Coconut Quinoa Granola

February 20, 2013(updated on October 18, 2023)
coconut quinoa granola top

I can’t put a finger on exactly when I became aware of quinoa. It wasn’t on our dinner table when I was a kid, but I remember eating it once or twice when I was in college (the dining hall served it occasionally, but they had not yet figured out how best to cook it during my years eating there). However, by the time I had moved to Philadelphia and was cooking for myself, it was one of my staples.

I’ve gone through several hot and heavy periods with quinoa. There was the phase in mid-2004 when I ate garlicky Swiss chard, homemade turkey burgers, and steamed quinoa for dinner at least twice a week. I’ve also eaten a great deal of a dish my sister dreamed up and calls “Bean-wa, Green-wa, Quinoa.” It consists of a can of garbanzo beans, some sautéed kale, a jar of Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce and a couple cups of cooked quinoa. It’s incredibly easy and fast, particularly if you have leftover quinoa.

When Scott and I had our potluck wedding in 2009, three different people brought quinoa salads. When people ask us what kind of wedding we had, sharing that tidbit typically paints a picture. It’s funny what a cultural indicator quinoa has become.

coconut quinoa granola side

These days, we eat quinoa a few times a month in salads, soups or under juicy braised dishes. I love it dearly, both for its grassy flavor and the fact that it cooks so quickly. I do grapple with some guilty feelings around eating quinoa, since global demand has made its price too dear for the Bolivians who have long eaten it as their staple foodstuff. I know that I’m part of that problem, but I also know if I were to give up quinoa, my individual act would be invisible in the larger picture. There’s no perfect answer.

A few months back, I got a review copy of Camilla V. Saulsbury’s book 500 Best Quinoa Recipes. I left it on the stack for a while as I struggled with my quinoa guilt, but finally picked it up a few weeks back for a quick browse. Immediately I found a number of recipes that appealed to me. I used up half a pad of little sticky notes marking breakfast bakes, waffle mixes, energy bites, muffins, quick breads and salads.

coconut quinoa granola spill

Once I was finished flipping through the book, I hopped up and headed to the kitchen to make a batch of the Coconut Oat Quinoa Granola that’s on page 36 (I had all the ingredients and was curious what toasted rather than steamed quinoa would taste like).

I followed the recipe fairly closely and only made a few tweaks (I reduced the coconut oil by half, left out the dried fruit and added a little salt). The finished product is terrific. It’s deeply coconut-y, with lots of crunch from the bits of quinoa. It clumped nicely and it good with yogurt or eaten in clusters as a snack. I will definitely make this one again.

Note: I left out the dried fruit from the finished granola because I recently discovered that the moisture content in raisins, apricots and the like can end up making granola soggy over time. These days, instead of stirring it all into a batch once it has cooled, I add a palmful of dried fruit to a bowl just before eating. It keeps the granola crunchy and ensures that I get just the amount of fruit that I want.

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Coconut Quinoa Granola

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes


  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil warmed
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup you can also use honey, but I liked what the brown rice syrup did in this recipe


  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Combine oats, quinoa, coconut, almonds, and cardamom in a large bowl.
  • Measure coconut oil in a 1-cup measuring cup. Swirl it around and then pour over dry ingredients.
  • Using the same, unwashed measuring cup, portion out the brown rice syrup and pour it into the bowl (the coconut oil residue will help the syrup slide out of the cup easily).
  • Stir until all the ingredients are well-combined.
  • Scrape mixture out onto the prepared pan and spread out evenly.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring 2-3 times during baking. The granola is done when it appears to be uniformly toasted.
  • Let granola cool completely before moving. Once it is cool, break it apart and store in an airtight container.


Recipe adapted from 500 Best Quinoa Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury.

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54 thoughts on "Coconut Quinoa Granola"

  • This recipe is interesting, I didn’t know you could eat the quinoa uncooked like this. Well, I guess it does cook in the oven…and I love love love cardamom, this is such a unique granola!

      1. Marisa…do you know the calorie/fat content of this yummy granola? I only get 1,500 calories a day to play with. I’m thinking this could satisy my requirement for an healthy fat, grain and protein. Yes/no?

  • Funny, since I have a batch of granola in the oven as we speak. I also wondered about the quinoa…because it is naturally coated with saponin (spell?) that needs to be thoroughly washed off before cooking, I wonder how you dealt with that?

