Homemade Granola for a Bake Sale

May 1, 2010(updated on August 30, 2021)

pints of granola at bake sale

My mom was something of a reluctant hippie. Free love wasn’t her thing, recreational drugs didn’t float her boat and she missed Woodstock by a hair. Ticket in hand, she came down with the flu two hours before her ride was coming to pick her up. However her brown hair was kept long and straight, she religiously dabbed patchouli oil on her pulse points and, in 1970, she married my dad in a handmade dress on a hilltop overlooking San Francisco.

16 cups of rolled oats

My dad embraced the sixties counter-culture with a bit more passion. He dropped in and out of college, played folk music in smoky coffeehouses, conscientiously objected to the Vietnam War and, on occasion, lived in his Volkswagon (it had a giant God’s Eye painted on the back).

measuring out the nuts

During their Santa Cruz years, they kept chickens in their backyard and watched their pennies (my mom can still recite her weekly grocery list from those days and knows exactly how much a pound of chuck steak cost in 1973). She briefly ran a toy store called Joyful, Joyful and sometimes cooked for a local Headstart program, making lunch from scratch for over 100 kids and adults with little or no help. My dad went to school, kept playing music and repaired cars on the side.

oats, sesame seeds, almonds, pepitas & sunflower seeds

During most of these early years, they always a jar of nutty, homemade, wheat-germ fortified granola on the countertop. It was cheap and easy to make, and even a small bowl had the power to keep you full for hours. The original recipe was cribbed from a friend, who made it in industrial sized batches and sold it around the Bay Area.

finished granola

I offer these details as my granola credentials. I come from people who know and enjoy their granola (or GORP, as the original recipe was called). I’ve made many a batch in the last 10+ years and have learned a number of things from the repetition.

I like a two to one oat to nut/seed ration the best. Additional oil is unnecessary (although I still recommend greasing your measuring cup before pouring brown rice syrup or honey into it). Toasting the sesame seeds a little before adding them to the mix ensures that you won’t end up with an occasional mouthful of bitter. Always wait to add dried fruit until the toasting process is complete. And most importantly, it’s okay to adapt a recipe to your audience.

a triple batch of granola

These days, I make a fairly plain batch. Sometimes I flavor it with cinnamon, sometimes with vanilla. I always leave the dried fruit out (Scott is not a fan). It’s a whole lot easier for me to add a palmful of dried blueberries or raisins to my serving than it is for him to pick them out after the fact (and far less wasteful). And best of all, it stores beautifully in a jar on the countertop.

The reason for the large batch you see above was that I made a dozen pint jars of granola for the Great American Bake Sale a couple of weeks ago (that’s the picture you see up at the top of the post). I don’t know if they all sold, but soon after I dropped them off, I heard a woman say, “I just want to grab one of those jars and pour it straight into my mouth.” I do love those overheard endorsements!

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Basic Homemade Granola


  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 1 cup pepitas
  • 1/2 cups sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds lightly toasted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cups brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey


  • In a large bowl (larger than you might think, so that you have plenty of room to toss), combine the oats, seeds and nuts. You can also include flaked coconut or wheat germ (they were staple ingredients in my childhood granola, but are too "hippy-ish" for my husband).
  • Sprinkle the cinnamon and salt in and toss all the ingredients to combine.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the brown rice syrup and honey until it's warm and will run thin. Pour it over the granola base and, using a large spoon, keep turning the granola until the syrup is well-integrated.
  • Spread it out in your largest roasting pan and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, turning it with a spatula every 10 minutes so that it toasts evenly.
  • Once it has browned to your liking, remove the hot pan to your countertop and let it cool briefly.
  • As it cools, move it around with a spatula so that it doesn't stick to the pan too badly. When it has thoroughly cooled, funnel it into a large jar.
  • It will keep 2-3 weeks in an airtight jar (but rarely lasts that long in my household).

