Why This Recipe Works

Oats and sugar, key ingredients in most granolas, are not part of the paleo diet, so we set out to find a way to make crave-worthy granola without them. We replaced the oats with a combination of nuts and seeds, choosing different sizes and textures for lots of crunchy contrast. We also added unsweetened flaked coconut for its sweet, toasty crunch. To sweeten our granola without refined sugar, we tried combinations of maple syrup, coconut sugar, and honey; tasters preferred the clean-tasting sweetness of maple syrup. Since the nuts and coconut were high in fat, we found that just 1/4 cup of coconut oil was enough to ensure that our granola crisped nicely as it baked. Although many paleo recipes call for processing some nuts and seeds into a mealy substance, or adding fruit puree or egg whites to hold the granola together, we found this step was unnecessary; the maple syrup and coconut oil provided the perfect amount of liquid “glue” to help bind the chunks of granola. When it came time to bake the mixture, we turned to a tried-and-true test kitchen method for making super-chunky granola: We used a sturdy spatula to press the mixture into a rimmed baking sheet, then baked it gently at 325 degrees without stirring. This produced granola “bark” that we could break into beautiful chunks of whatever size we wanted. All it needed now was some dried fruit, which we added at the very end so it would stay plump (it tended to turn leathery and overly sticky in the oven).


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½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups (10 ounces) whole almonds, chopped
2 cups (8 ounces) pecans, chopped
2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
1 ½ cups raisins

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Makes about 10 cups

Chopping the nuts by hand is our first choice for superior texture and crunch.

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk maple syrup, melted coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, salt, pepper, allspice, and nutmeg together in large bowl. Add almonds, pecans, coconut, and sunflower seeds and toss until thoroughly coated.

2. Transfer nut mixture to parchment paper–lined rimmed baking sheet and spread into thin, even layer. Using stiff metal spatula, compress mixture until very compact. Bake granola until lightly browned, 25 to 35 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.

3. Remove granola from oven and let cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour. Break cooled granola into pieces of desired size. Stir in raisins. (Granola can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.) Serve.