Many homemade granola recipes are loaded with processed sugar and while they’re super tasty – you don’t necessarily want dessert for breakfast, right? After making healthy granola on a regular basis for over 10 years I’m here to tell you – you can make it healthy AND tasty!
What makes this the Best Low Sugar Granola
Want to know the secret to getting those yummy, chewy granola clusters? It’s applesauce! Applesauce also boosts the sweetness in the granola which means you can get away with less sweetener!
You can also use pumpkin puree, peanut butter, or thick coconut milk to create the same clustering effect.
This is a basic granola recipe that you can use as a jumping off point for adapting how you like. Use as much or as little coconut or nuts as you like, add different kinds of dried fruit or chocolate and change up the spices to keep it interesting.
I included a few different ways you can adapt this recipe. (Peanut Butter Granola is my fave!)
Healthy Granola Ingredients
The beauty of this recipe is you can play with the measurements of the dry components. Just make sure you have about 4 1/2 cups of dry ingredients.
- Rolled oat
- Shredded coconut (or coconut flakes)
- Milled flax seeds
- Coconut Oil
- Honey or Maple Syrup
- Apple sauce
- Dried cranberries
This is also where you’d add spices, cocoa powder (mmmm. chocolate granola is delicious), hemp hearts, sesame seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds. Use any ancient grains you like that can be toasted and consumed without needing to be cooked.
To make gluten-free granola, find certified gluten-free rolled oats and check the ingredients on other add-ins you might decide to use.
Best oil for Low Sugar Granola
I use coconut oil, but if you don’t like coconut oil, use light olive oil or avocado oil to keep the oil’s flavor relatively neutral and heat safe. By that I mean — you don’t want your oil to be burning in the oven. All three of the oils I mentioned are safe for high-heat cooking.
Butter will burn, unfortunately, but if you use a combination of melted butter and a heat-safe oil, it’ll help.
Healthy Granola variations
It’s so easy to make the healthiest granolas in a variety of flavors and keep the sugar content down. Here are a few of our favorite variations — omit the spices and dried fruit from the original recipe in all of these adaptations.
Add 1-2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder to the dry ingredients and mix in some mini chocolate chips after the granola has cooled.
Extra Coconutty Granola
Replace 1 cup of the oats with more coconut. Use thick, full-fat coconut milk in place of the applesauce. Add a teaspoon of coconut extract to the wet mixture if you like. Dried blueberries and cashews are great in this, too.
Pumpkin Pie Granola
Replace the applesauce with canned pumpkin puree or sweet potato puree. Use chopped pecans if you have them. Replace the spices with Pumpkin Pie Spice. Dried cranberries and mini chocolate chips are a great add-in, too.
Peanut Butter Granola
Replace the applesauce with peanut butter. Use chopped peanuts. To make this a PB/Chocolate situation, add in 1-2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder to the dry mixture and stir in mini dark chocolate chips after the granola has cooled.
How to naturally sweeten Homemade Granola (Low Sugar)
My favorite sweetener to use when I make granola is maple syrup. The flavor is so good. You could also use honey, coconut sugar (tastes like brown sugar!), or a low-carb sugar like Lakanto monkfruit sweetener or another sweetener using sugar alcohols. Sometimes I add some liquid stevia to boost the sweetness without adding extra sugar.
This recipe isn’t low-carb by any means (hello, oats), but if you’re wanting to reduce your sugar consumption overall, using a low-carb sweetener isn’t a bad idea.
How to make Low Sugar Granola
The recipe is just a starting point for you to adapt this to your liking. Basically, there are two parts, the dry stuff and the wet stuff. You’ll want a very large bowl for this, too.
- Preheat your oven to 325°F (160°C)
- Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Do not boil! Remove from heat and stir in the honey (or maple), applesauce, and vanilla.
- Pour the liquid mixture over the oat mixture; toss to coat evenly. Spread evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake until golden, shifting every 15 minutes to avoid burning, about 35-40 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes. Toss in the dried cranberries.
- Eat immediately or allow it to cool to room temperature and transfer it to an airtight container. Store at room temperature for up to 10 days.
How to make this Homemade Low Sugar Granola with clumps
Some people prefer crunchy granola. I like granola that’s chewy with clumps.
Some recipes incorporate egg whites into their granola which can help create those chewy clusters. I’m pretty lazy and don’t want to separate eggs if I don’t have to.
