Sweet and nutty toasted honey and hazelnut granola. Jump to the recipe here, or read on to get my tips for making perfect granola, and get the recipe at the bottom of the post.
Homemade granola is one of the simplest and tastiest things that can come out of your kitchen in thirty minutes or less. All it takes is a handful of ingredients dumped in a bowl, spread on a baking sheet, then thrown in the oven for a few minutes, and viola. Goodbye bags of overpriced, overly sweet, stale, store-bought granola… hello perfection.
I love homemade granola, but for such a simple thing, I’ve managed to mess it up on a number of occasions. You might be laughing right now, wondering how I could possibly get it wrong, but trust me, it’s easier than you think to make it too sweet, not clumpy enough, or have too many flavors going on all at once.
That last one is usually my biggest downfall, because I want to add ALL OF THE FLAVORS to my granola. I love spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, but when it comes to granola, it’s easy to be too heavy-handed. It turns out, granola benefits from a light touch, and subtle flavors, especially in regards to spices.
That’s Tip number one. Don’t add too many things to your granola. Keep it simple, especially if you’re new to granola making, then slowly add more things as you become more familiar with the basics. If using spices like cinnamon or ginger, start with less than you think you’ll need. You can always add more in your next batch until you get it where you want it.
Tip number two: Optimize nuttiness. For a long time I made my granola with a big handful of roughly chopped nuts, but the flavor was always so subtle. The reason being, I was only getting a few pieces of nuts in each bite. The solution? Chop half of your nuts roughly into big pieces, and chop the rest super fine. The finely chopped bits will get mixed into every piece of granola, so every bite will be bursting with flavor, while the bigger pieces add great texture.
Tip number three: Clusters. You know it, and I know it — granola is all about the clusters. Here’s the thing: you want your granola to bake evenly so it doesn’t burn, and most recipes recommend stirring a few times during baking to ensure it doesn’t get more done in some places than others. However, if you dump your granola into the pan, throw it in the oven, then stir it, your chances of getting big, glorious, clustery-chunks of granola are slim. Instead, I like to press the granola firmly into the baking sheet with a spatula, then stir it only once in the middle of baking. After stirring, press it (very firmly) back into the pan, and once it’s done, let it cool completely, undisturbed. Compressing the granola into a solid sheet like this gives the sugars a chance to glue everything together, and once it’s cool, you can easily break the sheet into big, hearty clusters. (When using this technique, it helps to line the pan with parchment so the granola comes up easily once it’s cooled.)
Tip number four: Low and slow. Granola doesn’t take long to bake, but if your oven has hot spots or the dial isn’t accurate (I recommend an oven thermometer to check this) it can be easy to burn the granola. I’ve had this happen on many occasions, even in ovens I am familiar with, and it is never a fun feeling. To be safe, I always bake my granola at a slightly lower temperature, this way it gets evenly golden brown without getting too dark. Burnt granola = sad granola.
Tip number five: Add dried fruit at the end. If you like dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots, etc.) leave them out until your granola is finished baking. Otherwise the sugars in the fruit can burn, giving them a bitter flavor, and the fruit can dry out in the oven making it extra chewy. Instead, once the granola has cooled and you’ve broken it into chunks, mix in your dried fruit (or other add-ins, like chunks of chocolate) just before storing.
Tip number six: Adjust to taste. Once you’ve gotten the hang of the method, and have a feel for how much sweetness and spice you like, any granola recipe becomes a jumping-off point. All you really need to know is the ratio of oats to sweetener (honey, maple syrup, etc.) you prefer, and the rest is all about what you’re in the mood for. Feel like adding some chia or hemp seeds for added protein? Go for it! Want some peanut butter in the mix? By all means.
So far, this honey and hazelnut granola has been my favorite to come out of my kitchen. It’s ingredients are exceedingly simple, allowing the flavor of the honey and hazelnuts, and even the oats themselves, to really shine through. It reminds me of those nature valley oat and nut bars, only with a huge punch of roasted hazelnut flavor (and a way shorter ingredient list).
This granola is perfect all on it’s own, but becomes a really special treat with fresh raspberries and just a little bit (okay maybe a lot) of dark chocolate. Basically, you can have dessert for breakfast, and not even feel bad about it.
- 3 cups rolled oats (or gluten-free rolled oats)
- 1 cup roasted and skinned hazelnuts, divided
- ⅓rd cup honey
- 3-4 TBSP light brown sugar, depending on how sweet you like it (I prefer it with 3)
- ½ tsp. kosher salt, scantly measured
- 3 TBSP coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
- Optional add-ins: 1-2 TBSP hemp, flax, or chia seeds // ¼-1/2 tsp cinnamon, ginger, or other spices // chopped dried fruit such as apricots, raisins, cherries, or finely chopped chocolate (stir in at the end of baking once granola has cooled)
- Preheat oven to 325 F., and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a silpat.
- Roughly chop half of the hazelnuts, and add them to a large mixing bowl. With the other half of the nuts, chop them very finely, or add them to a food processor and pulse them until very finely and evenly chopped. Add to the bowl with the rest of the hazelnuts.
- To the same bowl, add the oats, brown sugar, and salt, and mix to combine. If you're adding any of the optional add-ins (besides dried fruit or chocolate), mix them in now.
- Stir in the honey, coconut oil, and vanilla extract, mixing until everything is evenly combined. Dump the mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet, and spread into an even layer, pressing firmly so the granola will form nice clusters as it bakes.
- Bake on the center rack for 20-30 minutes, or until the oats are lightly golden in color. After ten minutes, give the granola a stir, then press it firmly into an even layer again before returning to the oven. How long the granola takes to bake will depend a lot on your oven, so keep a close eye on it!
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely, without stirring. Once cool, break the granola into clusters. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three weeks.
You can find my tutorial on how to roast and skin hazelnuts,
HERE. UPDATE: since writing this, I've discovered a new way to skin hazelnuts that's even easier. You can check out the new tutorial, HERE.