Amazing vegan oil-free granola that's crunchy, delicious, and FULL of clusters! Enjoy this basic almond oil-free granola as written, or customize it with your favorite nuts, seeds, spices, and dried fruit. Delicious for breakfast or by the handful as a snack. Turns out perfect every time!
Originally published in October 2018, this recipe has been updated for photos and content.
Have you ever wondered why granola usually contains so much oil? For a food that's typically considered healthy, reading the ingredient lists on store-bought granolas is pretty depressing - lots of fat and sugar, not to mention they're so expensive!
Fat does give granola a certain richness and some moisture, but a small amount of nut or seed butter also gets the job done but in a more wholesome way.
When it comes to vegan granola I'd always assumed oil was needed to achieve the crunchy clusters we all love. Boy was I wrong!
How to Get Crunchy Clusters in Oil-Free Granola
Brown rice syrup is mildly sweet, super sticky, and creates the BEST vegan granola! Honest-to-goodness, it really does. I mean just look at those clusters!
Have you ever wondered why so many store-bought granolas include honey? Its stickiness is one reason, though the massive honey industry and its price point are also factors, I'm sure. Anyway....
Brown rice syrup is the best honey substitute when making vegan granola.
The downside is that brown rice syrup isn't always the easiest ingredient to find. Most health food stores, co-ops, and Whole Foods locations carry it.
You can also order brown rice syrup online, which I've done many times. In fact, I once ordered a case of 12 bottles, which, in all honesty, was way too much. Yet I'm not sorry!
If you also like to buy specialty ingredients in bulk, here are more delicious ways to use brown rice syrup:
- The Best Vegan Rice Krispie Treats
- Healthy Vegan Peanut Butter Granola
- Copycat GoMacro Protein Bars
- Popped Sorghum Bites
- Salted Chocolate-Almond Popped Sorghum Balls
- Coconut Rice Krispie Treats
What You'll Need
To make oil-free granola you need just 8 or 9 ingredients, a mixing bowl, a large baking sheet and parchment paper or a silicone mat.
This is a summary; be sure to scroll down for the full recipe.
- old fashioned rolled oats
- raw almonds, optional
- pumpkin seeds or other nuts or seeds such as sunflower, sesame, slivered almonds, walnuts, pecans, or cashews
- ground cinnamon
- salt - part of what makes granola SO irresistible is that hint of saltiness contrasting the sweetness. Don't skip it unless you have to.
- brown rice syrup - important if you want the super crunchy, clusters. Otherwise, maple syrup can be used instead.
- maple syrup - for flavor and additional sweetness; since brown rice syrup is fairly mellow, these two liquid sweeteners work together to create the perfect amount of sweetness.
- smooth almond butter - or another nut or seed butter you love
- vanilla extract
- almond extract, optional
How To Make Granola Without Oil
This recipe is about as easy as granola gets! There's no need to warm the syrups first on the stove, although you can if you want to. Here's how I usually do it:
- Preheat the oven to 320 degrees F, and line a large baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
- In a mixing bowl whisk together the wet ingredients, salt and cinnamon.
- Warm this in the microwave for about 20 seconds. This thins the brown rice syrup and makes it easier to stir and pour.
- Add the rolled oats, nuts, and seeds. Stir until all the oats are coated.
- Spread on the prepared pan as pictured below. It's okay if the oats overlap quite a bit in some areas. This helps create the yummy clusters!
- Bake for 20 minutes, then stir and spread out again. Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, then cool for 10 to 15 minutes before breaking into clusters.
The granola will continue to crisp up as it cools, so don't be fooled into thinking it isn't done when you first pull it from the oven.
Keep an eye on the underside of the granola in the last few minutes of cooking so that it doesn't burn.
If you're a fan of cinnamon, I recommend adding just a touch more right when the granola comes out of the oven. We love doing this because then you have two layers of warm cinnamon built into the crunchy granola.
Flavor Variations and Additions
There are so many ways to customize your oil-free granola.
Experiment with additions like flaked coconut and chocolate chips.
And don't be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to spices and flavorings. Try it with:
- pumpkin spice
- mild curry powder or garam masala
- chai spice blend
- ginger and clove
- cocoa powder
- and other extracts
---> Update: check out this Ginger Turmeric Granola (Trader Joe's copycat).
Swap peanut butter for the almond butter for a delicious peanut butter granola.
Sunbutter or tahini make excellent nut-free granola. Instead of almonds use a mixture of your favorite seeds like pepitas and sunflower seeds.
Hemp and flax seeds add healthy Omega-3s and a nice nutty flavor.
If you enjoy dried fruit in your granola, add it after baking.
Store granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week (probably longer, but I like to play it safe) or refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Granola is also freezer-friendly.
But truly, this granola is so addictively salty/sweet and crunchy we usually polish off the whole batch in a matter of days!
More Oil-Free Breakfast Recipes:
Oil-Free Granola (Vegan)
- ½ cup brown rice syrup - important for super cluster-y granola. Can sub maple syrup, if desired, and omit the maple syrup listed below.
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- ¼ cup raw almond butter - Or other nut/seed butter.
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract, optional
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats - Certified gluten-free if needed.
- 1 cup raw almonds or other nuts - can reduce for lower-fat granola
- ¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds or other
- Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
- In a mixing bowl combine the syrups, almond butter, extracts, salt and cinnamon. Microwave in 10 to 15 second intervals to warm the syrup slightly. This makes it easier to stir and combine with the other ingredients.
- Once the wet ingredients are fully combined, add the oats, nuts, and seeds to the bowl. Stir until everything is well coated with the syrup mixture.
- Spread the granola onto the prepared pan, lightly pressing it down. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from oven, stir, and spread out on the pan again. Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, keeping an eye on the bottom of the granola in the last few minutes so that it doesn't burn.
- Let the granola cool on the pan for 15 minutes, then break into clusters. Once completely cool, transfer to an airtight container.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.