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How to Make Low-Calorie Granola (vegan, gluten-free, 72 calories)

Learn how to make low-calorie granola from whole grains and freeze-dried fruit! It s vegan, gluten-free and 72 calories a serving.

overhead shot of low calorie granola in a blue and white bowl

Low-Calorie Granola for Breakfast and Snacking

I’m a granola enthusiast. Whether ready-made, home-made, grain-free, gluten-free, nut-laden, fruit-filled, or all of the above, I love its nutrient-dense goodness.

But that nutrient density doesn’t always love me back. For example, when I begin nibbling it straight from the jar or box and realize, 10 minutes later, that my wee snack equaled about 1000 calories, plus enough sugar to launch me into the stratosphere. And all of those nuts and seeds feel like nails in my stomach.


It’s fine if I my goal is to replenish from a long run or turbo workout, or if I am out for a long hike, but sometimes I want a granola that I can eat by the (BIG) bowlful or munch on the go without considering the calories or sugar. I like options.

Hence, I’m offering a quick and easy how-to for making low calorie granola!

low cal granola made with puffed millet on a piece of white parchment paper

Is this Real Granola?

My lower calorie granola has credible fundamentals, including all of the following:

  • Whole grains
  • Sweetener
  • Fruit
  • Fat

However, I’ve made significant alterations to the varieties and proportions of each element.

Ingredients for Low Calorie Granola

(1) Use Puffed and Crispy Grain Varieties

Granola begins with grains, and this is no exception.

Traditional oats are included, but only 1/3 cup in a recipe that yields 2+ cups total. The remaining grains are crispy rice cereal (I used a crisp brown rice variety), and puffed millet.

Not only does this strategy keep calories low, it also ensures two other key elements of granola: (1) crispy-crunchiness, and (2) clusters!

close up of low calorie granola clusters

Puffed millet is available in the healthy foods section of most supermarkets and superstores, at health food stores, or online. It is extremely inexpensive (about 2 dollars) for  generous bag, naturally gluten-free, and has no added anything–it’s whole grain millet, nothing else.

Together with quick-cooking rolled oats (which have smaller pieces than old-fashioned rolled oats, making them better for distribution throughout the granola) and crisp rice, puffed millet gloms into perfectly crispy-crunchy clusters. Yes, please.

light and low cal granola cooling on a wire cooling rack

(2) Use Small Portions of Maple Syrup & Oil for Binders

Holding the pieces together is 1 cup of maple syrup and 1/2 cup of melted coconut oil. No, just kidding. (But those are the quantities listed in one of my favorite granola recipes!).

Rather, a measly 2 teaspoons maple syrup + a few spritzes of good quality cooking spray )e.g., non-propellant, oils such as coconut or avocado) are the only sweetener and oil required. Cheap, easy, and the combination works like a charm.

The reduced sugar also ensures that I am not bouncing off the walls minutes after eating breakfast. Kevin and Nick appreciate that.

Now, back to the subject of cheap: the ingredients in this recipe are exactly that. Forget expensive nuts or seeds, using up your entire bottle of maple syrup, or pouring a whole jar of coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil into one recipe. Making this healthy, morning staple will keep most of your money in your wallet.

close-up of blue and white bowl filled with low calorie granola

(3) Use Freeze-Dried Fruit

But wait, what about those fancy strawberries studding the granola?! Aren’t they expensive and hard-to-find? Hurrah, the answer is no and no! Those ruby-pink bits are freeze-dried strawberries. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, you may be well-acquainted with these light and crispy treats.

For everyone else, it’s a matter of knowing where to look. And the #1 place to look for freeze-dried is in the baby food section of your supermarket. They are sold in pouches, and the variety I used cost the grand sum of 89 cents. You can occasionally find freeze dried fruit alongside dried fruit, or in the produce section, but it is almost always in the baby food section.

overhead shot of a handful of freeze-dried strawberries

The moisture in dried fruits can make otherwise crispy granola soft and stale-tasting (sigh), especially after a few days of storage.

