Ingredient Intelligence

What’s the Difference Between Muesli and Granola?

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

If you’ve long been a fan of granola’s clusters and crunch, maybe it’s time to consider a similar-looking cereal on the block: muesli. So how does equally delicious muesli compare to your beloved granola? Here are the answers you’re looking for so you can navigate the cereal aisle at the grocery store with confidence.

The Difference Between Muesli and Granola

The main difference between muesli and granola is that while both are made up of grains, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, muesli is unbaked while granola is baked along with a sweetener and oil to bind the ingredients together.

Muesli can be served cold (soaked in liquid) or hot (cooked in simmering liquid). Granola, on the other hand, is always served cold, usually with a splash of milk or over yogurt, or even straight out of hand as a snack.

More on muesli: Why You Should Love Muesli Just as Much as You Love Granola

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

The Origins of Muesli

Invented by a Swiss doctor in the late 1800s, muesli is still vastly more popular in Europe than it is in North America. It’s traditionally made with rolled oats — although it can also be made with other whole grains like quinoa or millet — and a mix of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Since it’s not baked, there is no need for added sweeteners or oils to bind the ingredients together.

Muesli can be enjoyed in a couple of ways. It’s most often soaked overnight in cold milk or another liquid, like apple or orange juice, in order for it to soften and become porridge-like (think of it as a relative of overnight oats). Or it can be cooked like stovetop oatmeal, tossed in a pot of simmering milk or water, and enjoyed warm. It can also be enjoyed simply stirred into yogurt — just know it will have a chewier texture than granola, given that it’s raw.

Get a recipe: Easy Muesli

What’s in Granola?

Granola, instead, includes all the same ingredients as muesli, but it’s always cooked. It’s baked with a sweetener and oil, which binds the ingredients together and results in clusters of crispy goodness. Granola is usually stirred or sprinkled onto yogurt or served as a cold breakfast cereal in a bowl with milk. It’s also sweet enough that it can be eaten out of hand (especially if it’s full of chunky clusters).

Do you have a preference or are you a fan of both of these oat-based breakfast items?