    1. These days, the vast majority of quinoa that’s sold commercially is pre-washed, so the saponin shouldn’t be an issue. If you’re concerned, you can rinse the quinoa before adding it to the oats.

  • Hi Marisa, I would encourage you to research the quinoa “controversy” a bit more as I have also read a lot about the negative effects on farmers being overexaggerated and/or taken out of context. The specific article is eluding me right now but I recall reading that the increased income of farmers due to the popularity of quinoa is causing them to buy “American” food (ie junk) – but the point being that it’s increasing income… not to say which side is true (and you’ll never really know for sure) but I think it would be worth some additional research. If I can find the article I am thinking of I will post it here.

    On a recipe-related note, this looks awesome and I can’t wait to make it!

    1. I’d heard about the quinoa guilt a few years ago, and I read a response to the recent articles in the Guardian by one of the rising stars in agricultural econ (who I know personally, took a class in grad school with and is a person who is smart, very reasonable and not-unconcerned with justice and disparity, despite the harsh title):

      He does a lot of research in developing countries and is vary of foreigners presuming they can swoop in and understand other societies.

      So excited to try quinoa granola!

    2. Thanks Monica! It’s good to hear that there may be some over exaggeration in this area. That would put my heart at ease a little.

  • How funny, I just threw some quinoa into my granola recipe as well. Wasn’t sure if it would work, but I figured it was worth a try.
    Next I am going to be trying yours. xo

  • On the topic of soggy granola! One thing I learned from Smitten Kitchen is that if you keep your granola in the freezer, the dried fruit doesn’t make the rest soggy! That’s what we do now, and its perfectly good straight out of the freezer (it doesn’t taste too cold). Though sometimes our freezer space is precious we can usually still make room for a big jar of granola!

  • I can’t wait to try this granola but have a request. Is there any way to make the FIJ recipes available on Pinterest? I was surprised that wasn’t one of the sharing options
    available. Thx

    1. Kathy – if you don’t have it already, Pinterest has a super handy Pin It button that you can drag to your browser’s Bookmarks toolbar and use to pin any page that you might land on, as long as it has an image. I use it ALL the time when I’m working through my RSS feed of blog posts and recipes I want to keep track of, and never have to worry about whether or not a site has adopted its own Pinterest sharing component!

      Scroll down past the app stuff and you’ll see the Pin It button. Hope that helps!

  • I wonder how this would work with the honey substitute I have to use for my diabetic husband. I’d love to try it!

  • I love quinoa in granola and the coconut oil is really key to getting that amazing texture.

    I have been buying prepackaged quinoa from whole foods (vs bulk bin origin unknown) and from AlterEco. Their website has a great article specific to their own company values and the farmers they partner with that makes me feel good about supporting that business.

  • I’ve been curious about putting uncooked whole grains like quinoa in granola! This sounds great and I’m happy to know it works. I was thinking of trying millet too…

  • Ah, another recipe to add to my ‘to try’ list. Sounds awesome. I have been a fan of quinoa for some time now. My 2 favorite ways to use it”:

    I add it to my veggie burger recipe now instead of the panko crumbs.
    I add leftover cooked quinoa to my breakfast of sunny side up eggs. I mix it into the delicious, juicy egg yolk. So good.

  • I didn’t realize that quinoa’s popularity was negatively affecting the same people who have eaten it for thousands of years! I guess I should have, though.

    I made some cookies made with quinoa once. That recipe required you to cook the quinoa and then toast it. It was kind of a pain, so I’m super psyched that you just use it dry here. Can’t wait to try it!

  • Oh man, this sounds divine! And we currently have a *ton* (I kid you not) of quinoa! This will be made ASAP.

  • Ooh, this looks tasty. I’ve just started putting millet in my baked goods and granola for a lovely, non-nut crunch. I imagine that quinoa would have be pretty similar, so I’ll have to give it a try and you all should try millet, too! It’s probably fraught with ag and justice issues, too, for all I know. Being a conscious eater can be downright hard to navigate!

  • Do you think this would work with couscous or barley wheat as well? I always have one of the three available in my pantry. Right now I’m up to my eyeballs in couscous.

  • Marissa you shouldn’t worry about enjoying quinoa! Would you deny the farmers a good living wage? The issue isn’t rich Americans eating quinoa, the issue is that poor people in Bolivia don’t have access to enough good food. If you are concerned you should focus your efforts on Bolivian charities that help with this issue such as Don’t make the problem worse by boycotting a product that provides income to Bolivian farmers!

