Chunky Homemade Granola

By Ann Fulton

Big batch recipe makes two full baking sheets of classic, crunchy, lightly sweet granola. It's delicious with yogurt, fruit or by the handful.
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This big batch recipe makes two full baking sheets of classic, crunchy, lightly sweet granola that is delicious with yogurt, milk, fruit – or by the handful. You may cut the recipe in half, but it will keep for weeks and freezes well, too.

 

Perfectly crunchy, not overly sweet, and loaded with chunks, this granola recipe yields 16 cups of granola and is a welcome breakfast or satisfying snack. It’s basic pantry ingredient cooking at its best!

This recipe is one of the first I shared through the Fountain Avenue Kitchen. The accompanying photos were pretty bad, so it’s unlikely that many people paid much attention to the recipe!

Because I have continued to tweak the recipe–and because it’s rather popular in our house–I thought it was time to give it a makeover.

As evidenced by the early pictures (see further down the page), I have absolutely no photography training. Fortunately, my older son, John, was taking a photography class at school when I began my cooking adventure, and he gave me some of my best pointers. 

I remember hovering over a tray of granola as he told me to get up close and try to show some of the texture in the food–using my iPhone 4, no less! I have thought of that tip many times in the years that have followed.

When I first made granola from scratch, I started with a very basic recipe and altered it over time. My goal was granola with big, snack-worthy chunks, ideally with less sugar and oil than the variety I typically purchased.

Delightful as a topping for yogurt or cereal–or eaten by the handful–this chunky granola also serves as a base for a hard-to-resist snack mix. Dried cranberries, cashews, and white chocolate chips are our add-ins of choice. With the added benefit of being mostly healthy and portable, this mix is a welcome lunchbox addition and a filling snack.

My husband, a frequent flyer, thinks this is the perfect snack to take while traveling. There’s no need to refrigerate and, when paired with fruit and a yogurt, can stand in for breakfast or lunch.

This big batch recipe makes two full baking sheets of classic, crunchy, lightly sweet granola that is delicious with yogurt, milk, fruit – or by the handful. You may cut the recipe in half, but it will keep for weeks and freezes well, too.

Stored in a Mason jar and tied with a bow (or kitchen twine), the granola makes a lovely gift too. 

Chunky Homemade Granola

For maximum chunks, press the mixture together firmly before baking and flip in large sections. (A metal spatula and the flat bottom of a measuring cup come in handy to achieve the above look.) For looser granola, simply distribute the mixture over the baking sheets (no pressing necessary) and break up the chunks when you stir.

The photo, below, shows just how big you can make the chunks if you follow this technique. (And this is after breaking some into smaller pieces.) More recently, I have also tried baking the granola without flipping or stirring at all, and that works quite well. If you want to try this, check occasionally to make sure the edges aren’t becoming too brown. If they are, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees and move the browned edges to the center of the baking sheet.

What if you don’t want chunks? This granola can be made into a loose, chunk-free mix by stirring more thoroughly when baking and again when removed from the oven. 

This big batch recipe makes two full baking sheets of classic, crunchy, lightly sweet granola that is delicious with yogurt, milk, fruit – or by the handful. You may cut the recipe in half, but it will keep for weeks and freezes well, too.

You may wonder why there is water in this recipe. In addition to reducing the amount of oil and maple syrup required to moisten the dry mixture, the water very lightly plumps the oats before they become dry and crisp in the oven. The end result is a texture that’s less loose and grainy like many granolas. The plumper oats also create a larger yield. 

Chunky Homemade Granola
Yield: 16 cups (4 quarts)
This big batch recipe makes two full baking sheets of classic, crunchy, lightly sweet granola that is delicious with yogurt, milk, fruit – or by the handful. You may cut the recipe in half, but it will keep for weeks and freezes well, too.
Ingredients
  • 6 cups (540g) old-fashioned oats
  • 1½ cups (170g) slivered raw almonds
  • 1½ cups (210g) raw sunflower seeds (may use pumpkin seeds or a mix)
  • 1 cup (228g) whole wheat or all-purpose flour (see notes for GF options)
  • ¾ cup (150g) packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup (180g) melted coconut oil (may substitute; see notes)
  • ½ cup (4oz) water
  • ½ cup (160g) pure maple syrup (may substitute honey)
  • Optional: ⅔ cup (56g) shredded or flaked coconut (I use unsweetened)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300℉. Grease two rimmed baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.
  2. In a very large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, flour, brown sugar, salt, and optional coconut. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, maple syrup, and water. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until the dry ingredients are completely moistened.
  3. Spread the oat mixture over the prepared baking sheets. Press the mixture into a big, even rectangle on each baking sheet to start. (This will help the pieces bind.)
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, and then flip in large sections with a spatula. Switch the trays around in oven and bake 20-30 minutes more, flipping every 10 minutes, or until dried out and lightly golden. (Helpful hints: If you’re not interested in chunks, stir and break up the mixture as you go. If you want bigger chunks, flip in large sections. You can break them into smaller pieces later, if desired. For really big chunks, you may skip the flipping/stirring altogether, but do rotate the baking sheets. Note that the granola will likely take longer to dry out in this case and you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees if the edges begin to brown too much.)
  5. Once the granola is dry, remove from the oven and do not stir again until completely cooled.
  6. Storage: Stored in an airtight container, the granola will stay fresh for several weeks at room temperature and several months in the refrigerator. It freezes well, too.
Notes

I have substituted my all-purpose, gluten-free flour blend and several store-bought blends with excellent results. Most recently, I used flax meal. The flavor difference with the flax meal was negligible, and while the granola was less chunky, I wouldn’t hesitate to make it this way again.
While my favorite oil in this granola is coconut oil (for both its aroma and light flavor), I have used canola and olive oil and both are fine substitutes.
•The granola offers a great snack mix base. Favorite combinations for add-ins include the following: 
white chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and cashews; dark chocolate chips, dried cherries, and walnuts or pecans; mini M&Ms, raisins, banana chips, and peanuts; butterscotch or cinnamon chips, chopped dried apricots, and macadamia nuts.

