Super Crunchy Oil Free Granola

$2.42 recipe / $0.27 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
5 from 9 votes
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With as many beans as I eat, it’s about time I started using putting the aquafaba to good use. I’ve been playing around with aquafaba for the past couple of months and I think this Super Crunchy Oil Free Granola is my favorite use so far! The starchy bean water binds the granola into crunchy clumps, without the use of excessive oils and sugars, like traditional granola. And no, the end product doesn’t smell or taste like beans. 😅

Never heard of aquafaba? Scroll down for a little crash course…

A sheet pan of Super Crunchy Oil Free Granola next to a bowl with yogurt, banana, and granola, and a half eaten banana.

What is Aquafaba?

Aquafaba is the slightly goopy water that usually gets discarded from a can of beans. The soluble starches from the cooked beans give this strange liquid surprising properties that allow it to be whipped like egg whites and act as a binder in food. Absolute liquid gold for people looking for a vegan substitution for eggs! While it can’t be used as a sub for eggs in every recipe, it works for quite a few.

I suggest using the liquid from canned chickpeas over any other bean. Chickpea aquafaba is the most neutral, or has the least amount of color and flavor. Definitely stay away from black bean or kidney bean aquafaba, as they’ll be dark in color. I have used aquafaba from cannellini beans before, but chickpea aquafaba definitely has less flavor.

What is Cream of Tartar?

Cream of tartar, or tartaric acid, is an acid in powder form, and is a good ingredient to keep stashed in the back of your pantry. It has a few unique uses in the kitchen, including being the secret ingredient that turns baking soda into baking powder. In this granola recipe, cream of tartar is used to stabilize the aquafaba and make it easier to whip into a dense foam. Without a pinch of cream of tartar it can take up to ten minutes to properly whip aquafaba. With cream of tartar it takes only about three minutes.

A bowl of yogurt with banana slices and Super Crunchy Oil Free Granola

Super Crunchy Oil-Free Granola Substitutes and Options

This recipe is super flexible and can be a great way to use up leftover dry goods in your pantry. The spice mix and the grains, nuts, and seeds, can all be swapped out to match your preferences. 

When substituting the grains, nuts, and seeds in this recipe, just try to have about 3 cups total dry goods, in a ratio of about 2 cups grains to 1 cup nuts and seeds. Other nuts and seeds that you can use are: chia, sunflower, sesame, pecans, walnuts, or hemp. 

Sweeten it up!

I purposely made this Super Crunchy Oil Free Granola very low in sugar. You can increase the sugar amount to fit your taste buds (the uncooked granola is safe to taste). You can also substitute maple syrup for the brown sugar in this recipe, although it does make the mixture a bit more wet, resulting in a slightly longer baking time.

A sheet pan full of Super Crunchy Oil Free Granola with a large wooden spoon scooping it up.

This black and white splatter baking sheet is from Roveandswig.com.

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Super Crunchy Oil Free Granola

5 from 9 votes
Aquafaba (the leftover starchy water from canned beans) makes this Oil Free Granola super crunchy without using excessive amounts of oil and sugar! 
A sheet pan full of Super Crunchy Oil Free Granola with a large wooden spoon scooping it up.
Servings 9 1/2 cup each
Prep 15 mins
Cook 35 mins
Total 50 mins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup aquafaba ($0.25)
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar ($0.01)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar ($0.16)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract ($0.14)
  • 2 cups rolled oats ($0.33)
  • 1/4 cup oat bran ($0.18)
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed ($0.12)
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds ($0.48)
  • 1/4 cup pepitas ($.060)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon ($0.05)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger ($0.03)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves ($0.02)

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Add the aquafaba and cream of tartar to a bowl and use an electric hand mixer or stand mixer to whip the aquafaba into stiff peaks. Once the aquafaba is whipped, add the vanilla extract and brown sugar, then whip for another 30 seconds, or until the brown sugar is dissolved into the foam.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the rolled oats, oat bran, ground flaxseed, almonds, pepitas, cinnamon, turmeric, ground ginger, and ground cloves. Stir until combined.
  • Pour the oat mixture into the bowl with the whipped and sweetened aquafaba. Stir until the dry ingredients are completely coated in the aquafaba.
  • Spread the granola mixture onto the lined baking sheet so that it is in a single layer and not piled too deep.
  • Bake the granola for 20 minutes, then remove it from the oven and give it a gentle stir. Bake for 10 minutes more, and stir a second time. Bake 5 minutes more, or until the granola is dry and the edges are deep golden brown.
  • Allow the granola to cool and then store in an air-tight container at room temperature.

