Nutty Cardamom Granola with Dried Apricots for Breakfast

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.

Vertical image of two parfait glasses of yogurt topped with apricot and nut granola, with a swingtop glass jar of the cereal in the background, on a brown wood surface with scattered oats, printed with orange and white text at the midpoint and the bottom of the frame.

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.

Oblique vertical image of a glass swingtop jar with the lid open to show a white rubber gasket, filled with homemade apricot and nut granola, with more of the cereal on a baking sheet topped with white parchment paper in soft focus in the background, on a brown wood table.

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.

Vertical overhead image of a white cereal bowl of homemade crunchy spiced oats with nuts and dried apricots, with a spoon stuck into the bowl, on a metal sheet pan topped with a piece of white parchment paper and more of the crunchy baked cereal, on a wood background.

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.

Overhead oblique image of a glass swingtop jar of homemade granola with chunks of dried apricots and chopped nuts, on a brown surface with scattered crumbs of the cereal, and a baking sheet topped with parchment and more of the breakfast food to the right.

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.

Vertical closely cropped overhead slightly oblique image of two parfait glasses and a swingtop jar of homemade apricot granola, with more in the background on top of a piece of folded parchment paper, on a brown wood table.

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…

Vertical closely cropped image of a white cereal bowl that says "Wake Up" on the front, filled with apricot granola with a spoon, on a white parchment paper surface with a small pile of the breakfast food to the right, on a brown wood surface.

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!

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A glass swingtop jar of homemade granola is spilling onto a white parchment paper surface.

Nutty Cardamom Granola with Dried Apricots


  • Author: Kelli McGrane
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 9 cups 1x

Description

Tossed with maple syrup and studded with dried apricots, this nutty cardamom granola is perfectly crunchy and filled with warm flavors.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat silicone pan liner.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, coconut, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom.
  3. Spread mixture onto prepared baking sheet in an even layer.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown.
  5. Remove granola from oven and allow to cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes.
  6. 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.

Oblique overhead shot of glass and ceramic bowls of oats, walnuts, almonds, coconut, dried apricots, maple syrup, salt and spices, olive oil, and light brown sugar, on a brown wood surface.

Chop walnuts, almonds, and apricots, and then measure out the remaining ingredients.

Step 2 – Combine Ingredients

Overhead horizontal image of a large glass mixing bowl with piles of unmixed oats, nuts, coconut, and spices at the bottom, on a wood surface.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, walnuts, almonds, coconut flakes, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, maple syrup, and olive oil.

A hand with pink manicured nails adds a small bowlful of light brown sugar to a large glass mixing bowl containing oats, coconut, and chopped nuts, on a brown wood surface.

Add the brown sugar, and stir it in.

Overhead horizontal image of a large glass mixing bowl with an oat mixture being stirred with a red silicone and unfinished wood spatula, on a brown wood surface.

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.

Horizontal image of a homemade oat, nut, spice, and brown sugar mixture ready for baking, spread in a thin layer on a metal rimmed baking sheet lined with white parchment paper, with a red silicone and unfinished wood spatula on top, on a brown wood surface.

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.

Just-baked homemade granola spread in a single layer in a rimmed metal baking sheet lined with white parchment paper, with a red cloth towel visible in the top left corner, on a brown wood surface.

Using your hands or a spoon, break it up into clumps and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Overhead horizontal image of a large glass mixing bowl filled with a mixture of oats and nuts, being stirred with a white rubber spatula with a wood handle, on a wood surface beside a metal cookie sheet.

Add apricots and carefully stir to combine.

Overhead image of chopped dried apricots on top of an oat and nut mixture in a large glass mixing bowl, being stirred with a rubber spatula, on a brown table with a metal baking sheet to the left.

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.

Overhead horizontal image of an oat, coconut, almond, walnut, and dried apricot mixture, on a brown surface with the side of a metal baking sheet visible in the top left corner of the frame.

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.

A glass swingtop jar of homemade granola is spilling onto a white parchment paper surface.

Looking for more crunchy granola recipes? We’ve got you covered! Check out some of our favorites:

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: April 6, 2019 at 11:00 am.

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.

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About Kelli McGrane

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.

25 thoughts on “Nutty Cardamom Granola with Dried Apricots for Breakfast”

  1. I go through kicks with granola – some months, I’m making huge batches every week or so, but then there’s the last couple months – I don’t think I’ve made it in quite a while. This variation definitely has me intrigued!

  2. I have been on a granola craze for quite some time now, and think that everyone should be. Every batch I’ve made is unsurpassed in flavor and freshness, and when stirred into yogurt, makes such a perfect snack. I completely understand and share your passion for it.

