Recipe Review

The Problem with Alton Brown’s Extremely Popular Granola Recipe

updated Aug 4, 2020
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Credit: Image: Jesse Szewczyk; Design: The Kitchn

If there’s anyone I trust to write a solid recipe, it’s Alton Brown. The host of Food Network’s Good Eats uses scientific methods to develop recipes that are reliable, successful, and above all, delicious. His cookie recipe even won our chocolate chip cookie battle! So when selecting recipes for our granola showdown, I knew I needed to include an Alton Brown original.

Brown’s granola recipe, published on, has a 5-star rating from upwards of 500 reviews, and several glowing comments. To my surprise, it’s a very simple recipe, using just a handful of ingredients and following a pretty standard method. Would such a classic granola recipe prove that simple is best? Here’s what happened when I tried the recipe at home.

Get the recipe: Alton Brown’s Granola

Credit: Image: Jesse Szewczyk; Design: The Kitchn

How to Make Alton Brown’s Granola

Brown’s granola recipe is super simple and can be thrown together quickly. Start by combining rolled oats, slivered almonds, cashews, shredded sweet coconut, and dark brown sugar in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry, toss everything together to evenly coat the oats, and transfer onto two sheet pans. Bake in a 250°F oven, stirring often to make sure it cooks evenly, until crisp and golden. Then transfer it into a large mixing bowl and toss with raisins. That’s it!

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

My Honest Review of Alton Brown’s Granola Recipe

This granola recipe is simple and easy to make, but it’s not that exciting. The flavor is mild and tastes nice on top of yogurt or fruit, but it’s too simple to stand on its own.

My favorite part is the use of shredded, sweetened coconut, which gave the granola a subtle coconut-y flavor that was seriously delicious. And the dark brown sugar provided a rich, molasses-y flavor that tasted almost like caramel. But even despite these flavorful additions, the granola still felt a bit sleepy to me.

If you’re looking for a super simple granola recipe that can be dressed up or down by adding additional mix-ins, this recipe is for you, but as a stand-alone recipe it is a bit underwhelming. I recommend adding chocolate, some spices, or additional nuts and seeds to bulk it up. By itself it makes a solid yogurt topping, but it’s not the kind of granola you eat by the handful.

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

If You’re Making Alton Brown’s Granola, a Few Tips

  1. Use raw nuts. When shopping for the ingredients to make this granola, make sure that the nuts you buy are raw. If you accidentally use toasted nuts you run the risk of them browning too much during baking and tasting bitter.
  2. And dark brown sugar. Brown calls for using dark brown sugar instead of the more common light variety. This gave the granola a rich, molasses-y flavor. If all you have on hand is light brown sugar, you can use that, but the dark brown gave it a richer flavor.
  3. Stir frequently while baking. Brown’s recipe states that you should stir the granola every 15 minutes “to achieve an even color,” but I found that it needed to be stirred more frequently — especially during the last 30 minutes of baking. I stirred every 10 or so minutes and still ended up with some spots that were a bit darker than others.
  4. Add some additional ingredients to bulk it up. To make the granola more exciting, try adding chocolate, candied nuts, or freeze-dried fruit after baking, which would all add an extra pop of flavor that would help take this granola to the next level.
  5. Let the granola cool for at least an hour. The granola will feel slightly soft in some places when it comes out of the oven but hardens up as it cools. I found that after an hour the granola crisped up nicely, so don’t rush it.

    Rating: 6.5/10

    Have you ever made Alton Brown’s  granola recipe? Tell us what you thought!
Credit: Image: Jesse Szewczyk; Design: The Kitchn