May 27, 2024


Than a Food Fitter

The Fastest, Easiest Granola Skips One Very Key Ingredient

3 min read

It’s not like granola was ever much trouble to make.

In fact, as I wrote about the Food52’s community’s longtime favorite recipe back in 2012, “Making it at home requires pretty much only stirring.” Stir oats and goodies in a bowl, then stir a few times in the oven, then stir right on into your yogurt and mouth.

Even less trouble.

Photo by MJ Kroeger. Food Stylist: Ericka Martins. Prop Stylist: Veronica Olson.

But that recipe—and most others I’ve tried—take at least 40 minutes to get good and toasted, opening the oven to stir every 10 minutes or so. This is all perfectly reasonable! Until you have a 22-month-old making it with you.

That’s where I was, nine months deep in the pandemic, entertaining my ping-ponging toddler alone while testing Jenné Claiborne’s Tahini Pistachio Granola recipe. It had caught my eye on Jenné’s blog Sweet Potato Soul because it had no added oil or butter—only the natural fat and crisping power of the pulverized sesame seeds in tahini.

That alone would have earned Jenné’s granola its Genius Recipe badge. But the experience of making it was so revolutionary for me—in that strained moment—that I ended up writing the introduction to the Simply Genius cookbook about it:

I slid the sheet pan into the oven. We wiped the counter, singing the clean up, clean up song. The kitchen air sweetened with toasting oats and sesame. Fifteen minutes later, we were blowing on clumps of warm granola and turning off the oven. My daughter hadn’t had a chance to get bored and wander away; I woke up every day that week thinking of the next bowl I’d get to eat.

Fifteen minutes later. Fifteen minutes. One stir. A clean kitchen. A happy kid I never had to chase down. And a batch of deeply nutty granola that propelled me out of bed the next day, and the next.

How does an oil-free granola bake in a third of the time, with just as much crunch? As Jenné explained to me, “I do think it’s because it’s less wet, but also because—just like my tahini cookies—tahini has more solids in it, so the liquid component of the tahini seems to dry out quicker.”

Jenné’s recipe showed me that, even when there is an already simple, memorable technique—one I will still make when my daughter is in bed or old enough to be trusted around the snap of an oven door—there are always more surprises and smart tricks to discover.

A third of the time. Just as much crunch.

Photo by MJ Kroeger. Food Stylist: Ericka Martins. Prop Stylist: Veronica Olson.

This was what I wanted for all the recipes in the book, and frankly what they had to be—that they bend around what life hands us, and make it better.

The brightest 5-minute tomato sauce. Chocolate chip cookies without a mixer, right now. Gnocchi crisped on a sheet pan. And now, the pantry baking project for all ages, the homemade gift it’s never too late to make, the breakfast they won’t forget.

The Simply Genius cookbook is out now—you can snag a copy in our Shop, or so many other places! Like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million,, Hudson Booksellers, IndieBound, Powell’s, Target, Kitchen Arts & Letters, Now Serving, Omnivore Books on Food, Book Larder, or your favorite local bookstore.

Got a Genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what’s so smart about it) at [email protected].

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

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