The 7 Best Granolas Are Hearty, Crunchy, and Great

Ah, granola. It’s the linchpin of every good yogurt parfait, a sophisticated sundae topping, and a convenient snack by the fistful that’s (unfairly) become synonymous with foods that are healthy or hippie-ish to a fault. Listen, people. I’m confident there are “crunchier” foods we can malign, especially after this taste test. We tried some downright delicious and desserty granolas. Save the hate for foods that are actually lame, like unsalted rice cakes or those weird meal replacements that come in cube form.

During a recent Sporked taste test, we plunged our greedy little mitts into roughly 15 bags and boxes of granola to find the best of the best. We were looking for a granola that’s hearty, flavorful, and has some constitution. We want big clusters, not a bag full of oat dust. And if you promise nuts, give us nuts!

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purely elizabeth granola

Best of the Best

Purely Elizabeth Original Ancient Grain Granola

The granola you find on a restaurant brunch menu has to be really good to go head to head with, say, benedicts oozing with egg yolk and hollandaise sauce or biscuit sandwiches stacked with slices of bacon thicker than a book of crummy poetry. Of all the packaged granolas we tasted, this one from Purely Elizabeth came the closest to resembling what you’d get in a fruit-scattered parfait at a nice breakfast spot. This bag is full of plump clusters of salty-sweet oats and grains (amaranth, quinoa, chia seeds), and a hint of cinnamon that compliments that natural sweetness of coconut sugar. Sporked editor-in-chief Justine Sterling really liked the complex flavor. “This is a fun one,” she said. “This is a real, like, shake-things-up-for-your-breakfast-in-the-morning granola.” Staff writer Danny Palumbo thought it had the best spice of any granola we tried, and editorial assistant Naajia Shukri thought it was reminiscent of another breakfast staple: “It’s very much like French toast,” she said. Except, you know, crunchy and way easier to throw together if you don’t make it to a restaurant for brunch.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Walmart

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

nature's path ancient grains granola

Best Texture

Nature’s Path Organic Ancient Grains Probiotic Granola

Ancient grains are really having a moment in our modern, slightly dystopian world! This tasty granola—a collab between Costco house brand Kirkland and Nature’s Path—is made with spelt, quinoa, amaranth, and khorasan wheat, which in addition to being old as hell has grains that are twice the size of modern grains of wheat. “Wow, it’s a textural wonderland,” said Sporked staff writer Jordan Myrick when they tried one of the nice, big clusters in this bag. “It looks like a galaxy of planets, the chunks are so huge.” Justine liked the “cozy” cinnamon flavor. “It makes you want to curl up next to the fire and have a big bowl of granola,” she said. I took this gargantuan bag of granola home after our tasting and I can confirm it’s as good with milk and yogurt as it is straight from the bag on the couch. Or by the fire if you have one.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / TK

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

365 organic oats & honey granola

Best with Milk

365 Organic Oat & Honey Granola

Oats and honey are an iconic pairing. This granola from Whole Foods house brand 365 doesn’t reinvent the wheel flavor-wise, but it does elevate a classic with big clusters and good ingredients. In fact, the packaging advertises “no room for icky ingredients,” which we decided we could get past despite use of the word “icky.” Both puffed brown rice and sliced almonds (lots of them, actually) add crunch to the mix, while honey adds a nice, mild sweetness. “The taste is nice and simple and clean,” said Jordan. And the fact that it’s packaged in a box rather than a bag seems to keep the clusters from being totally pulverized.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

nature valley granola

Best for Snacking

Nature Valley Granola Protein Oats & Honey

The internet is full of memes about Nature Valley granola bars turning to piles of dust the instant you even look at one. Well, this bag of granola kind of cuts out the middleman by just serving up crumbs and clusters. That’s a good thing! Sure, maybe Nature Valley just swept up the granola bar factory floor (just kidding; don’t sue me), but those granola bars are a classic snack and this granola has the exact flavor and crunch but with waaaaay more protein, a whopping 13 grams versus 3 grams in the bars. You’re probably not going to want to snack on this unless you have something to drink sitting next to you, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great. “It’s a little on the dry side, but I would eat handfuls of this all day long,” Danny said. “Good clusters.”

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

great value granola

Best Desserty

Great Value French Vanilla Almond Granola

Being that it’s a breakfast food, sometimes it’s easy to forget that granola is really good as a dessert component too—or as a dessert unto itself. This budget granola from Walmart would make a great topping for ice cream, or you can just pour it into a bowl with some nice, thick Greek yogurt and call it dessert. It’s sweet and it’s super crunchy because it’s packed with puffed rice. That miiiiight be a cost-cutting measure, but it works.  My notes on this were actually, in real life, “Soooo good. Man, so good.”

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Walmart

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

millville granola

Best Budget

Millville Crunchy Granola Oats, Almonds & Honey

“I like these big-ass clusters,” Danny said of this granola from Aldi. Sadly, though, it’s a little short on almonds. If you’re promising almonds, give us almonds! Better yet, incorporate them into those lovely, “big-ass” clusters you’ve created rather than just sprinkling them into the bag alongside the other components. Our nut complaints aside, this granola is pleasantly sweet and has a nice, genuine honey flavor that I personally liked better than Nature Valley’s.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

simply nature dark chocolate and sea salt granola

Best Baffler

Simply Nature Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt

Looking for something out of the ordinary to add to your breakfast repertoire? This chocolate sea salt granola from Aldi will do the trick. It’s chocolatey in a bitter way and genuinely salty to boot, but the unusual mix of flavors somehow works. I was on the fence, but Jordan and Justine loved the salty flavor, and Danny appreciated its robust crunch and constitution. “There’s no sawdust in the bottom of this bag,” he observed.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

The rest of what we tasted: Bear Naked Granola Vanilla Almond, Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Honey Almond Granola, Nature’s Path Love Crunch Dark Chocolate & Red Berries, Post Honey Bunches of Oats Granola Honey Roasted, Kind Oats & Honey Clusters, Sprouts Organic Nut Butter Banana Granola, Trader Joe’s Almond Butter Granola, the Safe + Fair Food Company Birthday Cake Granola.

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About the Author

Gwynedd Stuart

Gwynedd Stuart, Sporked’s managing editor, is an L.A.-based writer and editor who spends way, way too much time at the grocery store. She’s never met an Old El Paso taco or mozzarella stick she didn’t like.

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