  • This sounds so good! I have a bag of quinoa in the pantry that I need to use, and my coconut-loving boyfriend has recently started adding granola to his yogurt, so this sounds like a must-make!

  • Just made this and it smells and tastes fantastic. I used sweetened coconut, because that is what I had, and reduced the honey by 2 tablespoons to make up for that. It did take longer to cook to get that nice brownness. Thank you for the recipe!

  • This looks amazing and I’m going to make it this weekend. I’ve been reading about the ‘quinoa controversy’, and decided to take matters in to my own hands. This year we’re actually going to try growing quinoa in our home garden as an experiment. Should be interesting at least.

  • Ooo, I like what a see. Gorgeous photos! I knew you would bring quinoa and me together, but I never imagined it would be through granola. Looks amazeballs. I want to sprinkle it all over some quark.

  • Sounds great! We’re looking for recipes to demo for our local farmers’ market this season, this is definitely now on the list! Marisa, I also recently saw an article about OSU testing whether quinoa can be grown in the Willamette Valley and Columbia Basin, so there’s a chance of this becoming a true local food.

  • Wow, this is really a toughie. On the one hand I’m concerned that the money I’m giving Whole Foods isn’t getting to the Bolivians. If they can’t afford the food they grow, that seems a bad deal. On the other hand, subbing this grain for a meat is a good thing. Not what I expected in a food blog.

  • OK, so I’m a leap before I look kind of guy. After further investigation, maybe stopping is a not too good idea also. Seems the farmers in the US have noticed the popularity of this wonder food and are starting to look for varieties that can be cultivated in the US. Just taking them a bit of time. So, if the market depresses so that Bolivians can start to be able to afford quinoa, no incentive to grow here. But, if the market justifies local production and the price goes down, Bolivian farmers will be hurt again. Lots of info out there. You decide. Maybe I’ll just cut back a bit.

  • Interesting. I had no idea you could do that with quinoa! I will try that in my next batch of granola (we’re hot-weather granola eaters). Similarly, did you know you can throw uncooked millet in baked goods? I do that almost like using poppy seeds – I make an excellent lemon millet muffin for breakfast. So I wonder if quinoa would function the same way in baked goods. .. might experiment. . .

  • Just poped in a batch. I’m having a hard time restraining myself from eating it before its baked!
    I used honey instead of the BRS, and added a 1/4c water… I once worked for a bakery that made the best granola I’ve ever had and that recipe had a bit of water, honey, and besides oats, that’s all I can remember.

    I’m excitd to play around with this recipe as I love the idea of using quinoa, and the coconut/almond/cardamom combo is genius! Oh, I added salt too, for the salt addicts in my house.


  • Hi there. Made this last weekend and LOVE it BUT there is a wee problem. I started to have concerns about the digestability of the unsoaked/roasted quinoa when I noticed the seeds in my poo. Sorry to be so graphic but it’s the truth. A quick google search indicates that the seeds can not be digested unless soaked. This is a “survival mechanism” so that birds poop them out and they grow elsewhere. Several sights suggest that the chemicals that prevent them from being digested may have an impact on absorption of other nutrients eaten at the same time. I think I will forego the crunch fator next time and use quinoa flakes. Just a thought.

  • Made this last night — so good. I tossed in some pumpkin seeds since I didn’t have almonds. What a great recipe!

  • Loving the smell while this is cooking, but it’s interesting that I’m now closing in on an hour of baking time and it’s still seeming a little moist & sticky. Also no clumping at all; could that be because I used a mix of honey & agave (what I had on hand) instead of the rice syrup?

    1. It typically doesn’t start to clump until it cools. There could also be more liquid in the honey and agave than in the rice syrup. I’ve not tried it with that combination, so I just don’t know.

      1. Thanks for the reply! After an hour, I let it cool in the oven. Now it’s lovely, crispy, browned and nicely clumped. Flavor is awesome. I’m kind of obsessed with coconut right now so this is perfect.

  • Umm…you are kind, generous, and fabulous, Marisa– thanks so much for taking the time to make and feature a recipe from my book 🙂

    1. Camilla, it was my pleasure! I just finally finished off that batch of granola and I’m antsy to make more!