Get you love drunk off my clumps

By Rebecca Firkser
Updated February 12, 2018
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Credit: Jon Lovette/Getty Images

The best granolas are the ones that come in large clusters, don’t @ me. While many brands of packaged granola have extremely satisfying chunks, when you make it at home, it often crumbles into what can only be described as toasted oats. Of course it’s still edible, tasty even, but it won’t be as satisfying as biting into a big ol’ cluster. I’ll be honest: I’ve tried out a lot (a lot) of granola recipes and honestly thought those clumps were just an elusive thing that either happened or did not based on the imperceptible changes in oven temperature and/or mystical spirits in the kitchen. This is not the case. The answer is lurking in both a binding agent and in the way you lay the granola on the sheet pan.

The first element in ensuring that the oats and seeds and whatever else you put in your granola will stick to together is an ingredient that will bind the mixture together. I’ve tried mixing an egg white into the batter, and it worked alright. I tried whipping an egg white and folding that into a batch and that worked pretty well. Neither one worked really well—my results were both very delicate clusters that mostly feel apart when picked up. Less than ideal. They did, however, produce clumpier results than when I used no egg at all.

Credit: Photo: Rebecca Firkser

Want to know what worked best? It’s chia seeds. That’s right, those same weirdo things you see on top of yogurt bowls and in pudding at every all-day cafe. When dampened, chia seeds gel and swell to several times their original size, plus they get very sticky. Since they’re already used as egg alternatives in baking, it’s not surprising that chia seeds act as the ideal granola binder, but it is strange that they do it better than eggs.

Make sure that whichever granola recipe you use, it calls for some liquid, typically oil of some kind (I recommend olive oil for a subtle earthy, floral flavor, or melted unrefined coconut oil for subtly coconutty flavor). The liquid will help the chia seeds to gel, ensuring the granola sticks together.

Nest, scoop the granola mixture onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Flatten the mixture out, but don’t spread it apart as you would do if you were roasting vegetables. Finally, when the granola is done cooking, let it cool completely before breaking it up into chunks.