Gluten-free granola is a versatile staple that we enjoy having on hand in the kitchen. Sure, you can eat it as a traditional breakfast with homemade nut milk, but you can also sprinkle it atop smoothie bowls, smoothies, porridge, dairy-free ice cream or yogurt, plus incorporate it into gluten-free baked goods, granola bars or energy balls, trail mix, fruit crumbles or breakfast popsicles. You’re only limited by your imagination!
Store-bought gluten-free granola can be pricey. With a well-stocked pantry, you can easily whip up a homemade batch in less than an hour. These are some of our must-have ingredients for gluten-free granola – they’re easy to find, delicious and can help you create endless flavour variations.
10 Must-Haves for Gluten-Free Granola
Gluten-free oats are our favourite base for gluten-free granola. (Note that while oats in and of themselves are gluten-free, they are typically grown alongside wheat or processed with wheat in facilities, leading to cross-contamination.) We like to purchase gluten-free oats in bulk so we have them on hand for granola, oatmeal and fruit crisps, or for blending into oat flour.
For a refreshing change, you can also try buckwheat flakes or quinoa flakes – they are thinner and less sturdy than oats, but still lovely and delicious.
If you’re grain-free or Paleo, check out these 20 Best Grain-Free Granola Recipes.
The head office of the culinary nutrition expert program is located in Toronto, Canada, where maple syrup is local and abundant. That’s why it’s one of our favourite natural sweeteners, along with its lovely flavour and nutrient profile of course! A little goes a long way, so you don’t need to pour a lot of it into your gluten-free granola to enjoy the sweetness.
If you dig clumpy granola, you can use honey instead.
We love coconut oil for its nutritious fats, which help to balance blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, fuel the nervous system and provide us with energy. It also lends a natural sweetness to gluten-free granola recipes. We opt for unrefined, cold-pressed coconut oil – you can learn more about how we select healthy fats here.
If you’re not a fan of the flavour, you can try olive oil, avocado oil or ghee.
Nuts offer protein, fibre and healthy fats to granola, as well as a satisfying texture and crunch. We always like to keep a few types of nuts on hand for granola, nut milks or nut butters. Almonds and cashews are great staples, but really, purchase the ones that you love to eat. Buying nuts in bulk will save you money – stash them in the freezer to keep their oils from going rancid.
When adding nuts to granola, we like to leave them whole to help protect their nutritious fats as they bake in the oven.
If nut allergies are an issue, or you’re trying to stick to a food budget, seeds are a nutrient-rich alternative to nuts. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or sesame seeds are our favourites; however, since they are smaller you may want to lower the temperature of your oven or stir more often to ensure they don’t burn.
While chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds are extremely nutritious and anti-inflammatory, their delicate nutrients are extremely susceptible to heat, light and air so we don’t recommend baking them into your granola. Instead, stir them in after your granola is finished baking.
Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
Shredded coconut is packed with fibre and nutritious fats, plus it makes a fantastic flavour addition to gluten-free granola. You can change up the texture by choosing fine shreds, medium shreds or large coconut flakes. If you’re feeling adventurous, trying making your own shreds using a whole coconut!
Dried fruits are vitamin- and mineral-rich, packed with fibre and add a natural sweetness to your homemade granola recipes. Dried cranberries, dates, apricots, apples and raisins are lovely, though feel free to experiment and choose what you love. Try to find dried fruit that is unsulphured and free of added sugars or oils.
Dried fruit will burn easily – ensure you fold it in after baking.
Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips or Cacao Nibs
Dairy-free chocolate or cacao nibs are rich in antioxidants and confer a wide array of health benefits. They are another way to add sweetness and flavour to gluten-free granola recipes, and can make breakfast or snacks more appealing, especially for children. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar is added – or you can opt for the cacao nibs that aren’t sweetened at all.
Cacao or Cocoa Powder
Stirring some cacao powder or cocoa powder into your granola will give it a decadence that pairs beautifully with dairy-free yogurt, dairy-free ice cream or smoothies. Chocolate granola may not be something you need to eat every day, but it does make a lovely treat!
Sweet cinnamon is anti-inflammatory and helps to balance blood sugar levels. It really makes gluten-free granola pop! You probably already have cinnamon in your pantry, making it an easy one to start with when spicing up granola.
Other amazing culinary spices to use in granola include turmeric, ginger, maca, matcha and lavender.
Once you begin to create your own gluten-free granola, you’ll be excited about all of the possibilities. Play around and have fun! Here’s a recipe from ACN Founder, Meghan Telpner, to get you going.