Big Clusters Maple Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Granola

Storebought granola is the biggest ripoff of all time.

Homemade is mindlessly easy, tastes infinitely better, is made-to-order, and oh yeah, it’s a fraction of the cost.

Big Clusters Maple Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Granola (vegan, GF) - Easy homemade granola for a fraction of the cost of storebought! Learn the secrets to creating those highly coveted big clusters!

My favorite kind of granola is the kind with big clusters and lots of textures and flavors. I covet those choice clusters, just ripe for picking.

Granola that’s sandy, dry, and loose with oats that don’t stick together is not my idea of granola. That’s toasted oatmeal. What a buzzkill.

Big Clusters Maple Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Granola (vegan, GF) - Easy homemade granola for a fraction of the cost of storebought! Learn the secrets to creating those highly coveted big clusters!

This granola is all about the big chunky clusters and I have a few secrets for creating them. It’s a cinch to make, vegan, gluten-free, and highly adaptable based on personal preferences.

To make it, whisk together maple syrup, honey/agave/brown rice syrup (depending on vegan status), coconut oil, molasses, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. All those sticky ingredients, and the brown sugar that caramelizes, create a glue-like sauce that binds the oats together.

Big Clusters Maple Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Granola (vegan, GF) - Easy homemade granola for a fraction of the cost of storebought! Learn the secrets to creating those highly coveted big clusters!

I used coconut oil, and the granola doesn’t taste at all like coconut, but use another oil if you prefer. And I used 2 tablespoons of cinnamon and while that sounds like a lot, it’s really not that much to nicely season a tray of oats, nuts, and dried fruit so it’s not bland. If you’re hesitant, you can always reduce to taste.

I get my shelf-stable items like coconut oilbulk cinnamonagavemedicinal-grade raw honeymolassesnutritional yeastGF oats, and stevia from iHerb.com. Code AVE630 at checkout saves you $10 off your order. I love iHerb for everything like probioticspumpkin pie spiceliquid vanilla stevia dropsbulk white stevia powderchia seedsface cleanser, and more. 40% off retail prices, free shipping on most orders, and orders arrive in 2 to 3 days.

Big Clusters Maple Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Granola (vegan, GF) - Easy homemade granola for a fraction of the cost of storebought! Learn the secrets to creating those highly coveted big clusters!

To your saucy glue mixture, stir in oats (use certified GF if preferred) and almonds. If you don’t like almonds, don’t like nuts, want to use another type of nut, great. Skip, omit, or tweak to your liking. If omitting nuts, I suggest adding about 1/2 cup additional oats.

Spread the coated mixture on a baking tray and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the sauce that pools slightly at the edge of the pan begins to barely caramelize. Take the tray out of the oven, don’t stir it, don’t mess with it, just let it be. If you stir it, there’s no chance for the clusters to stay intact. When I read granola recipes that call for stirring every 10 minutes or so, I know those recipes will probably produce the loose, sandy, crumbly granola I try to avoid.

Big Clusters Maple Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Granola (vegan, GF) - Easy homemade granola for a fraction of the cost of storebought! Learn the secrets to creating those highly coveted big clusters!

Top the warm granola with about 1 1/2 cups dried fruit. I used 3/4 cup of a raisin medley, 1/2 cup candied ginger, and 1/4 cup dried orange-scented cranberries. All the dried fruit and almonds are from TJs. I have half their dry goods section in my cupboard, so any excuse to use my odds and ends of dried fruit is good.

Use what you have, and if you don’t like raisins or are partial to another dried fruit, or none, go for it. I also like dried flattened bananas, dried mango, cherries, or blueberries. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the dried fruit and there’s enough carryover residual heat to begin to melt them. Again, don’t stir. Sprinkle and leave alone.

Big Clusters Maple Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Granola (vegan, GF) - Easy homemade granola for a fraction of the cost of storebought! Learn the secrets to creating those highly coveted big clusters!

