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Healthy Oil-Free Granola {vegan, gluten-free}

Easy, healthy oil-free granola that happens to be vegan, and gluten-free, too! Vary the spices, nuts/seeds and dried fruits to make it your own unique blend.

oil-free granola in a wooden bowl

Make Crunchy Granola without Using Oil

One of the perils of writing a food blog is this: I get so caught up with brain-storming ideas, new-found flavors, and interesting ingredients that I (more often than I care to admit) overlook the obvious.

For example, yesterday. My husband asked me to make his favorite granola, a recipe I concocted years ago and make throughout the year.

“This is on your blog, right?” he asked.

Oops. It wasn’t. But this post corrects my oversight.

What is Used in Place of Oil in Oil-Free Granola?

This is a great granola in so many ways: super-easy, versatile, and healthy, everything I like in a good recipe. What makes it special, though, is that it is oil-free, yet still produces crispy-crunchy, cluster-ific results.

My secret? In lieu of oil, I make a syrup (of sorts), made with either flaxseed meal or ground chia seeds, combined with coconut sugar, water, vanilla, spices and salt. 

dry ingredients and wet ingredients for oil free granola in separate bowls

Add the syrup-y mixture to a combination of oats and nuts/seeds, tossing to coat. The flax (or chia) binds the ingredients (hello, clusters) and also delivers enough fat for perfect crispness.

Vary the Ingredients to Suit your Tastes

The nut-seed-oat combination is variable. If you would like to make a super-frugal granola, or need to bypass all nuts and seeds (other than the ground flax/chia), replace them with more oats. Alternatively, sub with unsweetened coconut (flakes or shreds). It is all delicious.

overhead shot of glass bowl with the ingredients for oil-free granola being mixed together

Thoroughly coat every last oat, nut and seed with the syrup mix, and then spread in an even layer on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet

Try to keep the edges from being too thinly spread; the edges bake faster due to their proximity to the pan’s edges, so keep them even.

unbaked granola being spread on a baking dish with a pink spatula

Bake the granola at 300F for 32 to 38 minutes, stirring once halfway through the baking time. I prefer baking granola at a lower heat for a longer time to make sure it gets completely dried and golden brown, with less risk of overbaking or burning.

Remove the pan from the oven, place on a cooling rack, and then tamp down the warm granola with a spatula. Press hard! This simple step leads to lots of clusters!

tamping down granola with a metal spatula after baking

Cool completely, without stirring, and then break into clusters, big or small.

baked healthy oil-free granola on a parchment paper lined baking sheet

If you like, add some chopped dried fruit. My husband and I love the granola best when made with cardamom, a mix of nuts and seeds (and, sometimes, unsweetened coconut flakes), and dried cherries (splurge!).

Here’s to the obvious! Happy cooking :).

healthy oil-free granola in a wooden bowl with sheet pan of granola and napkin in background

More Healthy, Delicious Granolas to Try

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

How to Make Low-Calorie Granola {vegan, GF, 72 calories}

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: 3 cups

Healthy Oil-Free Granola {vegan, gluten-free}

Healthy Oil-Free Granola {vegan, gluten-free}

Easy, healthy and all-around delicious granola that happens to be oil-free, vegan, and gluten-free! Vary the spices, nuts/seeds and dried fruits to make it your own unique blend.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) water
  • 1/4 cup (26 g) flaxseed meal or ground chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup (36 g) coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (more or less to taste)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (203 g) old-fashioned rolled oats (certified gluten-free, as for 100% GF)
  • 1/2 cup (~70 g) coarsely chopped raw nuts, seeds, or a mix
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chopped dried fruit


  1. Preheat oven to 300F (150F). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the water, flaxseed meal, coconut sugar, vanilla, cardamom and salt in a small bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the oats and nuts/seeds. Add the flax mixture, stirring to completely coat.
  4. Spoon and spread the granola in an even layer onto the prepared pan. Be careful not to spread too thin at the edges.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 32 to 38 minutes, stirring halfway through baking time, until light golden brown and completely dry to the touch. Transfer to a cooling rack. Using a pancake turner or large spoon, firmly press down the granola (this will help form clumps). Cool completley without stirring.
  6. Break the cooled granola into pieces and stir in the dried fruit, if adding.


Storage: Store granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Sugar Options: An equal amount of the granulated sugar or other granulated sweetener of your choice can be used in place of the coconut sugar. Maple syrup or other liquid sweeteners can also be used. Use an equal amount as the coconut sugar and reduce the water to 3 tablespoons (45 mL).

Nuts/Seeds: Vary the Nuts and seeds to your heart's content or based on what you have on hand. You can substitute the nuts/seeds with any equal amount of unsweetened coconut (flakes or shredded) or more oats.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size

1/2 cup

Amount Per Serving Calories 229Total Fat 9.6gSaturated Fat 0.9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 114.6mgCarbohydrates 31.1gFiber 5gSugar 9.4gProtein 7.3g

Did you make this recipe?

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Saturday 7th of September 2019

DEEEELLLLIIIICCCCIOUS!! My husband is super finicky with food - especially anything that "sounds" healthy. But, this granola won him over instantly! And then he found out how healthy it is and, well, he's having a bit of an identity crisis. We'll deal ;). Thanks for the jumpstart in getting hubby healthier. As for me, I've been making my granola for years, but my old recipe had lots of oil. This recipe is really divine, perfect texture, flavors and flexibility with add-ons. Nice work! Just signed up so I can be sure to get more of your awesome recipes right away. Thanks so much :))


Wednesday 8th of January 2020

Wow! High praise indeed, thanks Geffen!!!:)

Marcia Carpenter

Sunday 1st of September 2019

Thank you for this updated granola recipe. For years I have been making the granola from your pucks series. This version is a winner with healthy, simple ingredients and very easy to make, Delicious!

You are truly creative.


Sunday 1st of September 2019

Way to make my mascara run, Marcia (#worthit) with your super-kind and generous compliments! I am so glad to hear you tried and like the new granola. This was a fun (and tasty) trial and error process L)

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