The Key Ingredient for Crunchy Granola Clusters

updated Oct 30, 2019
Apple-Ginger Granola with Pecans

If your favorite part of granola is the big crunchy clusters of oats, there's an easy way to get them at home: Add egg white. This recipe does just that.

Makesabout 4 cups

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I’m not afraid to admit that I’m the kind of person who fishes through a bag or box of granola to find the big clusters — frankly, I don’t know many people who don’t prefer those big granola chunks. The obvious downside is that within a few days, I’m left with nothing but tiny oat pieces, rogue nuts and raisins, and a bit of granola dust.

To circumvent this issue, I started making my own granola. It takes a little bit of patience and practice, but once you’ve got the hang of it DIY granola is inexpensive, customizable, and easy to make big batches all at once. But the best part of doing it myself is the ability to add a secret-weapon ingredient that leads to the kind of granola that satisfies my need for clusters. And best of all, the secret ingredient isn’t expensive or hard to find. It’s egg white.

How Egg White Creates Clusters

All it takes to make crunchier, chunkier granola is a single well-beaten egg white! The egg’s protein will help the oats bind to each other and create delicate clusters. Plus, when cooked, it adds a little extra crunch, and doesn’t flavor the granola in any way.

I first learned this trick when I tried Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen’s Big Cluster Maple Granola recipe (because, as I mentioned, I’m always on the hunt for granola clusters). As Perelman says, “nothing glues like protein.” She’s right. I have added a single egg white to every batch of granola I’ve made since.

I like playing with different spices, sweeteners, and mix-ins, but I tend to stick to a baseline recipe of three cups of rolled oats, a large egg white, 1/2 cup liquid sweetener (usually maple syrup, sometimes honey), 1/4 cup of oil, a teaspoon of salt, and a teaspoon of spice, all mixed together, spread over a sheet pan, and baked for 45 minutes at 300°F. I find that it’s easier to mix in dried fruit and toasted nuts after the granola has baked, because then there’s no risk of them getting dried out or burning.

If you’re someone who absolutely needs a recipe to follow, here is the fall-themed granola I’ve been making this year. But feel free to use your own recipe, and just add in the egg white and stir together before baking. One final cluster tip: Make sure your granola isn’t too spread out over the baking sheet. That might seem counterintuitive if you’ve made granola before, but you can’t end up with clusters if your oats aren’t touching each other to begin with!

Apple-Ginger Granola with Pecans

If your favorite part of granola is the big crunchy clusters of oats, there's an easy way to get them at home: Add egg white. This recipe does just that.

Makes about 4 cups

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 3 cups

    rolled oats

  • 1/2 cup

    maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup

    olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    pumpkin pie spice

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1

    large egg white

  • 1/2 cup

    chopped dried apples

  • 1/2 cup

    chopped candied ginger

  • 1/2 cup

    chopped pecans

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F.

  2. Place 3 cups rolled oats, 1/2 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. Whisk 1 large egg white in a small bowl until frothy, then pour it over the oat mixture and stir everything to combine. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and spread out into an even layer.

  3. Bake until the oats are lightly browned and dry, 40 to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, dice until you have a 1/2 cup each of dried apples, candied ginger, and pecans. Transfer to a large bowl and stir to combine.

  4. Set the oats aside until cooled to room temperature. Add to the apple mixture and stir to combine.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Store the cooled granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days.