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If you love a chunky topping for your morning yogurt or something crunchy to munch on, you’ll want to know how to make granola clusters. And this hearty Maple Brown Sugar Granola recipe gives you all the satisfying crunch you crave, plus healthy ingredients that make it a wholesome breakfast or snack!
Maple Brown Sugar Granola Clusters
My boys love huge pieces of crunchy and sweet granola on top of their yogurt or mixed into their cereal. Heck, they love just grabbing some to snack on. Sure, you can buy a bag at the store. But I wanted to make some with a little less sugar and some more healthy goodness like chia seeds and flax.
So I whipped up this Maple Brown Sugar Granola Clusters recipe. Yes, there’s some brown sugar in there, but not a ton. And it’s super simple to make – mix the wet stuff, mix the dry stuff, combine it all, press into a pan, and bake. But there are some secrets to make those giant pieces of crisp granola clusters that my boys go nuts for.
What makes granola clump together?
- Something sticky. The combination of maple syrup and brown sugar not only makes it sweet and delicious. It helps the oats and nuts stick together.
- An ingredient to bind it. Beyond just the sweetener, it helps to have something else to make everything stick together. In this recipe, it’s an egg white. The group flax seeds and chia seeds not only add extra nutrition, but they help bind it too.
- Press it tightly. You want to really pack it down into a thin layer on the baking sheet.
- Bake it low and slow. Baking granola at a high temprature can cause the ingredients to burn too quickly. Especially for a recipe like this where you press it all together. The edges will get too brown before the middle dries out. So it is baked for a longer time at a lower temperatue to ensure it dried out and crisps up all the way through.
- Let it cool. Cooling on the pan allows all the sticky stuff to harden so that it doesn’t just break apart into bits when you go to crumble it.
Now let’s see what you have to do to make those perfect granola clusters.
- Old-fashioned rolled oats. Not instant or quick oats. Make sure they are certified gluten free, if necessary.
- Sliced almonds. You can swap these for your favorite chopped or sliced nuts.
- Ground flax seeds. These help bind the clusters and add extra nutrition, but can be omitted.
- Chia seeds. You can omit, if you prefer.
- Avocado oil. Or another neutral flavored oil. For a hint of coconut flavor, try melted coconut oil.
- Maple syrup. Honey works too.
- Egg white. Helps bind those clusters.
- Light brown sugar. Or substitute coconut sugar.
- Vanilla extract
What You’ll Need
- Bowls. A small one to mix the wet ingredients and a large one to toss it all together.
- Silicone spatula. For stirring the ingredients together and pressing it down tightly on the pan.
- Baking sheet. I love the aluminum pans from Nordicware.
- Parchment paper. Essential to be sure your granola clusters don’t burn or stick on the pan.
How to Make Granola Clusters
Preparations. Preheat the oven to 300°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Make the granola mixture. In a large bowl, toss together oats, almonds, flax seeds, and chia seeds. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, egg white, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla until smooth. Pour the wet mixture over dry ingredients and stir until just moistened.
Bake the granola. Spread the mixture evenly on the parchment-lined baking sheet and press flat. Bake at 300°F for 40-45 minutes or until edges start to brown. Do not stir while baking or cooling. Remove from oven and let the granola cool completely on the baking sheet.
Break and store. Break the granola into large clusters. Transfer to an airtight container.
Tips for Success
Keep an eye on it. Make sure you check it at 40 minutes to be sure the edges aren’t burning. Don’t be tempted to increase the temperature or it will get too dark on the edges before the interior gets dried and set.
Let it cool on the pan. This helps it firm up all the way through so you get those nice big chunks.
Cool it completely. If it is even slightly warm when you package it up, there will be a bit of moisture that can make your granola soft or soggy, and cause those clusters to break down.
Don’t break it up too much. It will gradually crumble more as you handle it, so don’t be tempted to break it up too much. You can always crush the larger pieces as you go to serve it. Or just snack on those like a mini granola bar.
Storing Homemade Granola Clusters
Once cooled completely, you can keep your granola clusters in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 weeks. I do not recommend freezing it because the moisture that collects through the freezing and thawing process will make your granola soggy.
Change the nuts. You can replace the sliced almond with chopped walnuts, pecans, or your favorite nuts. Or just toss in some whole toasted nuts after you bake and break the granola.
Toss in seeds. Just like adding other nuts, you can also opt for sunflowers seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
Add fruit. While dried fruit can get burnt or too hard while baking, you can always add raisins, dried cranberries or cherries, chopped dried apricots or dates, banana chips, coconut flakes, or even freeze-dried fruit to the mix afterward.
Swap the spice. Instead of or in addition to cinnamon, try ginger, nutmeg, or go for a mix like pumpkin pie spice.
Get chocolaty. A few chocolate chips, M&M’s, chocolate-covered raisins, or chopped chocolate can make it a bit more indulgent and similar to trail mix.
More granola recipes
The flavor variations for granola are endless. Try some of these favorite versions!
- Pineapple Coconut Granola
- Apple Cinnamon Granola
- Maple Pecan Gluten Free Granola
- PB&J Strawberry Peanut Butter Granola
Maple Brown Sugar Granola Clusters
- Preheat oven to 300°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, toss together oats, almonds, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, maple syrup, egg white, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla until smooth.
- Pour wet mixture over dry ingredients and stir until just moistened.
- Spread the mixture evenly on the parchment-lined baking sheet and press flat.
- Bake at 300°F for 40-45 minutes or until edges start to brown. Do not stir while baking or cooling. Remove from oven and let granola cool completely on the baking sheet.
- Break granola into clusters.
- Store in an airtight container.