Make Your Next Batch Of Granola Ultra Savory With Bold Herbs

Granola is a high-nutrient, high-calorie, shelf-stable, easily transportable snack seemingly tailor-made for fueling hikers. But, if you've visited a modern grocery store, chances are you've spied granola's candy-dotted contemporaries, and those sweet chocolate-loaded versions seem a lot closer to a dessert than something you'd be organically (pun intended) prompted to describe as "fuel." We're all about a non-faithful adaptation, especially in the name of culinary exploration or satisfying a sweet tooth, but if you haven't been turned on to savory granola yet, it might be time to give it a try.

According to Culinary Lore, granola was "officially" invented in 1863 by a guy called James Caleb Jackson, who marketed his proto-granola as a way to calm yourself down and quell sexual excitement. In other words, chocolate was not an ingredient you'd find in the granolas of yore. While Jackson's motivations might not have aged particularly well, his invention demonstrates that granola doesn't need help from rich toppings to be delicious.

Keeping it simple lets the toasted flavor of the oats and nuts shine, especially when bolstered by savory ingredients like dried herbs. Put this tip to the test with our Savory Granola Bars packed with rosemary, oregano, and black pepper. These bars feature a dense mix of oats and seeds, plus coconut oil, honey, and dehydrated pomegranate seeds for dimensionality. Or, if clusters are more your style, this Savory Walnut-Oregano Granola stars white sesame seeds, coriander, and roughly-chopped walnuts for body and a toothy chew.

A bran-fueled brainstorm

These recipes are only the springboard into the savory snack world. You could whip up a batch of elote-inspired savory granola with dried corn (like Corn Nuts), red chili powder, and dried green chiles. Or, make a complex granola with lemongrass, coconut, and sriracha. Kick it umami style with furikake and tahini or walk the sweet-savory line with a combination of thyme and cinnamon for a complex profile.

Savory granola is a good opportunity to whip out that high-quality olive oil you've been saving for a "special occasion." Keep it simple with roasted garlic and sea salt. Or, if you prefer a more flavorful bite, Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute or iconic Everything But the Bagel Seasoning would both make great fits. French Herbs de Provence is a combination of thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, and bay leaf, and it'd be a natural complement to your toasted nuts.

You could season your savory granola with cayenne pepper, fennel seeds, thyme, white pepper, za'atar, or Old Bay. Hit smoked almonds with a generous sprinkle of nutritional yeast, or try combining peanut butter and curry powder. Depending on your preference, you can include binding agents like egg whites or honey and shape these bad boys into bars, but your savory granola will be just as delicious on its own in clusters. All it takes to make a killer savory granola is raiding your pantry.