By contrast, freeze dried fruit is dry and crunchy, and does not have an effect on the texture of the granola except to add to the overall crispiness. Plus, freeze-dried fruit is very low in calories and naturally sweet.

Additionally, the only preparation required for the freeze-dried strawberries in this recipe is a quick crumble. With your fingers. No knife skills required.

overhead shot of low calorie granola with strawberries

This recipe only yields a little more than 2 cups, because, hey, not everyone needs 10 cups of granola at one time. However, if you do need 4, 6, 8 or 10 cups of granola, you can easily scale up the recipe.

I hope you give this great granola option a try! Now please excuse me while I go and eat a fist-full :).


More Healthy, Delicious Granolas to Try

5-Minute Microwave Mug Granola {healthy, easy, vegan, GF}

Healthy Oil-Free Granola (vegan, GF)

Banana Bread Protein Granola (vegan, GF)

Oil-Free Buckwheat Granola {vegan, GF, oat-free}

Grain-Free Banana Granola {oil-free, no added sugar}

Grain-Free Red Lentil Granola {vegan}

Fresh Apple Pie Granola (vegan, gluten-free)

Yield: 2 cups granola

How to Make Low-Calorie Granola (vegan, gluten-free)

overhead shot of low calorie granola in a blue and white bowl

Learn how to make low-calorie granola from whole grains and freeze-dried fruit! It is vegan, gluten-free and 72 calories a serving.

Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Total Time 24 minutes


  • 1 cup crispy rice cereal
  • 2/3 cup puffed millet
  • 1/3 cup quick-cooking rolled oats (certified GF, as needed)
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon or cardamom
  • generous pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup freeze-dried strawberries, crumbled


  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the rice cereal, puffed millet and oats. Drizzle with the maple syrup, generously spritz with the cooking spray, and sprinkle with the cinnamon and salt; stir to combine and coat. Spritz again (1 or 2 times) with the cooking spray, stirring after each spray.
  3. Spread granola mixture on prepared baking sheet; it should be in a single layer but compacted close together (this promotes clusters).
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-22 minutes until golden brown with a toasty fragrance (DO NOT STIR!). Transfer baking sheet to a cooling rack and cool completely.
  5. Gently break the cooled granola into clusters and sprinkle with the crumbled freeze-dried strawberries. Transfer to an airtight container.


Storage: Store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Oats: Quick cooking rolled oats are simply rolled oats that have been chopped into smaller pieces. If you only have old-fashioned rolled oats, simply give them a rough chop before adding.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size

1/2 cup

Amount Per Serving Calories 72Total Fat 0.7gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 120mgCarbohydrates 14gFiber 1gSugar 4.2gProtein 1.6g

Did you make this recipe?

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Anne Chelekis

Monday 20th of April 2020

I too was looking for a low calorie granola, and was so happy to find your recipe! I made a double batch , following your directions, and it’s delicious! It’s so good that my picky adult daughter and granddaughter loved it too! I gave them the first batch, now I’m making more for myself, but adding in some toasted coconut that I had left over from an Easter dessert. It won’t be quite as low in calories, but I am a nut for coconut!


Monday 20th of April 2020

Excellent, Anne! And kudos for getting the approval of adult daughter and granddaughter (no small feat!). Toasted coconut is worth every calorie IMHO, so well done with that addition.


Tuesday 24th of March 2020

Great recipe. Thank you so much.. I love granola and I have been looking for a low calorie granola and I stumbled on your site. I have just finished making a big batch and it is taste and appearance. I could not find puffed millet so I substituted with puffed wheat. I used 2 teaspoons of honey and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. It’s so fantastic.. Thank you.


Wednesday 25th of March 2020

You are so welcome, Mercy!


Tuesday 25th of February 2020

Tq for the superb recipe. I revised the recipe, adding 2 teaspoons of honey instead of maple syrup and 1 teaspoon olive oil instead of cooking spray, the outcome tasted super tasty!


Tuesday 25th of February 2020

Sounds so good, Maeve! :)

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