Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How To Make Your Own “Highly Addicting” Granola Clusters.

granola-clusters-1.22.13

It all started with a typical weekend shopping trip to Costco where I discovered  a delicious and highly ADDICTING snack called Granola Clusters. You can find them in the Bakery section where they are sitting innocently on a table just waiting for unsuspecting passersby to put them in their cart. Little do these people know what will become of them once they decide to let these little morsels into their lives!  Suddenly they become like Gollum in Lord of the Rings with their “PRECIOUS” granola snack!

I admit, I succumbed to the lure of the clusters and became ensnared in its’ powerful allure!  I became obsessed with the idea of replicating them in my own kitchen so I wouldn’t risk running out! (After all, Costco is a good 30 minute drive from my house! What if I ran out and I couldn’t get to Costco right away? I couldn’t take that chance!) So I spent a good deal of the afternoon and evening on Monday trying to create my own version of this evil concoction.

The fact that I couldn’t find any recipes online that were even remotely like this stuff should have been a warning….THIS STUFF SHOULD NOT BE REPLICATED! It’s MUCH too addicting and in the wrong hands (say a former addict perhaps??!!) it could be dangerous. But I ignored all the red flags and carelessly pressed on in my desperate pursuit to make my own “homemade” crack….errrr….CLUSTERS!

Eventually I found a recipe that claimed to result in “granola clusters”….but maybe I was too far gone in my addiction at this point, because the recipe did NOT turn out how I had hoped! I wasn’t looking for subtle clustering of the granola….I needed BIG, CHUNKY, CHEWY, SATISFYING clusters! Thankfully, I still had enough “presence of mind” to make some changes to the recipe that resulted in what *I* think is actually BETTER than the original! Boy oh boy…did I luck out on this one! ;-)

Of course it still should have a warning label…because it’s still as addicting as SIN….but at least it’s HOMEMADE! ;-)  (And yes, I AM eating it like candy as I type this post! Don’t judge me!)  ;-)

Granola Clusters

Adapted from The Traveler’s Lunchbox

Ingredients

  • 1 lb quick oats (I used gluten-free)
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped raw nuts and/or seeds (I used 2 cups whole, roasted almonds and 1 cup sunflower seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups dried fruit (I used 1 cup raisins, 1 cup cranberries)
  • 1 cup, packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1/2 maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, coffee grinder or blender, grind half the oats to a fine powder (this apparently is KEY when making clusters! Helps make the granola hold together better).

granola clusters

In a large bowl, combine the whole oats, ground oats, nuts, spices, and dried fruit.

 

granola clusters

granola clusters

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, honey, butter, maple syrup and water and heat until the mixture starts to bubble. Stir in the salt and vanilla.

 

granola clusters 6

Pour this over the oats and nuts, stirring well to coat.

 

granola clusters

It should be moist – stir in another tablespoon or two of water if it isn’t. Let stand for about ten minutes.

 

granola clusters

Spread the mixture out on a large baking sheet and FIRMLY PRESS IT DOWN until it is packed nicely into the pan.

 

granola clusters

granola clusters

 

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven, let cool, then gently break up the mixture into medium-sized clumps. Now put BACK in the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes.

 

granola clusters 25

When the granola comes out of the oven it should be nice and golden brown, extra crunchy on the outside and just slightly soft and chewy on the inside.  Let cool completely then break it up into clusters and store in a covered container at room temperature.

 

granola clusters

If you like snacking on granola….you simply have to try these.

Oh, and don’t worry…..I can stop anytime I want to! ;-)

 




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78 thoughts on “How To Make Your Own “Highly Addicting” Granola Clusters.

  1. TRIXIE

    You totally crack me up, Jillee!! I think I’m going to try a version of this but perhaps with pecans and cashews or sunflower seeds. I think I must be the only person on the planet that absolutely loathes the taste of almonds. Hahaha. Also, I just happen to have been gifted a rather large package of sun-dried figs recently and was wonder just what exactly I could do with them. How very timely of you to let me know at the perfect moment. :) I’m thinking dried cherries and figs?? Orrrrrr, maybe I’ll stick with raisins and figs – sounds like a better combination.

    Did you use your homemade “maple” syrup, or did you use the real thing in this recipe? Inquiring minds really need to know.

    Have a fabulous day!

    Reply
  2. Janelle

    This looks great! BUT I have to admit there is nothing more addicting than that popcorn you post awhile ago… with the brown sugar, marshmallows, and butter… that’s the BEST!!!

