Homemade apple cinnamon granola for the super snackable win! This healthy apple cinnamon granola recipe is super easy to make with a handful of ingredients and produces delicious crunchy clusters with great flavor. This is one of my favorite vegan recipes that the whole family enjoys as a quick breakfast, healthy snack, or sprinkled over ice cream for a delicious treat. Store-bought granola just doesn’t compare to this easy homemade granola recipe.
This post was updated from the original that was posted December 5, 2016.
Crispy, crunchy, nutty…perfectly sweet with an apple pie granola vibe. Oh, yes please! I’ll take a handful any day…oh how I adore this easy vegan granola recipe!
You can’t beat the taste or the ingredient list when you make your own granola. The store-bought version is overpriced and uses ingredients I don’t want to ingest. This healthy recipe for oil-free granola uses unsweetened applesauce and almond butter in place of highly refined sunflower oil or canola oil.
Plus, here’s my best homemade granola tip: no added sugar is needed! There are different ways to sweeten granola without brown sugar or cane sugar! A touch of maple syrup plus the unsweetened applesauce makes for a perfectly sweetened cinnamon apple granola.
Why you’ll love this oil-free granola
- Crispy, crunchy granola clusters..make them big or small…either way you’ll adore this super snackable deliciousness.
- Oil-free granola with healthy fats from nuts and seeds.
- Naturally sweetened with maple syrup and applesauce.
- Store in an airtight container the freezer for that fresh baked taste anytime.
- Warm spices like ground cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice invoke fall flavors…any time of year!
- Perfect PANTRY recipe uses ingredients you already have.
- EASY vegan granola recipe with only 5 minutes of hands on time.
- Whole grain oats are loaded with soluble fiber…a great way to keep healthy digestion on the regular!
- Meal prep friendly.
- Delicious grab and go breakfast or afternoon snack…perfect for munching!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Old fashioned oats: Rolled oats, not quick oats are what you want for whole grain goodness and the best results. Make sure it’s marked as certified gluten free if needed.
- Quinoa: Love how the uncooked quinoa tastes when it’s been toasted in the oven. A fabulous crispy texture addition to granola IMHO!
- Nuts: If tree nuts are an issue, use peanuts or all 2 cups of nuts + seeds can be all seeds. Otherwise, choose your favorite nuts or for a total of 1 cup to add to the seeds. I used pecans and almonds, but walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios or cashews are also good choices.
- Seeds: You’ll need a total of 1 cup of seeds. Use any combination of pumpkin, hemp, sunflower or chia seeds.
- Applesauce: Organic, unsweetened applesauce helps the granola mixture hold together and become crispy without the need for oil or sugar. Pro tip: Buy the individual applesauce in bulk at Costco so you’ll always have just what’s needed for a recipe.
- Almond butter: Any nut or seed butter will work. My favorite is tahini…most of my favorite recipes use tahini! Hubby likes peanut butter best and we usually compromise and I use almond butter. Use whatever you have and prefer.
- Maple syrup: Just ¼ cup makes perfectly sweet granola in my opinion.
- Vanilla: For that apple-pie like flavor, nothing beats pure vanilla extract! If you’re going for a different vibe, use almond extract or skip this.
- Spices: 2-3 teaspoons apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice can be subbed in for the cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. If you love a savory granola, swap in taco seasoning or ranch seasoning…super delish with a pinch of flaky sea salt added too.
How to make it
In a large mixing bowl, gather your dry ingredients. If your nuts are whole, break or chop them into smaller pieces. Mix oats, nuts, seeds, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and sea salt together. Make sure the spices are evenly distributed.
Mix together wet ingredients in a separate small bowl until thoroughly combined. The almond butter, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla extract will mix up to a thick, but pourable paste. Use a pyrex measuring cup to make it easy to pour.
Pour the wet mixture into the large bowl with the oat mixture and mix well. Keep pulling up the dry stuff from the bottom until everything is uniformly sticky.
Turn the granola onto the prepare pan. Use a heavy silicone spatula to press the granola batter into the sides and corners of the large baking sheet. Pack it in tightly. The baking process will firm everything up and turn this into clusters and clumps.
