If you are looking to make granola at home that tastes amazing, but can be eaten daily without feeling you’ve just eaten something too sweet and rich, look no further! At just 212 calories per 1/2 cup serving my Healthier Homemade Granola is healthier but still looks and tastes like traditional granola!

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bowl of granola served with berries and milk.

There are dozens of online recipes for homemade granola, but I believe this recipe does a stellar job of balancing the nuances of what makes granola so beloved, to yield a delicious homemade granola that is objectively healthier and provides you with a granola you can eat daily without breaking the calorie bank and without feeling like you just finished some candy when you are through. Mind you, I’m sure there are plenty of you who don’t care about these nuances! I understand. You should go make my Chocolate Raspberry Granola instead (though it’s pretty “healthy” too). This recipe is for those of you who want to enjoy homemade granola, but either find it too sweet or don’t indulge because granola seems too caloric, fatty, and sweet to be eaten regularly. For the latter, I’ve done the research and picked apart the nutrition of dozens of granola recipes with the word “healthy” in the title, to understand how granola is made and how we all attempt to make it healthy (see my Low Sugar Granola Recipe). It’s become an obsession, frankly, and it’s time for me to move on, but before I do, here it is in all its splendor, how to make healthier homemade granola that still tastes great, with all kinds of tips and ideas about how to do that, why to do that, and a simple recipe for you to make it happen.

What makes Granola so caloric?

Granola typically contains rolled oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, sweeteners, and butter or oil. The ingredients are baked in the oven and become delightfully sweet and crunchy. This creates a nutrient-dense food that is also very sweet and high in fat. So, while it is full of nutrition, it is also very caloric (from the healthy and other fats) and can be overly sweet. Therefore, I simply wanted to develop a recipe for healthier homemade granola that clocks in at close to 200 calories for 1/2 cup, reducing the fat and sugar as much as possible while maintaining as much protein as possible. I also wanted it to still look and taste like granola! I felt if I could do this, I could feel great about eating a serving regularly, for breakfast, a snack, or dessert, following the tenets of the Mediterranean Diet Food Pyramid, and I think I’ve succeeded. What’s more, I think you can enjoy this granola every bit as much, if not more than what you’ve eaten in the past.

How is this Granola Healthier than other Homemade Granola Recipes?

I compared many recipes for granola, not to “one up” any other recipe, but to gather data on what the nutrition breakdown is for homemade granola in general since I love it so much. I also know how good oatmeal is for our heart health, and was determined to find a way to include granola in my diet for this reason. There are reliable standards set for what makes food healthy, and here is how I used those standards to modify this recipe to be healthier:

bowl of granola and berries served.

Tips for How to Make Homemade Granola Healthier

  • Reduce the oil (eliminate butter) – butter adds flavor to a lot of granola recipes, but I’m using heart-healthy olive oil instead to reduce the saturated fat (it would be eliminated if it wasn’t for the coconut). Where most recipes include 1/4-1/2 of oil, this recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons, after much testing. I thought 3 was the magic number, as used in my Low Sugar Olive Oil Granola, and it was close, but 2 moved the needle in the way I wanted.
  • Reduce the sweetener -I was tempted to stick with just maple syrup as many recipes do. People like to say maple syrup is healthier, and it is a bit lower on the glycemic index but it’s still an added sugar. I paired it with a small amount of brown sugar to round out the flavor profile and resisted the urge to make the granola a Maple Granola. Any less sweetener, I believe would remove the granola sweetness we love. I won’t use artificial sweeteners.
  • Reduce the amount of, and chop nuts/seeds – This is a double-edged sword because the almonds, pumpkin seeds, and coconut flakes are full of nutrition, healthy fats, and fiber but calories are calories, so I reduced the amount, and chopped them roughly, instead of leaving them whole, so they would distribute throughout the granola more.
  • Remove dried fruit – As seen in the feature photo above this granola can be eaten with fresh fruit instead of dried fruit. Because dried fruit is a condensed food, it packs more calories and natural sweeteners overall.
  • Add egg whites – I’ve used egg whites to coat potatoes for a healthier version of baked fries and thought they could help the granola clump more, help add crunch as it did in the baked fries I made, and at the same time, help maintain the protein content of the granola. I started with adding 2 but landed on adding 3 egg whites for more of an effect. Don’t worry, they don’t scramble or show up white, they bake right into the mixture.

Ingredients

Above: A short list of ingredients is all that is needed to pull this granola together.

close up of granola.

Basic Recipe

Consider this recipe a granola “base” that establishes basic ingredient ratios. See customization ideas below.

Method + Timing

Above: 1. After chopping the nuts/seeds, mix in with oats, and add in salt. 2. Meanwhile, on the stove melt the oil, brown sugar, and maple syrup over low heat, just long enough for the sugar to melt. It takes seconds.

Above: 1. Pour the liquid ingredients over the ingredients and mix thoroughly. 2. After distributing the warm liquid ingredients, drizzle over the egg whites and mix in thoroughly.

close up of tray of granola, fresh out of oven.

Above: Spread the mixture out on a parchment-lined sheet pan with sides (ideally). Bake for 30 minutes, until nicely browned, at 300. At about 20 minutes, toss the granola a bit to ensure even baking. See the tip about getting “crunchy clumps” below.

close up of granola.

Crunchy Clumps

If you like clumps of granola throughout, then crowd the granola a bit more versus spreading it out, so it steams a little and sticks together. For this low-cal version (less oil to make clumps and more moisture from egg whites), I recommend still roughly tossing it up a bit after about 20 min, then finishing the baking. I find this still yields clumps but ensures thorough browning for crunchiness.

