No Sugar Added Banana Nut Granola

$5.45 recipe / $0.45 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.73 from 18 votes
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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.

Top view of a bowl of 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.

Side view of a bowl of Banana Nut Granola sitting on a colorful napkin, whole banana and spoon on the side

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No Sugar Added Banana Nut Granola

4.73 from 18 votes
This rich and nutty Banana Nut Granola uses no added sugar or oils to make it crunchy and delicious.
Servings 12 (2/3 cup each)
Prep 15 mins
Cook 1 hr 30 mins
Total 1 hr 45 mins

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions 

  • 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.

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Notes

*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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 341.84kcalCarbohydrates: 42.08gProtein: 8.78gFat: 16.88gSodium: 101.38mgFiber: 7.25g
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How to Make Banana Nut Granola – Step by Step Photos

Mashed Bananas, Apple Sauce and peanut butter in measuring cup

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). 

Sauce mixture and vanilla and cinnamon added to pot on stove top

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.

Mixed wet ingredients, heated and stirred together in pot

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.

Oats and Coconut in mixing bowl

Add six cups of old fashioned rolled oats and 1 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut to a very large bowl.

Banana sauce poured over granola mixture in mixing 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.

Granola spread out on baking sheet ready to bake

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.

Banana Chips in bag

Break one cup of banana chips into smaller pieces so that you get more pieces in every bowl and bite.

Baked Banana Nut Granola with banana chips sprinkled on

After the banana nut granola is finished baking, stir in the crushed banana chips.

Banana Nut Granola on baking sheet cooling

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. 

Bowl of Banana Nut Granola with spoon on the side

Oooh yeah, pour some ice cold milk over THAT. 

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  1. I make this all the time! I leave out the coconut because I’m not a fan and it still turns out great. I’ve added nuts in with the banana chips at the end as well. Love this with some yogurt and honey.

  2. Fabulous! I substituted more mashed banana for the applesauce, and it turned out great! I love having a fruit-only sweetened granola with HUGE chunks!

  3. Would it be possible to replace some of the rolled oats with seeds and nuts in order to up the protein and lowering the carbs a little?

    1. Probably! I haven’t tried it myself so I can’t offer specific advice, but I’m sure there’s a way to make that work.

  4. I made this last night, using all banana(no applesauce) subbing almond extract for vanilla, and coconut butter for peanut butter. It has a terrific crunchy texture and subtle sweetness. I plan to make this again. I did cook about half an hour longer, at lower heat, just to make sure it was very crunchy, but that may not have been necessary.

  5. This is my go to granola recipe (with a few modifications)! I use all mashed banana instead of the banana+applesauce, I replace the coconut with more oats (not a big coconut fan, and replacing the coconut with walnuts was good but expensive), and I use about 1.5 c dried fruit (raisins or craisins, typically). Sometimes, I’ll also add in a little stevia to get a sweeter granola (the base recipe is not super sweet). It takes a while to bake, but it’s so worth it!

  6. This is so great a recioe. I would guve it 100 stars. I have made it many tumes and I love it.

    Does anyone know how many calories innit thougj?

    1. We only recently brought on a Registered Dietician to our team. She’s working hard behind the scenes to update the entire recipe database, over 1500+ recipes, with nutritional information. She’s working her way from the newest recipes back and it takes some time to update them all. Stay tuned!

  7. I made this and I love it. I used natural almond butter in place of peanut butter since I wanted to use it up. I left out the banana chips. Delicious. Thanks for this great recipe! 

  8. Hi – I’m looking forward to giving your recipe a try! Would it be possible to sub some of the oats for, say, quinoa, flaxseed, or some other sort of grain, or a few more nuts? Just looking to try a variety of things. I dehydrate a lot of fruit when I find it on sale, so I’m excited to add in my own banana chips.

  9. I made it.
    5 stars for clumps.
    5 stars for fruit, no other sugar
    3 stars for flavor and sweetness (i could prob add dried fruit though)

    I may return to this after I finish 20 other recipes. Maybe replace banana with applesauce, but not sure

  10. I’ve never been able to get the chunky, clumpy granola – how do you make sure it’s clumpy if you are stirring it? Doesn’t it just crumble apart when you do?

    1. Yes, but the saucy mixture that is coating the granola stays kind of melted while it’s in the oven. After it comes out, it will begin to harden a bit, so what you want to do is press the mixture down with a spatula or something right when it comes out of the oven and this will make it all stick together and harden that way. :)

  11. This looks great! Must try this :D

    However, if I don’t want to use PB in this recipe (not a big fan of peanut butter in my granola), what can I substitute it with? I’m assuming I can’t just leave it out as it’s quite a large portion of the recipe.

    Thanks!

    1. It will be a little tricky to substitute, but I would definitely add in some fat like coconut oil. I would need to do some recipe testing to determine how much and if it will really change the texture a lot, though. You could always try almond butter if that works for you.

  12. This looks fabulous! The pumpkin recipe link caught my eye (have some leftover puree I want to use) and was wondering if you ever found a way to make the pumpkin one without sugar.

    1. You may be able to do a mix of pumpkin and unsweetened apple sauce or mashed banana and make it work. The tricky part is that while applesauce and banana are naturally sweet and can go without added sugar, pumpkin really isn’t very sweet, so you’ll need to add something.