Granola Nut Clusters – Easy, Portable Holiday Gift Idea!

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on December 7, 2012

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If I haven’t already convinced you to make an edible holiday gift this year, maybe this recipe today will seal the deal. It has to be one of the easiest recipes to throw together using less than 10 minutes of precious holiday time. Plus, it’s a recipe you can make well in advance without having to worry about it going bad any time soon. Just pop it in a jar and leave it on your shelf, tucked away until that special someone pops over for a visit. I think we’ve just entered Martha territory here!

So what is this pretty little treat, you ask? It’s simply pecans and walnuts that have been coated in granola. They are baked in the oven until crisp and crunchy making a delightful finger food or garnish for a hot bowl of oatmeal. I can’t take credit for this genius idea though, it comes from Deb over at Smitten Kitchen. When I saw her recipe a few weeks ago, I knew I had to try making a vegan version or my life as I know it wouldn’t be complete. (I’m not dramatic at all despite what my husband says.)

I figured my goal of having a crispy coating of granola would only be possible with a very sticky base – almost like a “glue” for the granola to adhere to. Brown rice syrup worked wonderfully for this task.

Simply pour a few tablespoons of syrup onto the nuts. The key here is to stir the nuts very thoroughly until every nook and cranny is covered with syrup; this ensures the granola has every chance in life to succeed!

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After coating the nuts, stir in the granola mixture until combined. The granola will stick to the nuts, forming a homely-looking coating. Don’t worry though, it will caramelize and turn golden in the oven leaving big clumps to break apart with your hands!

Spread the nuts onto a parchment lined baking sheet into a single layer, like so:

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After 20 some odd minutes of baking at 275F, you’ll be left with seriously addictive granola-coated nuts, delightfully crispy on the outside and tender in the middle. I don’t think I need to tell you that Eric and I polished off my first trial within 24 hours. Consider this your warning (or encouragement).

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[Shown above: Eric conned into being my hand model while waiting patiently to dig in.]

Granola Nut Clusters (gluten-free, oil-free, soy-free)

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Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Yield: approx. 3.5 cups

  • 1 cup raw walnut halves
  • 1/2 cup raw pecan halves
  • 3 tbsp brown rice syrup*
  • 6 tbsp gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2-3 tbsp Sucanat sugar*
  • Heaping 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Scant 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • freshly grated nutmeg, to garnish


1. Preheat oven to 275F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place walnuts and pecans into a large mixing bowl. Pour on brown rice syrup and stir very well until combined for about 60 seconds. Your goal is to have every nook and cranny covered in syrup. No pressure!

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the oats, coconut, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour it onto the nuts and mix very well until combined. Some of the oat mixture won’t adhere to the nuts, but that’s ok because it adds character.

4. Spoon the entire mixture onto the baking sheet including any oats that didn’t stick. Spread into a single layer so they have room to get toasty. Garnish with fresh nutmeg. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake for another 10-13 minutes (I baked for 23 mins total) and allow to cool on the pan for at least 10 minutes.

5. Once cool, break apart clumps and store in glass jars or Tupperware containers. I expect these would stay good for at least a month.

Substitution Notes: 1) Brown rice syrup works amazing in this recipe because it is so crazy sticky. For this reason, it can be difficult to replace it in a recipe that requires its binding properties. I haven’t tried anything else, but if you eat honey that might work or even coconut nectar since both are very sticky. 2) You can substitute Sucanat with brown sugar or with Turbinado sugar. I don’t recommend subbing with coconut sugar. I tried this and found that it dried the mixture out due to its powdery nature.

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You might be wondering if you can use other types of nuts. I recommend using craggy nuts like pecans and walnuts since smooth nuts (like almonds) don’t have the rough texture to “grip” the granola. You can certainly try any nuts you wish though! As always, I would love to hear your feedback in the comments if you try out this recipe or your own modified version.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

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Felicia March 3, 2014 at 2:49 pm

These are possibly the yummiest thing to ever enter my mouth. MMMMMMM. I used coconut nectar and it worked great. Sooo delicious.


Dorothy September 17, 2014 at 7:48 am

I added dried cranberries and dark chocolate chunks once cooled and had it in the car as a road trip snack for the little ones when we went on vacation. Delish!


Jen November 25, 2014 at 11:41 am

These have become a staple in my diet. They’re great for bundling up during holiday time and giving to coworkers too. They’ve been a hit among anyone who’s tried them whether or not they’re vegan.


Adrianna December 4, 2014 at 6:52 am

Hello:-) Clusters are in the oven as I’m writing this comment. Here in Poland finding brown rice syrup is like finding gold thus I am using buckwheat honey. Its thick and dark. My clusters are walnuts, pistachios, dried cherries, vanilla extract mixed with honey and the rest from Angela’s recipe. Will let you know how it turned out! Merry Christmas :-)


Adrianna December 4, 2014 at 7:44 am

Its out of the oven and cooled. Smells like caramel over here:-) Its PERFECT!! Only regret is why in the world didn’t I make more?:-) The buckwheat honey works beautifully here. I didn’t add any other sugars except for the honey. LOVE!


Angeline December 8, 2014 at 7:37 am

I made mine with coconut syrup and loved the taste! Thanks for the recipe!


Dipti January 13, 2015 at 9:16 pm

Omg we have falled in love with this recipe and have made it twice in a week already. I followed the recipe except for subbing with honey. However, I am having some trouble, not sure what I am doing wrong, after baking the nut clusters are getting stuck to my wax paper that I use to line the tray…it takes forever to scrap the paper off each cluster. I even tried spreading some oil on the paper but that did not help.

Help! What am I doing wrong?!


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 14, 2015 at 12:48 pm

I recommend using parchment paper and not wax :)


Dipti January 15, 2015 at 8:48 pm

Thank you!


Eliza June 23, 2016 at 3:38 am

Hi, I live in Italy and can’t seem to find brown rice syrup, can i substitute it with maple syrup, as i don’t love honey? Also, by using that should i cut down the amount of sugar?
Thank you!


Angela Liddon June 23, 2016 at 4:16 pm

Hi Eliza, Brown rice syrup can be difficult to replace in this recipe, because its awesome binding properties (it’s so sticky!!) are really key. I think substituting maple syrup will still taste GREAT — but the granola might not “clump” together into clusters as much as we’d want. Please me know how it goes if you try it! I’d love to hear back.


Karen June 24, 2016 at 9:41 am

I have been making this for a long time and love it! Do you happen to have calorie/nutrition info for this? It would be helpful.


Angela Liddon June 24, 2016 at 11:13 am

Hey Karen, I’m sorry, I don’t! But if you head over to an online tool like or (or even an app like my fitness pal), it should calculate that info for you pretty quickly and easily! I hope this helps. :)


karen June 24, 2016 at 4:21 pm

Thanks so much for these tips-I had no idea they existed. I would like to lose 10 pounds, and this is the first time in my life I’ve had to count calories, so this will make it easier.


Nicki Horne December 1, 2016 at 7:51 am

Hmm I have been searching for vegan recipes to make for a friend. I was thinking of using almonds, but chopping them up a little so the aren’t so smooth. Do you think this would work, or do you think they will still be too smooth


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