Growing up in a part Norwegian household, I always assumed that cardamom was strictly a Scandinavian spice. From Christmas cookies to breakfast loaves or buns and waffles, cardamom was a flavor synonymous with wintertime.
Little did I know that cardamom originated in India and likely made its way to Scandinavia thanks to the Vikings. This distinctive spice has also made its way into many other cuisines, especially Middle Eastern cooking.
If you’ve never tried it, cardamom is a warm, aromatic spice with a hint of citrus. It goes well in dishes with similar warming spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. And, like many of these spices, cardamom can be used in sweet and savory recipes.
Nutritionally speaking, cardamom is rich in antioxidants, which play a role in protecting the body from chronic diseases. It’s also been used traditionally to treat various digestive problems; however, the research on whether it actually helps is limited.
The key with cardamom is to remember that even a little bit provides a big punch of flavor.
Cardamom with dried apricots is a flavor combination that I’d never had before trying this recipe. But if you think about it, it makes total sense that these two would go well together. After all, both can be found in sweet buns, especially around Christmas and Easter time.
The dried apricots are key in this recipe, to help lighten things up. Between the spices, maple syrup, and brown sugar, this granola is stacked with deep, warm, and sweet flavors, so the apricots bring an earthier, slightly tangy note to balance the rest out.
The rest of the ingredients are likely pantry staples: rolled oats (not the instant kind!), walnuts, slivered almonds, coconut flakes, canola oil, and a little bit of salt.
Depending on your nutrition goals, you can try decreasing the brown sugar by a few tablespoons to reduce the sugar content. But don’t nix the sugar completely, as a key factor in getting crunchy homemade granola is heating sugar at a high temperature for a prolonged amount of time.
Speaking of sugar, the dietitian in me can’t help but mention portion size. While granola contains protein and healthy fats thanks to the walnuts and almonds, it can also be high in calories if portion sizes aren’t kept in check.
I recommend using a measuring cup to scoop it into your bowl (or hand) to take out the guesswork. In general, one serving of granola is ¼ cup, which is smaller than the average handful.
In my opinion, the best way to enjoy granola is on top of plain Greek yogurt. I just love getting those crunchy bites along with the smooth, creamy yogurt filled with healthy probiotics. Plus, the tang of the plain yogurt works perfectly with the sweetness of the granola.
My husband is one of those strange individuals who likes to eat cereal without milk. So it was no surprise to find him frequently grabbing handfuls straight from the jar – clearly, he doesn’t listen to my rants about portion sizing…
Before we get to the recipe, we have to address the texture in a little more detail. I’m a fan of having big clumps in my granola – they’re just so satisfying to crunch through! If you’re like me and want clumps, there are a few key tips to keep in mind:
1. Use a Pan That’s the Correct Size
While you still want your granola mixture to be spread in an even layer on the baking sheet, make sure to use the right sized baking pan.
For this recipe, a half sheet pan is just the right size to make sure it is packed in well, without any spaces.
If your baking sheet is so large that you can scatter your granola with space left over in the pan, you’ll end up with very few clumps. Conversely, if your pan is so small that the granola is overly crowded, it won’t toast evenly.
2. Don’t Let It Burn
Next, don’t overbake the granola. You want it to be lightly golden on top, not dark brown.
Besides tasting a little burnt, overbaking will make it harder for the granola to clump together.
3. Cool Completely
Finally, let the granola cool completely before breaking it up. This will help the ingredients stick together better and form those desired clusters.
Ready? It’s time to bake up a delicious breakfast!Print
Tossed with maple syrup and studded with dried apricots, this nutty cardamom granola is perfectly crunchy and filled with warm flavors.
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup chopped slivered almonds
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
- Preheat oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat silicone pan liner.
- In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, coconut, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom.
- Spread mixture onto prepared baking sheet in an even layer.
- Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown.
- Remove granola from oven and allow to cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes.
- Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in dried apricots. Store granola in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 weeks.
- Category: Granola
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Breakfast
Keywords: granola, oats, apricot, cardamom, breakfast
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Preheat Oven, Chop Nuts and Apricots, and Measure Ingredients
Preheat oven to 300°F and line a half sheet-sized baking pan with parchment paper or a Silpat.
Chop walnuts, almonds, and apricots, and then measure out the remaining ingredients.
Step 2 – Combine Ingredients
In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, walnuts, almonds, coconut flakes, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, maple syrup, and olive oil.
Add the brown sugar, and stir it in.
Don’t add the apricots yet!
Step 3 – Spread onto Baking Sheet and Bake
Spread the mixture onto your prepared baking sheet in an even layer. You want the oat mixture to be nice and snug, but not overly crowded.
Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir every 10 minutes with a rubber spatula, making sure to press the mixture back down into an even layer each time.
Step 4 – Cool and Add Apricots
Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes. Remember, the longer it sits to cool, the more clumps you’ll get.
Using your hands or a spoon, break it up into clumps and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Add apricots and carefully stir to combine.
Why do we save the apricots for last? This is a tip that I’d heard before, and I had to try it for myself.
Sure enough, when you bake dried fruit in a relatively dry mixture, most of the fruit gets hard – and not in a desirably crunchy way, but in more of a hard-to-chew way.
Do your teeth a favor and stir the apricots in after baking so they’ll stay soft and delicious.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 weeks.
Creating Your Own Granola Mix
I like to think of granola as a baked version of trail mix: sweet, salty, and versatile.
Don’t like walnuts? No problem! Use a different nut instead. As long as you keep the same volume of dry ingredients, you can swap in any of your favorite nuts, seeds, or dried fruits.
Looking for more crunchy granola recipes? We’ve got you covered! Check out some of our favorites:
- Homemade Oatmeal Cookie Style
- Naturally Sweet and Crunchy Chocolate
- Coconut Almond Chia
- Almond and Sesame Seed
- Pumpkin Spice
What are your favorite granola combinations? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below. And if you love this recipe, be sure to give it a 5-star rating after you’ve tried it!
Photos by Kelli McGrane, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on February 24, 2010. Last updated: September 22, 2019 at 12:00 pm.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Kelli McGrane, MS, RD
Kelli McGrane is a Denver-based registered dietitian with a lifelong love of food. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in nutrition science from Boston University. As a registered dietitian, she believes in the importance of food to nourish not only your body, but your soul as well. Nutrition is very personal, and you won’t find any food rules here, other than to simply enjoy what you eat.