Tips for Making Healthy Granola That’s Delicious!

  • Egg Whites – As mentioned above, they help bind the ingredients and add crunch. It’s really important to use a silicone spatula (or fork if you don’t have one) to thoroughly distribute the egg whites throughout the mixture, mixing and pressing down, not just lightly stirring in a circle. This will ensure even distribution and an even texture, clumps, and crunch throughout.
  • Oil/Sweetener – As mentioned I like the flavor mix of brown sugar and maple syrup. Here too, it is important to thoroughly and evenly distribute the oil/sweetener liquid mixture into the granola ingredients. This ensures that all of the granola ends up coated, with flavor.
  • Salt – You can certainly add more salt, but because this granola recipe is not overly sweet or fatty, I find less salt was needed to give it that great mix of salty-sweet. I also fully support sprinkling a bit of flake salt (finishing salt) over the warm pan of granola when you take it out of the oven. These days it seems most people love that sweet salty mix.
  • Nuts/Seeds – Including both pumpkin seeds and almonds and coconut flakes creates a nice texture. I do not include sunflower seeds, chia seeds, or flax seeds, because I find they are so small they get caught in your teeth a lot. And without as much sugar/fat, there would be less for them to cling to.

Customize the Granola

  • Vanilla Extract – you could add a teaspoon to the liquid ingredients before adding into other ingredients.
  • Dried Fruit – if you want to add dried fruit, be sure to add it after the granola is baked, otherwise it will get too dried and hard. Consider goji berries which are less sweet than other dried fruits and full of antioxidants.
  • Freeze-Dried Fruit – this is a GREAT addition to healthy granola! I love this brand of freeze-dried raspberries (not an affiliate link) and buy it locally. The fruit is fresh tasting, full of flavor, and crunchy, without the concentrated sugar and sweetness of dried fruit. It also maintains most of the original bright color of the fruit, and there are no added seed oils like many dried fruits have.
  • Spices – I love adding Chai spices to this granola. If you don’t have all the specific chai spices on hand, this mix worked well for me: 2 tsp cinnamon, sprinkles each of five-spice powder, white pepper, allspice, and cardamom.

Serving + Storing

  • I’m not sure I need to tell you how to enjoy eating granola. The cool thing about this recipe is that it works as a healthy sweet or dessert as well as breakfast or a snack.
  • Breakfast – I forgot how good granola is with milk and fresh fruit! This is a nice change since I’ve been eating it with yogurt for years.
  • Snack – A handful of this granola as is, makes a great grab-and-go snack.
  • Dessert – Add a few chocolate chips to a half cup of granola for dessert, or better yet, it makes an awesome topping for ice cream. Once I tried that, there was no going back.
  • Storing – I like to store it on the counter in a glass container. If you are less likely to develop a daily granola habit, you can store it in the freezer for when the urge strikes you.
close up of granola.

Homemade Granola Recipe Nutritional Comparison:

CaloriesFat g.Protein g.Sugar g.
2121166
23012611
2381557
25112411
29515615
32317620
36616629
42025821
425211211
The table above shows Sofa Dinners Healthier Homemade Granola nutrition across the top row, followed by the nutrition of 8 other online recipes below.
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bowl of granola served with berries and milk.

Healthier Homemade Granola

AuthorKathy Marshall
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Servings10 1/2c servings
Calories212
If you are looking to make granola at home that tastes amazing, but can be eaten daily without feeling you've just eaten something rich and too sweet, look no further! At just 212 calories per 1/2 cup serving my Healthier Homemade Granola still looks and tastes like traditional granola!
Kitchen Tools
  • 1 mixing bowl
  • 1 baking sheet
  • 1 parchment baking sheets, makes clean up and storing easier

Ingredients
 

  • 2 3/4 cups rolled oats (NOT quick cooking)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes (large and unsweetened, not the bags of sweetened and shredded)
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 egg whites (medium or large)

Method:  

  • Preheat the oven to 300.
  • Roughly chop the 1/2 cup coconut flakes, 1/2 cup raw almonds and 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds (not too small).
  • Toss the 2 3/4 cups rolled oats, coconut, seeds, and almonds together in a large bowl.
  • Heat the trio of 2 tbsp maple syrup/2 tbsp dark brown sugar and 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a small pot over medium-low heat, whisk until sugar is dissolved then remove from heat immediately.
  • Drizzle the melted trio over the mixture and use a silicone spatula to toss until evenly distributed. Add 1/2 tsp sea salt.
  • whisk the 3 egg whites, then mix evenly into rest of granola mixture.
  • Toss mixture onto a parchment-covered cookie sheet (with sides) and bake for approximately 30 min, or until the granola looks golden, but not too brown. (check and toss at about 20 minutes).
  • Once the granola is fully cooled, toss in any goji or other dried berries.
  • A good way to move the granola into a jar for storage is to lift the parchment paper in such a way that you can pour the granola right into the jar.

Notes

Berries: you could use dried blueberries or dried unsweetened cherries- both delicious and nutritious, yet naturally sweeter, often expensive, and cherries usually have seed oil added. Goji berries are an absolute powerhouse of fiber and other nutrients and are much higher in plant protein than other dried fruits.
Nuts/Seeds: be sure to use RAW seeds/nuts since they will toast in the oven.
 

Nutrition (an estimate)

Serving: 54g | Calories: 212kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 135mg | Potassium: 196mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 2mg | Magnesium: 65mg | Net Carbohydrates: 19g
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