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Nutrition

Calories: 160.19kcalCarbohydrates: 20.67gProtein: 6.5gFat: 7.07gSodium: 23.43mgFiber: 3.74g
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Love homemade granola? Check out my No Sugar Added Banana Nut Granola!

A sheet pan of Super Crunchy Oil Free Granola next to a bowl with yogurt and granola, and a half eaten banana.

How to Make Oil-Free Granola – Step by Step Photos

Pour aquafaba from the can of chickpeas into a measuring cup

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Pour the liquid from a can of chickpeas (aquafaba) into a measuring cup. You’ll need 1/2 cup of aquafaba. One 15oz. can of chickpeas usually has about 3/4 cup, so you should have plenty from one can.

Cream of tartar container held over the measuring cup with aquafaba

Adding a little cream of tartar (tartaric acid) helps make it a LOT easier to whip the aquafaba into a foam. Without the cream of tartar it can take a good ten minutes to whip the aquafaba, with cream of tartar it only takes about 3 minutes. So it’s worth it! Add 1/8 tsp cream of tartar to your aquafaba.

Aquafaba slightly whipped in a metal bowl with a hand mixer.

Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer to begin whipping the aquafaba. I wouldn’t suggest trying to do this one by hand. The aquafaba will look foamy at first, but if you keep going…

Whipped aquafaba in a bowl with a hand mixer

Eventually it will whip into a creamy foam. It’s done when the beaters begin to leave a trail in the foam, like in the photo above.

Brown sugar and vanilla extract added to whipped aquafaba.

Add 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract to the whipped aquafaba.

Sweetened whipped aquafaba in a metal bowl

Whip for another 30 seconds or just until the brown sugar is dissolved into the foam.

Super Crunchy Oil Free Granola Ingredients in a bowl

In a separate bowl, combine your grains, nuts, seeds, and spices. I used 2 cups rolled oats, 1/4 cup oat bran, 1/4 cup ground flaxseed, 1/4 cup slivered almonds, 1/4 cup pepitas, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, and 1/8 tsp ground cloves. Stir these together well.

Combine aquafaba and granola dry ingredients

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of whipped aquafaba and stir them together.

Super Crunchy Oil Free Granola mixed together in the bowl

Stir until everything is saturated and slightly clumpy.

Oil Free Granola spread over the lined baking sheet.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment, then spread the granola mixture over the surface into a single even layer. BTW, this is a Crow Canyon Enamelware Rectangular Tray from Roveandswig.com.

Baked Oil Free Granola on the baking sheet

Bake the granola in the preheated 350ºF oven for 20 minutes, then give it a good stir. Bake for 10 more minutes and stir again. Then bake for a final 5 minutes, or until the granola is dry and it is deeply golden brown on the edges. Ovens can vary, so keep a close eye on it for those final 10 minutes or so.

Overhead view of the tray full of Super Crunchy Oil Free Granola with a wooden spoon scooping some up in the corner.

Let the granola cool completely, then store it in an air-tight container at room temperature.

TRY THESE OTHER GRANOLA RECIPES:

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  1. Can I theoretically substitute lemon acid for tartaric acid and egg whites for aquafaba? Lemon acid and eggs are what I have in my pantry on regular basis. Chickpea that goes with aquafaba have to be used also but they are affecting badly my digestion even though I can’t imagine food going waste 😱

    1. If you mean lemon juice, the extra moisture might affect the outcome. But in general, I think it’s too hard to make an educated guess there. Chemistry is wild and unpredictable sometimes. :)

  2. A great recipe! My first experience cooking with aquafaba and the granola turned out fab. Thank you Beth.

  3. This recipe is genius! Absolutely zero waste if you buy all the dry ingredients and spices in bulk. I used cashews, pepitas, hemp hearts, and added chopped dates after cooking for a bit of sweetness since I omitted the brown sugar. I’ve tried lots of granola recipes but this one is a keeper – perfect crunch. Happy to finally remove plastic-packed granola and cereal from my grocery list!

  4. My local grocery store doesn’t stock oat bran – is there a substitute you’d recommend? Additionally if I wanted to add protein powder to this recipe, how would you advise I go about it?

