6-Cup Grain-Free Granola Sweetened with Sorghum Syrup

Love granola? This one is grain free, lightly sweetened, and delicious. And it comes with a little bit of a story about my personal diet journey.

Vertical image of a glass jar of a toasted dry cereal mixture spilling onto a baking sheet with parchment paper, with text the middle and on the bottom of the image.

Some months back, I met my old roommates for brunch. The three of us gathered around an enormous round table where I leaned in eagerly to listen and talk.

We’ve been having these get-togethers sporadically over the last few years, one month a dinner at a new Lebanese place, another month a brunch at the fancy historic building in Rutledge Hill.

Between our work schedules and our social schedules and all kinds of random trips out of town, finding a day and time that works for the three of us to meet up always requires a dozen or so emails back and forth to plan.

Whenever we finally manage to set a date and sit down to eat, a good chunk of time has passed since our last meeting. There’s a lot of surface life stuff to work through (i.e., Who’s moving? Who’s starting a new job? Are the allergies better? How’s your injury?) before we get into talking about what’s really going on in our hearts, the things that are on our minds a lot, what we’re struggling with and why.

Vertical top-down image of two glass bowls filled with a toasted cereal mixture next to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet with the same mixture on a wooden table.

Our waitress came around probably three times to see if we were ready to order before we were able to focus long enough to pick an omelet and two orders of quiche, all immediately following some pistachio-cherry sticky buns Sara and Sarah were going to split.

“Aw, but you didn’t have any of the sticky buns!” the server said to me when she was collecting our appetizer plates before bringing our meals to the table. (This was after she’d described the buns to us as “life-changing” and after the Sara(h)s had all but polished them off.

“So, are you gluten-free?”

As anyone who has done a cleanse or gone on a special diet, been diagnosed with a condition that requires certain dietary restrictions, or who has allergies or sensitivities would tell you, explaining to a good friend that you’re eating a slightly different diet is hard enough, but explaining it to a stranger is ridiculous.

There’s no time, in a brief, one- to two-sentence answer, to provide context or explanation. So you’re left to condense health concerns, goals, and problems into a quick 10-second sound bite that you can only hope will make some sort of sense.

Vertical image of baking sheet full of a toasted nut and seed cereal mixture, with a spatula scooping up some.

“No, just a short cleanse,” I responded, waving my hands dismissively.

“That is so great! Good for you!” Our sweet, energetic server was so congratulatory in response. “It takes so much discipline! I could never do something like that.”

It wasn’t until I was driving home that I realized I could have given the past month of grain-free eating a bit more credit, rather than deflecting it with a laugh for our waitress.

With any “restricted” eating plan, I’ve found that taking something specific out of your diet is never as hard when you consider all the things you have left. Things like vegetables, fruit, and meat, dairy, nuts, and seeds.

And, hey! This delicious granola is grain-free too, adapted from a version my friend Jen got from a friend who got it from someone else.

Keeping with this tradition, I strongly encourage you to pass it along.

Vertical image of a glass jar filled with a toasted dry cereal mixture on a baking sheet with the same mixture.

I’ve made it twice this month, marveling each time at the way such simple ingredients can make something so good – with crispy clusters that are sweet and perfect for snacking, as tasty in milk as they are eaten by the fistful in the car.

You don’t have to be grain-free to enjoy this cinnamon-scented granola. And nearly every ingredient that’s featured is a nutrition powerhouse. It’s made with:

Almonds

Particularly high in protein, these nuts are also an excellent source of vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.

Cinnamon

My favorite spice, cinnamon offers numerous potential health benefits thanks to its high levels of disease-fighting antioxidants.

Coconut

While we don’t always think about unsweetened shredded coconut as being rich in vitamins and minerals, it’s actually an excellent source of manganese, a mineral that’s important for fat metabolism, and copper, which plays an important role in bone and heart health.

Pecans

More than just an ingredient for making pecan pie, pecans are very low in carbohydrates and high in fiber. They also contain a good amount of healthy fats, thiamine, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium.

Pumpkin Seeds

Also called pepitas, these are an excellent source of phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, and iron – all of which are essential minerals that our bodies can’t make on their own.

Sorghum Syrup

Similar to molasses, sorghum syrup contains many vitamins and minerals, including manganese, vitamin B6, magnesium, and potassium.

Sunflower Seeds

While they contain a variety of nutrients, these seeds are particularly high in vitamin E and selenium. Both are antioxidants that help to protect our cells from free radicals and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Coconut oil is also on the ingredient list. While there are some proposed potential health benefits of coconut oil, the research overall is pretty mixed, since coconut oil is also high in saturated fat.

However, it works well in this recipe as it has a high smoke point and is less likely to burn than butter, and it provides a slightly sweet, richer flavor than canola oil would.

If you’re not a fan of coconut oil, feel free to use canola oil instead.

Vertical image of two glass bowls filled with yogurt and a toasted cereal mix in front of a baking sheet pan with a spatula and the same mixture.

