Extra Clumpy, Giant Cluster Granola

By Amanda Paa – Updated June 26, 2021
4.87 from 43 votes
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This clumpy granola recipe is all about the giant clusters. This healthy recipe shares the secrets to making chunky oat clusters that has a base of both steel-cut oats and rolled oats. The granola is naturally sweetened with coconut sugar and maple syrup, and happens to be vegan!

bowl of granola and milk, with bowl of raspberries in backround

Recently, I opened the pantry to gather ingredients for my go-to clumpy granola recipe (that I’ve had on my list to share with you for over a year) when I realized I only had 1 cup of rolled oats left. Not good timing, as the current pandemic has me avoiding the grocery store.

I looked once more in my pantry and found a huge canister of steel cut oats.
And I quickly started to wonder if I could make granola with them. Using the 1 cup of old fashioned oats I had, and double the steel cut oats, I started testing.

Out of the oven came sheets of giant granola clusters, with any airy crunch. They shatter when they meet a tooth, just as they should. Bakery style, but homemade.

Thin and crisp. Naturally sweet and a bit salty. Absolutely divine.
It’s clumpy granola heaven, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Here are the main ingredients you’ll need to make this Giant Cluster Granola:

holding a piece of clumpy granola
bowl of yogurt topped with granola and bowl of raspberries and strawberries

What’s the secret to extra clumpy granola?

You may have heard that egg whites help granola bind together into clumps. Same thing with honey. These methods work -okay-, but they tend to result in stickiness, and over time the granola loses any crispness it came out of the oven with.

Instead, I learned from Laura Wright in her “The First Mess Cookbook“, that ground flax seeds are an even better solution, while also keeping the granola vegan for those who desire it to be. When the ground flax hits liquid, it creates a coating that clings to the dry ingredients and clumps them together, creating an excellent crisp texture.

Steel-cut oats are key to the giant clusters as well! These little nubs cling to the nuts, while retaining a bit of chew against the crunch. I’m obsessed with the contrast in texture.

I’ve never had a granola hold together as well as when using these methods combined. Added bonus – you don’t have to figure out what to do with your leftover egg yolk.

What are steel cut oats?

Steel-cut oats are made from whole oat groats that are chopped into small, nubbly pieces. Old fashioned oats are also made from whole oat groats, but they are flattened instead of chopped. Their flatness helps them cook faster in water. Steel-cut oats also have a nuttier, earthier flavor than rolled oats, that I personally love.

Baking steel cuts oats works wonderfully, just like old fashioned oats. They become crisp and chewable, not hard on the teeth or anything. The stubby, chunky texture is great.

I’ll never make granola without steel-cut oats again – that good!

clumpy granola in a pan with a spoon

How do I store granola to keep it crisp?

I like to store my granola in a large glass container, with a top. A quart sized ziploc bag also works. Both ways keep air and moisture out, so that crisp texture is not lost.

Is this recipe refined-sugar free?

Yep! Maple syrup and coconut sugar are used in this cluster granola to naturally sweeten it. I wouldn’t suggest using honey as substitute, because it will turn out sticky.

extra clumpy granola in a bowl with milk and raspberries
extra clumpy granola in a bowl with milk and raspberries

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clumpy granola in a pan with a spoon

Extra Clumpy, Giant Cluster Granola

Learn how to make naturally sweetened clumpy granola that has giant clusters!
4.87 from 43 votes
Prep Time :10 minutes
Cook Time :35 minutes
Total Time :45 minutes
Yield: 5 cups
Author: Amanda Paa



  • 1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup olive oil or avocado, or grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup flaked almonds
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, barely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons ground flax seed


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Place parchment paper on a large rimmed baking sheet. Add both types of oats to the pan and spread out. Bake for 7 minutes, to toast them.
  • Meanwhile, combine olive oil, maple syrup, coconut sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, sea salt in a bowl, whisk together.
  • Remove oats from oven and pour into a large bowl. Add nuts and flax seed. Then pour liquid mixture over the top and stir to fully coat.
  • Turn oven down to 300 degrees F. Spread granola onto baking sheet, pressing down to make it stick together in compact form, as one uniform piece that is about 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, until mostly dry. DO NOT STIR. Remove from oven and let cool completely (it will harden as it sits, patience) before breaking it into big chunks.


Adapted from The First Mess Cookbook, by Laura Wright.

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April 3, 2020


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  1. Bonnie

    5 stars
    This granola is OUTSTANDING!
    Perfect crunch without being hard!
    The only thing I don’t do is toast the oats. I have major back problems, so I don’t want to go through the trouble. I order the coconut sugar online. I also throw in a handful of organic unsweetened coconut. It’s delicious! It’s perfection!