The final trick to creating the big clusters is to let the granola cool completely on the baking tray, exposed to air. If you make this before bed and let it cool overnight, even better. However, this granola is on the chewy and sticky side rather than crispy, hard, dry, or overly crunchy.

When you do go to break up the granola, you’re going to love seeing the well-formed clusters. You can store the granola in airtight containers, Ziplocks, or glass jars. It’ll keep for weeks and makes great gifts. But you may want to hoard it instead, and I highly doubt it’ll last more than a few days.

Big Clusters Maple Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Granola (vegan, GF) - Easy homemade granola for a fraction of the cost of storebought! Learn the secrets to creating those highly coveted big clusters!

The maple flavor really shines and there’s a pleasant pop of cinnamon without being overdone. The semi-sweet chocolate is a nice touch, and breakfast or snacks are always better when there’s chocolate involved.

All the textures from the oats, nuts, and dried fruit make this so easy to down by the handful. You’ll never want storebought again.

Big Clusters Maple Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Granola (vegan, GF) - Easy homemade granola for a fraction of the cost of storebought! Learn the secrets to creating those highly coveted big clusters!

Big Clusters Maple Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Granola (vegan, GF) - Easy homemade granola for a fraction of the cost of storebought! Learn the secrets to creating those highly coveted big clusters!

Print Recipe

Big Clusters Maple Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Granola (vegan, gluten-free)

My favorite kind of granola is the kind with big clusters and lots of textures and flavors. The granola is a cinch to make, vegan, gluten-free, and highly adaptable based on personal preferences. Swap out the type of oil, nuts, or dried fruit based on taste preference. Reduce the cinnamon and use certified gluten-free oats, if desired. The maple flavor really shines and there's a pleasant pop of cinnamon without being overdone. Breakfast or snacks are always better when there's chocolate involved. Don't stir the granola in order to create big clusters, and the longer it's exposed to air to cool, the crispier it gets. This granola is on the chewy and sticky side rather than crispy, hard, dry, or overly crunchy.

Yield: about 5 cups, one standard baking tray

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: about 2+ hours, for cooling & setting up

Ingredients:

1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup honey/agave/brown rice syrup (use the later choices to keep vegan)
1/4 cup liquid-state coconut oil (canola or vegetable oil may be substituted)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons cinnamon (reduce to 1 tablespoon if sensitive to cinnamon, or to taste)
1 tablespoon molasses (not blackstrap, too pungent)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch salt, optional and to taste
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned whole-rolled oats (not quick-cook or instant; use certified GF if necessary)
1 cup almonds (I used raw unsalted; or use your favorite nut)
1 1/2 cups dried fruit (I used 3/4 cup raisin medley, 1/2 cup candied ginger, 1/4 cup orange-scented dried cranberries; use your favorite dried fruits, or omit)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a Silpat or line with parchment paper. This granola is messy, sticky, and I recommend either a Silpat or parchment rather than just spraying a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together first 9 ingredients, through optional salt.
  3. Add oats, almonds, and toss to coat evenly.
  4. Turn mixture out onto prepared baking sheet, keeping mixture lightly piled. Smoothing lightly with a spatula is okay, but don't pack down too much. You want air to be able to flow without it being tightly packed.
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the sauce that pools slightly at the edge of the baking sheet begins to barely caramelize. Watch your granola closely to make sure it's not burning since ingredients and ovens vary. Remove baking sheet from oven and don't stir.
  6. Evenly sprinkle with dried fruit.
  7. Evenly sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  8. Do not stir granola and allow it to cool, for at least 1 hour, overnight if possible. The longer it's exposed to air, the crispier and crunchier it becomes.
  9. Break granola apart and store in airtight containers with lids or in Ziplocks. Granola will keep airtight for at least 2 weeks.

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78 comments

  1. YUM!!! This looks so good! I love granola…especially when there are HUGE clusters in it :) Pinning for later!

  2. Oh, hey perfect granola! My hubby loves granola but I never buy it for him due to level of un-health….so this is perfect Averie! Love that it has those big clusters…no one wants small crumbles.
    Pinned!