Bake granola for about 50 minutes, until firm and deep golden brown. Let it cool in the pan. Wait for it to come to room temperature and then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 weeks or stash in the freezer for 6 months.
How to store Granola to keep it crunchy
- Cool granola completely before storing.
- Glass jars with hinged lids are great for storing granola at room temperature.
- Keep it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place like your pantry.
- Homemade granola will stay crisp and fresh in the freezer for up to 6 months. Be sure to use freezer safe containers.
How to serve plant based granola
- A yogurt parfait made with layers of granola, vegan yogurt (I like kite hill almond yogurt best), a layer of vanilla chia pudding or chocolate chia pudding, and fresh fruit is fabulous. Make it ahead for a nutritious grab and go breakfast.
- Make your own almond milk and use this as a delicious cereal! Top with berries..yum!
- Break down the clumps and use as croutons sprinkled onto your favorite salad. This is especially good on my tuscan kale chopped salad.
- The perfect crunchy topping for your favorite ice cream.
- My favorite way to enjoy this is straight from the freezer.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- A granola jar is fun and user friendly…it also makes a great gift!
- Breakfast that includes protein helps slow down digestion and keep you satiated for longer. This vegan granola gets its protein from plant based sources of quinoa, nuts and seeds.
- Compress granola, packing it onto the tray as tightly as you can if you love granola clusters.
- Pecan pieces are less expensive than whole pecans and work better in this recipe too.
- Vegan Homemade Granola makes a great hostess gift. It’s an awesome way to give a warm hug in a jar! Tie a festive ribbon onto a jar and you’ve got a fabulous DIY holiday gift as well.
- If you’d like to add dried fruit or chocolate chips into your cinnamon granola, stir them in by hand after the baking process. Let the granola cool completely before mixing in the chocolate to avoid a melty mess.
More delicious no-oil recipes
That depends on what your goals are and which granola or recipe for granola you’re talking about. I like to make homemade oil free granola for a healthier choice. It’s loaded with iron, fiber and plant-based protein, whole grain carbs and healthy fats from whole foods like nuts and seeds. Avoid granola that contains added processed sugars and instead opt for a granola recipe that is naturally sweetened with unsweetened applesauce. Even healthier homemade granola is high in calories though, so pay attention to portion size.
Buying the ingredients and making your own granola is definitely cheaper than buying already made granola. Making granola yourself also lets you customize the ingredients to meet your dietary needs.
For crunchy granola, it’s best to cook it low and slow…it will take a bit longer for your granola to dry out and become crunchy, but it’s worth it to bake for about 50 minutes at 300 degrees. Any higher and some of the ingredients will burn before the whole batch becomes crunchy.
It’s also important that your batch of granola has enough room. Press the granola so it’s compact and spread evenly through your baking sheet. If there isn’t enough room for a thin, single layer, then use 2 baking trays.
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Apple Cinnamon Granola
- 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats gluten-free
- ¾ cup quinoa uncooked
- ½ cup raw sliced almonds
- ½ cup raw pecans
- ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- ½ cup almond butter creamy
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line large baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients including old fashioned oats, quinoa, nuts, seeds and spices.
- In a separate bowl, combine unsweetened applesauce with maple syrup, almond butter and vanilla extract. Continue to stir until everything completely blended.
- Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the oat mixture and mix until uniform in texture. It may seem like there isn't enough of the almond butter paste, but there is. Keep mixing and bringing up the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl.
- Turn granola mixture out onto prepared pan. Use a heavy silicon spatula to spread into entire pan. Compress with spatula, pushing down so granola is tightly packed and shoved into all 4 corners and edges evenly. If your baking sheet isn't large enough to hold granola in a single layer, then split into 2 trays.
- Place in preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes. If you like larger, crunchy clumps of granola, then leave it in the oven to dry out for the full 50 minutes. You can break it up after it cools. IF you prefer a granola form that's more like little pieces, take out the tray after 30 minutes, give it a good stir and put it back for the remaining 20 minutes already somewhat broken up.
- Granola will be firm and golden when baked all the way through. It will harden a bit more as it cools. Mix to break up the granola clusters if you wish, or wait until it's completely cool before breaking it up.
- Granola will stay good in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 3 months. Personally, I love to eat it straight from the freezer when it's super crisp.