    1. Unfortunately, I’ve never cooked with protein powder so I can’t offer any suggestions there. You might also be able to find oat or wheat bran in the cereal aisle near the dry oats (sometimes it’s in a box). There’s nothing else quite like it so I’d need to do testing with other substitutes because swapping it out with something else will change the way it absorbs moisture, which can affect the end texture.

  5. I was today years old when I realized the magic of aquafaba thanks to you- wow- this stuff is amazing and my granola turned out great! I played with using different types of nuts/seeds and even subbed in some Puffed brown rice as a less fat alternative to oats. I thought it was awesome that although you gave a structured recipe, you also gave us room to play by breaking up the recipe ratios, def appreciated this! Thanks Beth!

  6. Looks like a great use for aquafaba. I am allergic to chickpeas/garbanzo beans, so I used cannelloni bean aquafaba. Worked just as well. The cream of tartar is a GREAT idea. Not used that before, and it works great. I added some raisins to my batch. Will be doing this again.  BTW I use the beans to make hummus.  I can think any number of variations on this theme.  

    Judy

  7. Another question: if you wanted to make a peanut butter version of this, when would be the best time to add it, and how much? Thanks!

    1. Typically peanut butter is mixed into the wet ingredients in a granola before you stir it into the dry ingredients, but I’m honestly not sure how that would turn out here. It’s a little too hard to predict without testing it.

  8. Should the brown sugar be packed? I found it not quite sweet enough for me and I wonder if perhaps I should’ve packed the brown sugar.

    1. Yes, I pack my brown sugar to make sure the measurements are more consistent. That being said, this isn’t a super sweet granola in general, but you can probably add even a little more brown sugar if you’d like. :)

    1. Honestly, I didn’t find any of those arguments to be compelling and many of them relied on logical fallacies. While the author did provide citations for some of the more basic bean facts, she did not provide citations for some of the more serious health claims, like the claims about saponins. The claims about saponin toxicity also did not state a dosage. Toxicity always depends on the dosage. Many substances that are vital to life are also toxic when ingested at the wrong dose, so to simply say that saponins are toxic is misleading. If aquafaba was dangerous, then most bean soups made from dry beans or pot of cooked beans would also be dangerous because the cooking water is often not discarded for those recipes (soaking water and cooking water are two different things and many of her claims were about soaking water). Since it’s something I only eat once in a blue moon and in small quantities (again, dosage matters), I didn’t find any of those arguments to be strong enough to make me want to avoid it. That’s my hot take! :)

  9. First time using aquafaba and was super pleased with the results. I subbed oat bran for raw unsalted sunflower seeds. We took it camping as a snack for on the trails. It had a good crunch and wasn’t super sweet. 

    1. Not quick oats. Just plain rolled oats. Old-fashioned are even a little thicker than plain rolled oats, but they work just as well. I would consider quick oats to be a bit too delicate for this.

  10. What a unique and resourceful way to make granola! I followed the recipe other than missing oat bran and almonds. I really enjoyed it and actually licked the bowl of the sweetened whipped aqaufaba. It works and I will make it again! I love that there is no oil and that I have a reason to make roasted chickpeas too!

  11. You are awesome, Beth. I use your blog all the time in the kitchen, and my 13 year old son loves your recipes (and he makes them himself). I’m looking forward to trying this granola, because the one we buy in the store is so expensive and contains all kinds of allergens. With this recipe we can use ingredients everyone in the family can eat! Some of our favorite recipes of yours are hearty black-bean quesadilla, simple chili, and shepherd’s pie. Thank you for making cooking easier and tastier! :)

  12. I made this with even less sugar, so I can eat it with a bunch of fruits on yogurt, or with raisin later. Came out sooo crunchy and delightful😊

  13. I don’t have a pressure cooker and I was thinking I’d use the aquafaba from a can of chickpeas that says it only contains water and salt—but I read you don’t recommend from a can, and that makes sense. I read your other post that using the water from chickpeas cooked on the stove can be tricky. Do you have any recommendations? What about a crock pot? We are trying to reduce sugar in our diet and this recipe would be perfect. My go-to granola recipe calls for a 1/2 cup of honey.

    1. You may have misread my comment because I do recommend using aquafaba from a can. :) The aquafaba from canned beans is much more consistent in concentration, so it’s more reliable when you’re trying to whip it. Using aquafaba from homemade beans is tricky because depending on how much water you use to make the beans, the concentration could be much higher or lower, which will affect its ability to be whipped. I don’t use homemade aquafaba for that reason, so unfortunately I don’t have any tips.