The One Ingredient to Up Your Granola Game

Tell me, what kind of granola are you? Don’t know? Just take this quickie personality quiz to find out. First, pick option 1 or 2. Then, pick option 3 or 4.

  1. Clustery: Oats bundled into bunches, like someone took a rolling pin to a granola bar, then whack, whack, whack.
  2. Piecey: Oats, nuts, and friends are all fiercely independent; they sometimes hold hands but mostly go their separate ways.
  3. Sweet: Did you crumble an oatmeal cookie over your yogurt and call it breakfast? Teehee, who knows? Maybe!
  4. Stern, even a little salty: No one needs that much sugar, period, especially before noon, thank you very much!

Oh, I forgot the most important part. According to most granola recipes, you can be 1 and 3, or 2 and 4—but you can’t be 1 and 4. Why? That’s not fair! And you’re right, it’s not. Just think about a nut brittle recipe. What binds all those nuts together, into an almost indestructible bar? Sugar. The same applies to granola (and granola bars). Sugar—be it granulated white or brown, or syrupy like honey or maple—acts as a binder, creating oats that group instead of separate.

So, what to do if you like clustery, not-so-sweet granola? Give up. Just kidding—of course there’s another way. While our Cookbook Club is totally smitten with Deb Perelman’s second book, I’m still digging up clever tricks from her first one. Such as:

“Over the years, I’ve dialed back the sugar further and further, and still found the granola perfectly sweet,” Deb writes. “And for the biggest clusters? An egg white. Nothing ‘glues’ like protein.”

Peanut Butter Granola

Peanut Butter Granola
by Lindsay Maitland Hunt

Hazelnut Coffee Granola

Hazelnut Coffee Granola
by Emma Laperruque

Figure 1 large egg white for a batch of granola with 5 to 6 cups dry ingredients (so, oats, nuts, coconut flakes, etc.). Whisk with a fork until frothy, then stir in at the end, after you’ve combined your dry and wet ingredients (so, sweeteners, like honey, and fats, like olive oil). This not only yields a cluster-friendly granola, but a delightfully crisp one. Much like roasted nuts that were coated with egg white first end up way crispier than those roasted without.

A few other bonus ways to yield A+ clusters: Use brown rice syrup as a sweetener (a trick I learned from Gena Hamshaw). Don’t toss the granola mid-bake, and let it cool completely before breaking into clumps. Bake the granola with a sheet pan sandwiched on top. Or, better yet, all of the above.

What are your clumpy granola secrets? Spill ’em in the comments below!


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