  3. Love making homemade granola! It tastes so much better, makes the house smell great… and its way cheaper. Triple Win! Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  4. I am always looking for excuse to make granola; simply because it is so addictive! I hate it too when I see the prices in the store for granola; biggest rip off ever and it is always crumbled.

    Great recipe for vegans by the way, I always trust your take on vegan food because they turn out all the time! The over night rick is my fave way of drying out granola too and reduced fruit puree also work for that big cluster effect

    • Thanks for the supreme vote of confidence that you trust my vegan recipes every time! I’ve been vegetarian or vegan my whole life and honestly if baking with eggs and a stick of butter wasn’t so reliable, I’d be vegan, but that’s another story. Thank you for the sweet compliment!

  5. I love all of the add ins for this granola. I am a huge fan of the big chunks too. Perfect for snacking all day long.

  6. “That’s toasted oatmeal. What a buzzkill.” Laughing at this description, but I totally agree with you. It’s all about the clusters. Thank you so much for the tips, especially about letting it completely cool on the baking sheet, even overnight. That’s a new one for me and I’m going to try it with my next batch of granola. Love the addition of chocolate chips here, too. Everything is better with chocolate chips, no?

  7. Averie, this granola is blowing my mind. I never purchase store-bought granola any more. Pinned.

  8. Agreed about granola being a rip off. Making it yourself is so much more FUN and MUCH more tasty. :)

  9. This would be great on my yogurt and in my desk drawer! I’ve never used candied ginger but would like to try it. You’ve come up with a great mix of flavors for this granola…and the hands on and baking time is pretty short. I recall TJ’s having an impressive dried fruit and nut section–I stood there for quite a while!!

    • Oh yeah I have half the TJs store in my pantry :) Thus, the candied ginger. You’d love it knowing how much you like ginger! It’s intense and sweet and everything you’d imagine it to be. And yes, this granola has almost NO hands on time. The best kind of recipe :)

  10. Homemade granola is sooooo much better than store bought. I love how chock full of awesome ingredients this version is!!

  11. I loooooove homemade granola! And seriously, this version looks amazing! I am a big cluster girl at heart :)

  12. This looks so good, Averie! Love all the add-ins :)

    Just wanted to mention a slight typo in the sentence that says: “but you another oil if you prefer.”

  13. Nice granola…I wish there were stores aimed at granola only. A granola bar.

  14. I love those big clusters of granola Averie – my mom used to make homemade granola and it was the best. This would make a great afternoon snack! Pinning!

  15. This is some dynamite looking granola, Averie! :)

  16. The clusters are WHERE IT’S AT. I fish through the whole bag to find them. Now I don’t have to look so hard :)

  17. This: Granola that’s sandy, dry, and loose with oats that don’t stick together is not my idea of granola. That’s toasted oatmeal. What a buzzkill. EXACTLY!!

    I stopped buying granola because there was too much of this going on, sometimes because that is how it was made and sometimes just from all the jostling during handling.

    • Between the recipes and the poor product handling (they are so ROUGH!! with food – do you ever even just stop and watch groc store stockers, how they literally slam and smoosh bags of chips, granola, produce, etc into the bins or shelves..I want to throttle them for all those broken chips and bruised fruit someone will end up eating!) but yes to everything you said!

  18. No need to buy granolas when such can be made anytime. So lovely!

  19. I stopped buying granola long time ago. Like you said, it’s never good and costs way too much. I love that yours has big clusters! Pinned!

  20. I realized I hadn’t made granola in forever and made your pumpkin pb granola this morning … Wish I had seen this recipe! Maple and chocolate chips sounds like a match made in heaven! And the big clusters are the best part. I always pick them out and eat them plain :)

  21. Love the big clusters! The flavors sound delicious! Pinning this!

  22. Sometimes I feel like Goldilocks with my granola: not enough mix ins, too crumbly, too many grams of sugar, too much $$, etc. Love that this has plenty of room for customization…and chocolate. :)

  23. I love granola! It was one of the first recipes I ever created all by myself because I ate waaaay too much and half of my weekly grocery bills were spent on granola. Insane! The big clusters are always my favorite; I usually set aside the biggest ones to eat last. It’s the little kid in me: I always save the best for last!

