A slow cooker is the best way to make a batch of my easy pecan and maple granola in the middle of a hot summer without heating up the house. It is so easy, you will wonder why you didn’t try it sooner.
Total Time Investment: 2 hours 40 minutes
I love making my own granola. Mostly as it seems a good way to avoid death. I am hideously allergic to honey, which is the favoured sweetener in most commercial granola recipes. By making my own, I can at least ensure that breakfast does not end with a trip to the closest hospital. The ability to put whatever I like in my granola just happens to be an added bonus.
Granola is a summer breakfast in our house. I tend favour a warm bowl of porridge in the cooler months, and only turn to granola when the temperature starts to climb. The one problem with this is that a good homemade granola needs a decent amount of time in the oven to toast the ingredients. Ovens and hot weather are not an ideal mix, so last summer I decided to try making this maple granola in the slow cooker. As it worked so well, and required a lot less watching than the oven version, the slow cooker has now become my preferred method for making granola.
The real advantage of making your own granola at home is that you can tailor it to suit your personal preferences. Add different grains, use different sweeteners and mix up the nuts. Treat my recipe as a base and play with it until you find something you really love.
Try rolled rye, wheat or barley flakes for some, or all, of the rolled oats. To make the granola gluten free, try quinoa or buckwheat flakes, although I would reduce the amount of liquid slightly as I find the smaller gluten free grains absorb the liquid differently to oats.
Maple syrup is my preferred sweetener for granola, however I have also used rice bran syrup and coconut nectar when I have run out of maple. Both work well here. I have also replaced the applesauce with pureed apricots quite successfully, so I imagine any other type of fruit puree would also be good.
Replace the pecans and almonds with walnuts, or for a nut-free version use a mixture of sunflower seeds and pepitas in place of the nuts.
I have also used melted coconut oil in place of the olive oil on occasion, and mixed up the spices according to what is in the cupboard at the time.
Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Pecan & Maple Granola
Be aware that all slow cookers cook slightly differently, so keep a close eye on your first batch to get a good feel for how the granola will cook in your model. My slow cooker has a hot spot in one corner, and I know that towards the end of the cooking time I need to be vigilant about stirring lest the nuts and seeds burn.
Make sure the lid is not completely on the crock during the cooking time, otherwise your granola will steam rather than crisp. I use a large chopstick to prop up the lid; this seems to provide enough room for the steam to escape but still allows enough heat to be retained for the granola to cook.Why heat up the house in #summer if you don't have to? #slowcooker #Pecan #Maple #Granola. Click To Tweet
I have found that large chunks of almonds do not roast properly during the cooking time, and if they are too large the end result will be chewy rather than crunchy. If you like large chucks of almond in your granola, I would lightly roast them first before adding them to the slow cooker.
If it is really hot, I plug the slow cooker in outside to prevent any chance of heating up the kitchen.
My pecan and maple granola recipe will last for up to a month in an airtight container, if it is not all eaten beforehand.
Slow Cooker Pecan & Maple Granola
- 640 g (4 cups) rolled oats
- 100 g (1 cup) pecans roughly chopped
- 150 g (1 cup) almonds finely chopped*
- 70 g (1/2 cup) pepitas
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) olive oil
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) applesauce
- 60 ml (1/3 cup) maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 165 g (1 cup) flaked coconut
Turn the slow cooker to HIGH.
Place the oats, nuts, pepitas, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl. Stir through to combine. Set the bowl aside.
Whisk the olive oil, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla together in a large jug until emulsified. The mixture will turn thick, and there should be no free oil evident.
Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients. Stir well to coat the dry ingredients in the liquid.
Empty the contents of the bowl into the slow cooker.
Place a kitchen implement across the top of the slow cooker (I use a large chopstick) and prop the lid ajar on top of the slow cooker. You want steam to escape from the slow cooker so don't seal the lid completely.
Cook for 30 minutes, then thoroughly stir the mixture, bringing the nuts and grains up from the bottom of the slow cooker to the top.
Replace the lid (ensuring it is ajar) and cook for a further 20 minutes. Stir again.
Continue to stir every 15 - 20 minutes, adding the flaked coconut to the mix after the mixture has been cooking for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Cook for a total of 2 - 2 1/2 hours, or until the nuts and grains have dried and are starting to brown.
Watch the granola carefully towards the end of the baking time. Some slow cookers have hot spots, and it may be necessary to stir more frequently to stop it burning.
When the granola is ready, tip the contents of the slow cooker onto a large baking tray and allow to cool.
Once cool, store in an airtight container.
* I find if the almonds are not cut finely they don't crisp in the slow cooker and remain chewy. If you want larger chunks of almond in your granola, lightly roast the almonds before adding them to the slow cooker.
The theme for this month’s Recipe Redux is Beat the Heat; using your appliances to keep the heat out of the kitchen. Check out the link up for other great ideas that will keep you cool when the temperature starts to rise.