Finally, pure vanilla extract adds a sweet flavor that’s all you need in combination with the other ingredients – no refined sugar required.

With six cups total of the main ingredients, plus a little vanilla and cinnamon, in under an hour you’ll have a delicious topping for yogurt or a tasty snack that’s nutrient-packed and made from scratch.

No restaurant required.

Let’s dig in!

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Horizontal image of a glass jar filled with a nut and seed cereal mixture spilling over onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.

6-Cup Grain-Free Granola Sweetened with Sorghum Syrup


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Total Time: 35-45 minutes
  • Yield: 24 servings 1x

Description

You don’t have to be on a grain-free diet to enjoy this granola. Rich in nutrients, it’s sweetened with sorghum and makes for a perfect breakfast or snack.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened or melted (or canola oil) 
  • 1/2 cup sorghum syrup (or honey or maple syrup)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and cover a half-sheet rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. 
  2. Add pumpkin seeds, pecans, almonds, coconut, and sunflower seeds to a food processor. Pulse 2-3 times, or until ingredients are roughly chopped and combined. 
  3. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add vanilla, cinnamon, coconut oil, and sorghum syrup. Stir well to combine. 
  4. Spread mixture onto prepared baking sheet in an even layer. 
  5. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden and firm, using a spatula to toss the mixture halfway through baking.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before breaking into pieces.

  • Category: Granola
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Breakfast

Keywords: grain-free, granola, sorghum syrup

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Preheat Oven, Measure Ingredients, and Soften Coconut Oil

Horizontal image of assorted nuts, seeds, oils, seasonings, and sweeteners in small glass bowls on a wooden table.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and cover a half-sheet rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.

Measure out all of your ingredients.

If your coconut oil is solid at room temperature, soften it in the microwave for about 20 seconds. You want the oil to be soft enough to combine with the other ingredients, but it doesn’t have to be fully melted.

If you don’t want to use coconut oil, canola oil can be used instead.

Step 2 – Pulse Nuts, Seeds, and Coconut in Food Processor

Horizontal image of a food processor with layers of dry ingredients inside.

Place the pumpkin seeds, pecans, almonds, coconut, and sunflower seeds in a food processor.

Horizontal image of a dry mixture of ground nuts and seeds in a glass bowl.

Pulse a few times until the ingredients are roughly chopped and mixed together.

Step 3 – Combine with Remaining Ingredients

Horizontal image of a glass bowl filled with a slightly sticky nut and seed ground mixture with a metal spoon.

Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the vanilla, cinnamon, coconut oil, and sorghum syrup. Stir well to combine.

Step 4 – Spread Mixture onto Sheet Pan and Bake

Horizontal image of a baking sheet with parchment paper with an uncooked mixed seed and nut mixture spread on it.

Spread the mixture onto your prepared baking sheet in an even layer, all the way to the corners.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden and firm. Use a spatula to toss the mixture halfway through baking, for even cooking.

Horizontal image of a toasted cereal mixture on a baking sheet pan lined with parchment paper

Make sure to pay attention to the smell that’s coming from your oven while it bakes, as granola can burn quickly.

As soon as your kitchen is filled with a strong cinnamon aroma, check on it. This is usually a sign that it’s golden brown and ready to be taken out of the oven.

Step 5 – Cool and Store

Horizontal image of a glass jar filled with a nut and seed cereal mixture spilling over onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.

I like large clumps in my granola, so I allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before breaking it up.

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to six months.

Never Buy Store-Bought Granola Again

While store-bought granola can seem so convenient, many brands are chock-full of added sugars and sodium. Making it at home instead gives you full control over how sweet, salty, and fatty your mixture is.

Horizontal image of two glass bowls filled with yogurt and a dry toasted cereal mixture on a wooden surface, with a metal spoon inserted into one of the bowls.

Making your own at home is also an excellent way to use up any extra nuts, seeds, and dried fruit that you have in the pantry. And if you’re on a grain-free diet, this is the perfect option.

Looking for even more homemade granola recipes? Check out these flavor-filled Foodal favorites next:

Let us know what you think of this grain-free recipe by leaving a comment, and don’t forget to leave a rating if you loved it!

Photos by Kelli McGrane, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on May 25, 2014. Last updated: August 12, 2020 at 20:34 pm. With additional writing and editing by Kelli McGrane and Allison Sidhu.

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.

The written contents of this article have been reviewed and verified by a registered dietitian for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as personalized or professional medical advice. Foodal and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.

About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

31 thoughts on “6-Cup Grain-Free Granola Sweetened with Sorghum Syrup”

  1. What elegant photos! Sorghum syrup certainly sounds interesting, but I imagine that granola is delicious. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Your breakfast with girlfriends sounds quite similar – sometimes I feel so bad for the waitress because it takes us so long to order. This granola looks terrific. Even though I’ve been gluten-free for almost four years because of my allergy, I still find myself stumbling over how to explain it or almost apologize and I shouldn’t. I don’t feel deprived with all that God provides me with, therefore I should not feel ashamed. Happy weekend and lots of love – amanda

    Reply
    • You know it’s a good brunch when you’re barely looking at the menu. : ) And yes! about realizing how much we have, even when there are things we aren’t eating. Abundance that is almost unbelievable.