  24. I agree store-bought is the biggest rip off! This looks really delicious! Just wondering, do you also have any granola recipes that would pair well with milk as a cereal?

  25. Oh my gosh I couldn’t agree with you more!
    Such a rip-off!
    Especially those tiny, teeny, fancy bagged ones in whole foods!
    Like $8 for a small bag!!
    OUCH

  26. The picture of this on the baking tray is just DIVINE!

  27. This granola looks perfect, and you’re so right about homemade being so much better! Studying abroad I can’t make anything from scratch, and one of the things thats the biggest ripoff here is granola, and it doesn’t even taste great! Wish I had tons of this instead. Yum!! Pinned :D

  28. Granola clusters are the cat’s meow. And you’ve thrown in maple syrup, cinnamon, and chocolate chips. I’m sold. Ever since I started making my own granola a few years ago, I haven’t looked back. It’s just so much better (and better for you) than the storebought stuff.

  29. See, my problem with this because it’s so much better than store bought, is that I eat it ALL until my mouth is raw. But I still love it. This is an awesome recipe!

  30. I LOVE granola! This looks great Averie :) Pinned!

  31. I love homemade granola so much! You’re right — store bought is a total rip off! Those big ‘ol clusters are perfect! I wish I were feeling a tiny bit motivated right now so I could have this waiting for me in the morning!

  32. This looks awesome! I’ve been making my own granola for years because I hate the loose, un-cluster-y granola I find at the store! I love your idea of adding molasses, too–I’m going to try this soon!

  33. I couldn’t agree more, Averie – the best granola must have clusters! The bigger the clusters the better.

  34. This granola looks too good for a cluster lover like me! I’d inhale this in about 10 seconds flat!

  35. Excellent–my roommates are, ahem, always getting on my case about *somebody* eating all the clusters from the box of Honey Bunches of Oats, so I’m always forced to make my own cluster-y granola, and this recipe definitely fits the bill. Thanks, Averie!

  36. Oh my godness! This granola looks amazing!! I’ve got to try this recipe asap. And I love the pictures too! Thank you, Averie!

  37. I could really go for a big scoop of this in my yogurt. Granola paired with yogurt is one of my all time favorite things, the flavor, the textures, that crunch! Ah I love it. And I adore you made it in to big clusters! Yum!

  38. What great snack ’ems! Maple Cinnamon is a really good combo for granola!

  39. Big cluster granola is the best kind of granola and I am so glad you agree :) this granola looks incredible — so many unique textures going on. Plus, nothing screams “yummy *& hearty” more than cinnamon and maple in the AM.

  40. I am SO making this! I love granola and this version looks fabulous!

  41. I totally agree with your first statement – store bought granola is definitely a rip off. And usually not as tasty as homemade. This version looks great! Love the big clusters.

  42. Homemade granola with a smoothie is one of my favorite breakfasts. Totally agree that no stirring is super important. I have also found almond butter makes it extra clumpy.

  43. That looks so good, will have to see what I have in my cupboard! Do you buy Peanut Flour from iHerb? I love it, way cheaper than PB2 and so good in smoothies and baked goods.

  44. Oh. Mah. Gah. That looks absolutely amaaaaazzzzzziing. I’m actually a fan of the loose granola, but i like the smaller chunks too =P

  45. This looks fantastic :) maple cinnamon sounds perfect!

  46. What are the nutritional values of this. It looks amazing and I am trying to find things to enjoy while I change my eating habits.

  47. What’s the calorie count on this stuff using the recipe as written?

    Thanks,

  48. So you don’t cook the oats before you mix them in, right? 

  49. hahaha, wooops (don’t know how to reply directly to your reply). Really good recipe btw!

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