Slow-Cooked Granola Is the Coziest Gut-Friendly Breakfast You Can Bake in Your Sleep

Photo: Stocksy/Nadine Greeff
I love finding new-to-me little luxuries that elevate daily life without depleting my bank account. This month's hyperfixation? Using my slow cooker to bake warm, nutty, cinnamon-spiced granola.

The arrival of the autumn season has officially reignited my passion for this breakfast food—served alongside greek yogurt and fresh fruit—and I've started every morning with a big bowl of the stuff since September kicked off.

I wanted to dial up my recipe in the most hassle-free way possible, and headed to the internet to find the best hacks for making granola that don't require much time (or money, or legwork). I ended up finding a brilliant method from one of my favorite healthy recipe bloggers of all time, Erin Clarke of Well Plated, who loves to make slow-cooked granola. I think Clarke's granola-making method is genius because it allows you to toast up a big batch of oats, coconut flakes, nuts, and so on without using (read: making a giant mess of) your oven at all.

The best time to meal prep slow cooker granola, IMO, is when I'm making dinner the diner before. Simply toss your ingredients in the slow cooker, set, and forget—just give it a toss every thirty minutes or so to keep the heat evenly distributed. Major bonus: Opting for a slow-cooking process not only makes things low-maintenance but also prevents your ingredients from burning.

If you're in the market for a new slow cooker, we're big fans of this sleek $50 Hamilton Beach cooker that also makes rice and veggies, but your Instant Pot will work, too!

How to make slow cooked granola at home

All you have to do is simply grease up the bottom of your slow-cooker with a little butter, oil, or cooking spray of choice, toss in all the ingredients of your favorite granola recipe, and cook over high for two to two and a half hours. If you have the ability, giving the ingredients a quick stir every 30 minutes will ensure everything toasts evenly. Plus, your kitchen will fill up with the granola’s nutty, spicy aromas along the way that will fill your kitchen with the best fall aromas.

One of the most underrated aspects of making granola in a slow-cooker is that you can make a giant batch at once with minimal clean-up. According to Clarke, granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks, perfect for meal prepping or for serving up at your next at-home brunch. She also notes that you can freeze granola for up to three months if you won’t be able to devour it all in time—just leave out any dried fruit you plan to add until serving. To freeze, place the granola in an airtight container and press a sheet of plastic wrap over the top, removing as much air as possible.

Find Well Plated's nutrient-rich slow cooked granola recipe below. And don't forget that you can customize it with your favorite nuts, more or less sweetness, and the addition of other spices—nutmeg would be delicious!—to achieve your ultimate morning ritual.

Erin Clarke of Well Plated's Slow Cooked Granola Recipe

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 cups raw nuts or seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, or pepitas
1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal or additional 1/4 cup raw nuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 large egg whites at room temperature (use additional 1/4 cup coconut oil to make vegan)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup coconut oil melted and cooled, or very light olive oil
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried fruit chopped into pieces if large (I used low sugar dried cranberries and apricots)

1. Spray the bottom and sides of a 5-quart or larger slow cooker with cooking spray. Place the old fashioned oats, nuts and/or seeds, flaxseed, cinnamon, and salt in the slow cooker and stir to combine.

2. In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the maple syrup (or honey), coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Stir to combine, then pour over the dry ingredients in the slow cooker and stir with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are evenly moistened.

3. Cover the slow cooker, leaving the lid slightly askew so that steam can escape. Cook on high (leaving the lid askew) for two to two and a half hours, until the nuts are toasted and the granola feels dry to the touch, stirring the granola every 30 minutes. Ensure that you leave the lid askew after each stirring.

4. Turn off the slow cooker, then stir in the dried fruit. For maximum crispiness, spread the granola out onto a baking sheet to cool completely. The granola will continue to crisp as it cools. You can also let it cool in the slow cooker, but it will not be as crisp.

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