You could call granola the “little black dress” of the breakfast table. It's simple, elegant and dresses up or down at your whim. Breakfast never looked so good!
Start with a simple combo of oats and nuts, add a little oil and a sweetener and then dress it up—or down—for just about any season! Here are a few pointers to make sure your granola is always the talk of the town.
Feel your oats
For best results, select old-fashioned rolled oats over the quick-cooking or steel-cut kind.
Go big or go home
Because there are lots of ingredients—most of them in small pieces or flakes—a big mixing bowl is a must for combining your granola mixture. The right bowl will give you plenty of room to combine ingredients easily and quickly without making a giant mess.
Make a template
One of the best things about granola is how easy it is to make substitutions. Find a good recipe and make it the first time according to the recipe directions. Then put your own stamp on it by switching things up. Try dried cherries or cranberries instead of raisins. Ditch the nuts and stir in pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. (Work to keep the ratio of wet-to-dry ingredients roughly the same as in the original recipe for best results.)
Spice it up
Cinnamon is a natural in granola, but you can have fun with small amounts of allspice or cardamom, or try a spice blend like pumpkin pie or apple pie spice. Flavored extracts open up another world of flavor options, but start out sparingly, a little can go a long way, depending on the extract. And don’t forget the salt—it adds dimension to the finished granola and keeps it from being too sweet.
Chew the fat
Of course you want to make granola as healthy as possible, but if you don’t use any oil, you're going to have a pile of dry oats. Olive and coconut oil are the most commonly used in granola recipes, but you can experiment with small batches using oils to complement your other ingredients.
Be sure your granola has completely cooled before storing. Condensation from still-warm granola in a closed container will make the mixture sticky and limp.