Granola with Almonds, Apples, and Cherries

Muffins, Quick Breads, and Breakfast Treats

Why This Recipe Works: Granola may seem like a healthy breakfast alternative to sugary-sweet cereals, but most granolas contain a ton of sugar, too (even our homemade recipe had 22 grams per serving). We sought to remedy this by using only a small amount of a natural sweetener while still creating a lightly sweet glaze for the oats and nuts. We found that a mere ½ cup of pure maple syrup for 5 cups of oats provided plenty of flavor and sweetness. Although many granola recipes call for granulated sugar as well as maple syrup, we found it unnecessary, especially after adding a generous 4 teaspoons of vanilla. Pressing the granola mixture down into the sheet pan and baking it at a relatively low oven temperature helped keep the granola fuss-free: We didn’t need to mix or stir during baking, and we didn’t have to worry about it burning. Once we let the mixture cool, we tossed it with dried fruit to give it extra sweetness. Dried apples and cherries, although pleasantly sweet, are surprisingly low in sugar, and their flavors worked perfectly with the subtleness of the maple and vanilla.

Makes 9 cups

Do not substitute quick oats, instant oats, or steel-cut oats in this recipe.

½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup maple syrup
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
5 cups (15 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups whole almonds, chopped coarse
1 cup dried apples, chopped
½ cup dried cherries, chopped

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt together in large bowl. Fold in oats and almonds until thoroughly coated.

2. Transfer mixture to prepared baking sheet and spread evenly into thin layer. Using stiff metal spatula, compress mixture until very compact. Bake until lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.

3. Let granola cool in pan, about 1 hour, then break into pieces of desired size. Stir in dried apples and dried cherries and serve.

BEFORE 22 grams sugar → AFTER 11 grams sugar (per ½ cup)