This homemade sweet and salty dark chocolate granola has become my new favorite snack that I can't get enough of! Made with oats, pecans, sesame and chia seeds, cinnamon, vanilla - and of course, chocolate chips and flaky sea salt.
I love how chunky the granola clusters are - they don't fall apart into crumbs. I find granola that holds as clusters makes a perfect snack to grab on the go for a hike, snack at work or something to just grab and take with me anywhere since it doesn't need refrigeration.
This recipe was inspired by Aldi's Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Granola. It's so gooood. So, instead of buying it every week, I thought it was about time to make my own version to save money and to always be able to satisfy the craving if it hits!
Steps to Make Granola at Home
Granola is actually super easy to make at home. It doesn't take much time or prep either. Since granola can be expensive to buy at grocery stores, I'd say going the homemade route is the best option if you're like me and always need a bag of it on hand!
The recipe steps are essentially mixing your dry and wet ingredients together. If you're making a basic granola, you could keep it simple with just oats, honey, oil and whatever nuts and seeds you want.
But in this recipe, we have a lot of dry ingredients to get that crunchy texture and nutrition!
Once you mix the two together, you'll get a glorious smelling mixture that I swear smells like brownie batter! Pack the mixture onto a greased baking sheet and bake until toasted on the edges a bit. The middle will still be soft and that's totally fine!
Add your toppings after the granola bakes like chocolate chips or extra sea salt. The chocolate chips will melt into the granola - beauuutiful!
How to get your Granola to Form Clusters
The secret key is cooling it down before breaking it apart. You'll notice the granola is still soft when it comes out of the oven. If you like crumbly granola, this is the time to get a spatula out and mix it around to break it up.
But if you're like me and LOVE those clusters, put the baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes to help the granola cool faster and form more of a granola "block."
It'll also help the chocolate chips solidify into the granola, but the main thing is that this helps the granola stay chunky!
After you're done freezing it, use a spatula or knife to break it apart.
Here's a list of the ingredients and possible alternatives if you need to make a swap:
- Old fashioned oats: quick or instant oats would most likely work fine too.
- Pecans: any other nut would do - almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc.
- Cacao powder: I love cacao but it is more expensive than cocoa powder, so whatever one you have will work well! I've made it with both and love both versions.
- Wheat germ: I love the texture and added healthy fats, protein and fiber:)
- Chia seeds: If you've been reading the blog for awhile, then you know I'm a big chia seed fan! You could substitute the chia seeds for flax or hemp seeds.
- Sesame seeds: Personally, I love the flavor. Again feel free to substitute another seed in its place.
- Salt: I add a 1 ½ teaspoons to the granola mixture before it bakes and then love topping it with coarse kosher salt for the flakiness!
- Cinnamon: adds warmth and spice
- Honey: I always make it with honey, but if you need to make the recipe vegan, substitute maple syrup.
- Avocado oil: I prefer a mild oil so the flavor isn't noticeable, which is why I don't use olive oil. Avocado, sunflower or vegetable oils are good options.
- Vanilla extract: Necessary if you ask me!
If you do make any substitutions the main thing is that the ratio of dry to wet ingredients remains the same. So if you omit the wheat germ to make the recipe gluten-free, then add an extra ½ cup oats to the recipe.
Enjoy on top of yogurt, oatmeal, smoothie bowls or use it as cereal. I love eating it as cereal since the milk becomes a rich chocolaty drink. Add some fruit, a dollop of yogurt on the bowl and breakfast is done!
Chocolate Sea Salt Granola
- 3 cups old fashioned oats
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- ½ cup cocao powder or cocoa powder
- ½ cup wheat germ
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup honey
- ⅓ cup avocado oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup chocolate chips (optional for garnish)
- coarse sea salt (optional for garnish)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix dry ingredients (oats, pecans, wheat germ, chia seeds, sesame seeds, cacao powder, salt and cinnamon).
- Mix wet ingredients (honey, avocado oil and vanilla extract) in a separate bowl.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Spray a baking pan with oil and spread the granola mixture on the pan. Pack it into a thick layer.
- Bake for 15-20 mins or until toasted to liking. The center will still be soft to the touch when it comes out of the oven - that's okay! It'll harden as it cools.
- After baking, sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and allow granola to cool down for about 10 minutes or until the chocolate melts a bit into the granola.
- Freeze the granola for 15 minutes to help the chocolate set and break apart with a knife or spatula. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt if desired and enjoy!
- If you want to make the recipe vegan, substitute the honey for maple syrup.
- If you prefer a more crumbly granola, use a wooden spoon or spatula and break up the granola when it comes out of the oven before cooling.
- Enjoy on top of oatmeal, smoothies or as cereal.
(Nutrition values are calculated by third-party software and an estimate that can vary based on product brands and cooking methods.)