      Reply
  3. Love how beautiful those ingredients look laid out. Thank you for posting this! I’ve been thinking there has to be something like this granola, but I hadn’t come upon it until your post! And, excellent thoughts as always.

    Reply
    • Bethany, That’s what I thought! The idea of grainfree granola is still amazing to me — no oats? what? — and that it can be so good? It makes me happy.

      Reply
  4. “And it’s not being blind or slapping sunshine on life to count these gifts, as I have sometimes thought, but it’s actually opening up your eyes to see. My hands are so full! He keeps filling them!” I LOVE that.

    Reply
  5. This kind of recipe just proves, as if I needed any further proof, how easy it is to eat and eat well without needing the wheat or grains that we’ve all tended to become so over reliant on. Can’t wait to enjoy a large bowl of this for my breakfast very soon.

    Reply
  6. When I skip the sticky bun, no one ever questions it. (They’re thinking that’s right you don’t need that). LOL. The heart of what you say is so true, often forgotten in a world of so many choices. I try to avoid grains myself,especially after reading Dr. Perlmutter’s book, the Grain Brain. But if I had to give up my vegetables and apples, I might cry a lot. I love the way you did the pictures for this and I want to try it. It’s the perfect snack and I will probably use either maple syrup or local honey. (Curious though where those sticky buns came from, even though I don’t eat them).

    Reply
    • Haha! Angela, you crack me up! I’d love to hear what you think of grainfree granola if you try it and ps the sticky buns were at Josephine! Have you been there yet? I know it’s not super new news anymore but it was new to me!

      Reply
    • Joyti, That is a hard question to answer! : ) We are not at all against grains, especially high-quality ancient grains, but we are just taking a little break for some personal reasons… which I will probably blog about in a few months, depending on how things go. How’s that for cryptic, ha! So short answer is going grain-free for a month or so isn’t that hard, and if you’re looking for a way to ease yourself into cleansing, it’s not a bad one to try. : )

      Reply
  7. You’re so right about waving off semi-big things as being insignificant. I do the same with so many of my hobbies and dietary restrictions too! Often, it is just difficult to be vulnerable and/or honest in the space of a small conversation, whether it’s with a close friend or a stranger. Thanks for sharing–and the granola! I’ll have to try it soon. 🙂

    Reply
    • I like the way you said this, and I’m going to probably think about it for a while. I just told my friend Christina tonight that I love the way she is so transparent and vulnerable in conversation, right away, without any intro talk. “I hate small talk!” she responded right away. Haha! And maybe that’s part of my thing, too. When I answer vaguely, I feel dissatisfied with it. I like the vulnerability and meaningfulness of deeper talk… and that’s hard with strangers or quick chats… hard unless you’re Christina. : ) Anyway! Would love to hear what you think of the granola!

      Reply
  8. Thank you so much for writing this Shanna. I recently wrote a blog post about how I was finally happy with the life I had now, even if it wasn’t what I thought I might have been doing at this point in my life. I quoted Napoleon Hill who said ‘If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way’. I was trying to communicate that my life is so full, just like that Epicurus quote is implying too. One of my best friends didn’t understand and communicated that she was disappointed in me for not trying harder, not pushing myself, not changing the world.
    I looked around at my life. At the man I love, at the other friends I have, at my writing, my baking, and my running and I realised that I have the life that I wished for all those years ago. I have love. I have family. I have hobbies. I have dreams.
    I have hands that are full and overflowing. These are not small gifts. They are great things and they are not to be diminished.

    Reply
    • I definitely find that the hardest time to be grateful is when someone else is telling me I shouldn’t be. It’s funny how we discourage each other when we can use encouragement most. But thank God we don’t have to believe everything someone says and that there are real gifts to be celebrated, if we see them and even if someone else can’t. Good thoughts.

      Reply
  9. That photo layout is inspired! And your posts are always a good reminder –especially today– to cherish the multitude of blessings in our rich lives.

    Reply
  10. I love your thoughts here. I do stuff like that all the time–discounting to others the things that are important to me in life, when really I shouldn’t.
    And this recipe looks so good. I am always on the lookout for new granola inspiration.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Erin! I know, right? I love granola and could eat it every day. I’d love to hear what you think if you try this one!

      Reply
  11. Once again, your writing leaves me inspired – thanks for the reminder that His provision is always in plain sight, and how seriously blessed we are to have these simple gifts – like sorghum syrup. 🙂

    Reply
    • Elizabeth, Once again, your kind words leave me encouraged. Thank you so much for taking the time to write them. It’s so nice to know there are like minds out there. ; )

      Reply
  12. Could we talk more about that possible move west? I really, really like the sound of that! And the looks of this granola, too 🙂

    Reply

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