This gluten-free holiday granola with cranberries is the perfect easy breakfast or snack!Jump to Recipe
A Healthy Holiday Breakfast
The holiday season is filled with so many delicious sweets. From gingerbread cookies to cinnamon rolls, it’s no wonder why so many people make ‘being healthy’ their new year resolution. While I love the holiday season and all the tasty desserts as much as anyone, there is such a thing as too much sugar. Luckily, I have the perfect recipe for you if you need a healthy alternative!
This gluten-free granola has no refined sugar and all the festive flavors of winter. With a homemade spiced chai blend, this aromatic granola is full of rich seasonings. Plus, it’ll make your home smell heavenly after making a batch! You’ll also find toasted pecans, cacao nibs and dried cranberries in this seasonal breakfast recipe. I love to serve this alongside yogurt and berries or enjoy it as a snack in the afternoon. All you need is one hour to have a weeks worth of this holiday granola.
The Spiced Chai Blend
If you’ve ever had a chai tea latte, then you understand the draw of this granola. This recipe was actually inspired by Trader Joe’s Spicy Chai Tea Mix. I loved the rich aroma of it and found it was an easy addition to baked goods. However, this mix has a lot of unnecessary ingredients in it and is loaded with sugar. Which, makes sense why it tasted so good!
My holiday granola has all the delicious flavors of the chai mix, without the long list of ingredients and sugar. While I know it’s easy to grab a pre-made mix, this chai spiced blend couldn’t be easier to make! It truly only takes a few minutes to come together. As well, you most likely have all the ingredients sitting in your cabinet just waiting to be used.
This blend is a combination of ground ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, all spice, nutmeg, and cloves. Chai has a very earthy flavor with a hint of sweetness. This earthy flavor is primarily from the ginger; which, is the main spice component in this blend. As for the sweetness, it’s often said that chai has hints of vanilla. Cardamom is often confused with vanilla, as this spice has a naturally sweet and floral flavor profile. The other spices add richness, nuttiness, and subtly sweet flavor. The end result is a beautifully balanced spiced chai mixture.
The Foundation of the Granola
Any good granola starts with the oats. Know that not all gluten-free oats are the same and can be used for granola. For example, steel cut or quick cooking oats will not work for this recipe. You need gluten-free rolled oats because they take longer to bake, allowing them to absorb more flavor. Furthermore, rolled oats will reach a slow crisp without burning. My two favorite brands are Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Rolled Oats and Bob’s Red Mill, Gluten-Free Regular Rolled Oats.
How Is This Recipe Refined Sugar Free?
Before we can answer this, we first need to discuss what refined sugar is. Refined sugar is characterized as table sugar (cane, powdered, or brown sugar) and high fructose corn syrup. Refined sugar may be from a natural source, but it has been processed so that only sugar remains. Refined sugar has become increasingly popular and is present in countless things. Unless you read the label carefully, you may be surprised to learn that many of your household favorites contain large quantities of refined sugar.
So, what will we use in place of sugar to make this recipe sweet? There are plenty of natural sugars that have not been processed; such as: honey, agave, maple syrup, and date syrup. These sugars are naturally occurring and remain in their natural form, so they are not a refined sugar. In this recipe, we’ll be using maple syrup as a sweetening agent. As well, melted coconut oil will be used in place of butter. Coconut oil is naturally sweet, so this will add another form of sweetness to the recipe.
Making the Granola!
Now that all of that has been covered, it’s time to make the granola. Start by preheating the oven and lining a large baking sheet with parchment paper. While you can use foil, the granola does end up sticking to it so I would recommend against. Then, take a large bowl and add the gluten-free rolled oats. Next, add the raw pecans- or nuts of your choice, walnuts also work. Now for my favorite part… the cacao nibs! Cacao nibs are less processed and a fair bit less sweet than dark chocolate. In fact, because they contain less sugar, they actually have a bitter flavor. Luckily, this flavor is balanced by the overall naturals sweetness of the granola. Ultimately though, this makes cocoa nibs a healthier alternative to chocolate. Fun fact, cacao nibs will not melt in their natural state. So, we can add them to the granola and bake them in the oven without them melting.
Once those three ingredients are added to the bowl, it’s time for the wet ingredients. Pour the melted coconut oil and the maple syrup into the large bowl. Use a spatula to fold the granola and ensure that all the ingredients are combined. Then, it’s time to add in our spiced chai blend! Take the small bowl that the spices have been combined in and sprinkle over the granola. Use the spatula to evenly distribute the spices over the granola. Finally, it’s time to bake the granola! Spread the uncooked holiday granola across the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, stir the granola and cover with aluminum foil. The foil will allow the granola to continue to cook without burning the edges. Cook for another 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. Allow the granola to cool for at least 10 minutes.
For the final step of this recipe, we will be adding in the dried cranberries. Much like raisins, if dried cranberries are cooked in the oven, they will begin to expand. While they will deflate once removed from the oven, it will leave them with a hardened consistency. After recipe testing, I decided that it’s best to add the dried cranberries after the granola has cooked. This ensures that the texture and flavor of the dried cranberries remains intact.
Ways to Utilize This Holiday Granola
Personally, I could eat this granola by itself. I love the flavors and different textures of it! That being said, there are so many ways to utilize this granola. Check out some of my favorite ways below:
- Yogurt Parfait: Serve this holiday granola with your favorite yogurt and fruit! You can even prep the parfaits beforehand for a healthy Christmas morning breakfast.
- Smoothie Bowl: If you’re like me and still love smoothies, even in the winter, then this idea is for you! Top your favorite smoothies with this crunchy finish.
- Muffins: Give your muffins a crunchy topping with this holiday granola! It’s especially great on seasonal muffin recipes, like my Gluten-Free Cranberry Citrus Muffins.
- Fruit Crisps: Utilize the fresh seasonal produce and make a crisp with this granola as the crumble!
- Puddings: Whether you’re enjoying a refreshing chia seed pudding or a decadent holiday pudding, this granola adds the perfect crunch!
There are so many other ways to utilize this granola! From the classic cereal bowl to trail mix, there’s countless ways to enjoy this holiday recipe. Let me know how you like it in the comments below!
Spiced Chai Holiday GranolaCourse: Breakfast, Brunch, SnacksDifficulty: Easy
This chai spiced holiday granola with cranberries is the perfect easy breakfast or snack!
4 cups of gluten-free rolled oats
2 cups of raw pecans
2/3 cup cacao nibs
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon cardamom
1 tablespoon all spice
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1/2 cup dried cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
- In a large bowl combine the rolled oats, pecans, cacao nibs, coconut oil and maple syrup
- Mix together the spices in a small bowl
- Pour the combined chai mixture into the large bowl
- Stir to combine then use a spatula to spread evenly across the prepared baking sheet
- Bake for 15 minutes on the lower rack
- Then, stir and cover with foil to prevent the granola from burning
- Bake for another 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes
- Once the granola has reached room temperature, add the dried cranberries
- Stir to combine, then serve and enjoy!
- Store in an air tight container at room temperature up to one week