Crunchy Granola

crunchy granola with dried fruit in a wooden bowl.

Learn how to make healthy granola naturally sweetened with organic apple juice and maple syrup. It’s a customizable, low sugar granola that’s subtly sweet. A crunchy granola that’s great for breakfast and snacks. #sponsored #NorthCoastOrganic

As we approach back to school time,  I thought I’d lend a hand to parents who want a lower sugar option for their kids’ breakfasts and snacks. An easy, delicious and customizable vegan granola recipe, that’s naturally sweetened. A crunchy granola  topping for morning yogurt or satisfying hand-to-mouth muncher after school.

oats, walnuts and sunflower seeds in a bowl.

I got the idea from a string of fun family days spent with my nieces, nephews and cousins this summer. Between them, there’s 10 kids in our family going back to school. But there’s 20 parents facing that frantically paced, lunchbox-packing, homework-checking, car-pooling, sports practicing, club meeting, teacher conferencing whirlwind that comes each fall.  For all you superhero Moms and Dads I’m sharing this healthy, all natural, organic DIY granola recipe that makes an easy breakfast or low-sugar snack to keep the kids going all day long.

North Coast organic apple juice.

My no-sugar added granola starts with North Coast Organic Apple Juice.  Why North Coast?  Leveraging an expertise that spans over 90 years, North Coast makes delicious, wholesome products while preserving agricultural traditions of its community. North Coast’s mission begins, first and foremost, with sourcing fruit of exceptional flavor and quality, which are grown by skilled, responsible organic farmers with simple ingredients: water, earth and air.  The moms and dads in my family appreciate that.

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adding apple juice to maple syrup and coconut oil

In fact, when consumers purchase any of North Coast’s products, they can be sure that what they are eating is:

  • 100% Organic certified
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Using only USA-grown apples
  • Cleanly produced, with about 50% by solar energy
  • BPA-Free certified
  • Fresh pressed, never from concentrate
  • No added sugar, no preservatives
  • KSA Kosher certified

This crunchy granola gets its natural sweetness from North Coast organic apple juice and real maple syrup.  That’s it. No other sweeteners. My family loves this low sugar granola because it’s subtly sweet with pops of dried fruit and crunchy oat and nut clusters.

pouring the apple juice mixture into the oat mixture.

Mix-Ins For Crunchy Granola:

IMO, the best granola is one that you can customize to your particular tastes. Here are some popular mix-ins that you can substitute for the walnuts or dried fruit normally called for in this recipe:


  • Pecans
  • Peanuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios

Dried Fruits:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Coconut
  • Cranberries
  • Cherries
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Goji berries
  • Gooseberries
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Raisins
  • Strawberries

Kids are more likely to eat something if they’ve participated in some way, so giving them a little “say” in what fruits and nuts they want in their granola is key.

spreading naturally sweetened crunchy granola on a baking sheet.

How To Make Healthy Granola:

  1. Mix the rolled oats, sunflower seeds and nuts
  2. Heat the maple syrup, coconut oil, North Coast organic apple juice and spices over low heat until the coconut oil melts.
  3. Toss the oat mixture with apple juice mixture
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes so it browns evenly
  5. Cool the granola completely.
  6. Toss with your choice of dried fruit.
  7. Store in an airtight container.

It’s easy to get the kids involved in making the crunchy granola. Depending on the age of the child, they can mix the dry oats together (younger kids), or stir the apple juice mixture on the stove (older kids), coat the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients or just add the dried fruit at the end.

mixing up dried fruits in a bowl.

We like a variety of dried fruit in this natural granola including golden raisins, dried blueberries, tart cranberries, dried peaches and dried apples.

adding dried fruit to naturally sweetened crunchy granola.

The oatmeal granola gets crisper as it cools — which incidentally is the hardest part about this recipe— letting the granola cool completely before adding in the dried fruit and reaching in for some nibbles.  To me the subtle combination of pure maple syrup, spices and organic apple juice make this naturally sweetened crunchy granola a welcome departure from the sugar-bomb cereals, pastries and cavity inducing sweets normally found in kids’ breakfasts and snacks.

Naturally sweetened crunchy granola in a bowl.
naturally sweetened crunchy granola with a wooden spoon.
  • Apple Juice: Jump-start your morning with North Coast’s apple juice line, which includes single varietal juices from Honeycrisp, Gala and Gravenstein apples, in bottles that range from 10, 32, 64 and 128 fluid ounces.
  • Applesauce: North Coast’s applesauce flavors range from traditional cinnamon to tangy apple apricot, apple with berries, strawberries, or even pumpkin spice apple. Their applesauce comes in cups, jars and even convenient pouches, which are perfect for school lunch boxes or for a healthy snack on the go.
  • Apple Cider: North Coast’s apple cider, spiced apple cider, and pumpkin-spiced apple cider all make the perfect treat, whether enjoyed chilled or warmed up for a cozy moment.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar is well-known for its wonderful flavor and health aids. Explore the many ways of adding it to your meals and recipes, in order to make the most of its benefits!
naturally sweetened crunchy granola with yogurt and fruit.

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5 from 8 votes

Naturally Sweetened Crunchy Granola

A light, crispy granola that’s loaded with whole grains, fruits and nuts.  Great over yogurt or for snacking.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword apple juice, granola
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 24


  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup walnuts or other nuts, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup wheat germ
  • ½ cup North Coast apple juice
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon apple pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups mixed dried fruit (I used cranberries, apples, peaches & blueberries) cut larger fruit into bite sized pieces.


  • Preheat the oven to 325°.  Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the oatmeal, walnuts, sunflower seeds and wheat germ.
  • In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the North Coast Apple Juice, coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, apple pie spice and kosher salt until coconut oil is melted.
  • Pour the apple juice mixture over the oat mixture and stir until well coated. 
  • Spread the oatmeal mixture in a single layer on the sheet pan.  Bake for 45 minutes, stirring the granola every 15 minutes to ensure even baking.  
  • Cool the granola to room temperature (granola will become crunchier as it cools.  Add the dried fruit to  the granola and toss to combine.  Store in an airtight container for up to one week.


Calories: 161kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 35mg | Potassium: 112mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 0.8mg

“Pin It” For Later!

If you're looking for a low-sugar granola for your family, try this crunchy granola sweetened with organic apple juice and maple syrup. Best granola ever! #granola #homemadegranola #oatmeal #nosugaraddedgranola #granolamaplesyrup #walnutgranola #naturalgranola #bestgranola #lowsugargranola #organicapplejuice #vegangranolarecipe #howtomakeyourowngranola #oatmealgranola #coconutoilgranola #diygranola #healthygranola #walnuts #sunflowerseeds #wheatgerm #maplesyrup

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  1. 5 stars
    This recipe looks amazingly healthy and delicious. I love that you use quality organic ingredients in your naturally sweetened granola too!

  2. Here in GA, kids are back in school already and seeing my daughter and I love granola, this sure won’t last long in our home!

  3. We love making our own granola. It’s nice to be able to control what goes in to it.

  4. 5 stars
    Definitely need to make more granola as the kids get ready to head back to school in a few weeks. Love the options you have for this one!

  5. 5 stars
    Using apple juice to sweeten this granola is brilliant. I love all of the bright dried fruit you added to this as well!

  6. Yumm. Love this and just in time for the new school year to start adding this to some yogurt on the way out the door or just for a snack!!

    1. Yep – just in time for school — our district started today! Enjoy!