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A good friend sent me this photo of her new kitchen canister, which is dedicated solely to this granola recipe. I'm so glad her family enjoys it a much as we do!

A good friend sent me this photo of her new kitchen canister, which is dedicated solely to this granola recipe. I’m so glad her family enjoys it a much as we do!

This is one of the first recipes I shared through The Fountain Avenue Kitchen.  Here are some early photos…

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Comments

  1. Rosanne

    I prefer not to use the following ingredients:
    Flour
    Sugar
    Salt
    Will it work w/o these items?
    Thank you,
    Rosanne

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Roseanne, Omitting and/or substituting all of these ingredients will change the final outcome, but I have a few suggestions. You can omit the salt, use flax meal in place of the flour, and use evaporated cane juice (which is actually granular despite what the name suggests) or coconut sugar instead of the brown sugar. The other option would be to omit the water and use additional honey or maple syrup. I haven’t tried that, so I can’t guarantee the outcome. If you do try, I’d love to know how you make out!

      Reply
  2. charu ravi

    I tried this recipe but am not able to get chunks in my granola….can u help me pl. I do not want to use egg

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I think the best way to get chunks is to first press the mixture into an even rectangle before baking. Then, instead of stirring, try to flip large sections. When the granola is finished cooking, allow it to cool completely before touching it again. Also, I’ve noticed that when I use maple syrup instead of honey I get somewhat better chunks. That said, the granola will never be all chunks. Oh, and when I use thick cut oats I seem to get fewer chunks. Basic rolled or old-fashioned oats work best. Finally, you could try using half honey or maple syrup and half brown rice syrup, and adjusting from there. Brown rice syrup is the best glue, so to speak. You can look at this post for a few more details: https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/no-bake-peanut-butter-oat-squares-2/.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply
  3. Sam Raia

    While the granola is tasty it is not very sweet. I believe a little more honey an brown sugar will do the trick. Overall the recipe is good and I am using it on my next catering gig.

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      It’s not as sweet as many store-bought options, but I do find that many people prefer a little less sweetness. Overall, such a personal preference really. Luckily, it’s easy to adjust. Thanks for your comment, Sam, and I’m glad that the recipe will work for your catering job.

      Reply
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  5. Susan

    To make my granola chunky I use egg whites. Added protein and makes it all chunk up nicely even when I turn the granola while cooking.

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Great comment, Susan. I have done that as well, and even ran a side-by-side comparison using this recipe–one batch using egg whites, the other without. In this recipe there was little difference. I think the key is the specific protein, which is provided via the flour (either gluten-free or regular works) as opposed to the egg whites in this recipe. Perhaps next time I should make with the egg whites but without the flour!

      Reply
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    1. Ann

      Hi Bertie,
      I think I have an idea….My granola gets equally chunky when using gluten-free flour or regular wheat flour. Typically, I used bulk old-fashioned oats, but recently I used Bob’s Red Mill Oats for the first time. Their oats are wonderful, although they are cut a little thicker than many varieties of 5-minute cooking oats. I noticed that the thicker cut oats created granola that was equally tasty but not as chunky. Let me know if you think this is helpful…and I am glad you love it regardless!

      Reply
  7. Mary Lou Keller

    I just took my first batch of this out of the oven to cool Ann. It smells wonderful in my little house. Only problem I had, it did not stick together at all. No matter though, I know we will love it just as it is, especially added to yogurt with fruit. Or heck, just eating out of a bowl with a spoon 🙂

    Thanks dear Ann for another wonderful recipe!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      I love the aroma, too, Mary Lou! It is strange that it didn’t stick together. Did you use the flour? The only other suggestion would be to make sure you press it together at the beginning and flip in sections as I mention. That helps to make the bigger chunks. Thanks for the feedback…enjoy!!

      Reply
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  10. Rosemary Locatelli

    I just love this recipe, have been making this over & over.
    Changed this recipe by adding dried cranberries,
    blueberries, different soy beans and a variety
    of nuts. (Being there is now so much to mix, I have to
    add more liquids. Also I bake this at 250 degrees
    for 1 hour turning it every 20 minutes. Also tried making
    little balls to get chunks without using my hands once
    it’s in the oven.)
    Again, thanks for the idea.
    Have a Happy & Healthy New Year!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      I am so glad to read your comment, Rosemary. I love this recipe, too! Thanks so much for letting me know, and Happy New Year to you, too!

      Reply
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    1. Ann

      I have not, Rebecca. If you try, perhaps you could make half a batch–which will still make a good amount–and decide if you like it that way. If you do try with quick oats, please report back!

      Reply
  12. Amie

    I halved this recipe to see if we would like it. It is delicious! I only had Splenda brown sugar and sugar free maple syrup, so it didn’t stick together like your pictures. The taste is great and it is more like cereal. We’ll still eat it, but I think I’ll try the full sugar ingredients next time.

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Too funny, Amie…I literally just ate a handful of this before I read your comment. This granola is one of my go-to snacks. I have never tried the Splenda sugars–other than the little yellow packet!–but this is helpful feedback for others who may try. Thanks for the helpful comment!
      One extra thought…you can get bigger chunks if you start by patting the mixture into a big rectangle on the baking sheet. When it is time to stir, use your spatula to essentially flip in big chunks, breaking into smaller pieces as desired.

      Reply
  13. Charlie Gilner

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    Reply
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