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41 thoughts on "Homemade Granola for a Bake Sale"

  • I’ve just come around to making my own granola after spending way too much money on boxed cereal over the years. My hubbie LOVES it and we are saving money with homemade granola. Thanks for posting your recipe – I will definitely try it next time.

  • Ahhh, loved your family story and I’m so into trying this handed-down granola recipe. I always love trying out new recipes, so I’m excited to find another one.

  • Love having a new recipe- my 3 year old always requests “grow-no-lala” for breakfast! Its such a great thing to make with kids (we mix ours with applesauce instead of the rice syrup, and this week made it with my runny rhubarb not quite jammed jam!)

  • Yum! I make 15 quarts of granola every couple of months and store it in old yogurt containers. What I’ve learned to suit our tastes: toasted sesame seeds and coconut are a must for texture, any nut is a go (brazil, hazel, wal, etc.) we don’t like very strongly flavored dried fruit (raisins and currants and chopped dates are fine, but dried apricots are not), no need for oil but heating some applesauce up with the honey makes everything clump up and brown beautifully, and finally, I always sprinkle chocolate chips on the pan of granola as soon as it comes out of the oven, let it sit for a few minutes, then stir them through for a delicious chocolate swirl throughout.

  • Thank you for sharing that lovely storey about your parents, I really enjoyed it. I make Martha Stewart’s Maple Granola all the time but will try your version as it looks more healthful. I sold jars of it at a library benefit bake sale this year for $5/ea. and they all sold. It was an easy and fast way to do my part for the sale. You may want to make these banana crunch muffins with some of that granola http://muminbloom.blogspot.com/2010/04/recipe-banana-crunch-muffins.html

  • Wow, our mom’s should meet. Minus the patchouli and perhaps a few years apart, they sound pretty similar. My mom made her own dress (actually a blouse and blue skirt) and got married on a hill too. Only this hill was on her dad’s farm in upstate NY. Love hearing your family stories! Keep up the good work and I better start making some granola.

  • LOVE! A most excellent set of granola credentials. I have a similar set, with my parents packing everything they owned into a van and moving us kids to rural Northern Canada to live the back-to-the-land lifestyle. Granola probably saved my life more than once!

    Love the idea of donating for a bake sale. I organize a few a year for my community church and will be stealing the idea. =)

  • oooh, yum. I have just started making my own granola and I am not happy with the recipe I have. I will have to try this one!

  • I love Santa Cruz — I went to school there way back when! I have never made granola without the oil, so I’d love to try this one– it looks delicious!
    Thanks for posting. 🙂

  • I love that you refer to it as GORP! So many people offer quizzical looks when I use that term. Hilarious and delicious, Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts!

  • So just how much wheat germ and/or flaked coconut would you add?? One or the other sounds like a good addition, at least part of the time. Well, the wheat germ ALL the time! Might as well make it as healthy as possible!!

  • Uh, well, looking at the original recipe link you posted pretty much answered my question! Thanks!!

  • Loved the story about your folks…they sound like really good people!
    Although I’ve never made granola, nor liked it much (commercial granola is too sweet, too fatty and way too expensive)I’m thinking of giving your recipe a try–especially for bake sales! I’m also intrigued by your mixing bowl (by the way, a really neat photo with you and the camera in the reflection). It appears to have a special interior polishing…what kind is it?

    1. Oops, just realized I never replied to this! That bowl is from Ikea. It’s the largest of their metal mixing bowls and comes in very handy for things like triple batches of granola.

  • I love the story woven through the photos. Alas, the original GORP — I’ve always heard of it. Interesting — no oil. The recipe I have come to love ran in Gourmet Mag a few years back, but it’s got quite a bit of Canola oil in it, so I’m looking forward to trying your version. Cheers!

  • I am never without a jar of homemade granola on my countertop.

    I recommend these tips:

    Add a teaspoon of vanilla to your mix.
    Yes to the coconut.
    Cover your pan with Nonstick Reynolds wrap. Makes it very easy. And you can then let it cool completely and you’ll get more of the bigger clumps.

