You know the weekday drill: you roll out of bed, put on a pot of coffee and rummage through the cupboards for a quick, healthy breakfast. Sure, that sugary cereal is tempting (who doesn’t love the occasional bowl of Cap’n Crunch?), but a serving of yogurt topped with fruit and crunchy granola is the way to go for a fast, nutritious breakfast.
Of course, granola is good for so much more than putting together a quick parfait recipe. Granola adds texture to baked goods, crunch to snack mixes and much more. But what’s really the best granola out there? Our Test Kitchen had to get to the bottom of it.
What’s the Best Granola? We Found Out.
There are a lot of flavor options out there, but for this test, our Test Kitchen focused on the common denominator in the granola world: oats and honey. After all, the simplest things are often the most challenging to get right.
For this test, a panel of editors and Test Kitchen staff got together to test a dozen different granolas in a blind sampling. Our panel was looking for excellence in appearance, texture, value and—most importantly—flavor. See who topped our list.
The Best Granola: Nature Valley Protein Granola
Nature Valley’s oat and honey granola earned the highest score in our blind tasting. While simple in flavor, Nature Valley got this combination just right. As one tester remarked, “Plain, simple and sweet—as granola should be.”And the simple blend of flavors here was done exceptionally well. Nature Valley tasted of real honey (not the phony stuff) and whole grain oats. The crunch on this granola was also superb, meaning it could lend a lot of wonderful texture to desserts and breakfasts. Essentially, Nature Valley makes high-quality granola that could be easily incorporated into so many recipes or quick fixes. And let’s not forget that this particular recipe packs some protein, too, making it a great nutritional option. You’ll get 10 grams in a single serving.
More Great Granola Brands
We can’t say it’s surprising that Quaker—the biggest name in oats—did so well in this test. After all, oats are the primary ingredient in any basic granola.
The brand’s Simply Granola got high praise for its texture. Testers appreciated how the mix contained a blend of large, crunchy pieces as well as smaller flakes of oats. This variety is what makes a satisfying breakfast bowl or parfait so good. Of course, the almonds and real honey also made Quaker a stand out. The only drawback to this brand was the slight coconut flavor. Some testers appreciated this, but others felt like it was out of place in granola.
Trader Joe’s is one of our go-to destinations for snacks, but it should also be a stop for building a great breakfast. The store’s basic granola option was wonderfully flavorful—testers praised the brown sugar and pecan in this recipe. This extra sweetness, along with a satisfying crunch, makes it a great candidate for mixing into plain yogurt (here’s our favorite brand) for a quick snack. That said, a few testers thought this granola was a bit too sweet, but overall it was highly ranked.
Price varies; available exclusively at Trader Joe’s.
What to Make with Granola at Home
While you might think of granola as strictly breakfast food or the component of your favorite protein bar, it’s a great staple ingredient to have on hand. After all, it’s made primarily with oats, so it’s very versatile. Stir it into your favorite oat bar or drop cookie recipe or try some of these granola-filled recipes.
How We Chose the Winners
Our Taste of Home Test Kitchen and editors team up to taste all kinds of popular foods and run essential kitchen gear through the paces. We rank them, discuss and test again, if needed, to arrive at the products we recommend for you and your kitchen. Find out how we choose the best products and see everything we’ve tested.