    My husband did help me out with a life hack for that though… of course it was after I had made a huge batch. after you pop your popcorn cut off the corners of the bag and shake it and all the kernels will fall out … saves a lot of time looking for them… and it saves your teeth :)

    Reply
  3. Cheryl

    You know, when I was reading the original recipe, I thought that it wasn’t enough sweet ness to make the granola that we are used to from the grocery store. This sounds great, and it was a great story.

    Reply
  4. fiona

    Ok, I really NEEDS to makes theses! Just a quick question, now that you know to add the “sticky” ingredients, would you add them before you bake them? Or do you think it turned out better adding it after having baked them first? I love reading your posts first thing in the morning, it always perks up this non-morning gal!! Thanks!!!

    Reply
  5. Kayla

    Have you tried the recipe again and consolidated the steps? If/ when you do…let us know! I love granola and have finally gotten a good granola (chewy) bar recipe down for the kid’s snacks. It’s not easy to come by a good granola recipe!

    Reply
  6. Margaret

    Hi, I love granola but due to a sugar intolerance I can only have small amounts of sugar at a time. Is there a way to make this with less sugar? Or another granola recipe that you know of that would be less sugar. I can tolerate about 10 g per serving. After that things get really ugly. I love all your recipes and make a lot of them for my husband.

    Reply
  7. Linda

    Oh, you must have read my mind, Jillee! I was just searching for granola cluster recipes on the web & Pinterest. I never found anything that sounded really good. Can’t wait to try your recipe! Thanks!!

    Reply
  8. christy

    When you make it again would you just start by putting it in the mini muffin tins? I love this kind of stuff and what a great healthy snack for the kiddos. I wonder if agave nectar would work because that is what i have on hand.

    Reply
    1. Patti White

      The agave was my question also, so I’ll just wait on her to answer you, Christy! I’m sensitive to honey, so I’ve been using agave. It’s not quite as thick, but I don’t see why it won’t work.

      Reply
  9. Linda

    Email hug!!! I bought clusters yesterday and wondered how in the world they make those things!! LOL! Too funny about the “crack..er clusters”! Thanks Jillee!

    Reply
  10. Katie Mundt

    Ditto to Fiona’s question!

    And Jillee – you just speak my language! I had a feeling the first time I read one of your blogs that you were also in recovery. Coming up on 23 yrs. in March for me, (totally by the grace of God)! But as always, I digress…. I’m sold on your homemade concoctions and am working on converting friends and family! The DIY laundry detergent (cooked type) & the shower cleaner (Dawn & vinegar) are my absolute favorites! I’ve also been buying (a few at a time) essential oils and learning their uses! I’m becoming a mad scientist and loving it!

    I watch my 3 year old granddaughter Mon thru Fri and am always looking for healthy snack ideas for ‘Grammy’s precious’ Clara!

    So grateful to have stumbled across you! :)

    KAM (I am)!

    Reply
  11. Debbie

    Question:
    Do you need to add the honey, maple syrup and last half cup of butter in that separate step or could we just incorporate those into the saucepan step? thanks d

    Reply
  12. Jillee Post author

    To answer the questions about adding the honey, maple syrup and butter as a second step…..

    While I haven’t tested it out yet….I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t just add all the ingredients in the first step. Also, it seems logical that you could just put it all straight into the muffin tins rather than cooking first on a sheet and THEN putting into the tins. But again, I havent personally tried it out yet. But I will! :-)

    Anyone who tries it…please give us an update! thx!!

    Reply
    1. Stacy

      I also recommend mixing them up together and then just bake it on a baking sheet. Perhaps on the first baking session, press it into the pan and then once browned, just cut them up into squares.

      Reply
      1. shelley

        I did this all in one step it did not turn out it was more like a muffin than granola it was good but not what it should have been, I think the first step makes it granola then the second step and bake makes the clusters.

        Reply
  13. CTY

    WOW! I have all these ingredients on hand. It sounds like a great way to use up the last of all the bags of dried fruit spilling out of the cabinet. DH opens new bags before he finishes the open ones (I hate that), and his one shelf in the cabinet is overflowing with these bags. I was going to try adding those heavily salted pumpkin seeds (David’s) because he has 4 open bags of those. His shelf is such a mess he doesn’t even look in there anymore-he just opens a new bag. Next week I’ll have to make the Chocolate Saltine Toffee Bark, because he has about 5 sleeves opened.
    And to think I was going to behave after all those holiday treats.

    Reply
  14. Tara W.

    AMAZING!! I was just looking for a good granola recipe last night!! I love the idea of making clusters for snacking. I also like to add granola to my yogurt so I can just continue baking some without putting in the muffin tin…I love versatility! I’m definitely going to give this a whirl!

    Reply
  15. Sue

    Several of these snack type things these days are made with rice syrup. I would think you could buy that in the health food section. I believe it has a lower glucose level. Also, in the old days, the granola was made with some oil as part of the liquid. Maybe these two things would help the people who need less sugar, Also the agave as someone else mentioned. Need to do some experimenting.