So, I use applesauce! Applesauce creates clusters, but also adds a little more sweetness to the granola so you don’t have to add as much sweetener.
You can also use peanut butter, almond butter, canned pumpkin, or sweet potato puree in place of applesauce. These don’t add a lot of sweetness, so you’ll have to add a little more sweetener to compensate.
Healthy Granola Add-ins
Adding some dried fruit is a delicious way to add some tartness and sweetness. Make sure you add any dried fruit or chocolate after the granola has baked and cooled.
Dried fruit does have a lot of sugar (usually cane sugar) so use a light hand. Cranberries are our favorite dried fruit to add in after the granola has baked. Chopped dried apples, blueberries, cherries, and apricots are delicious, too.
I love adding bits of crystallized ginger and mini chocolate chips to granola, too. Add the chocolate after the granola has completely cooled or it’ll be a melty mess. (Not the worst thing ever.)
Ways to use this Low Sugar Granola Recipe
Granola is a pretty versatile food! Besides eating it like breakfast cereal with milk, here are a few other ways use granola:
Add it to muffin, pancake, or waffle batter for some extra texture.
Use it as a base for a trail mix, by adding more nuts, seeds, and dried fruit
Sprinkle it on a salad that has a sweet vinaigrette (like this Strawberry Salad)
Use it as a streusel the next time you make a fruit crumble.
Stir it into cookie batter. (Clearly we’ve strayed from keeping total sugars down at this point. haha.)
How to store the Best Low Sugar Granola
Just keep it in a lidded container at room temperature. That’s it. It should stay great for a couple of weeks. Even when it gets slightly stale it’s still delicious.
If you make a large batch, you can also freeze your granola in an airtight container – Just let it thaw for a few minutes before you eat it.
Homemade Low Sugar Granola FAQs
Granola and muesli are very similar! Granola is made with sweetener and fat then baked until golden and crispy whereas muesli is eaten raw and only contains dried fruit as the sweetener.
Both are healthy options for breakfast.
Yes! Packed full of oats, nuts, seeds and fruit, how can granola not be a good breakfast option. The protein and fibre content will keep you full all morning.
That depends on what you add to your oatmeal! Does it contain all the nuts and seeds that granola does?
When your oats and nuts are starting to turn golden-brown then you know your granola is ready. As the mixture cools it will become crispier.
Yes! Quick oats will cook faster than rolled oats, so just keep an eye on it while it bakes.
That’s it! This is just about everything you need to know to get your granola on. Let me know if you come up with any great variations!
If you love sweet breakfasts, take a look at these recipes:
- Superfood Beet Brownie Bowls
- Chai Paleo Gingerbread Waffles with Pomegranate & Cranberry Cream
- Gluten-Free Maple Crepes with Spiced Apples and Glazed Pecans
- Paleo Chocolate Banana Protein Waffles
- Dark Chocolate Paleo Pancakes
- Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rolls
- Spiced Pear Breakfast Crumble
- Gluten-Free Crepes + Tips for Making Crepes
If you make one of my recipes, be sure to post it on social media and tag me at @perrysplate or #perrysplate so I can send you some love!
- 3 cups old-fashioned gluten-free rolled oats
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts
- 2 Tablespoons milled flaxseed
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/3 cup honey or real maple syrup
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Mix the first six ingredients in large bowl.
- Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in the honey (or maple), applesauce, and vanilla.
- Pour the liquid mixture over oat mixture; toss to coat evenly. Spread evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake until golden, stirring every 15 minutes, about 35-40 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes. Toss in the dried cranberries.
- Eat immediately or allow it to cool to room temperature and transfer it to a lidded container. Store at room temperature for up to 10 days.
- The coconut and nut measurements can be switched up. You can add all coconut or all nuts if you like.
- I like milled flaxseed, but you can use hemp hearts, toasted quinoa, or any other seed if you like.
- The applesauce serves two purposes here. First, it serves as an added sweetener which reduces the amount of honey/maple you'll need. Second, it helps the granola to clump up and give it a chewier texture. I really love that texture for granola, but if you're a crispy granola kind of person, leave out the applesauce all together.
- For a fun fall variation, substitute the applesauce with canned pumpkin or sweet potato puree! You may need to add a little more sweetener for the pumpkin variation since the pumpkin requires a bit more sweetness and doesn't add any itself.