Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Best Granola (2024) | Bon Appétit

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While I’m all for a project in the kitchen, I often find myself too busy to make my own granola. And if I’m being honest, the best granola brands are usually better than what I whip up in my own kitchen (although I will say this grain-free tahini granola recipe never misses). I put my favorite clusters in my morning yogurt and chia pudding, toss them into pancake or muffin batter, and—perhaps my favorite application—eat them directly from the bag all afternoon long on the couch.

Whether you’re someone who prefers your granola salty, chocolatey, nutty, fruity, grain-free, crunchy, or chewy, we’ve got you covered with ten of our staff favorites. And no, we can’t promise you won’t want to eat the entire bag in one sitting.

It seems about time that the brand behind things like OMG Cookie Butter, Superfood Porridge, and Super Ramen (which sold out in an hour after launching this April) would release a really good granola. In true Kroma fashion, their super granola focuses on nutrient-dense superfoods like maca, goji berries, mulberries, nuts, seeds, and Himalayan pink salt. The base is made from gluten-free oats sweetened with coconut sugar and flavored with vanilla bean, cardamom, and cinnamon. It’s more like a cereal than a snackable cluster, so it’s best in yogurt, with milk, or on top of a smoothie—but that doesn’t stop me from eating it straight from the bag. —Kate Kassin, editorial operations manager

When I tested Sakara’s plant-based meal delivery service, I also received a few bags of the brand’s beloved granola, which comes in flavors like coconut praline and dark cacao with Brazil nuts, and I am hoarding them the way a dragon hoards a pile of jewels. It’s super crunchy, not too sweet, and has inspired me to stock up on my favorite plant-based yogurt and lots of seasonal fruits to keep the healthy breakfast vibes going.—Carina Finn, commerce editor

Sakara Classic Superfood Granola

Struesli was made for the nut-lovers among us. It’s a grain-free granola made from tiger nuts, walnuts and pecans, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, and crunchy add-ins like cacao nibs. If you noticed that I didn’t mention sweeteners, that’s because there aren’t any. Streusli goes great with yogurt, cottage cheese, or chia pudding, and the original and cacao and coffee flavors have a natural hint of sweetness. They also make a savory variety with flaked sea salt, which makes a great topper for avocado toast, soups, and salads. —K.K.

Struesli Original Granola Redefined

I can’t get enough of all things buckwheat, so I was thrilled to find these granola clusters from Lil Bucks. They’re made with sprouted buckwheat and crunchy toppings like coconut chips and pumpkin seed in flavors like chocolate sea salt, bucks n’ honey, and snickerdoodle. All of their flavors are naturally gluten-free, and pack in as much as five grams of protein.—K.K.

Lil Bucks Clusterbucks Superfood Clusters

I love Early Bird for its super simple ingredient list—which is also a bit frustrating, because when I try to recreate their mixes at home using exactly the same ingredients, mine never turn out as perfectly balanced and crispy-crunchy (no rock hard granola boulders here) as theirs. All the varieties are great, but my fave is Farmhand’s Choice. It includes coconut chips and pecans, is sweetened with maple syrup, and is just savory enough thanks to a glug of extra virgin olive oil.—Kendra Vaculin, test kitchen editor

Early Bird Farmhand’s Choice Granola

As a girl with a nut allergy, it’s been a real struggle to find a good crunchy granola. I used to wander hopelessly down the health foods aisle, scouring ingredient labels in search of a nut-free granola. Then my sister introduced me to Purely Elizabeth. While some of the brand’s flavors do contain nuts, a lot of them don’t: The Pumpkin Cinnamon, Vanilla Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Sea Salt, and (my personal favorite) Blueberry Hemp granolas are completely nut-free. Sweetened with coconut sugar and full of ancient grains like amaranth and quinoa, every flavor of this granola is warmly spiced, deeply toasty, and covetably clustery. I add the Blueberry Hemp (which is studded with tiny dried blueberries) to bowls of Greek yogurt, swirled with blueberry jam. It’s been in my daily rotation for years and I’ll be a loyal customer as long as nuts still send me into anaphylaxis.—Zoe Denenberg, contributor

Purely Elizabeth Blueberry Hemp Granola

The dominant flavor in this seed-heavy granola is neither cherry nor pistachio nor rose. It’s cardamom—which is frankly just fine by me. The warm spice is a winning foil to the tart dried cherries, whole pistachios, and flakes of coconut. Rounding out the ingredient list are oats, millet, and amaranth; sesame, flax, and chia seeds; honey, coconut sugar, and olive oil. The texture is on the sticky side, but the granola still maintains its crispness; it looks, not unappealingly, like clusters of bird seed. I also enjoyed the peanut butter and jelly vibes of Sweet Deliverance’s Strawberry and Salty Peanut flavor, although truth be told I only had a few handfuls before a certain Bad Dog ate the entire bag. Bonus points for the packaging, which feels less like granola branding and more like album art for a 70’s psych rock band. —MacKenzie Chung Fegan, contributor

