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The Only Grain-Free Granola Recipe You'll Ever Need

February 7, 2014

There’s one in every family these days. The intolerant person. I don’t mean religiously intolerant or xenophobic, though there’s probably one of those in every family too, come to think of it. I mean gluten intolerant. Or dairy, or soy, or one of the many other food intolerances that have become so common of late. It’s maddening. And I say that as someone who has her own set of weird food intolerances that I’m sure drive others slightly crazy--I drive myself slightly crazy! Once, I helped cook for a dinner party at which the combined guests managed to have amongst us intolerances to: gluten, dairy, soy, legumes, nuts, corn, and oats. AND there was one person who kept Kosher and another who was a vegetarian! We had to cook a couple of separate meals to make it work.

I won’t speculate about the root cause of the increase in food intolerances. Many far better scientists than I (I’m really not a very good scientist at all, actually) are working on that question. I’ll just try to cook around it!  

Anyway, my dad is one of those people who is stuck with an intolerance to almost everything. He can’t have any grains at all, nor dairy, nor soy, nor potatoes, nor (gasp) eggs! This makes breakfast, at least the way most of us from the West conceive of it, a real challenge. Last year, I decided I was going to come up with a whole bunch of breakfast ideas to send to him because I am a good and caring daughter, and I also get very concerned when I think someone may not be able to enjoy breakfast. In my searching, in addition to all sorts of lovely Asian breakfasts of soups and fish, I also came across a couple recipes for granola that were made with all nuts and no grains. Intriguing.

I decided to have a go and discovered, with or without an intolerance, I actually liked the all-nut version of granola better than any traditional versions I’ve had! Unsurprisingly, the granola, once tossed in its honeyed butter coating and baked until brown and toasty, tastes, in a word, nutty. Wonderfully so. It tastes like granola, but richer, more toothsome. Even if you are a devoted eater of oaty granola, I’d say nutty granola is worth a try. Of course, if your intolerance happens to be to nuts, then this is not a breakfast for you. I hope you can eat eggs.

Nutty, Nutty Granola

Makes 4 to 4 1/2 cups 


  • 1 cup raw pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1 cup raw pistachios (or almonds)
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons butter, ghee, or coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds (optional)


  1. Soak your nuts prior to using them as this releases certain enzyme inhibitors that would otherwise make them difficult to digest. Put your raw nuts in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and enough water to cover them. Let them soak for 8 hours, then drain them and spread them out on a baking sheet in a warm dry place to let them dry for about another 8-12 hours. Now they’re ready to go.
  2. Heat your oven to 225F. Place your nuts in a food processor and pulse them until they’re just very roughly chopped.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine the honey and the butter (or ghee or coconut oil) and warm them together until the butter melts. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Add the honey mixture to the food processor along with the coconut and chia seeds (if using). Pulse a little bit more just until everything is chopped to about the sized of steel cut oats.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat and spread your granola out on it. Bake it in the oven, stirring it up just once or twice during the process, until it is toasty and mostly dry, about 45 minutes. Take it out and let it cool completely. At this point you can stir in some dried fruit if you’d like (I like to stir in chopped dried figs.) Store the granola in an airtight container in a cool place (the fridge works well for longer storage because it prevents any of the fats in the nuts from going rancid).
  6. Enjoy your granola with any variety of milk, yogurt, or kefir – dairy or non-dairy – or by itself as a little snack.