I’m a sucker for crunchy homemade granola, but I always wish there was a way to make it without loading in the oil and sugar. Well, when I made a batch of Pumpkin Spice Granola last fall, I accidentally discovered that fruit purée can act as a binder in a similar way to the oil and sugar in traditional granolas. Sooooo, I decided to experiment with that theory some more and I made this No Sugar Added Banana Nut Granola.
For this Banana Nut Granola, I combined mashed up bananas and unsweetened apple sauce to act as the binder. When the granola bakes, the fruit purées dehydrate and bind the oats together into beautifully crunchy clumps. Perfect! And instead of adding a big slosh of oil, I just went with some natural peanut butter. The oil in the peanut butter helps makes things crispy and adds a wonderfully nutty flavor (banana+peanut=YUM). I also added a handful of unsweetened shredded coconut for more texture and flavor, and tossed in a few crushed up banana chips at the end.
The result is a rich, nutty granola with a faint whisper of natural sweetness, but it’s not a sweet granola like something you’d buy off the shelf. If someone in your house does like sweet granola, simply customize their bowl with a quick drizzle of honey (honey+PB=YUM). And I can’t lie, a few chocolate chips thrown in at the end wouldn’t be a terrible idea, either. Not terrible at all.
No Sugar Added Banana Nut Granola
This rich and nutty Banana Nut Granola uses no added sugar or oils to make it crunchy and delicious.
- 2 bananas, mashed (about 1 cup) $0.51
- 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce $0.79
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter $0.93
- 1 tsp cinnamon $0.10
- 1 tsp vanilla extract $0.28
- 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
- 6 cups old fashioned rolled oats $0.99
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut* $0.91
- 1 cup banana chips* $0.92
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Mash the bananas with a fork until they're mostly smooth (a few chunks are okay). Measure the banana mash, then add enough unsweetened apple sauce to make 2 cups total (about one cup of each).
Place the bananas and apple sauce in a small sauce pan with the peanut butter, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir and cook over low heat for about five minutes, or until the mixture is evenly mixed and warmed through (this makes it more runny and easier to mix with the oats).
Add the dry oats and shredded coconut to a very large bowl. Pour the banana, apple sauce, and peanut butter mixture over the oats and coconut, then stir well until all of the ingredients are incorporated. There should be no clumps of dry oats left.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, then spread the oat mixture in an even layer over the parchment, no more than one inch thick. If there is too much for one baking sheet, divide the mixture between two sheets.
Bake the granola in the 300 degree oven for one to one and a half hours, stirring once after 30 minutes, then every 15 minutes after that**. Baking time will vary depending on whether you use one or two baking sheets. Keep an eye on the granola and stir every 15 minutes towards the end. The granola is finished when it is crisp and golden brown. Allow the granola to cool completely. Crush the banana chips into small pieces, then stir into the granola. Store the cooled granola in an air-tight container.
*Look for unsweetened shredded coconut and banana chips in the bulk bin section of larger grocery stores or health food stores.
**When stirring the granola, aim to move the granola from the outer edges in towards the center and the granola from the center out to towards the outer edges. This will help it bake and dry evenly.
No Sugar Added Banana Nut Granola
Step by Step Photos
Start by preheating the oven to 300 degrees. Mash up two bananas. Measure the mashed bananas (should be around one cup) and then add enough unsweetened apple sauce to make two cups (about 1 cup of apple sauce).
Add the banana and apple sauce to a small sauce pot with 1/2 cup natural peanut butter, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/4 tsp salt.
Heat and stir these ingredients together over low heat until it is smooth and warmed through. This just helps make it a little more fluid and easier to mix with the oats.
Add six cups of old fashioned rolled oats and 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut to a very large bowl.
Pour the banana/apple sauce/peanut butter mixture over the oats and coconut, then stir and stir and stir until everything is very evenly mixed. You should not have any dry oats or dry clumps left in the bowl.
Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper, then spread the wet granola over the sheet in an even layer. If there’s too much granola for one baking sheet (it shouldn’t be layered more than one inch thick), divide it between two baking sheets. I prefer parchment for this as opposed to foil because foil reflects the heat and can cause faster browning. Bake the granola for one to one and a half hours, stirring once after 3o minutes, then every 15 minutes after that. Cooking it low and slow like this helps the fruit purée to dehydrate rather than “cook”. The time it takes your granola to bake will depend on how thick it is piled on that baking sheet, so if you use two it will bake faster. You’ll know it’s done when it’s all dry and slightly golden brown.
Break one cup of banana chips into smaller pieces so that you get more pieces in every bowl and bite.
After the banana nut granola is finished baking, stir in the crushed banana chips.
Make sure to let the banana nut granola cool completely before storing it in an air-tight container. This recipe makes about 8 cups, or 12 servings of 2/3 cup.
Oooh yeah, pour some ice cold milk over THAT.