  3. This granola looks super tasty. And olive oil! That must be a thing today — I just posted an olive oil loaf recipe. Anyway, I look forward to making this one, especially because it includes maple syrup, which is basically my favorite right now.

    <3

  4. i’ve never been a huge granola fan. i’m not a hater, by any means — in fact, i’m eating a granola bar right now! but it’s the quaker oats kind, with chocolate chips, and it’s really just not the same, is it? i’ll have to give the homemade version a shot.

  5. I love this recipe! I’m a little addicted to Milk & Honey’s Vegan Papaya Cashew flavor. Its so perfect. I need to try to replicate it.

  6. I know exactly what you mean about the evolution of granola in your life. I am the same way! But I’ve yet to make it on my own. This olive oil recipe looks divine!

  7. Looks fantastic! It’s funny you posted this. I woke up thinking about cereals and how I could incorporate them into something yummy…… Thank you!

  8. Caitlin, I am like that with most things, I think, so I def understand. next time you’ve got an urge for granola though, try this!

    Kate, Exactly! Everything you said!

    Ashley, I know! I’ve been seeing olive oil everywhere lately!

    Jacqui, for the record, homemade is just SO not the same as the packaged kind! This stuff is addictive. Really, really addictive.

    Tim, Ha! Well thank you for the compliment!

    Kickpleat, I am a sucker for granola, but that’s obvious. Hope you like this version!

    Antonietta, Oh you must make it yourself. Really. You’ll never look back!

    Redmenace, Excellent! I love when that happens!

  9. I can’t wait to try the granola you made; it looks so tasty as if I can take some from my computer screen. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Wouldn’t you know it? I bought the ingredients to make your granola today. Was too wiped out to make it tonight, but at least now all the ingredients are in my house!

  11. I used to live in a Camphill community, and granola was a very important part of our daily lives. We always made it from scratch, or goaded our neighbors into making some for us. I love it filled with nuts and seeds, with just a modest dollop of yogurt. It was enough to get me out of bed on time every morning!

  12. yum. i love granola, love making it, eating it!! we always put in lots of grains – oh man. i know what i’m doing tomorrow – trying your new recipe!! thanks!

  13. Allison, Happy to know another granola lover! Hope you enjoy this version!

    Kim, Ha! I hadn’t even thought of how kitchen sink would be perfect for you. 🙂 Yay – can’t wait to hear how you like it!

    Rachel, Wish I were there to come help!

    Maria, Yeah, the apricots add a great sweetness and texture. I’ll have to go check out your version!

    Clare, Mmm that all sounds wonderful!

    Hannah, Right? I thought so too, and the results were so good!

    Jessie, Excellent! Let me know what you think!

  14. I totally can never get enough of granola. I make a riff on the same version nearly every week. I could always a new excuse to try something new, but yet still as comforting. Nothing can separate me from my granola 🙂

  15. just in the nick of time! I’m getting low on my granola stash as well and this recipe with *cardamon* as well looks amazing!

    yogurt and granola and I have serious thing going on.
    I recommend making your own yogurt to complement it 🙂

  16. Shannalee, This looks delicious. We must have been thinking on similar wavelengths since I finally finished my post about Aussie (granola) bites and then, I come over here to your post and you have a granola theme going as well. Besides the scrumptious recipe, your writing is so wonderful.

  17. My sister told me this morning several things about granola: she’s obsessed, eats it all the time and now her stockpile is low. Hehe. So I suggested your recipe, and now she’s headed to Fairway, that fancy grocery store. It carries lots of dried fruit and nuts in bulk to stock up to make your recipe. Win! =)

    I could use a new snack at work instead of plain almonds, and with the cardamom, I smell a refreshing and fragrant breakfast.

  18. Kasey, Trust me. I SO understand!

    Kameran, You know, I think it really was the cardamom that put this over the top for me. Mmmm.

    Carrie, I know! I just saw your Aussie bites and thought they looked delicious! Thanks for your very kind words, too!

    Janet, I love that you sent this recipe to your sister. Hope you guys love it!

  19. Hey Shanna – just happened upon this post via a few other posts that link back to this and I am curious, what is the benefit of 1) soaking the oats and 2) cooking it for such a long time at a low temperature? I’m sure I could find this info someplace, but if you have a quick reply I’d love to hear it. Thanks! 🙂

    • HI Christa! Here’s a quick, maybe overly simple answer for ya: Soaking the oats is a process that makes the oats easier to digest. Then baking it at a low temperature for a longer period of time essentially dehydrates the oats rather than baking them, preserving more of their nutritional benefits. We don’t always do it but when you can, it’s helpful! : )

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