    Reply
    1. Denise

      Hi Sue, I love Agave syrup and use it alot so I tried it with this recipe. It worked just fine!! And I also grew up making granola with oil so I tried that instead of the butter. No problem with that substitution. For me, it is a quesiton of which is healthier so I am going to research that. This stuff is dangerous tho once you make it, I should have never made mine right before dinner!

      Reply
  16. Grace

    I am going to try this but I may cut out some of the butter and add peanut butter to mine. Also coconut sounds good to try out too! Anything to get more granola in my diet!!

    Reply
  17. ava treu

    Aunt Jill these were so good! Maya and Tristan were fighting over that little snack baggie you gave Tristan. They consumed them pretty quick! Now I need to make some Nate would LOVE these! Thanks again for sharing!

    Reply
  18. Jeannie

    :( ok I tried this recipe and I was left with a dry cereal type granola mixture, very tasty Bo
    Ut far from clumps, I added the extra ingredients with the others and baked do u think that could b what went wrong?

    Reply
  19. Beth

    I made this today, adding the extra ingredients into the mixture to be cooked. The problem with it was I think it had too much sugar because it just got dark fairly quickly. I would probably lower my oven temp if I made it again, or I would do it the way Jillee did it and do a second baking with the extra ingredients. I did get clumps but also a lot of loose granola, I did it on cookie sheets with parchment paper because I only have one mini muffin tin and I didn’t want to do this in 3 or 4 batches.

    Reply
  20. Cathy T

    Your post just cracked me UP this morning! These look and sound scrumptious!! I will be making them. I’m thinking I’d better make double batch; some for my secret stash & some for the family.
    Does anyone else do that, have a secret stash of goodies…I wonder?!!! Giggle Hey–a girl never knows when she NEEDS something yummy in emergency!

    Reply
  21. Denise

    Just finished trying this recipe…have got to put final product under lock and key and give key to son. A few things I tried that others mentioned wanting to do: I stuck to recipe until the final mixture of gooey ingredients that would help give the sticky factor. Decided to try using CANOLA OIL instead of butter (1/3 cup), AGAVE SYRUP instead of honey(1/2 cup) and MAPLE SYRUP(1/3 cup) . Proceeded as recipe said and had a lovely crispy outside with soft inside. NOT saying they came out of cupcake pans in nice clumps and stayed that way, mainly because of my lack of patience in throwing them in the container! But they could be molded or formed into clumps. Am experimenting with one batch and letting them stay in tins and cool completely to see if they will stay together. One other thing I did add was chia seeds for those of you looking to try these little healthfood gems . In conclusion, what I will do differently next time is cut back on my input of sugar on the front end, (the brown sugar) knowing I will be doing that final coating of sugar and see how that tastes. Just a thought for those trying to be a little more conscious of their sugar intake. Hope this helps someone!!

    Reply
  22. Monette

    I made this today.. did it Exactly, as stated..I didn’t want to take the chance of it not working by adding all ingredients at the beginning..Once cooled, the clumps were perfect! ..I also added 1/2 cup of flax seeds, and next time I will also add Chia seeds…I coarsely chopped the almonds and added raw sunflower seeds…My husband and I couldn’t stop eating it!!…It’s seriously GOOD!…I think I will try some of the alternatives mentioned here…to cut down on the sugar and butter next time….but I will definitely stick to the twice baked method, as the consistency is perfect!

    Reply
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  24. MISSIE

    I made these tonight and they are so delicious… my husband didn’t want me to do the second step but I needed to try it so we can decide which way will be better next time, which will be very soon.

    Reply
  25. Crystal

    Just wanted to let you know I made these on Saturday! They turned out wonderful! I didn’t have enough syrup so I used light karo instead and it worked great. Also, I didn’t a batch in the muffin pan and then pressed the rest into my large cookie sheet. I slightly scored the top before putting them back in the oven to make it easier to break apart when they came out. So now we have the clusters and the bars, well kinda bar shaped. The family loves them and so do I. Thank you for the great recipe!

    Reply
  26. Joyce

    OMGoodness…this is better than awesome!!!! I feel like I need to hide the jar from myself…lol! I let the granola cool completely in the pan and was able to break it into pieces without a problem. I tried to break it apart while it was hot at first and it did crumble (and those crumbles have made a tasty addition to my yogurt!).