  • i am a huge fan of homemade granola, and granola bars. and i’m certain those jars sold at the bake sale – who wouldn’t want them??!!

  • I cant remember how I stumbled across your site..but so glad I did :0)
    I have never made granola,but plan to this week! I loved the video,and have added you to my favorites so I can come and visit again (often,lol)
    Kind regards from Australia :0)

  • Wow, that looks great! My mom makes giant batches of homemade granola and sends us home with a jar every time we visit. Hers is very similar, yum!

  • I’ve enjoyed reading your blog… I’ve made granola before, but have used real maple syrup, honey and/or peanut butter. I’d never heard of ‘brown rice syrup’. I looked it up online and intend to give that a try now!! My mission for tomorrow is to find some! My all time favorite of your recipes… your dad’s gravy!! Your post on that made me smile and has revolutionized my own gravy making process! THANKS! Melanie

  • Homemade granola is such a simple thing to make, yet tastes so so special. I love the cute little jars you put it in. I’d definitely buy it if I saw it at a bake sale 🙂
    Can’t wait to get through my current (store bought) stash. I want to add my own mix-ins. Yours really does look perfect.

  • Cooking Light also has some good (and healthy) granola recipes. Chocolate Crunch is a good one to sprinkle on my yogurt and peaches.

  • I am a reluctant canner and am so excited to find you. Plus I’ve been playing around with granola recipes lately, and after hearing about your awesome-sounding parents, I have got to give this a try.

  • I made this granola this morning! Has some with homemade yogurt and fruit this afternoon… delicious! Thanks for the post!

  • i love this post! Mom’s granola was always one of my favorite things she would ever make and i’m sure you’ve perfected the recipe… i love our family.

  • Your mom had tickets to Woodstock? This is complete news to me. I guess I was as bad about staying in touch then as I am now. But I do love you all.

  • What a beautiful story about your parents! You certainly do have granola credential to spare! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Absolutely LOVE this stuff! We like it with the coconut, and will be adding wheat germ as well the next time. We added 1 cup of coconut, and that seems to work well. Could maybe use a bit more. Might try using 1/2 cup wheat germ to see how it goes?

    LOVE the no oil recipe – THANKS!! It really isn;t neede at all.

  • I was born in 1971 just over the hill from Santa Cruz, we weren’t hippies but we were swept away in the movement with our 65 then later 76 VW Van! It even had a “zip the flies” bumper sticker on it. My dad worked in Palo Alto, CA (Earthquake research) he worked with lots of hippies…or the hippies that worked. So man, I am digging your CA hippie vibe! I have been looking for a granola recipe after buying a 50lb bag of oats and now I found one…thanks for sharing!

  • I feel like I should have read the part about putting dried fruit in after the toasting before I started my granola. Oh well. 🙂

  • Actually there were 2 quite different hippie movements. The drugged one and the back-to-the-land. My husband and his late first wife were back-to-the-landers; they left L.A. because the smog was killing her (literally – she was asthmatic) and ran a goat farm in central Oregon for several years.
    I have no idea what she thought of Patchouli ( I kinda like it, in mild doses) but she was a conservative Baptist – I can assure you she had nothing to do with the drug culture!

  • I love your story and would love to meet your groovy parents – anything from san francisco or with sunshine makes me feel excited as i live in Blighty and have yet to venture to that corner of the world.

    The jars of granola – look stunning. I have just stolen your recipe to make for a sale I am doing unfortunately the cost of the jars makes the overall price just too hefty – so mine is just in bags!!

    Beautiful thank you

  • Hi! Love this! Quick question – about how much do you charge at a bake sale/fundraiser for a pint jar of granola? Thanks!

    1. It’s been awhile since I did it, but these days, I’d probably charge between $6-8, depending on the going rate of the other bake sale goodies.