Sweet Deliverance Sour Cherry & Pistachio Rose Granola, 2-Pack

I was initially reluctant to try Tom’s Perfect 10. It’s nothing personal. I’ve just always considered granola to be sad and sand-like: the underwhelming fish in an overwhelming sea of breakfast cereals. But when I tore open a packet and shoved a handful into my mouth, I immediately understood all the hype. Aside from the chill, brown-bag packaging and the rolled oats, nothing about this granola is expected. I’ve tried the Ginger Zing and Original varieties, and each one offers a burst of flavor. The Zing—spiked with candied ginger, Vermont maple syrup (also infused with ginger), and a hint of black pepper, is spicy and bracing, like ginger chews in granola form. A whole bowl of the stuff will fire up your morning routine, but it’s also the perfect afternoon snack. The cinnamony Original was a crowd-pleaser among the friends I shared it with, dessert-sweet and packed with chocolate chips, pistachios, and dried cherries.—Ali Francis, contributor

Tom’s Perfect 10 Ginger Zing

Upon my first bite of Grandy’s Original Coconola, I was disappointed. I’d misread the “coco” in the title for “cocoa” and had purchased the bag expecting a big chocolatey crunch. After that initial shockwave, however, I was quickly able to re-evaluate. I realized that what I had in my hands was the very best granola I’d ever eaten: super crunchy, full of hearty warm flavors, and sweet enough to keep things interesting. Though I am an avid consumer of grains, you’ll note this is a grain-free granola. That means that it’s heavy on the nuts and seeds. The “coco” denotes its coconut-flake base, but I wouldn’t say this granola is overly coconutty. The heavy hand of sesame and sunflower seeds brings a savory balance, while cashews, pumpkin seeds, and pecans add fatty richness. And just in case you’re wondering: Yes, they do make a dark chocolate version.—Joe Sevier, senior editor, cooking & SEO

GrandyOats Original Coconola

If you, like me, love eating granola straight out of the bag just as much as you love sprinkling it over yogurt, you’ll appreciate the perfect marriage of snackable clusters and supreme crunchiness found in Michele’s Granola. Made from scratch in small batches and hand-packaged in Maryland, Michele and her team make upwards of 8 flavors—think Lemon Pistachio, Ginger Hemp, and seasonal additions like this winter’s Cranberry Pecan. The Cinnamon Raisin is my favorite granola, though, which comes as no surprise: I’m team oatmeal raisin cookie through and through, and this flavor is reminiscent of the toasty, crisp, and lightly spiced cookie edges I so crave.—Alaina Chou, commerce producer

Michele’s Granola Cinnamon Raisin

It’s a good thing Goldilocks didn’t have to choose between bowls of granola. Too sweet, not sweet enough, sticky, dry, all oats, no oats, chewy nuts, and leathery dried fruit shards… I think she would agree with me that granola is in a full-blown state of crisis. No wonder so many people have turned to making their own since the chance of liking anything store-bought is about nil. With one exception. Bola’s Barely Sweet granola is gluten free, with just-enough sweetness and richness to break out of muesli territory while also not tasting like dessert. You wouldn’t put it on ice cream, and that is a compliment. There’s a touch of vanilla and salt, but that’s it. Bola’s revelation is texture: the almonds shatter rather than go chewy when eaten, and every element, from gently toasted oats to pepitas, feels and tastes distinct—or should I say, just right.—Christopher Morocco, test kitchen director

BOLA Barely Sweet Granola

I started buying this granola a couple years ago when I noticed it in my neighborhood grocery store, and it’s the closest thing on the shelf to homemade granola (without needing to buy 15 different ingredients and babysit a slow-roasting baking sheet of oats all morning). This one is brittle and toasty and salty. I’m partial to the Banana-Walnut Crunch and the Cinnamon Chocolate, which are both sweet enough to eat with unsweetened yogurt.—Anna Hezel, contributor

Brooklyn’s Own Maple Cinnamon & Chocolate Granola

Brooklyn’s Own Banana Walnut Crunch Granola

My mornings are all about efficiency, and Matchaful’s grain-free activated matcha granola manages to deliver both a caffeinated punch and a seedy, coconutty bite in each bright green cluster. I’ll be honest—I often roll my eyes at the idea of grain-free granola—aren’t oats the most essential part? But between the hemp and pumpkin seeds and the raw unsweetened shredded coconut, this granola still achieves the heft I love with nary an oat in sight. The sweeteners used are coconut sugar and maple syrup, and there’s also virgin coconut oil, vanilla extract, and Himalayan pink sea salt. This granola has the most beautiful, whole clusters that make this the consummate nutritious snack at any time of day. —K.K.

Matchaful Grain-Free Matcha Granola

Prefer your granola in cookie form? Do your thing:

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