    Reply
  27. Cwhitson

    THANKS so much for sharing! I can’t keep enough of it around! It’s become a favorite snack here! On our fourth batch. Course chopped the almonds, makes the bites more manageable. The first two times I made this it browned too much, almost burned. So, I waited to add the furit till the second bake and cut down sugar and all that fat. I cut the brown sugar down to 2/3 of a cup for the first bake. I cut the butter in half on the second bake I also used half as much honey as it called for (that’s expensive) and only a couple T of corn syrup. Baked it in a 9×13 loosely for first bake, then back in same 9×13 for second bake, but pressed in as making bars. When almost cool I broke it into the chunks. Very very good and easier then all those muffin tins!

    Reply
  28. Esther

    My son is a Marine currently deployed to Afghanistan. I’ve been looking for a recipe like this to send him for a long time. Two questions I have are: can I substitute Butter Flavor Crisco for the butter and what is the shelf live for these? I can’t send him anything with butter because they have no refrigeration and it takes 12 days to 2 weeks for him to get packages I send.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  29. Judi

    I too have wanted to make my own granola clusters as I find Costco’s rather expensive. Here is an easier recipe I adapted from “Earthbound Cook” by Myra Goodman that is quite good also (& has no butter or oil). You can make it with many different nuts and/or dried fruits.
    2 c. old fashioned oats
    1 c. shredded unsweetened coconut (I use the flaked unsweetened)
    1 c. chopped walnuts (have used pecans and almonds also)
    2/3 c. dried cranberries (or raisins, etc.)
    3/4 c. sweetened condensed milk
    Spread on parchment lined cookie sheet & bake 45-55 min. at 275. Let cool completely on cookie sheet on a wire rack (if you can!). Break into pieces & enjoy!! EASY & DELISH! The original recipe also had 2/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger & the grated zest of 1 orange (which I did not care for but some may). I usually add more oats & nuts to use up the can of sweetened cond. milk:)

    Reply
      1. Linda

        Oh my goodness! This is delish! and oh so easy. Sweet but not too sweet, just right! You were right, I couldn’t wait till it cooled. I munched on it all evening. This recipe is a keeper. Thanks, Judi!

        Reply
  30. Sandra

    Was wondering if you could use coconut oil instead of butter, use honey & maple syrup instead of using the brown sugar?
    Thanks, they sound just yummy, you can add so many nuts or seeds & dried fruits to change it up.
    Sandra

    Reply
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  32. vicky

    Thank you Jillie, I love all of your posts! I can’t wait for your book, that will cut down on writing and printing all of your great info:)
    For Ester, Thank you so much for your son’s service and for the family that loves him!
    Our son is also a marine and was in Afghanistan. I tried lots and lots of recipes to send him something from home and nothing made it very well. I finally started sending pre-packaged treats and they were fine.FYI The Kraft CO used to donate all types of snacks to service members, I didn’t find out about it in time to try, but you may be able to get some info to try it. If you google Kraft, I think that you might be able to get the information from that. Sure beats all of those many boxes of treats! tried to send enough for his men, some of them didn’t receive many care pkgs:)
    I can’t wait to try this recipe, I am off to get some cranberries :)
    Thanks again!!!

    Reply
  33. Susan

    Good granola – everyone liked it. I used pecans, almonds, dried bing cherries, raisins and dried cranberries with the other ingredients listed. Also, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Good stuff. Next time, I’m going to use sorghum instead of the honey and maple syrup. It’s a little different taste, but works well on popcorn balls, so it’ll work great for the granola. Probably skip the muffin tins and pat it out on a cookie sheet as suggested by some of the others. Thanks!

    Reply
  34. Jos

    I was wondering if there has been an update on these granola clusters. If there’s a new or different way to make these without the double baking.

    Reply
  35. jacqui

    I just made these last week, and you don’t have to double bake it. Mine actually burned by baking it twice =( still yummy though! I’m making some as mothers’ day gifts this week. I plan on baking them like any other granola: low temperature (maybe 250) and turning it every 15 minutes – lots of work, but sooo worth it! I’ll post when I do this for the second time. Oh, and I just added a bit of honey and maple syrup just before I put it in the oven, the first time =)

    Reply
  36. nancy

    This was SOOO good the first time I made it–a little labor intensive ( a lot!!) but I made it again tonight! I used a little less butter, and a little more oatmeal, and ground up less of the oatmeal. We will see–it’s cooling on the counter right now!

    Reply
  37. Marcie

    Ohhhhhh; you don’t know how ecstatic I am to have found this blog post on Pinterest! You see, I too, am a Costco granola cluster addict….I find it almost impossible to pass by them and not throw some in my cart. I was literally looking for a recipe that was close to the tasty goodness of Costco’s concoction and none if the recipes I found were even close. I’m not that great of a recipe inventor, more of a recipe follower….THANK YOU…for doing the hard part! I’m making this this weekend!

    Reply

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