did gluten make you sick when you ate it?
    Thanks for you time. Love your blog.

    1. GAPS definitely helped to heal my son’s gut and his sensitivities have mostly gone away (he was having issues with wheat, gluten and dairy at the time). We also continued to keep him gluten and dairy free for a period of time after GAPS, and now (over 2 years later) he now eats grains with no problem. None of us seem to have actual gluten intolerance, only our 3 year old still has a strong sensitivity to wheat and to rice, but strangely, she seems ok with other non-wheat gluten grains (kamut, rye, barley).

      1. I have a friend who has this problem and tried heritage wheat. She has to avoid the modern hybrid wheat and enriched flour, but has done great with wheat that is heritage not modern and organically grown. She buys from Azure Standard.

  4. I like this idea of granola without grains because I am on a food-combining diet to deal with digestive issues. One food group consists of dried fruits, nuts, and seeds, which cannot be combined with grains, so this recipe will be fine. Does anyone have other recipes that will work with a food-combining diet? Thanks!

  5. I thought I was the only one who did this when I was out of oats:-) One of my favorite ways to eat it is with yogurt, diced up fresh apple, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Would work well with your Fall example above.

  6. We are coconut lovers here so I use coconut in the ratio to other ingredients that the oats would normally be. The big coconut flakes are preferred over shreds. My favorite recipe has been the Granola From Heaven from Shoshanna at Bulk Herb Store in her new book, Making Babies. It uses a combination of brown sugar (I used Rapadura) and maple syrup for sweetening. (I highly recommend both the book and the accompanying three DVDs.) The biggest change I made to her recipe was choosing to dehydrate rather than bake the granola. I was leary at first but it turned out awesome, crispy, sweet and full of all its raw goodness. We eat it by the handful as a snack food or drop some on top of yogurt. Also, I don’t add dried fruit to the mix, just nuts and seeds. If we want fruit I just throw it in at the time of consumption. Its a great place to include chia seeds too! Yummy, crunchy and packed with energy-sustaining nutrients.

  7. Oh I am soo excited for this! I’ve recently had to go grain free and have been drooling over the granola I make for my husband and daughter. Thank you, thank you, thank you for a granola recipe I can eat! Breakfast without eggs or grains does get boring quickly.

  8. We also enjoy pumpkin bars and banana bread made with a Combo of coconut flour and almond flour for a grain free breakfast.

  9. I have been craving granola, home-made, granola. This looks yummy! Thank you for sharing.

  10. Thanks for this great recipe! I am wondering if there is another way to dehydrate soaked nuts since I don’t have a dehydrator? Is it just something u should invest in to start soaking all my nuts? Is there another way in the time being?

    1. Some people simply use their oven set on the very lowest setting. They wouldn’t probably be raw anymore, because the lowest setting on most ovens is too high for that, but it would allow you to soak and then still use your nuts. I would keep an eye out for used dehydrators at thrift stores and garage sales. I wouldn’t spend a whole bunch of money on one just for the sake of dehydrating nuts, but if you can get one cheap, it’s such a helpful thing to have!

  11. This stuff is awesome! This is so much better than regular granola. I did part honey/maple because we love both with the coconut oil and wow! As it was cooling it kept getting crunchy and I had to sample every stage. Ok now it’s time to stop eating it… Thank you for this recipe – it will be our go to granola from this day forward 🙂

  12. Many people steer clear of whole grains; they’d do well to give them a second look. The average person eats refined grain products like white rice and white flour and avoids whole grains like plague. In the meantime, low carb dieters swear off whole grains in favour of high protein options like poultry and meat under false belief that all grains are evil to the dieter. And most people simply avoid whole grains because they don’t know what to do with them or how to prepare them. There are plenty of highly nutritious and delicious whole grains to choose from, so adding whole grains to your diet needn’t be daunting.

  13. I was wanting a recipe for grain free granola, but I never have enough nuts on hand. This recipe was so flexible I can make it with seeds and whatever else is arround. I love it! Thanks for explaining how to make the perfect granola so versatile! I just made my first batch, and it’s totally addictive! Thanks for helping me go grain free!

  14. I’ve been adding goji berries to mine. Not a lot, but enough to give it some colour and some other nutrients.

  15. this is soooo good! =) Just took it out of the oven and have it on the counter for cooling now… everytime I go by, I take a handful =) THANK YOU for an amazingly easy and delicious recipe!!! =) btw: I never use measurements either =) don’t even own a kitchen scale. best way of cooking/ baking =)

  16. Is this supposed to get crunchy? I just made up a batch. It is delicious, but still very soft. I cooked it for like 25″ and it doesn’t seem to be getting any crunchier. I used 1/2 honey and 1/2 maple syrup.

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