We Tried Every Bag of Granola We Could Get Our Hands On — These Were the Best

updated Aug 14, 2019
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Credit: Danielle Centoni

There’s a lot to love about granola. It’s crunchy, deliciously oaty, a little bit sweet, and pretty good for you (it’s made with whole grains, after all). Plus you can eat it for breakfast, grab a handful for a snack, or sprinkle it on ice cream for dessert. 

But the best part is that this once-obscure hippie food has become so popular and ubiquitous, it’s now available in a bazillion varieties. Okay, maybe not a bazillion exactly, but pretty close. 

From ancient grains to protein-packed, there’s an overwhelming amount of choices. So of course we had to try as many as we could find and report back. Here are the ones that rose to the top. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

Best Indulgence: Nature’s Path Love Crunch Dark Chocolate and Red Berries

As the French know, chocolate for breakfast is a wonderful thing, which is why the Love Crunch granola line is so dang good. Almost all the flavors incorporate chocolate — and not just cocoa powder in the clusters, but also little nuggets of actual dark chocolate. This version gets studded with bright bursts of freeze-dried berries, plus some flax for a good dose of omegas. It’s delicious enough to eat on its own and serve as dessert when sprinkled on ice cream, but it’s also borderline decadent when served on vanilla Greek yogurt. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

Best Clusters: Nature Valley Big & Crunchy Cinnamon Granola

If you’re one of those people who loves to root through the bag for clusters, this one’s for you. It’s all clusters — big ones. It’s almost as if Nature Valley broke up its ubiquitous granola bars into bits and repackaged them. The flavor is identical, but these clusters have a lighter, crispier texture that’s quite a bit easier to crunch. 

Buy: Nature Valley Big & Crunchy Cinnamon Granola, $4 for 16 ounces at Target

Credit: Danielle Centoni

Best Vanilla: Udi’s Vanilla Granola with Almonds

This gluten-free granola stood out as one of the best of the bunch, thanks to its light and crispy texture and rich vanilla flavor. Usually vanilla-flavored granolas can be so subtle they verge on boring, but this one didn’t skimp. And it was deliciously sweet enough to feel like a treat, even though it had 1 gram of sugar less than most of the other brands we tried (5 grams per 1/4 cup). 

Buy: Udi’s Vanilla Granola with Almonds, $4.50 for 12 ounces at Walmart

Credit: Danielle Centoni

Best Peanut Butter: Kind Healthy Grains Peanut Butter Whole Grain Clusters

Coated in peanut butter and tumbling with peanuts, this gluten-free granola satisfies your deepest PB cravings. And it packs a protein punch, too, with 5 grams of protein and just 5 grams of sugar per 1/3 cup serving. It’s made with a mix of grains, including oat, quinoa, millet, amaranth, and buckwheat.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

Best Fruit-and-Nut Mixture: Purely Elizabeth Cranberry Pecan

Chewy dried cranberries, toasty pecans and sesame seeds, and a trio of ancient grains (quinoa, amaranth, and chia seeds) all add up to a deliciously healthful granola. Plus it has just 7 grams of sugar (from coconut palm sugar) per 1/3 cup serving. It has nice-sized clusters and a grown-up, almost-coffee-like flavor (perhaps from being baked with coconut sugar?) that we really loved. 

Buy: Purely Elizabeth Cranberry Pecan, $5.50 for 10 ounces at Target

Credit: Danielle Centoni

Best Low-Sugar: Bear Naked Fit Triple Berry Granola

If your idea of granola for breakfast is a big bowl, not a light sprinkle, but you don’t want to go overboard on fat and calories, this one is a good choice. It has about half the sugar and fat as the other brands we tried (6 grams of sugar in a whopping 1/2-cup serving). It’s a little like muesli in its straightforward oaty-ness, but the freeze-dried berries add bursts of bright flavor, and the texture is nice and crispy. 

Buy: Bear Naked Fit Triple Berry Granola, $4 for 12 ounces at Walmart

Credit: Danielle Centoni

Best Use of Spice: Bob’s Red Mill Pan-Baked Granola Coconut Spice

Granola flavors across brands often follow a predictable format. They’re usually some form of honey, cinnamon, nuts, and fruit. But Bob’s Red Mill bucks that trend with this gluten-free, peppery, salty, gingery, coconut-y granola. It tastes pretty mild-mannered at first, with big flakes of coconut, but then the gingerbready (or maybe it’s chai?) spices come on with a wallop. It’s delicious on yogurt and ice cream, and different enough to spice up your morning routine.

Do you have a favorite granola that we left off this list? Add it in the comments below!