6 parts dry to 1 part wet
1. Memorize This Ratio
The only thing you need to remember is this: 6 parts dry to 1 part wet. Your "parts" can be whatever measurement you want: 1 cup, 1/2 cup, one tupperware container, one cereal bowl, half of a pint glass, etc. Set this ratio in your memory (or write it down) and then head to the kitchen and turn your oven to 300°F.
2. Mix the Dry Ingredients
There's only one non-negotiable dry ingredient in granola, and that's rolled oats. The rest is up to you. I like to have at least half of my dry ingredients consist of rolled oats, but you can of course use even more if you like. (Be careful not to use quick-cooking oats, which won't hold up as well as regular rolled oats.) Other dry ingredient options include your favorite nuts and seeds and/or other rolled, flaked, or puffed grains. Think chopped pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, puffed millet, coconut flakes, and flax seeds. For a nice balance of flavor and texture, aim for a mix of at least four dry ingredients; a good ratio to follow is 3 parts oats, 1 part nuts, 1 part seeds, and 1 part something else.
3. Whisk Together the Wet Ingredients
Wet ingredients make the granola magic happen—they coat your grains, nuts, and seeds in fat and sugar , which helps them brown and clump together. Remember that you need 1 part wet to your six parts dry. I like a granola that's not too sweet, so I usually use about half sweetener and half oil, but if you like a sweeter granola, pump up the sweetener ratio. Choose an oil whose flavor and nutritional benefits you can get excited about: I love to use either warmed coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, or a mixture of the two. For a neutral flavor, try grapeseed, canola, or sunflower seed oil. For the sweetener, you need something that's in liquid form. You can make a syrup by melting sugar and water if you like, but it's easier to just go for one that's already in a liquid state like honey, agave nectar, coconut nectar, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup. I always add an egg white to my wet mix too, because it helps the granola clump together better, and gives it an extra crunchy and glossy finish. But it's not essential. Whisk together your oil, sweetener, and egg white (if using) until they equal your 1 part measurement, then stir it into your bowl of dry ingredients to coat everything thoroughly.
4. Season To Taste
Once you've got everything mixed up in your big bowl, take a taste. How's it doing? You want a little spice in there, right? Cinnamon is always nice, as is vanilla extract, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt. Add as little or as much spice as you want, but always add salt—it perks up all the flavors. Taste again, and if you want more sweetness, sprinkle in a bit of sugar or brown sugar.
5. Bake Until Golden-Brown
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, then spread your granola mixture out in an even layer. If that layer is too thick, get another rimmed baking sheet and divide the mixture between the two. Bake at 300°F, gently stirring every 15 minutes, until the granola is golden-brown and dry, 40 to 45 minutes.
6. If You Want to Add Fruit, Add it at The End
If you want dried fruit in your granola such as dried cherries, cranberries, raisins, or sliced dried apricots, you're better off not baking it, which will dry the fruit out. Instead, stir the fruit into the hot granola right after you pull it out of the oven. Let the whole thing cool completely before digging in or transferring to a jar, and store in your (no longer naked) pantry.