    • Amanda Paa

      Terrific, so glad you enjoy the granola recipe!

  2. Christina

    5 stars
    This granola recipe is absolutely addictive. I substituted brown sugar for the coconut sugar and it came out perfect- not too sweet. I will be making this again.

    • Amanda Paa

      glad you liked it, christina!

  3. Rebecca N.

    5 stars
    I’ve been making this for a couple of years now. I always use whole chia seeds in the mix, whether or not I include flax seeds (also whole). They both have a mucilaginous property, which works a bit better if you add them to wet ingredients while the oats are toasting so they have time to gel. I usually end up with about 5 tablespoons of chia/flax, but add additional liquid to activate them (mostly, a dairy-free creamer like NutPods).

    Extra cinnamon and vanilla always go in, too. This recipe is SO customizable. No idea if my convection oven helps with the drying, but I usually rotate the pan halfway through baking, just in case.

  4. Jennifer L

    5 stars
    Phenomenal, thank you for sharing! :)

    • Amanda Paa

      Glad you liked the granola!

  5. Dipti

    Hi, planning on making this. Will this work without maple syrup?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hello! You will need the maple syrup for it to turn out as intended.

  6. Karyn

    Would it work to double the maple syrup and skip the coconut sugar? Or is some type of granulated sugar critical to the success of this recipe? If that is the case, I see white sugar suggested as a coconut sugar substitute. What about brown sugar?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Karyn! I don’t think I’d double the maple syrup, as I don’t know how the extra liquid would affect the texture of the finished granola. I’d think that using brown sugar would work just fine, although I haven’t tested it.

  7. Fatima

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious!!! And so clumpy! I replaced coconut sugar with 10 little sugar cubes. And added 2 tbsp of chia seeds instead of flax. It was perfect!

  8. Lauren

    5 stars
    I make this weekly now. I add some coconut flakes, dried apricots and raisins, and chia instead of flax. The chia is not ground so it may not bind as well but still delicious.

  9. Jude

    I’ve been tinkering with my usual recipe trying to get to clump and never found success. But this one does the trick! Damn delicious!

    • Amanda Paa

      wonderful, so glad you liked it!

  10. Kelly

    I’m following Engine 2 / Whole Foods Plant Based No Oil. That means I cannot use coconut oil. In place of the oil, do you think I could use peanut butter?

    • Amanda Paa

      hello! peanut butter would not be a substitute for coconut oil. the recipe will not work with that substitution.

  11. Allison

    We are LOVING this granola in our household! I just made your rhubarb almond flour muffins and it got me to wondering if I could use the roasted almond oil from that recipe in the extra clumpy granola recipe?

    • Amanda Paa

      Yes, I’ve actually made the granola with it before! The roasted almond oil works great.

      • Allison

        Wonderful! Thank you!

  12. Jenny

    Can chia seeds be instead of flax seeds? And how bout coconut oil instead of olive oil?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi! Yes, coconut oil can be substituted, I just don’t prefer the taste. The flax seeds are ground and used in this manner as the binding power and what gives the granola the extra clumpy texture. I haven’t test ground chia seeds, so am unsure what the result would be.

      • Jenny

        I used the coconut oil and ground chia seed (but half the amount called for ground flax seed) and it turned out! Thanks!

  13. Heather B

    Wow, this granola is amazing! I made it yesterday and couldn’t stop popping it into my mouth. I was doubtful of the steel-cut oats to be honest because they always seem to need more cook time and I hadn’t seen it in granola before, but it adds such an awesome crunch and nuttiness. And she’s not kidding, this really does get the biggest clusters!

    • Amanda Paa

      yay for cluster heaven! so glad you liked the recipe.

  14. Andi

    This looks and sounds amazing! This is going to be the first of your recipes that I’m going to try. I can’t wait to make it tonight! Thank you. ☺️

    • Andi

      I made it. Super great. Im going to make it with my friend and her daughter, who just went vegetarian and needs more protein!

      • Amanda Paa

        wonderful, so glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  15. Karen

    Could I substitute avocado oil for the olive oil? Can’t wait to bake this tomorrow!

    • Amanda Paa

      Yes, I’ve tested with avocado oil and also works!

  16. Patty

    I have to try this! I have everything except coconut sugar. Can you suggest a substitute?

    • Amanda Paa

      No problem! You could use regular granulated sugar instead of coconut sugar, same amount.

      • Bernadette

        Thx, just the answer I too needed. Making it Right now, with Patience😁😝👌